Books written by RJ Dodd aka Dick Dodd
and soon to be published..The Unknowns.
are all available on amazon worldwide
books co written by RJ Dodd and Mary Lou Brown under the pen name Chelsy Swann
The Sandrunners....are also available on amazon worldwide.
Saturday, 5 November 2016
A donkey is being led up a long, winding and dusty track towards a large building at the very top of a sun baked rise. The animal, which is making slow progress, is laden with two barrels strapped to a frame that sits like a saddle across its back . The building is surrounded by large trees which cast a cooling shade over the courtyard.
Dante Gabriele pulls impatiently at the bridle rope in an effort to speed up the small beast, but his efforts produce no response. The donkey neither speeds up nor slows down. A smile plays across Dante’s face. He knows this animal well and knows that it will continue at its own pace or not at all.
Dante, at eighteen, is tall, lightly muscled and deeply tanned; his face is topped by a shock of dark curly hair and his almost handsome face is noticeable mainly for his bright blue eyes, an uncommon feature in this part of Southern Italy.
He pulls gently at the donkey’s ears.
“Alright, Tessy. Take your time. Nobody wants to get out of this sun and into that shade.”
He leans closer and whispers in an ear, “And nobody wants to plunge its furry old face into that water trough! So, don’t hurry.”
The animal grunts, almost to itself, and slightly increases its pace. Dante laughs out loud.
“You are a very perverse creature, Tessy. You would make a good woman.”
The pair continue on their slow hot journey and eventually reach their destination, entering the courtyard of a large country inn and way station. The yard is cobbled and Tessy’s hooves make a clattering noise as she smells the water trough and resolutely heads for it.
Their arrival is noted by a large man whose stomach is covered by a stained apron. He pulls aside a beaded curtain over a door in the corner of the yard, above which is a sign proclaiming it to be the entrance to the kitchen. He watches as Dante begins to unstrap the two barrels from the donkey’s back.
Angelo Nadalini, owner and chief cook at the inn, pulls aside the curtain and quietly steps out into the courtyard. He watches for a moment or two as Dante struggles to lower the barrels to the ground. When he is certain that no more effort will be needed, he speaks.
“Dante, you should have called for me. I could have helped you.”
Taking a cotton handkerchief from his pocket, Dante wipes the sweat from his brow before answering.
“Signor Nadalini, how kind of you.”
There is a slight hint of sarcasm as he continues, “I didn’t want to disturb you. I know you are busy man.”
He waves his hand to indicate the empty stable stalls.
“Running this large busy inn, horses to groom, travellers to feed.”
Signor Nadalini deliberately misses the sarcasm as he wipes a hand across his bald head and smiles at Dante.
“And taking delivery of your mother’s fine olive oil, best in the region.”
He waves towards the kitchen door.
“Bring them in when you have recovered.”
He turns to go then stops and looks back.
“By the way….”
He hesitates and mumbles, “…your room.”
Dante looks at him.
“You can’t have it. It’s taken.”
Dante slowly takes this in as he looks at the empty stables. He turns back to Angelo who has swiftly disappeared back into kitchen and sprints after him.
The kitchen is large and surprisingly busy with several cooks preparing various dishes. Angelo is now at the far end and is seemingly engrossed tasting a sauce with two white hatted assistants. Dante bounds through the door and immediately spots him. Angrily pushing his way between the cooks and Angelo, he thrusts his face close to the innkeeper’s.
“There is not a horse or carriage in the yard. Why can’t I have my room. It is in the price for the oil.”
Angelo tries to move past him but Dante blocks his way.
“We are full. There is a large group arriving tonight. Musicians, on their way to Rome. I need every room.”
Dante raises his voice indignantly.
“I always stay here. I cannot get back home tonight.”
Angelo is becoming annoyed at having to deal with this irritating young man.
“You can stay in the barn. This group is very important and they pay more than you do.”
He turns away but Dante tugs at his shirt sleeve.
“You mean you have raised the prices for them?”
Angelo lowers his voice when he sees the kitchen staff beginning to take notice.
“Good business, that’s all. You can stay in the barn for free.”
He brusquely pulls Dante’s hand from his shirt and returns to tasting the sauce.
Now quietly angry, Dante begins to talk in a very loud voice to Angelo’s back. The man completely ignores him.
“Thank you very much, Signor Nadalini. My companion, my donkey, and I are overwhelmed by your generosity. A nice vermin infested barn to sleep in. How gracious of you.”
As he says this he begins to bow from the waist and moves backwards towards the kitchen door, much to the amusement of the kitchen staff.
Friday, 4 November 2016
Thursday, 3 November 2016
Venice in the late 1700s
The Captain’s quarters on the galleon are spacious; a wide cabin bed is at one side and comfortable upholstered chairs are placed around the room. In front of the many paned stern windows is a large table covered with sea charts held in place with the help of crystal decanters.
