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Tall Tales, Short Stories writing competition – Highly Commended: William Berkshire

William completed Alice Jolly’s short story ‘Ray the Rottweiler‘:

The dogs go after them and the level of noise drops. He smiles crookedly, nods and comes back to the gate. Now, absent of the dogs he rests his bony fingers around the handle of the gate, twisting the handle open back up and leading me through towards the rancid house.

‘Welcome back, long time no see brother.’

I continued past the Rottweilers, they recognised me, I meant no harm, so they ignored me. Preoccupied by their bone, bone of what? You could never tell and with Jacks infinite secrets it could practically be anything, human too. He pried open the rotting front door and I followed through into his lair, the stench unbearable as always, we headed up the stairs to the left of the doorway, Jack didn’t use the downstairs, that was for Ray, at the head of the stairs I noticed the same two rooms, as always unchanged in ten years since…

He lead me into his room, the only room which was actually his in the house, in here just as rank as the rest, dog shit coats the floor, his bed down to its bones in the corner, the same mattress from when he first moved in, centuries ago. I sat on his dog faeces infused mattress and placed my bag beside me. I began to empty it, three bags of Pedigree dog food, that was good enough to last him the next few days feeding the brutes with rations. And for him a loaf of bred and marmite, he basically lived off this, and for me it was practical, cheap and easy to get.

‘Thanks, where would I be without you’ he replied.

‘Dead’, I muttered, ‘like the others think you are’.

To everyone else Jack was a ghost, dead because of… No one can know, only us, and Ray, don’t forget Ray, he has been here the whole way, Jack’s guardian, but far from an angel. I stood back up, and headed back towards the door, we never talked much, we couldn’t talk much, in case someone was listening. I turned the corner, back down the rotting stairs, through the faeces and out the door. Neither of us even bothered to say bye. We both knew I would be back soon, I exited past the Rottweilers, my presence not even known by them. I exited the high gate and smiled at Josh and began to push him back along the path. He too was used to this process, I had been taking him here since I became a single parent, it was my purpose to take care of him and raise him, and earn enough money to provide for Jack too and for my occasional pint of Westons to keep me going. Life is hard here in Grafon, a little town in the East of Wales, left with the job of keeping the events of 1995 a secret.