All posts by Roger Bussey

My love in my younger days covered photography, history and poetry. As the years progressed I moved forward taking another love of mine; music into my local Folk Club… As I have got older my life has changed, and I have come interested in fiction writing and poetry.

Writer’s Tools

Fountain Pen Set

As Writer’s we like putting pen to paper, so to speak.  Have you not wondered where the fountain pen, biro or pencil originated from?  These instruments which we use daily…

The idea of writing instruments designed to carry their own ink supply had been a theoretical idea, but it was not until the beginning of the 1700’s, that the theory was being put into practice.

THE FOUNTAIN PEN: The first fountain pen was designed by M.Bion a Frenchman in 1702, but it was more than a 100 years later in 1809. When American Peregrin Williamson, patented his design in 1809.

John Scheffer obtained a British patent for his design of 1819, for his idea of a half quill – half metal pen.

Then in 1831 John Jacob Parker patented his design of a self-filling pen, but it was the design of Lewis Waterman, who patented the first practical fountain pen in 1884.

If it had not been for early fountain-pen inventors; using the hollow channel of a birds feather to create an ink reservoir, to replace the constant use of dipping into an ink well. The Romans created a reed style of pen, from the hollow tubular-stems of marsh grasses. By cutting one end to create a nib or point, with which to write with, they filled the stem with ink, and squeezed the stems, thus forcing the fluid into the nib. We would never have started a creative revolution in the design of new pens. Another design was to use a reservoir made of hard rubber, and fit a metal nib at the bottom. Unfortunately this did not have the required effect of producing a smooth writing instrument.

It was Lewis Waterman an insurance salesman, who was inspired to improve upon the early fountain-pen design, by adding an air hole in the nib, and three grooves into the feed mechanism.  His mechanism consisted of the nib, which made contact with the paper, a feed to control ink flow.  The aim of the barrel was to hold the nib, protect the reservoir, which in turn the writer holds.

By now we had reached a stage in pen designs, where they all contained some form of internal reservoir to hold ink.

The pens would have an internal reservoir, which would consist of a self-filling rubber sack, opened at one end.  To fill with ink, the reservoir was squeezed by using an internal plate, and then the pen’s nib inserted into the ink.  As pressure was released so the reservoir would fill up.

The period between the late 1800’s through to the mid 1900’s, saw a battle as pen companies, each sought to become the brand leader in reservoir pen designs.  The earliest known design of that time would be the Eyedropper, which had no internal filling mechanism.  Most open by unscrewing a section of the pen, after which the barrel is filled with ink using an eyedropper.  As long as the seal was tight, no ink should leak out.

Parker introduced the Button Filler, which had an external button connected to the internal pressure plate.  Then Walter Sheaffer responded by designing the Lever Filler, a slight variation on the Button Filler, for it used an external lever, that fitted flush with the pen.  Back came Parker, not to be outdone, with their Click Filler, using two protruding tabs, to deflate reservoir, and they clicked when reservoir was full.  Then Waterman introduced the Coin Filler, with slot in barrel, and by use of a coin, one could deflate and fill reservoir.

Some of the early inks were known to corrode the steel nib tips, which led to the introduction of a gold tip.  However, gold also had its problems; it was too soft, for the purpose of writing.  To overcome this design flaw, they used Iridium (A hard yellow-white chemical element that occurs in platinum ores) on the tip of the nib.

Early nibs were available in straight, oblique and italic designs.  As the years went by, and the need to communicate grew, so did the demand in pens, and a larger selection of pen nibs; wider, longer and shaped.

Everything changed in the early 1950’s, with the introduction of a new range of fountain pens, without the need of a reservoir.  They would revolutise the design for the future.

The reservoir had gone, to be replaced with a disposable ink cartridge, originally made of glass, then later of a rubbery plastic.  When they arrived on the scene, they were an immediate success … sixty years on and they are still going.

Ballpoint Pens - Wikipedia

THE BALLPOINT PEN: Laszlo Biro a Hungarian journalist, observed newspaper ink dried quickly, and was smudge free.  His creative juices were activated, and by 1938 he had invented the first Ballpoint pen.

The thicker ink used for newspapers would not flow unaided, which led to a small ball-bearing being fitted to the pens tip.  The idea was, as the ball rotated it collected ink from the reservoir and placed it on the paper.  So simple, yet so clever.

In 1940, Laszlo Biro and his brother George emigrated to Argentina, and applied for a new patent in 1943, and sold licensing rights to the British, as the Royal Air Force needed a pen that would not leak at high altitudes.  The success of this pen brought it to the forefront of pen design.