The cabin is quite dark and two oil lamps swing gently on their gimbals as the vessel moves slightly against the wharf side. The light from the lamps casts a glow on a blindfolded woman hanging by her wrists from one of the solid oak beams that stretch across the cabin. Her legs are tied at the ankles. Tears trickle down from under the stained white blindfold as she feebly struggles against her bindings.
Her soft sobs are slightly drowned out by the noise of the rigging slapping in the gentle breeze and the plaintive sounds of a distant violin playing a mournful tune.
The main cabin door suddenly opens and three men enter. Two of them are dusky skinned and wearing tightly wound turbans and long cloaks; the third man is shabbily dressed in an over-sized frock coat and striped silk breeches. His silver buckled shoes are missing a buckle.
Casually they approach their captive and slowly walk around her. The woman is aware of their presence and still sobbing quietly she slumps a little in her bindings.
The taller of the turbaned men moves a little closer to her and sniffs the air.
“Is she clean?”
The man in the striped breeches gives a little snort.
“Fresh from the tub. Gave her a little scrub meself…… just to make sure she was absolutely in prime condition, of course!”
Without saying anything further, the taller man slips a long bladed dagger from the folds of his cloak and moves closer to the woman who is now visibly shivering with fright. As he nears, he pulls at a slender metal chain that hangs from her neck. At the end of it is a little silver crucifix. With one swift tug the chain breaks and he throws it into a corner.
“You won’t need that where you are going.”
Carefully inserting the blade in the cuff of her thick grey woollen dress, he swiftly slashes the sleeve open. The woman whimpers and sags a little more. The other sleeve is cut open the same way.
The other two men take a little step back as the blade is slipped under the high collar of her dress. With one swift downward stroke the dress slides off and falls in a pile at the woman’s feet.
Now completely bare and bursting into loud sobs, she tries to hide her nakedness by twisting to one side as much as she can.
All three men take their time in looking at her as she tries to move her slim and full breasted body away from their gaze.
“What do you think then?”
“One or two minor imperfections, but she will suit the purpose.”
The tall man takes a breast in one hand, squeezing and fondling it. This brings more desperate sobs from the woman.
“The vendor says twenty years, and a virgin.”
“The price is fixed.” The tall man hesitates a moment and asks, “Any connections?”
“None. Abandoned as a child.”
“Good, now leave me alone. There are some things I must do.”
Without a word, the two other men move across to the door and step outside into the passage way.
Closing the door behind them, the small man addresses the man with the turban.
“What is he doing?”
The man merely looks at him but makes no attempt to answer.
The sound of the violin is louder out in the passage way but it is not loud enough to cover the short scream that comes from the Captain’s cabin.
A few moments later the tall man steps out, closing the door behind him. He wipes his hands on a silken cloth which he then drops on the floor .
As he walks past the two men, he says to his companion, “Pay him.” Then rapidly adds, “We need more like that one; same price.”
The little man almost stammers in his excitement.
“That will not be a problem, Excellency. There is an endless supply.”
“Good. Now get off the vessel. We sail on the turn of the tide. I will contact you when we return.”
He steps back into the cabin while the other turbaned man pulls a large leather bag from a corner and opens it.
There is a clinking of glass as the trader reaches in to examine the contents.
Thursday, 20 October 2016
This book kept me hooked to the end. Its vivid prose creates imagery that took me to the cities and hills of Italy whilst on a train to Manchester, no mean feat! Strong characters and storyline provide an education in 18th century living and an altogether satisfying read.
available on all amazon sites worldwide....
Sunday, 2 October 2016
Chapter three. Mexico.
The fruit freight depot is in a mean, sparsely lit, back street just on the outskirts of the Mexican town of Tijuana, near the USA- Mexican border. The shabby collection of sheds and rickety corrugated iron roofed outbuildings glories in the name of Miguel’s Flying Fruit Freight, at least that is what the cracked and faded sign above the door once said, but that had been painted many years ago when Miguel was a young man with dreams, dreams of quitting the hell hole of Tijuana and moving north to what he saw as paradise, the United States of America, like his dreams the sign is now faded, cracked and the paint chipped.
Miguel’s vision of one day having a fleet of lorries transporting the cheap fruit from the flatlands around his part of Mexico never seemed to get off the ground, maybe it was the monthly payments to the local “protection and insurance” gang that ran his area, paying for the medical attention for his asthmatic wife, helping his aged mother with the rent for her cockroach infested shack or maybe he was just a terrible business man.
All of these concerns mattered not at all to him now as he and his two employees, a couple of middle aged men he had known from his childhood, lay on the blood soaked earth just inside the yard where he kept his one battered old truck. It would never matter to him because just beside his blood spattered body and the bodies of his two men lay three severed heads, theirs.
