Monday, 31 March 2008

Electromagnetic Angels

Last night I caged the angel. It's now sitting in the cage, slumped with its head almost in its lap, its wings radiating out around it like some brilliant glowing orchid. They pulse with energy, regularly enough for me to think they might pulse in time with a heart beat. It hasn't moved or spoken for a couple of hours, which is a relief. When I first captured it, it howled like a wounded dog until it grew hoarse, and then it cried like a small child. I had to steel myself against it, plug my ears with plasticine and refuse to go near the garage the cage is in until it grew quiet again. I was a modern day Odysseus against the Sirens I'd like to think.

The angel is caught in a Faraday cage. I realised that it would trap them when I saw one get into a car, clearly not knowing either that this would be a problem for it. When the doors closed and just after the driver started the engine, the angel began to glow more brightly, and became visibly distressed. The driver appeared to be trying to calm it down, as she braked and I could see her gesticulating, but the angel just seemed to get more agitated. Then the door of the car opened and the angel fell out onto the road. There was a loud bang, as if the car had backfired, and a stench of ozone that made me choke, and the angel was lying on the pavement, moving erratically and looking dazed, but unharmed. It took it a couple of minutes to recover, and then it lifted off into the air and disappeared over the trees and rooves, heading towards the river.

It took me a few more minutes to work out what I'd just seen: capacitance, and discharge. I checked the pavement, and sure enough there were scorch marks there, and slight evidence of melting. Our angels were electromagnetic.

They're certainly not holy, but then our demons aren't exactly unholy either. Between them they've brought down the major religions of the world, and created all kinds of social problems. In some ways they're like superbugs; how do you kill an angel? Projectile weapons just pass straight through them. Edged weapons work a little, but if you're close enough to use a knife then you're close enough for the angel or the demon to get you, and they can microwave you in just a couple of minutes.

Electromagnetic properties though... it explains why iron edged weapons work a little, they can disrupt the field lines. Perhaps a projectile weapon that's lots of iron filings, or iron shards might work, something that could break the field altogether.

Now that I've captured an angel I've proven some of this. We might have a chance to fight back again and reclaim our world.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Cookery School II

It was the second week of the cookery school. Of our original class, only eight were left. We were told that the rest had left, unable to cope with the rigours of class, but none of us had seen them go. They'd left in the middle of the night (though they'd not have had much choice as we did 18 hour shifts in the kitchen), taken silently from amongst us.

I've described the events of the first three days in a previous post; the next four for the week were very similar, with two more people escaping from the stocks group into the group of people considered capable of cooking.

On the first day of the second week, we were given our Escoffier and our Delia. Escoffier was, of course, the Complete Guide to the Art of Modern Cookery and our Delia was the jet black special edition that you can't obtain unless you know the ISBN number and have clearance from MI6. The one where she discusses the use of grenades and net curtains for creating mince when you're in a hurry.

The second week started with a day of wilderness training. We were woken before dawn, issued chef's blacks (similar to chef's white but only used for covert operations) and driven in a van with blacked-out windows to eight different locations, one for each of us. I was the last out of the van; the instructor handed me my menu, crossed himself, and saluted me. I saluted back, and then the van was moving off even as the instructor pulled himself back inside.

I looked at my menu. I was to produce a four course meal; hors d'oeuvres, soup, meat course and dessert. All I had with me were my knives, a length of cheesewire, some matches, and my copy of Delia that I'd taken to sleeping with against my heart. I looked around me -- scrubland, that could have been a heath or a common somewhere, with no signs of human habitation in any direction. Little in the way of edible plants, less in the way of wildlife I could catch, kill and cook. Not necessarily in that order.

I was just turning to look at the tracks that the van had left, when a flash of movement caught my eye. My hand pulled a knife from my bandolier and threw it slightly ahead of the movement, and as the knife left my hand I turned my head to look at what had caught my eye. The rabbit bolted again when it saw my head move, and the knife caught it squarely in the chest. I grinned; now things were going to be a lot easier.

I slit the rabbit from throat to tail and staked it out on the ground, making sure that it was firmly fixed and couldn't be easily pulled free. Then I tracked the van until it reached a road, and headed into civilisation. It took a couple of hours, no more. I came to a small village, and picked the largest house I could find; to my surprise there were only three occupants, a married couple and their daughter. I tied them into their beds, picked up the dog and a couple of pet parrots, and started cooking.