Laszlo and George Biro went on to form the Eterpen Company and commercialised the Biro pen, which was hailed as an ultimate success.  One of its main advantages was that it only needed re-filling once a year.

The Biro brothers neglected to apply for a U.S.Patent.  As World War Two was coming to an end, so a new battle was just starting: The Battle of The Ballpoint Pens.

For it was in May 1945, the Eversharp Company joined forces with Eberhand – Faber acquiring Biro Pens of Argentina and rebranded the product as Eversharp CA (Capillary Action).

Milton Reynolds saw the Biro Pen whilst in Buenos Aires, and returned to America with a few of them.  By October 1945, Reynolds had copied the Biro design, thus breaking Eversharp’s patent rights, and started the Reynolds Pen Company.  The release of this pen was an overwhelming success.  It was released on the 29th October 1945 priced at $12.50 and went on to sell $100,000 worth on the first day.

Eversharp sued Reynolds for breach of patent rights.

By December 1945, England’s Miles-Martin Pen Company had stepped in releasing their own design of the Biro Pen.

Advertisers claimed these pens would write for two years before the need to refill.  Sales rocketed, but it was not long before problems arose; some leaked, some worked some of the time, and others were known to fail all together

The consumer was dis-satisfied with the ballpoint pen, and sales nose dived, and by 1951, the ballpoint pen died a consumer’s death.

In January 1954, Parker Pens tossed their hat into the ring, by introducing their version of the Ballpoint Pen, known as the Jotter, which worked, so the battle for the ballpoint pen had been won.  Then in 1957 they introduced a tungsten carbide textured ball bearing in their pens.

A French Baron named Bich, removed the h from his name, and started the BIC Pen Company in the 1950’s, and by the end of the 50’s had acquired 70% of the European market.

By 1958, BIC a major player in the pen market had acquired 60% of Waterman Pens and by 1960 owned Waterman Pens outright.

BIC Ballpoint Pen Company dominates the market, selling cheap pens, whilst the likes of Parker, Sheaffer and Waterman sell the expensive Ballpoint Pens.

Pencils Rubbers Sharpeners

THE PENCIL: In 1564, in an area of Seat Waite Valley in Borrow Dale, England; Graphite which is a form of carbon was discovered, and so the first pencils were produced.

The main break through into the world of pencil technology came in 1795, when French chemist, Nicolas Conte used a mixture of fired clay and graphite before housing it in a wooden case.

Pencils got their name from the old English word meaning ‘brush’.  Conte’s method of Kiln firing powdered graphite and clay allowed pencils to be made to any hardness or softness.  The variations have changed over the years: H – 2H – 3H – HB – B – 2B – 3B and so the list goes on.

In the early days, pencils were sharpened by means of knives, similar to that used to shape feather quills.  Then in 1828 a French mathematician, Bernard Lassimone applied for a patent on an invention to sharpen pencils.  Then in 1847 Therry des Estwaux invented the first manual pencil sharpener, and the design is similar to that found in most stationers to-day.

John Lee Love an American designed the “Love Sharpener” a simple design yet portable.  The pencil would be inserted into an opening within the sharpener and rotated by hand.  Shavings would remain within the sharpener.  This was patented in November 1897.

In the early part of the 1940’s Raymond Loewy the first electric pencil sharpener, released by the Hammacher Schlemmer Company.

According to French scientist Charles Marie de la Condamine, South American Indian Tribes were using a form of rubber for attaching feathers to their bodies.  So it was in 1736, he brought a sample to the Institute de France in its natural form, for further studies on its possible applications.

Sir Joseph Priestley scientist stated in 1770 that he had observed a substance being used to wipe pencil marks from paper.  This same substance was brought back to France by Condamine.  Early types of rubber had their limitations, for it had a tendency to rot and crumble.

In came Edward Naime an English engineer and in 1770 he introduced rubber onto the market.

Charles Goodyear stepped into the frame in 1839, with his process to stop rubber crumbling, and make it a long lasting product.  He named his process: Vulcanization, after Vulcan, the roman god of fire.  In 1844 he patented his process.  Now that rubber had become a stable product, rubber or erasers became a product for removal of pencil marks on paper.

What I find quite interesting though.  Before we started using rubber or erasers to remove pencil marks from paper, our ancestors had used breadcrumbs.

Wikipedia Images


Greek Philosopher: Plato

Plato the Philosopher
Plato the Greek Philosopher

Plato the Greek Philosopher was born between 424 and 423BC, to parents from the Greek aristocracy.  Ariston his father was a descended from the Kings of Athens and Messenia, whilst his mother, Perictione was related to the 6th century Greek statesman; Solon.  Plato was one of four children, having two full brothers and one half brother.

