Deirdre Cossette is the self appointed carer for the elderly on The Avenue and all of her friends have stories to tell. Margery, whose comfortable life was destroyed by a knock on the door. Stan, who made a mistake as a young footballer which cost him his friends and his self-respect. Marina, whose slim and stylish figure hides a terrible secret from the summer of Live Aid. And, Oliver and Archie, who have survived everything from post war homophobia to a family tragedy – and they have done it together. Deirdre believes that everyone should have a choice. If they want to live on a diet of cakes, drink the alcoholic equivalent of a small hydrotherapy pool, or take on a toy boy lover in spite of a dodgy heart, Deirdre believes it is their right to do so. If they remember her in their wills afterwards, that’s not her fault, is it? However, not everyone agrees with her. When disgruntled relatives from the present meet up with disgruntled ghosts from her past, Deirdre discovers the cost of being kind.I
I’m delighted to welcome author Andy Paulcroft to booksaremycwtches today with an extract from his novel.
Thank you so much for inviting me to post an extract from my latest novel Killing Them With Kindness. The story tells the tale of Deirdre Cossette a woman who believes that everyone has the right to live, and die, in the manner of their own choosing. This passage from the novel describes what happens when Deirdre takes her friend Stan, out on a pub-crawl in the town of Mapley.
If she had known that the Mapley Arms was having a yard of ale competition, Deirdre might well have decided against it – or, she might have decided it was a great way for Stan to go.
There were only two other people hoping to challenge Stan. One of his competitors was a weaselly looking man who looked as if he would have had trouble downing a Campari and soda, let alone two and a half pints of ale from an overgrown pipette.
The other man looked more of a serious challenger. He was younger, tall, and tattooed, with a belly that gave an indication that beer and he were not strangers to each other.
He opened the proceedings, but, completely misjudged the pent-up beer in the bulbous bottom and was practically drowned in ale when the air did finally get in.
He trudged sodden and dejectedly back to his table to the sound of catcalls and laughter and then received patronising pats on the back from his mates.
Weasel was more successful but took his time. He lifted the glass steadily to avoid the sudden rush of air and finished, dry and triumphant. However, ‘Stairway to Heaven’ had played in its entirety during the time it took him, and several customers had glazed over with boredom.
‘It’s in the bag, girl!’ Stan whispered as he staggered towards the stage. And it was. The whole bar, except Deirdre, was probably dubious that the wobbly old duffer could complete the task and looked forward to seeing him receive a soaking. Contrarily, the moment he got the glass receptacle in his hand, Stan was a changed man. Steady hands held the glass to his lips and they lifted it gradually, but steadily. In the same motion of lifting, he twirled the glass around his fingers, releasing the air pressure. He had downed the whole yard in thirty-seven seconds, which was the fastest Mapley had seen for a long time.
Deirdre stood first and gave him a standing ovation. Suddenly, spurred on by the mad woman in the maroon cords, nearly everyone in the bar was standing and cheering. Stan was holding the yard glass in his hands as if it was the FA Cup itself. The more he strutted, the more the crowd cheered.
For the first time in over forty years, he felt once again like the young lad who had just scored a hat-trick in the third round of the cup. He was being held high on the shoulders of his team mates, holding the match ball aloft in his hands, pointing it at every small corner of the town football ground. He could see Jane in her duffel coat; green, gold, and white scarf with matching bobble hat, cheering until her voice box could barely squeak. He could feel Harry’s hand underneath his leg, holding him up on high. As he looked down at his best friend, Harry looked up and gave him his trademark quirky grin.
‘We did it, kiddo! We did it!’
For the first time in over forty years he felt invincible again.
And Jane and Harry were there with him.
Suddenly, back in the twenty-first century, Stan lurched and stumbled from the stage. As he fell like a boulder being blasted from a quarry, he hit his head on the corner of the nearest table and came to rest in a heap on the floor. His body landed next to a woman’s Burberry handbag and his head nestled against her silk-stockinged legs.
She had been too busy talking about her new three-seater Chesterfield and had totally missed Stan’s demise. Suddenly, as she was describing the leatherette beading, she felt the table move and was conscious of a pair of nostrils sniffing her ankles.
Her scream joined others who had seen the man fall, and they watched in horror as the yard glass smashed into a hundred shards and scattered as if it were grain from a farmer’s hand.
Deirdre crunched her way to where Stan lay and knelt down in the splinters. She could tell that he was trying to say something, so she moved her ears towards his lips.
‘What a way to go, eh, girl?’ He half nodded his head towards the disappearing ankles. The woman had recovered well enough from the shock to edge her legs away from him.
‘You’re not going anywhere, Stan, I keep telling you,’ Deirdre replied urgently, but Stan tried as well as he could in his stunned state to shake his head.
‘I’m fucked, girl.’
He stared at her, his faded grey-blue eyes demanding her attention. Once again, she bent her head to his mouth and with failing breath, he whispered, ‘Tell Jane and Harry that I love them and I’m so sorry …’
Deirdre nodded, her eyes welling up. She feared that the bump on his head was going to be one mistreatment too many for his poor abused body.
She reached for his hand and massaged the top of it gently with her thumb.
He breathed again, fainter now.
‘And you, you daft, ridiculous, old bird …’
Despite herself, Deirdre smiled and moved herself closer in order to hear his dying words.
‘I love you.’
You can purchase this novel from Amazon
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About the author
Andy Paulcroft grew up in Weston-super-Mare, and his love of books started when he borrowed his sister’s copy of Five Run Away Together and exaggerated a minor illness in order to finish reading it. He has since worked as a chef in France, Switzerland, Corsica and the North Highlands of Scotland before settling as a catering manager at a boarding school in Dorset. After many years of writing two to three chapters of a book before discarding it, he finally published his first novel Postcards From Another Life – in December 2017. The wonderful feeling of completing a novel was only surpassed by receiving a positive reaction from people who had read it. He retired from catering and recently published his second novel Killing Them With Kindness. He is now working on his third book.
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