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Other titles by Roy E.

Stolworthy:
All In
Hidden in Plain View
The Dancing Boy
Coming Home
Echoes of Madness

About the Author


Leaving school Roy Stolworthy signed on for a nine year
engagement with the Royal Air Force. After which he worked
in the Middle East for five years as a welding and science
tutor. Later he moved into Iran for a year and worked with a
Canadian Company. After the untimely death of his wife he
returned to the UK and raised his two daughters aged 4 and 7.
The kind of person not to sit around complaining he formed a
magazine distribution company and then moved into finance.
Retired he spends his time writing with no particular genre in
mind and prefers to write his stories as they come to mind.
Although he has been published he preferred to self-publish,
until now.

Roy E. Stolworthy

LOVING MURIEL

Copyright Roy E. Stolworthy (2015)


The right of Roy E. Stolworthy to be identified as author of this
work has been asserted by him in accordance with section 77 and
78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be
reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any
form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying,
recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the
publishers.
Any person who commits any unauthorized act in relation to this
publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims
for damages.
A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the British
Library.

ISBN 9781785543852 (Paperback)

www.austinmacauley.com
First Published (2015)
Austin Macauley Publishers Ltd.
25 Canada Square
Canary Wharf
London
E14 5LQ

Printed and bound in Great Britain

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places


and incidents either are the product of the authors
imagination or are used factiously. Any resemblance to actual
persons (living, dead or in any other form) business
establishments, events or locales is entirely and purely
coincidental.

But love is blind, and lovers cannot see


The pretty follies that themselves commit
For, if they could, Cupid himself would blush.
The Merchant of Venice

CHAPTER ONE

Things that are done can rarely be undone, and within the
chaos lies a plethora of accusations. Looking back it seems
ironical that the past is an irritating and lengthy process that
only comes to light when denied.
Overcome with impatience, Muriel Ramsey sucked in a deep
breath and fidgeted on the front pew of the Church of St
Margaret. Shuddering inwardly, she tipped her nose in the air
and cast her eyes at the casket containing her deceased
husband, Clive. Unsure whether to feel relieved or distressed
at his passing she consoled herself with the thought that the
doors of a new life were about to swing open for her. Despite
her discomfort she turned her head and looked out across the
half full church, and prayed for the day to come to an abrupt
end. . Regardless of what others thought forty years married to
a man who treated her like a love goddess hadnt made for a
good marriage. But happiness means different things to
different people,-it is an emotion few people truly experience.
But as in life death has its compensations and she felt gratified
he could only die once and never again direct himself against
her.. Even then, she felt cause for concern. A meticulous man
with an eye for detail, he could cut himself shaving on
Monday and not start bleeding until Wednesday. For a full
minute, she stared at the casket, then turned her head away
and never looked back.
Not that her married life had been anything like strenuous,
far from it. From beginning to end, Clive insisted he do the
cooking, cleaning, and washing, along with the rest of the

menial chores that made up a housewifes lot. Impervious to


what she thought of him, he wore a pinafore, a plastic one
with a large pair of womans boobs printed across the front.
Eager to show the world he possessed a sense of humour he
thought it amusing. He was like that, on the weird side. He
talked a lot like he knew everything. At first she found it
strange, almost unbecoming, but eventually she adjusted to his
mannerisms, no point in looking a gift horse in the mouth. As
for her, well, in her inert self she was the complete opposite.
Never affable, or known to attach her emotions, she made few
friends and kept to herself. Of course jokes were made behind
her back. A good shagging might help loosen her bones, men
whispered with downcast eyes.
When fleeting thoughts of her deceased husband drifted
across the vagueness of her mind, she discarded them out of
hand. It never occurred to her to speculate what might become
of her later on in life. Enjoying a life of comfort she happily
left Clive to bury himself in the art of worrying, something in
which he seemed to relish. At the sound of voices raised in
praise to the Almighty, her lips pursed and her expression
altered to a grimace. No way would she join in the singing of
hymns or utter words of prayer. Not that she had anything
against God; religion made her nervous and the worrying
thought a miracle might bring Clive back to life churned her
belly.
The church, little more than a five-minute drive from
where she lived in a large detached, five bedroomed house
built on prime land, was gloomy and sterile. Tired ancient
holy remnants were visible on the makeshift altar. Along both
the inner sides of the church, rows of elephantine sculptured
columns supported languid curved arches. Trapped in veils of
swirling dust, dull beams of sunlight poured through stainedglass windows depicting St Margaret, the virgin of Antioch.
Underfoot an aisle of uneven flagstones worn thin by the tread
of countless feet led from the vestibule to the make-shift altar.
On either side, mourners sitting shoulder to shoulder in pews
shifted their expressionless eyes, and gazed at the casket open
since early morning for friends and relatives to pay their

