Audrey Austin

Audrey Austin
Proud to be a small town indie author

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Meet Graham Smith - this week's featured author ...

My name is Graham Smith and I am a short story writer at the hardboiled / noir end of the crime fiction genre. I live in a little village with a population of no more than 500. The village is near Gretna Green on the Scotland England border.
I am also a review for the well respected site

There Goes the Bride
 by Graham Smith
‘In ten minutes time I’m off to marry the man of my dreams’ Suzanne updated her Facebook status. Glad she had insisted on being on her own for the last hour without her mother or sisters suffocating her. She laid down her Blackberry, checked her make-up one last time and exited the bridal suite, locking the door behind her as she made her way downstairs.
‘She’ll be here any minute now,’ thought Garry, resisting the urge to check his watch again. He was stood in front of the anvil at Gretna Green waiting for Suzanne. She was already 5 minutes late, but to be fair to her she was always late and wasn’t it traditional for a bride to be late anyway? 
*    *    *    * 
Ten minutes previously Michael Johnson had turned up at the Gretna House Hotel to collect Suzanne with his stretch limousine, only to be told by the receptionist that she had been picked up by another chauffeur some five minutes earlier. Confused he had called the wedding planner who had booked him, only to be asked why he had not yet delivered the bride.
‘She’s no’ here.’
‘Then where is she?’
‘I dunno? Lisa said she was picked up by another chauffeur five minutes ago and she was wearing her wedding dress.’
‘Doesn’t sound like she’s run off then. And she knows where to go, as we met there yesterday and it’s only half a mile for Gods sake.’
“What do we do now then?’
‘I’ll need to speak to the groom. Shit! There’s another wedding here in twenty minutes and they’ll lose their slot if she doesn’t show up soon.’
‘What about calling the police?’
‘Christ no. Well at least not yet.’ 
*    *    *    * 
‘Excuse me Garry can I have a quick word?’
‘Yeah sure. Best be quick though as she’s bound to be here any minute.’ Garry’s thick Yorkshire accent was higher than usual due to his wedding day nerves.
‘Actually that’s what I wanted to talk to you about.’
‘Oh fuck. Please tell me she is coming,’ he pleaded, his mind filled with dread.
‘It seems as if there has been a mix up to me and she’s got in the wrong car. When the driver from Prestige Cars went to pick her up she had already gone with another chauffeur. She was wearing her wedding dress though. I’m sure there’s no need to panic.’ She reassured him.
‘D’you know anything about this?’ Garry demanded of his future brother in law. ‘Nowt to do with me. But I can’t say I’m disappointed.’
‘That’s enough!’ said Garry’s best man, well aware of the bad blood between the two men.
*    *    *    * 
‘Where are we going? This isn’t the way to The Blacksmiths.’
‘Just a small detour. You’re supposed to be a little late.’
‘I don’t want to be late. Please take me straight to the Blacksmiths,’ said Suzanne, growing uneasy. First there was a different chauffeur with a different car saying the other driver had been in an accident with her chosen wedding car and now the new driver was making her very late.
‘You’re not going to be getting married today. Instead you’re coming with me.’ 
*    *    *    * 
Garry, trailed by the wedding planner, charged into the reception of Gretna House Hotel and demanded that Lisa, the receptionist, tell him who had collected his bride to be. They had lost their wedding time, yet his only concern was for Suzanne’s welfare.
The poor girl stammered tearful answers to his questions, while the wedding planner called round all the local chauffeur companies trying to ascertain who exactly had picked her up. Unfortunately none of them could help as they had been at other wedding venues.
With neither course of action giving any clues, Garry pulled his mobile from his sporran and dialled 112 the mobile emergency services number. He quickly and concisely explained what had happened saying he thought that Suzanne had been abducted. 
*    *    *    * 
‘Jimmy here’s one for you to check out. Possible abduction of a bride from Gretna Green.’
‘Waste of bloody time’ muttered DS James Peters ‘Tenner says she’s done a runner.’
‘Aye well, go down, show face and check it out anyway. It was called in by a Garry Brown who she was due to marry at fourteen thirty hours. The details are on here.’ He handed him the email from emergency services.
When Peters arrived at the hotel he was met by a frantic Garry who quickly babbled out what he knew. As he was calming Garry down to get clear details, they were approached by one of the wedding guests whose skimpy outfit threatened to distract him from the task at hand.
He vividly remembered when his wife used to dress this way and engage him in whole nights of torrid passion. Since the birth of their second child she seemed to dress exclusively in the Mumsy range from Matalan and has as much interest in his needs as the kitchen table. Dragging his attention from her uplifted chest he focused on the words she was saying.
‘Look, she was on Facebook just before she left.’
Peters reached for the I-phone she proffered and read the Facebook post.
‘It doesn’t seem like she planned on not turning up. Almost all of her posts are about the wedding.’
‘So what are you doing to find her?’ Demanded Garry, snatching the phone from Peters, who was wheeling away and reaching for his own mobile.