The execution had been swift and brutal, four men had walked into the front office, all of them carrying guns. Miguel and his two old friends were engaged in their nightly game of cards. One of the intruders motioned for the three amigos to move out into the rear yard where one of the gunmen spoke only one word “Arridolarse” the three Mexicans immediately obeyed him and knelt on the ground, with amazing speed two of the gunmen unsheathed large cane cutting machetes and simply lopped off their heads, it took three seconds.
Business discussion and conclusion…Execution…. Mexican Drug Cartel style.
Hundreds of flying night bugs flitting around the lone suspended light over the yard paid no attention to the scene below them as the unlocked wire mesh gate was pushed open and one of the gunmen climbed into the rusty vehicle, casually driving it out into the lane where another vehicle, a large Mercedes, is waiting..The headlights on the limousine flash once and it moves off, followed by the fruit lorry. They both move slowly along the dark alleyway towards the slightly better lit main road.
Saturday, 1 October 2016
Present day.. 85 Albert Embankment.. MI6 Headquarters. Vauxhall. London.
Completely ignoring the gusting rain that sweep along the nearby River Thames, a man walks rapidly through the imposing front doors of the Secret Service building and out through the security barriers on Albert Embankment..hardly believing his good fortune a taxi is dropping off some passengers just as he reaches the pavement, he jumps into the now vacant cab and tells the driver “Coopers Arms please, Flood Street, Chelsea.”
Despite the almost continuous downpour, the Friday night crowd of City workers, bankers and traders begin to arrive in droves for their weekly “Fizzy Glug” at The Coopers Arms pub. It takes only a few minutes for the ‘local’ area pub to go from being occupied by a gaggle of old regulars nursing their tepid pints of beer to being standing room only as the young and wealthy crowd begin to slake their thirst, downing copious amounts of alcoholic beverages.
The Friday night extra bar staff are busy supplying the demand, the popping of corks and the ringing of the till is almost continuous.
This popular pub, just off the busy Kings Road in fashionable Chelsea has recently seen an upturn in its fortunes, going from a sleepy backwater boozer it suddenly became the drinking hole of choice for the many young, well educated and seemingly wealthy clientele who have moved in from the slightly less salubrious area of Fulham and Battersea as the City of London started to boom and salaries plus bonuses began to rise accordingly.
At the big square bar the crowd is now approaching several customers deep, all trying to attract the attention of the busy bar staff, no one wants to sit down at the many battered old tables in the spacious sitting area… except for the man who occupies one that is crammed into a corner as far from the bar as possible.
One more occupant shares this secluded corner of the pub, it is a full size stuffed brown bear, its once thick shaggy fur is now well worn with bald patches. Standing on its rear legs like some guardian of the quiet places. The man sits almost side on to the bar and removes some sheets of paper from his brief case. He has a quick glance to make sure no one at the bar can see the papers as he begins to leaf through them. The first document is in letter form and is headed ..
Instructions Regarding Immediate and indefinite Leave of Absence…Terms and Conditions.
The one sheet memo is quickly scanned, folded in half and placed back in the brief case. Two more sheets, stapled together at the top left corner are also given a quick glance. Several of the lines at the top have been blacked out, obscuring the names of the subjects, below the redacted names is the heading..
DNA samples and comparisons for subjects named above. Strictly confidential.
The man takes his time with these sheets and looks carefully at the detailed DNA samples which are in graph form. After a minute or so of close scrutiny these sheets are also folded in half and placed in the case.
Taking the last item from the table the man has a little smile, the envelope is sealed with a hand written message scrawled across the front.
For the sole attention of CIO Patrick Quinn.
Underneath that message and in the same scrawled writing it says..
Delivered sealed and by hand via the USA Embassy London.
Putting a finger into the flap of the envelope the man rips it open and takes out a small card which is once again in the same handwriting ..
Bendigo.. Oregon..Confirmed. Call me when in situ..B..x
Putting down his half full glass of beer, Patrick Quinn picks up one sheet of paper, studies it closely and then does the same with the other one.
Patrick is in his late thirties, over six feet tall and handsome in a certain Irish way with a finely shaped nose, broad forehead topped off with a thick curly head of slightly unruly hair and bright blue eyes that even in this dimly lit part of the pub seem to have a sparkle to them.
Leaning back in his rickety old chair, which matches the table, both bought from a junk shop sale by a long since departed publican, he slides the envelope into the brief case which he carefully fastens. Slowly turning to look at the boisterous crowd, which he seems to be noticing for the first time, he smiles, picks up the glass of Youngs Beer and drains it. Standing up, he puts on his rather old fashioned raincoat, pulls out an Irish tweed woollen hat from the coat pocket which he jams on his head and picking up his briefcase he carefully skirts the drinkers and pushes his way out of the crowded pub where he takes a right turn to head along the rain swept St Leonards Terrace.