respects. Those lacking the virtuous gift of patience fidgeted


eager for the funeral service to be over so they might start the
day on a more cheerful note. Outside, on three sides a
cemetery filled with moss-covered tombstones and decaying
concrete angels. Scattered sheep loaned from a local farm
munched contentedly on the long grass. Saved the cost of
hiring a contractor and grass cutting equipment, the vicar
slurred, slurping down his fourth pint of Guinness in the
White Goose Inn late Friday night.
During the duration of their marriage little had changed
for Muriel apart from she had taken to wearing a suspender
belt and nylon stockings. Reckoned they were healthier than
tights and did away with irritable rashes that plagued her
during the hot summer. Her biggest mistake had been to
mention this to Clive; his eyes lit up like the Northern lights
and his trousers bulged. To minimise the threat of his
unwanted attention, she took to wearing stone-washed jeans or
tight fitting trousers. She had the figure along with long
shapely legs. Even now, aged sixty-two, there was nothing
about her that gave the appearance of being old. She could
turn the heads of men half her age. Not that she flaunted
herself, at times during her lifetime she considered her beauty
to be more a burden than a blessing. Many were the times she
wished she had been born plain, with a flat chest and skinny
legs. Even a set of buck teeth wouldnt have gone amiss. Time
dragged and the wooden pew felt hard and sensing the sudden
need for the toilet she panicked, shifted her weight and
crossed one leg over the other. When her skirt rode up
exposing a glimpse of white thigh, the tall stick thin priest
swinging a thurible containing incense to purify the air in
preparation for prayers offered up to the heavens faltered.
Unconcerned by his sly sideways glance, for a few seconds
she remained immobile, then tugged down the hem of her
skirt and stared defiantly at the altar. Clive had died in his
sleep. A heart attack, the words on his death certificate stated.
It had meant little to her but she thought it better to keep her
thoughts to herself, dead is dead, we all have to go sometime.
Of her only child, a wispy daughter called Susan, there was no

sign. Rumour was, stricken by grief at the passing of her


father she remained at home rather than endure the gushing
sentiments from people she barely knew. Those who knew
better would bet their last penny she was at the job centre
using her fathers death to claim extra benefits for her brood
of six children.
Simpering gossip had it that Muriel chose the venue to
save on the cost of the cortge. Those beyond humility, who
paid nothing more than lip service to the passing of Clive
Ramsey, had neither the courage nor wit to confront her with
their prefabricated criticisms. It was common knowledge she
was incapable of repressing her primal disgust at those she
considered had little more than a villagers appetite for idle
gossip.
Further back in the congregation, standing next to his
three daughters, Eddie Boyne raised a hand to his brow. A
reluctant victim of the unsettling distinction that belonged to
that breed of people he lived in fear of the inevitability of
death. From that stemmed a fervent phobia of funerals. Today
was his third funeral in as many weeks and a spreading
tightness round his temples warned him of an impending
headache. Not that anyone cared. How were they to know
while here, inside Gods house, he suppressed the urge to
prostrate himself before God and swear on the Holy Bible
never to attend another funeral? Mindful there might be some
truth in life after death; his nerves got the better of him, and
casting his mind back recalled the words of the flinty-eyed
Sunday school teacher telling him of a heaven enclosed in
fluffy white clouds. He remained standing.
After a time his legs began to ache and half convinced the
service might go on forever, feeling fractious for open spaces
he pressed down the balls of his feet to ease the pain. It didnt
work, and hoping to find some form of comfort, turned to his
eldest daughter Kate, he lowered his voice to a whisper and
muttered into her ear.