The meal took another couple of hours to prepare, and I was beginning to sweat a little now, as I still had to get back and lay it out to present it. I left the family a dish of foie du chien a la lyonnais on the table as a thankyou for their hospitality and left their front door open when I left so that someone would find them and untie them. Then I hotfooted it back to the scrubland.

The rabbit had done its job; the carrion birds still circling overhead identified where I needed to be, and I had the dishes all laid out before the instructor returned. He tasted each dish, frowned a little at what he felt was underseasoning of the soup, but finally nodded. I had passed.

When I got into the van, we returned to the cookery school. I couldn't help but noticed that there were now only seven of us, which meant that I'd been expected to pass all along. And that the final week of the course was an elimination week.

Keepin' it real

Terry's mother came into the kitchen and dumped three plastic carrier bags on the kitchen table. They thudded heavily and hollowly, as though there was something wooden in there. I was sat at the table, drinking microwaved Nescafe again, wishing I had the courage to tell Terry how revolting it was, while Terry was busy upstairs with a power drill. Every so often I'd hear the whine of the drill as he made holes in the bedroom wall.

"It's nice to see you again, dear," said his mother, opening the cupboard under the sink and pulling out what seemed to be a heavy bag, one of the 5kg bags of potting compost according to the bright green label on the front.

"And you too, Mrs. M," I said taking another sip of the coffee and wishing I hadn't. "Have you got plants in there then?" I tapped one of the carrier bags.

"Oh goodness, no!" she said, and laughed, a little redness coming into her cheeks almost as though she were embarrassed. This was the woman who'd effectively stolen relics from all the biggest churches in Italy, so I knew she didn't embarrass easily. "Those are elf-heads, I've just been down to Santa's Ghetto and beheaded all the elves I could find."

I had the sensation that the conversation was starting to slip away from me, which happens disturbingly often around Terry's mother. Occasionally I wonder if microwaving the Nescafe produces hallucinogenic compounds in it, which would explain a lot, but I've had a food-scientist friend check this out for me, and she swears it only produces carcinogenic compounds.

"Don't you mean Santa's Grotto?" I said hesitantly, still unsure if I shouldn't beat a hasty retreat and help Terry install the manacles.

"Those were the days," she said, sighing. "No, it's Santa's Ghetto now. He didn't pay the dealers in time, and they've moved in. Apparantly it's a bit nicer than your typical crack-house, and Santa's little helpers are now Santa's little whores."

"Dealers?" I said, mystified. "Why does Santa need dealers? Is this a distribution thing?"

"No!" said Terry's mother. "It was the reindeer. They couldn't keep up that kind of speed for his deliveries after he cut the rounds down to just one night a year, so he started buying in speed in bulk to keep them going. That was all fine until McDonald's started taking market share away from him with the free toys they gave out with their unHappy Meals; once they'd got a core base of kids who believed in Ronald McDonald but not Santa it all snowballed, and suddenly Santa's all short of hard currency, and his dealers want paying for the last 50kg of speed."

"'re saying that McDonald's have disenfranchised Santa?" I was staring at her in shock; I hadn't blinked for the last thirty seconds and my eyes were starting to prickle, and my jaw had dropped open of its own volition.

"Not really, dear, that's a bit simplistic. Bad business decisions did for Santa in the end, but McDonald's did their bit too. You have to admire them really, they're selling meat that's come from animals forced to eat corn that they can't digest and don't want to eat to people who really don't want to eat what they've just bought. Somehow they're managing to make money from poisoning both sides of their food chain!"

I gulped my Nescafe, and the bitter taste helped restore me. I gagged a little, and peered into the nearest carrier bag, expecting to see a bleeding, severed head. Instead, I saw a hollow wooden painted head, and realised that these were from the wooden elves that lined the entrance to Santa's ghetto/grotto.

"What are you doing with these, Mrs. M? Are you going to turn them into plant-pots?"

"No dear, I'm filling them with gunpowder --" she tapped the bag of what I'd thought was potting compost -- "and shrapnel. I'll replace them later on this evening, after I've put the radio detonators in."

"Uh, pardon?"

"The dealers are on my turf, dear. The ladies from the WI are getting nervous about them, and they've all started carrying."

