I am delighted to be joined today by Jean Shorney. I’m so glad to be part of her book tour to promote her third Aidan McRaney book, Progeny of a Killer. Jean has written a short story especially for us. I’m sure we all want to know if she is actually the female of the piece . Mmmmmmm….
The Tainted Dress
I was seventeen when I first met George Kravitz. Of Hungarian descent, there was something of the gypsy about George. Maybe it was reflected in his irresistible brown eyes, long black curls and brooding features. I happened to be with my mother at our initial encounter. He was idling around with some friends. In the presence of my mother, the most George and I exchanged were surreptitious glances. I discovered from a friend, Angela, whom he used to date that he lived with his own divorced mother. Imagine my excitement when Angela told me that he was interested in me? He came into the shop where I worked as a butcher and asked me for a date. We decided on the following Saturday.
But George failed to show.I waited and waited, until I was forced to take my dejected self home. It struck me that maybe I had been duped. That George and Angela were still dating. They were probably laughing at the fool I was, because I had become so attracted to this man. Monday came, and I was waiting to accuse her, but she explained that George had been arrested for petty thieving. He would most likely be sent to Borstal, a home for young offenders, as it wasn’t his first offence. All I could dwell on, in my seventeen year old naivety, was that at least George didn’t have another girl. I wasn’t to know that this was just the beginning of the end. I probably should have turned my back on him, he was obviously trouble, but I couldn’t. I promised myself that if he still wanted me then I would wait for him.
As soon as he was released he returned to me, all apologies. Now that he found a girl he loved, he would never do it again he said. We started dating properly then. Life was peaches and cream for a while, but was marred by an incident at the local pub one Saturday night when George had had a little too much to drink. I knew he carried a knife inside his jacket. It seldom bothered me until a young man started chatting to me while George was getting the drinks. When he pulled the knife on the man, I was left with no alternative but to drag George out. We ran down the street like wild things before someone called the police.
Above it all, I visualised my mother’s disapproving expression at what I was doing, and who I was with, aware she despised the very ground that he walked on.
How true the adage ‘love is blind’. No one was more blinded by love than me. Once I’d recovered from the knife incident, realising that my home wouldn’t be recipient to swarms of police, only added to the excitement. Although I’m certain I would have preferred to have faced an entire squad of police rather than my mother’s wrath.
As I had a reasonably good job, and George was penniless, I gave him money and even bought his clothes. Mainly because I wanted to be proud of him whenever we went somewhere nice.
One afternoon, during my lunch break, I met George with another man, who I only knew as Johnson. If he had a christian name I never heard it. If George ever made any money at all, it was working the fairgrounds. I guess that was the gypsy in him. Often he’d tour the country searching out these fairs. So I thought nothing of it when he told me there was a fair in Chesterfield and I wouldn’t see him for awhile. Although I wasn’t happy that he would be away, I was compelled to accept it, but wanted to know how long he would be gone. He seemed uncomfortable at my questioning, while Johnson’s eyes had narrowed coldly. There was something about the latter I found creepy. In his late twenties, he appeared to have some kind of hold over George.
Later that afternoon as I sat in a nearby cafe, Johnson dropped himself into the seat adjacent to mine like the spider who came to sit beside Miss Muffet, and issued a warning. If I persisted in questioning George, I might end up not quite as pretty as I was. I had weeks of nightmares, scared I was to be the victim of an acid attack, or something equally as horrendous. So I never breathed a word.
Of course the still warning voice was busy intimating that I should sever my ties with this man. Now!
I told the voice to shut up when George returned, wearing a tailored suit and tie. He looked prosperous and aided by the transformation, I wondered if it was time to finally face my parents, as he’d expressed an interest in seeing my home in the country. He found a proper job, he said, in Chesterfield, that he’d turned his back on his old life, and wanted to settle down. He intended to buy an engagement ring, and gave me some money to buy myself a new dress. He’d book a table in a classy restaurant for Saturday.
I purchased the most expensive dress I could find. A slim fitting emerald green velvet with a lace trim collar. I showed the dress to my parents although I lied that I was going to a works dance. Truthfully, I remained apprehensive about confessing to my mother that I intended getting engaged to a man she failed to distrust.
But how wise mothers are. I had yet to realise that until the evening I came home from work, to find her reading the newspaper. What she then told me was to shatter my world, and for which I entertained a physical sickness. “You know that George you used to date?”
“What do you mean, ‘used to, Mum?’ I thought. I’m getting engaged to him on Saturday.
Apparently, George had resisted arrest by striking a police officer and escaping on a stolen motorbike. He was now in police custody with three other men. The men, including my boyfriend, held up a sub Post Office in Chesterfield. During the raid the postmaster was shot and killed. As the men were masked no one knew who had fired the shot. Seems the gang had escaped with a hefty haul. Some of which had paid for my dress.
I had begun to hate the sight of the dress I had bought with such anticipation of the forthcoming Saturday,. The newspaper had printed a picture of the dead postmaster. Every time I looked at the dress all I could visualise was his face and the blood. I couldn’t even hide the dress in my wardrobe for fear it would contaminate the rest of my clothes. So I was left with no other choice than to return it to the shop. I could have worn the dress on other dates, but I’d have felt much too guilty at wearing a dress bought on stolen money, in which a man had paid for with his life. My mother wanted to know where it was. I told her that I didn’t like it anymore, and took it back to the shop. She said nothing, but I think she knew.
Years rolled on, and I married and was pregnant. I was about to finish up my last few days at my job when one weekend George entered the shop to ask me to a party. He told me that he only had a couple of days as he had to return to prison. Flashing the wedding ring – the stomach told its own story – I retorted, “Do I look as if I want to go to a party?” He told me that it didn’t matter, despite the fact I was now married with a child and expecting another.
He’d changed. I heard he had got into a knife fight in prison, and sported a scar down his face. He made such a fuss at my refusal, the shop manager had to call the police.
No matter that I had moved on with my life, he still seemed to consider me his. And probably did until his death in police cells after he was arrested on a drunk and disorderly charge.
I live in a country village called Thatcham, in rural Berkshire, England. I am a widow with two sons and a granddaughter. My granddaughter also writes and is training to be a dance choreographer. I love music, especially old Country, as I have since I was a child. I enjoy listening to Irish Country music, which I also write to. When I’m not writing, I work in a care home for the elderly with dementia. I enjoy watching movies and collect old gangster
and horror films. I once owned over two hundred and fifty books on supernatural accounts, but was compelled to give them to charity shops as I had run out of room.
I own over five hundred movies, and enjoy old anthology series such as The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. My favourite writers are Elliott O’Donnell, Robert Bloch, MR James and HP Lovecraft. I also enjoy the Irish terrorism thrillers of Jack Higgins.
I would like to post an acknowledgement to the lovely Helen Treharne, @Tea_Talks on # Twitter for recommending Rave Reviews Book Club, and for her continued support. She’s read all my books to date. Bless her.
Link to Blog: https://jmshorney.wordpress.com
Progeny Of A Killer
This tour sponsored by 4WillsPublishing.wordpress.com