‘Guv, its Jimmy. The missing bride was on Facebook 10 minutes before she was due to be married saying how she couldn’t wait to marry the man of her dreams. I don’t think she’s done a runner.’
‘Speak to the hotel staff and see where all the guests are from, it might give us some kind of handle on what’s happened. I’ll be there soon with some more bodies.’
‘There’s folk from all over the country Guv. I’ve been here ten minutes and I’ve already heard Scouse, Brummie and Geordie accents. You know how busy Gretna gets on a bank holiday weekend.’ 
*    *    *    * 
The car pulled up outside a lonely cottage on the shore of the Solway Firth. Trapped inside Suzanne wondered at what was next for her. Se had tried in vain to get at the female driver but the partition had remained resolute against her attacks, as had the driver to her entreaties. The chauffeur climbed out and opened the rear door using her left hand while brandishing a large kitchen knife in her right.
‘Get out and walk slowly to the cottage. The door’s open, turn left and go into the bedroom. I don’t want to cut you, but I will. Understand?’
As they walked towards the cottage, Suzanne could feel the tip of the knife at her back which coupled with the fact she was wearing a full skirted wedding dress and high heels prevented her from trying to run away. Deep down she knew she could never outrun her athletically figured abductor dressed as she was. ‘Why have you kidnapped me?’
The only answer she received was a shove in the back, propelling her through a door and onto a bed in the tiny room. The door slammed shut and the sound of bolts shooting home finally broke her composure.
‘Why me’ she sobbed as terrible thoughts run through her head. I’m going to be killed! Hacked to pieces by that mad woman! 
*    *    *    * 
As more CID cars pulled up the hotel drive Peters quickly informed his DI what he had achieved so far which, was only to learn that no-one had seen anything untoward and that there was a CCTV system which they were accessing to see if it had recorded Suzanne leaving the building. He also directed the Family Liaison Officer to the suite where Garry and Suzanne’s family were cloistered. Garry was now absolutely distraught and on the verge of cracking up. His mood swinging between murderous intent to whoever had taken Suzanne from him and teary prayers for her safe return. The only constant in his behaviour was the certainty with which he insisted she had not gone of her own volition.
Peter’s dispatched a young DC to speak with a local resident who he’d seen trimming a hedge as he arrived. His DI stalked around with a scowl on his face and his mobile clamped to his ear as he informed his DCI of the situation and conducted the investigation.
Nothing was going for the police so far. There were five different wedding parties at the hotel coming from all different areas of the UK. Preliminary enquires from other hotels were all coming back with the same information – multiple wedding parties from all corners of the country. 
*    *    *    *
Night fell on the cottage by the Solway Firth. Suzanne had examined every inch of her prison and found that the only possible means of escape was through a tiny window at head height. She doubted she could fit through the opening even if she could break all the glass away without being heard by the mad woman who had snatched her. Then she heard a door slam followed by the solid thunk of a car door closing. An engine coughed into life and she heard the scrunch of tyres on gravel.
Upturning the metal bucket which had been her unused chamberpot to use as a stool, she hit the glass with the heel of an expensive wedding shoe and when it broke she quickly smashed all the remaining pieces as close to the wooden frame as possible.
She then slipped off her wedding dress and shoved it through the hole. Grabbing the sheet from the bed she folded it and laid against the base of the window to protect her from any remaining shards of glass.
It was now or never, so she put her arms and head through the aperture and with her hands against the outside wall she hauled herself off the bucket. That first momentum got her head and shoulders through the window and she was now wedged half way through with all of her twelve stones resting on her stomach, which in turn was resting on the bottom of the window. She could feel glass cutting into her and the first trickle of blood starting its gravity fed journey downwards.
Wriggling was excruciating so she braced herself and with the logic that it was the same as ripping a plaster off quickly, she heaved and lurched with all her might until she had birthed herself from the tiny window.
Landing in a heap, Suzanne had grazed her shoulder and her head had collided with a row of bricks which were bordering the lawn.
Suddenly she heard an engine approaching. Ignoring her injuries she snatched her dress and shoes from their landing place and ran along the shore to hide behind some gorse bushes. Headlights appeared and just when she thought her captor had returned she saw the car turn in the opposite direction.
She considered running after it for help but she was too scared that they may be accomplices of her kidnapper. Instead she pulled her wedding dress back on and fitted her shoes back onto her feet. Her wedding lingerie was in tatters and she had at least a dozen cuts below her waist including a long jagged tear on her right leg where she had inadvertently dragged her limb along a shard of glass she’d missed. Each of these cuts was oozing blood steadily and she knew her wedding dress would be ruined in minutes. 