"Carrying?" This conversation had definitely gotten away from me again.

"Knives mostly, but Gladys, who's 81 next month, has got nunchucks strapped to her zimmer frame, and a couple of rice flails in her handbag, and Doris, who does some very dubious things to her sponge cakes to get them to rise has been saying that her nephew can tool her up a treat. It can't go on like this, so I'm dealing with the dealers. So to speak." She chuckled quietly, in just the way that mad old ladies planning on bombing a crack-house don't in the movies.

"Where's Terry, dear?" she said, after taking the first elf-head out and starting to shovel gunpowder into it.

"Upstairs, in the bedroom I think," I said, as the power drill whined again. "Putting in manacles."

"Oh good," said Mrs. M. meaningfully. "I'm sure they'll come in very useful."

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Cat Stalker

When she broke up with me, I took a hammer to every last piece of Swarovski crystal in my house. She'd liked it, with it's twee little seals, just begging for a clubbing; with those stupid flowers forever trapped in crystal, halfway between blossom and bud; with all their silly little facets casting tiny rainbows around the room. I smashed them into jewel-like fragments, and then pounded them into dust.

An hour later, I admitted I had a problem, and that that wasn't a rational way to react to someone breaking up with you. I booked an emergency appointment with my therapist, and spent the rest of the afternoon in a darkened office talking through my obsessive behaviour, and how it had poisoned my relationship with Cat, and how it had culminated in a house covered in crystal dust. I coughed a fair bit too, crystal dust is bad for the lungs.

My therapist, who doesn't realise that I can read what he's writing in the mirror he has me face during our sessions, wrote FREAK in capital letters several times as I told him about watching Cat sleep, drawing pictures of her on the back of all the artworks in my house, and spending several thousand pounds on Swarovski crystal, which I hate, because she said she liked an owl they made.

Finally I stopped talking, exhausted and emotional, and just lay there on his faux-leather chaise longue, watching motes of dust dance in the beams of sunlight that penetrated the slatted blinds.
"I think," he said in a measured voice with a slight european accent, "that you should consider surgery. There's a new procedure, slightly experimental, called a Erosectomy. It will remove your obsessive love from you, and give you a chance to experience a more-normal kind of life. It's reversible, so you can take your love back when you find a balance."

I agreed. I had nothing left to lose at that point, and I hoped that without my obsession I would find it easier to get over Cat.

The surgery was done under local anaesthetic as an outpatient at St. Thomas's hospital by a young doctor who couldn't remember his own name and kept picking up tools and asking the nurse what they were called. When he'd finished he handed me a large jar that seemed suffused with a purple haze, and told me that that was all my love. When I ready to take it back, I just had to open the jar and breathe the contents in. "Take a deep breath," he said, "some people find that love is hard to swallow." I tried not to snigger; the nurse failed and ended up laughing loudly.

"My, but that's a big one!" said the receptionist as I left, and I wondered briefly if my life was being scripted by Frankie Howerd.

I put the jar on the mantlepiece when I got home, so that I wouldn't lose it. It had been there all of 10 minutes before Oscar, my cat, pushed it off. I heard the smash in the kitchen, and came into the living room, curious as to what Oscar had done now, and found him stood over the remains of the jar. For a few moments I could swear that he seemed suffused with a purple haze, but then it faded.

I wasn't really all that upset; I felt much calmer, and I could think about Cat without feeling upset, or worried, or concerned that she didn't like me very much any more. It was much, much easier. I quite liked it.

I was woken by an angry banging on my front door the next morning, and when I answered it, dressed in an old smoking jacket I'd bought in my Noel Coward phase, Cat was stood at the front door holding Oscar and looking angry.
"He was stood on my chest, staring into my eyes when I woke up!" she said glaring at me. She thrust the cat into my arms.
"I'm sorry," I said, "he usually goes out at night, I had no idea he knew where you lived."
Cat opened her mouth, then closed it again, and folded her arms. "He doesn't, does he?" she said. "You never brought him over."
"I'm sorry," I said again. Oscar seemed to be staring at her still. "I'll keep him in for a few nights so that he forgets."
"You don't seem yourself," she said abruptly. "Shouldn't you be telling me I should take you back?"
"Cat," I said gently, turning away, "you said it was over. Let's not bring this up again." I pushed the door shut behind me with a foot, and took Oscar into the kitchen.

