What do you do when when your lover is out to kill you?
After university, Johnny dated a mysterious and influential man who never disclosed his profession. Now, following a quarrel, Johnny suffers a series of attacks—attempts on his life that his lover has the power and influence to perpetrate.
With nowhere else to turn, he must rely on his childhood best friend. But can Johnny trust him? With time running out and the world against him, Johnny must solve the mystery himself if he wants to survive.
Heat Rating: Medium
Categories: Mystery, romance, some violence, contemporary
Hi, I’m Michael Gouda and I was born in London, England at the start of WW2.
In my mid thirties after a disgracefully enjoyable time in the gay pubs and clubs of London I decided to take life more seriously, went to University, obtained a respectable degree and took up teaching in the Worcestershire town of Evesham.
I took early retirement to a limestone cottage in the Cotswold hills where It lived with a series of neurotic collie dogs, a domineering cat and a determination to write. Since then I have written over one hundred and fifty short stories and published longer works with Dreamspinner Press and M.L.R. Press.
I like to introduce incidents from my own deplorable past into my stories of crime and misadventure. Being a romantic at heart though I never allow a tragic ending, however downbeat may be the indications in between.
In ‘To the Ends of the Earth’ I wanted to write a story about quite a few subjects, betrayal was actually the one that as it were rose to the surface, though of course it isn’t the real one.
I intended to write a mystery. Of course the narrator himself is a bit of a mystery for in fact we never know his real name. Not that that hasn’t been done before, notably in Daphne du Maurier’s, ‘Rebecca’.
What I had to do in ‘To the Ends of the Earth’ was to try to head the reader’s attention away from the real killer and I hoped that by maintaining contact and seeing the relationship purely from Johnny, the narrator’s point of view, the actual denouement would be something of a surprise. The fact that he has managed to take a photo of the terrorist which is published with his own name as the byline, means that he may well be on a list, though there are plenty of other suspects.
I admit that Johnny’s actual escape from death at the denouement was a little fortuitous but I thought that, in describing Johnny’s final surroundings, I had made them sufficiently sordid for the accident to be believable, especially as the villain’s madness had resulted in such erratic movements.
Excerpt: The terrorist attack.
Rail to London, Paddington Station, underground to Westminster. I emerged into the Metropolis with its smells of diesel exhaust, a flavor of curry (was it?) and hordes of people going about their business, either politely or pushing past without a ‘Sorry’ or ‘excuse me’. It wouldn’t happen in Bristol I tell you, well. Probably not.
I saw the Thames flowing smoothly if slightly murkily under Westminster Bridge (I wonder what Willy Wordsworth would think!) and was just about to turn into the road which leads past Old Palace Yard and the entry into the Mother of Parliaments, as we rather boastfully call it, when there was a disturbance behind me.
I turned and saw an old looking black taxi though it didn’t have a ‘For Hire’ sign on show careering along the pavement towards me. There were screams as it hit and knocked down several passers by. From the direction it was taking it was going to miss me by a country mile so instinctively I felt for and produced my Smart phone. Suddenly it started swerving on and off the pavement, alternately knocking people down and then missing others. I sent up a private prayer and punched in 999 shouting at the woman who answered, ‘Ambulance and Police, Westminster Bridge, Urgent’. I rang off and then switched to movies, following the taxi on its devastating path but ready to jump into any available refuge if it looked as if it was heading my way – I’m no hero!
I filmed it as a woman was tossed into the air, her pram flattened. The taxi carried along the pavement for perhaps twenty yards, knocking down a young man and a couple of boys. It then returned to the road and tried to speed off but it crashed into a building and stopped, the front left side crushed. I could hear the driver vainly trying to restart the engine. Then he got out, glanced around, shouted something and raced off into the crowds of people who were, either trying to flee or, driven by curiosity, coming to see what had happened.
I watched the scene of carnage with horror, but took a few shots of the scene. I know this sounds insensitive if not disgraceful, but the journalist in me took over and anyway I didn’t know what to do to help.
Then a thin man with gray hair stepped up with what looked like a measure of confidence. “I’m a doctor,” he said, going from one to the other on the pavement.
He looked at me and indicated the young man nearest to me. Blood was gushing from a wound in his leg. “You seem to be fairly compos mentis, hold this guy’s leg just here and press hard, until the blood stops. Then just keep hold. Has anyone phoned for an ambulance?”
“I have and the police.”
“Good man.” He was attending to the first woman who had been hit and was now lying flat on her back. I could see that he was pressing on her chest with both hands, one on top of each other.
Gradually the blood from the guy whose leg I was pressing, right up near the groin, lessened and then stopped. I could feel his penis with the back of my hand.
“Sorry about this,” I said.
He smiled weakly. “No worries. In other circumstances, I’d enjoy it.” He sounded Australian.
“The paramedics will be with you soon.”
“What’s your name?”
I told him. “I’m a reporter on the Bristol Gazette. Do you want your name in print? I’ll write it up as soon as they’ve got you into an ambulance. Front page news.” I had an idea that I had to keep him talking. He was looking pale and drawn.
“Yeah. I’m just over from Sidney for a holiday, Europe and here – and now this!”
“You’ll be out of hospital before you know it. And if ever you’re down in Bristol make sure you look me up.”
More ambulances arrived and a paramedic took over my charge. “Thanks, cobbler,” he said. Do they really say that?
One of the boys was crying, his leg bent at an unnatural angle. ‘Broken,’ I thought but unless some other injury, would be okay, though in pain.
I shuddered at the thought of the pram and its crushed contents.
As I did so, I heard sirens, Police cars arrived, blue lights flashing.
I didn’t seem to be able to do anything more constructive so I took some more shots and then phoned a not very coherent account back to the paper, mentioning the doctor, the Australian guy, how many wounded I could see, the crushed pram. They would sort it out.
A Sergeant had a few words with the doctor who pointed in my direction.
He came over, “ I understand you called the ambulance?” He took details and I told him that I was actually a reporter and had taken a movie of practically the whole incident, including the picture of the driver who had fled the scene. “There’s actually a shot of him turning back to look. I think I’ve got his face.”
He seemed pleased and asked if he could have my phone. Now I guard that with my life, so I said, “Better than that, I’ll phone the whole lot to your station,” and when he looked a bit doubtful, I added, “It’ll be much quicker. They’ll have everything immediately.”
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