*    *    *    * 
‘Why haven’t you found her? She’s been gone for seven bloody hours now. You got the reg plate from the security camera didn’t you? Surely with all the technology you’ve got, you can find one fucking stretch limo.’
‘I’m sorry Garry. We have done everything we can. It’s now just a case of waiting for the kidnappers to either contact you or her family.’ DS Peters was as frustrated as Garry. The investigation had started off well but had ground to a halt. CCTV cameras had identified the cars number plate, but when they had traced it through the DVLC they had found it actually belonged to a Ford Fiesta instead of the stretch limo it was attached to.  
*    *    *    * 
Suzanne had decided against following the road in case the woman returned so she walked along beside the gravelly shore, keeping on the grassy verge so her heels were not impeded by the soft going. Her dress was now covered in saucer sized red polka dots where her wounds had leeched blood through the material of her dress. She encountered a river which was too deep to ford and too fast flowing to swim across so she simply followed it upstream until she came to a farmhouse.
Seeing a light on in a downstairs room, she ran across the yard and banged repeatedly on the door with her fists. A ruddy faced farmer answered the door with a shotgun in his hands.
Seeing her bedraggled and bloody appearance he quickly put down the weapon and shouted for his wife.
‘The police, we’ve got to get the police.’ Now she was safe she let her emotions go and dissolved into tears of relief, terror at what she’d endured and pain from the myriad of cuts which littered her body.
The farmer called the police and then he asked her if she wanted to call anybody while they waited for the police to arrive.
‘My fiancĂ© Garry. I don’t know his number though.’ She confessed. Her mobile had made memorising numbers unnecessary. ‘He’s at the Gretna House Hotel. His name’s Garry Brown.’
‘I’ll get the number for you love. Andrew, put the kettle on will you? She needs some hot sweet tea.’ In the time honoured tradition of farmer’s wives she was calm under adversity and firmly believed that a cup of tea could cure all woes. 
*    *    *    * 
Peters ran into the room. ‘Garry, she’s turned up safe. She’s at a farm five minutes from here.’
‘Is she ok? Has she been hurt?’ Anxiously Garry searched the detective’s face for bad news but saw none.
‘We only had the 999 response from the farmer’s wife but it seems she has had a rough time but is basically alright. She escaped and made her way to safety so she must be fairly okay.’ Seeing you can relief on Garry’s face he made an offer he knew would be accepted. ‘You can come with me to get her if you like.’
‘C’mon then lets go.’ Garry was making for the door when the receptionist stopped him and told him that Suzanne was on the phone for him.
Peters waited patiently outside with a cigarette, while Garry and Suzanne had a very tearful conversational reunion. His shift had officially finished hours ago but this was one of the few occasions when the job was brilliant and thoroughly rewarding.
Suzanne was sitting at table in the farmhouse kitchen sipping tea laced with a strong and peaty malt whisky. The mixed aromas of moorland and Darjeeling confused her sense of smell but gave a new strength to her battered body.
When a knock at the door produced Garry and a detective called Peters she simply ran to the man who by now should have been her husband. Once they had separated from their embrace, Peters called an ambulance and started to get Suzanne’s story.
His interest chirped up when he found out about her escape and the route she had taken to get to the farmhouse. A quick consultation with the farmer revealed the only cottage not occupied by long standing locals was used for holiday letting.
He saw Suzanne into the ambulance and then rapidly mobilised the two detectives who had followed them from the hotel and using an unmarked car went to the cottage followed by Garry’s best man who wanted to learn who was behind this so he could learn who had ruined Garry and Suzanne’s wedding day.
Seeing the stretch limo parked up and the cottage door open Peters and the other detective entered the cottage only to find a woman lying on the floor. An empty vodka bottle and two aspirin containers lay beside her.
‘Fuck me it’s Karen.’ Garry’s best man recognised the woman who Garry had jilted at the altar all those years ago. 
© Graham Smith 2011


Graham Smith is married with a young son. A time served joiner he has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. For the last eleven years he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.  

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well respected review site for over three years. 

He has three collections of short stories available as Kindle downloads and has featured in anthologies such as True Brit Grit and Action: Pulse Pounding Tales as well as appearing on several popular ezines.
Twitter - @GrahamSmith1972

Amazon Author Page


My own eBooks

Gutshots: Ten Blows to the Abdomen

Harry Charters Chronicles

Eleven The Hardest Way

Anthology Entries
Off the Record 2: At the Movies

True Brit Grit

Action: Pulse Pounding Tales

Flashy Shorts



1 comment:

  1. Nicely ratcheted up tension until the nerves are pulsing raw and then a believable escape and excellent reveal in the last sentence. More real than most all of the superhuman serial killers we see in stories these days. Good'un, Graham.