I kept him locked in for the next few days, ignoring his protests, and then let him out again when I thought he'd have forgotten his nocturnal adventure. Everything was quiet for a few days, and then when I arrived home from work late in the evening, Cat was on my doorstep holding Oscar again.
"He's been coming to my office and pawing through the papers on my desk," she said. "I've been in Norwich for a few days, I only found out when my colleagues asked me when I got the cat."
"That's a bit strange," I said, looking straight at her. "And, to be honest, it doesn't sound very plausible either. Cats don't do that kind of thing."
"What are you saying?" she said, her eyes widening in surprise. I remembered how cute I'd found that once; now it seemed manipulative. I wondered if it could be both.
"Cat, you broke up with me. Please stop bringing Oscar over; I think we time apart. Maybe we can be friends later, but for now, let's not be enemies."
She slapped me. I'm not sure how she kept hold of Oscar, but he stayed in the crook of her arm, his head pressed against her breast, purring gently.
I put my hand up to my stinging cheek, and shook my head. "Seriously, Cat," I said. "Let it go."
I reached for Oscar, who starting purring more heavily and tried to hold on to Cat.
"You're weird!" she said. "I think I almost like you again, but you're weird!"
"And you think you're being stalked by my cat," I said.

She left, and I took Oscar back inside. I was certain she was being stalked by my cat, but I didn't have the emotions left to deal with it.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008


The doorbell rang before I'd got even half-way down the bottle of gin. I had been sat on the chaise-longue with the black-and-white version of the Wizard of Oz on the DVD player, reminiscing about the only woman I'd never dared love. The sound on the film was turned down very low -- Judy Garland's voice sets my teeth on edge -- and the gin was very effectively bringing back memories of Miss Sapphire, so I wasn't very pleased to be interrupted.

It had been a bad day right from the start. I'd slipped in the shower first thing in the morning and banged my head on the wall, raising a large bruise on the side of my face. Trying to pull myself back up with my eyes full of water I had twisted the temperature dial and scalded myself. When I was finally out of the deathtrap of a bathroom, I got into the kitchen to find that a mouse had died in the kettle and the cat had died on the radiator. The stench from the cat meant that I didn't notice the mouse until I'd tasted the coffee. I left the house under-caffeinated and in a foul mood.

The day had not gone a lot better, but I knew it wouldn't be great anyway. I'm working undercover at the moment in a sweatshop in Camden so I spend 12 hours a day supervising imported children aged between 5 and 12 who are hand-sewing Bossy wallets, Gucchi handbags and marquee tents for weddings. The job would be easier if the kids weren't so damn servile; I get little chance at all to work my bad mood off by shouting at them or disciplining them. I'll be glad when we've found the little bastard who keeps shopping us to the police.

When the doorbell rang I had just remembered the time Miss Sapphire had whispered "You're my superman," in my ear and pushed me backwards off the platform into the car compacter. My life was flashing before my eyes again (it's happened so many times now that I know exactly where to fast-forward past the boring bits and where to hit the freeze-frame) and then the doorbell disturbed it all.

I answered the door ready to scream at whoever dared to disturb me during Happy Hour, and saw that it was the little girl from three doors over. She smiled at me, batted her eyelashes in a way that's just disturbing for an 8-year-old, and went into her tap-dancing routine.

She's only got one leg.

As she pogo'ed noisily up and down, counting time under her breath, something soft and fragile somewhere inside me gave way. I smiled encouragingly, and groped on the table in the hallway behind me. Most people would put the post on it when it arrived, or their car-keys when they came in. I keep my toolkit there.

I overpowered her easily and took her shoe off and hammered several nails into it, then put it back on her foot. Everytime she hopped, she'd drive the nails a little further into the shoe and thus into her foot. I pushed her back out of the door, bolted it, and went back to the gin.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

The kiss of Boreas

It's so cold. I haven't felt a cold like this before, it strikes straight down from the top of my head, through my spine, and plunges on into my feet. My head feels strangely light, almost detached from the rest of me, and there's a kind of pain in my head, but I'm not sure that my head is really mine anymore. I might have borrowed it, I might have picked the wrong head up off the hatrack (the headrack?) when I left the house this morning. Could this be my wife's head? Is this why it doesn't seem to fit properly?