Its my sixty-eighth birthday today and Im frigging pig


sick of being stuck in churches week in and week out
sweating my balls off one day and freezing the next.
Kate stiffened. Horrified by the precision of his words she
dug her nails into her palms and shuddered. Dressed in dark
navy with her honey-blonde hair tied back with a black lace
ribbon, at first she declined to answer. Then recalling his
hatred of funerals was a deep-rooted disposition rather than
some ill-timed childish tantrum glanced into his soft grey
eyes. Aware at times he could be unpredictable, she must be
firm before he took it in his head to walk out leaving her and
her two sisters Alison and Emma, alone in the middle of the
congregation.
Clive was your best friend. Stop complaining and pay
your respects. And why didnt you press your trousers last
night like I told you? You look like an unemployed scarecrow.
I suppose you forgot to bring the words of remembrance you
scribbled down.
He fixed his gaze on her face, and, as if she had issued a
command that must be obeyed poked the breast pocket of his
jacket with his thumb.
Its in my pocket if you must know. How am I supposed
to read with my eyes watering from all that incense flying
aroundenough to turn a bat blind? And a fat lot of use it will
do paying my respects where hes going.
Then, smiling without parting his lips to convey his
immunity to her rebuke, he hoped to find a hint of compassion
in her icy stare. But saw none. The manner in which she spoke
to him was nothing out of the ordinary, he was used to her
brittleness and more often than not gave as good as he got.
Not that he cared too much what she thought of him. Aged
sixty-eight he considered complaining, along with arguing,
one of the prime benefits of growing old. But to argue with
her, Kate; well, that was like trying to peel an orange with
your toes.

If you would turn to the back of your hymn sheet, we


will now sing the 23rd Psalm, the priest announced.
Eddie stared at the sheet and broke out into song. Seconds
later Kates elbow dug into his ribs. What in Gods name are
you doing singing Onward Christian Soldiers? Youre on the
wrong page. Turn the sheet over.
That was it, the straw that broke the camels back. Enough
was enough. In a fit of temper he tossed the sheet onto the
floor, flopped down onto the pew and remained there until the
singing ended.
Kates face drained. Get up. Its time for your reading.
Im not doing it.
Dont be silly, people are waiting.
I couldnt care less.
Thank you, Edward, when you are ready. The priests
words echoed.
Get up, Kate hissed.
No, I dont want to.
Kates breath came sharply into her lungs. Not for the first
time she wondered if he had the beginnings of some kind of
dementia. Some days he was like a father, other times a
stranger, quiet, stubborn, or seemingly disorientated.
Would it help if I came with you? Emma, his youngest
daughter said.
His mood eased and he stared into her child-like face.
Dear Emma, who didnt have an unkind bone in her body,
born prematurely, it had been a close call whether she would
survive the night of her birth. But she fought back and found a
niche in his and her mothers heart.
No, its nothing for you to worry over. Ill keep it short.
Kates look turned to one of amused suspicion. It was a
ridiculous concept. He was bound to succeed in making a fool
of himself, worst of all, end up laughing at his own jokes.

Well, go on then. What are you waiting for? she said.


At least youll get a good view of fancy knickers sitting on
the front row.
Aware of her dislike for Muriel, he sighed and ignored the
remark, then changed his mind.
Why dont you leave her alone?
Leave her alone? I wouldnt give her the time of day if
she waved a wand and bought Clive back to life.
Tired of her constant taunts and sneers he felt the need to
respond more vigorously, tell her to keep her remarks to
herself. Then out of respect for the occasion once more
changed his mind, and stepped into the aisle. After three
paces, he faltered, caught his toe on an uneven flagstone and
with arms outstretched to break his fall, fell flat on his face
and disappeared from view.
Gasps turned to muffled laughter from the congregation.
A crooked grin jumbled onto his features as he climbed to his
feet and brushed the dust from his trousers with the back of
his hand. With feet apart and hands on his hips, he looked up
at the vaulted ceiling. Thank you for that, Clive. Ill get my
own back when we meet again; you can be sure of that.
Stifled laughter turned to raucous roars and Eddies grin
widened. Crimson with shame Kate buried her head in her
hands and sank onto the pew. She should have known better
than to let him loose to commemorate Clives life. A natural
born storyteller, hed milk his newly found audience for all it
was worth.
Afterwards, when hed regained his composure, he made
his way to the front of the church and turned to face the
smirking congregation. A smile puckered his lips. Minus her
wedding ring, Muriel sat with one leg crossed over the other.
His eyes flickered over her face searching for a sign of grief,
but saw none. She sat stiff and upright not moving a muscle,
her eyes, cold as stones stared towards and beyond him up at
the stained-glass window above the altar as if he didnt exist.
He shivered and something inside him shifted the juices of his