I'm starting to shiver, and I know that I mustn't. I'm wearing a shirt, and a jumper and a coat that's thicker than my youngest son, and he's pretty dim. Burned out lightbulbs seem to shine when placed next to him. But the shakes are becoming uncontrollable. no matter how hard I tense, my muscles vibrate like the modes of a superstring and I worry that my gravitational attraction will increase and draw in everyone around me, to point and to jeer as I fall to floor in numb, unconscious agony.

I can feel my head starting to melt now, and there's a strange light shining in my eyes, migraining my brain, and I can taste vanilla in my mouth but I'm sure it should be blood. I stumble, and my legs give out, the icy chill that penetrates me like an impaling icicle from my head to the floor wins over, and Boreas cheers somewhere behind the roar of blood in my ears.

"Are you ok, sir?" asks a titan standing over me, and even though he's in silhouette I know that this is the end. He reaches a hand down on the end of a very long arm, and lifts off my hat, and the frozen turkey and half-melted tub of ice-cream slide from my scalp to the floor. I make no effort to move, knowing that when he picks me up, the frozen sausages strapped around my waist will fall free as well. Security have me, and no doubt I'll do time in the cooler.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Terry's mother

Terry had invited me round for coffee, so I was sat at the breakfast counter drinking a microwaved Nescafe very slowly when his mother came in clutching a Louis Vuitton suitcase and some carrier bags that rattled.

"How was your holiday, mum?" asked Terry. He put down his cup of coffee and went to hug her. She pushed the suitcase into his arms, and I took advantage of being ignored to pour the coffee into the nearby biscuit jar. Terry's idea of coffee had apparantly been acquired during a stay at Guantanamo Bay.

"Well, it was nice," said his mother, sighing. She's in her early eighties now, a little bit under five foot, and has fever-bright eyes that never seem to miss anything going on around her. She's also very competetive and hates to lose at anything. She's been banned from all of the local Bingo Halls. They usually say she's too aggressive a player and makes the other patrons feel nervous. She says that she's just a little outspoken about infractions of the rules. We're not sure: there have been a large number of stabbings at Bingo Halls she's been too, and we think it's a little suspicious that all of these little old ladies just happen to have fallen awkwardly onto their knitting.

"Where did you go, Mrs. Mossbrook?" I said. Terry hadn't mentioned that his mother had gone on holiay.

"Italy," she said. "It was a tour of churches, a religious thing I think. Lots and lots of saints. It wasn't my idea of course, but Agnes from number 30 didn't want to go on her own so I said I'd go."

Terry had put the suitcase by the washing machine ready for unloading later and was picking up the carrier bags. They clacked and rattled in an oddly familiar way.

"What's in here, mum?" he said, opening one. I saw what looked like a human leg bone fall out onto the table, little crumbs of dried mud falling off it.

"Oh, that Agnes," she said. "Every church we went in she had to get herself a little scraping of earth from the grave of whatever saint was buried there."

I started to grin, and Terry turned pale.

"Of course, I couldn't let her win," continued his mother looking as smug as the cat that found the cream, "so I collected relics from each church."

"Relics?" said Terry, and I knew he was hoping that these would turn out to be gift-shop souvenir replicas.

"Yes," said his mother. "I've got a bone from every saint. The carrier bag at the bottom has the one I got from some church in the Vatican; that one was a bugger to get out, I can tell you. Finally I shopped Agnes and let the swiss guard take her away while I got out of there."

Terry sat down heavily in a chair, his head in his hands; I started laughing; and his mother bustled over to the coffee-jar to microwave some more Nescafe.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

I'm only meat

It's that time of year again, when our pretty little friend
melanoma gets herself out and about, and decides to walk across this
already cancer-riddled frame of mine. The exquisite agonies more than
make up for the fact that (due solely to the number of amputations) I
haven't been able to persuade even farmyard animals to have sex with me in the past three years. I relish my discomfort, honestly I do.
The sun beats down on me, and I can feel the ultra-violet being
ultra-violent to my skin, peeling away the last protective layers I have
left and flensing my flesh. The infra-red heats me from the outside in,
and I sometimes wish that the microwaves from the sun be strong enough
that they could also heat me from the inside out; I cook so much more
evenly then.
Melanoma whispers her sweet nothings in my ears; of cool white
sheets and hospital beds with hot and cold running sores (I'm sure she
means nurses really, the darling is just trying to wind me up), of
doctors who sigh and tsk like they mean it, of a loving wife (who died
three years ago of terminal frustration having sex with a bread knife,
and so would be sat at my bedside in an advanced state of decomposition
-- I don't want the competition!) and children who don't want my
inheritance because it might be contaminated.
All of these things, just because I lowered the lid on the
sunbed, and the timer went wrong, so I can't get out, and it's been
nearly a week now. Hunger is making me delirious, but another five
minutes and I'll be done enough to eat. I'm only meat.

Monday, 3 March 2008

No country for young men

The toilet-seat was so sticky that I had to peel myself off it to stand up when I was finished. Normally I'd be nauseated, but I'd been told that things in lesbian bars weren't the same as anywhere else. I cleaned myself up as best as I could and went back out into the bar where the headteacher of my daughter's school, Ms. Moscow, was drinking Ovaltine cocktails.

Ms. Moscow was in her late forties, had a hairstyle from the forties, a waistline that was probably in the forties and an IQ that -- well, you get the picture. The woman was consistant, and that was a good thing. She also had a slight, brown moustache from the Ovaltine cocktails. As I approached she upended another glass and waved coquettishly as the bargirl.

"You can guarantee me that my daughter will become a lesbian?" I said, sitting on a plush red suggestive couch. "You'll throw her to the gym teachers when you get back to the school?"
"Darling, the gym teachers aren't lesbians!" She sounded shocked. "That's such a terrible cliche. We have deployed our forces far more carefully than that. But yes, I guarantee that your daughter will get useful life-guidance in womanly matters for you."
"Will she be a lesbian by June?" I said, tapping my foot on the floor nervously.
"She'll be a lesbian by June, Marianne and Betty!" giggled Ms. Moscow, flinging her head back. The bargirl, who had been approaching our table with a tray containing a fresh cocktail was taken unaware, and Ms. Moscow's head caught the edge of the tray. The cocktail shot into the air and shattered somewhere in the distance, Ms. Moscow's eyes rolled up into her head and she slumped back onto the couch, and all around I sensed predatory instincts firing into life. I fled.

Back home I called up my procurers, Angie and Val, and had them send a lesbian over. They sent over Hettie, who they referred to behind her back as the dyke bike. When I asked them about this, having been under the impression that lesbians mated for life, I was told that simply wasn't true and I should know better than to believe what bitter gay men had to say. Then Val, waiting till Angie had gone to check out how well I'd vacuumed, had said that Hettie did mate for life, but had many more lives than any normal person. I shrugged; all that mattered to me was that I had a lesbian.

Summoning my poor dead wife was easy with a real lesbian for the channelling. Hettie gurgled like a blocked drain and her face slackened, and then she sat up again, her face twisting to look like my wife's, and I knew I'd got through.

"What in the seven hells have you put me in this time?" she said, sounding revolted. "Just how people are living in this body at all?"
"Angie and Val said she's a dyke bike," I said, "Though I've no idea what they mean by that."
"That's because you've no idea of a how long a normal relationship should last," she said tartly. "Most people manage longer than Hello...Goodbye."
"I spoke to Ms. Moscow today," I said, trying for the higher moral ground. "She says she can guarantee that Helen will be a lesbian by June."
"Do you think we're doing the right thing? It seems slightly wrong to try to force poor Helen to be a lesbian..."
"We've been over this," I said firmly, "in order to bring you back from the dead we need someone similar enough to you. She's your daughter, and the only reason we had a kid in the first place is in case one of us died."
"It would have been easier if you'd died," she said, wistfully.
"Damn right it would," I said, "but you were the one who had to go and find the only lesbian serial killer in London. Anyway, we've talked this through before too. When you come back, it'll pick up all of the imposed lesbianism anyway, and she'll be back to normal."
"Normal?" she said. "How many 'older sisters', and 'concerned mother-figures' have you provided for her over the last eight years?"
"Enough to be looking forward to having you back so I don't have to look after her by myself anymore!"
"I love you too, cumdump."

Hettie chose that moment to recover, so I went to make her a cup of tea. This was all a lot of work, but it would be worth it to have my wife back. Then we could get on with our real plans. We were going to show the world what ruthless really means.