History tells us that Plato was educated in Athens, and would have studied the works of Cratylus, Pythagoras and Parmenides.  These would have provided him with the base to his studies in Metaphysics (Study of Nature) and Epistemology (Study of Knowledge).

Ariston, his father died whilst Plato was still young, and his mother remarried Pyrilmapes her uncle a Greek politician and ambassador to Persia.

His direction in life came by way of memorable events, first was meeting Socrates a well known and Greek philosopher, and serving in the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta between 409 and 404BC.

Plato considered a career in politics, but his world was shattered when one he looked up to; Socrates was executed in 399BC for speaking his mind.  He turned away from politics to a life of study and philosophy.

For twelve long years, following the death of Socrates, he travelled through the Mediterranean region, studying mathematics with the Pythagoreans in Italy, geometry, geology and astronomy in Egypt.

Shortly after Socrates death he wrote “The Apoloogy of Socrates” and from their wrote many texts including Protagoras and Euthyphro amongst others, aiming to convey Socrates’s philosophy and teachings to the reader.

His middle writings during his life saw Plato write down his own beliefs, not based on others works.  He wrote of justice, courage, wisdom and moderation, based on the individual within society in his works “The Republic.”

His later writings showed Plato taking an in depth study into his own thoughts of metaphysical ideas.  Exploring the role of art, music, drama along with ethics and morality.

“Plato wrote that the world of ideas is the only constant and that the perceived world through our senses is deceptive and changeable.”

Around 385BC Plato founded an Academy which he ran until his death in 348BC.  This academy offered learning, until it was closed by the Roman Emperor Justinian I who feared it be a source of paganism and a threat to Christianity.

One of the academy’s students, was none other than Aristotle, who would join his thoughts with that of Plato, thus creating new thoughts … new ideas.

Plato left an impact on his home of Greece, and far beyond, showing that mathematics in education was essential if one wanted to understand the universe.

His works, give reason in the development of a fair and just society which led to the foundation of the modern democracy.

My Stolen Years

 Scales of Justice

“Donald, the company accounts show you have been helping yourself to money out of the business once again.  We are not here to bail you out of your gambling debts,” Peter blasted out at his brother, as he entered the office.

“I own part of this business, and that money is just as much mine, as it is yours…I earned it,” replied Donald, surprised at how quickly he had been found out.

“You may own a share of the business, but don’t expect me to work all hours, for you to gamble it away at the tables,” Peter replied in a forceful manner, as anger was beginning to surface.

“How could I, you keep reminding me, every time I withdraw money from the business account for my social night’s out,” Donald responded.

“This can’t go on indefinitely” suggested Peter.

The room reigned in silence for a few minutes…Peter raised his head from the desk, breaking the silence.  “You owe the company £75,000.  Either repay the money by the end of the month, and no more will be said…or you will give me no alternative but to dissolve the partnership.

“You can’t.  You wouldn’t.  We are brothers,” claimed a stunned Donald by the threat.

It was the 15th August 1991, a date that would be remembered: Donald held his breath, positioning himself flat against the wall in response to the creaking sound, as the outer cellar door creaked as he opened it.

What was only a matter of seconds, seemed like ages, fortunately no one put their head out to see what the noise was…relief passed through Donald, or was it fear of being caught.

“No one heard.  No one cared.”  Donald said quietly to himself with a smile, heading for his brother Peter’s gun cabinet; removing his prize and joy; a double-barrelled shotgun, left to him by our father.

Donald slipped into the main part of the house by means of the staircase from cellar to study.  All he had to do was wait for Peter…he didn’t have to wait long; he knew his brother’s daily routine.

Peter entered his study, and was taken back by the sight of his brother, standing before him with his shotgun, aimed in his direction.  “Donald, have you lost your senses, that gun might go off?”

“That’s the general idea,” replied Donald watching his brother’s face turn white with fear.  “You knew very well I could not pay back the money.  If you dissolve our partnership, my share will barely cover my debts.”

“So let’s talk about this?” pleaded Peter.

“It is too late for that,” replied Donald.  “You have left me only one course of action.  I am truly sorry it has come to this.”

The first shot blasted him in the heart, causing his legs to buckle under him…Peter looked up at his brother.  “Donald.  Donald, what have you done?” his words faded as another shot rang out.

Peter, Peter, what are you doing discharging the shotgun in the house,” screamed Samantha his wife as she burst through the door into the study.

Her eyes fell upon her husband on the floor, then Donald pointing a shotgun in her direction.

Before she had a chance to speak, one shot blew part of her face away, followed up in quick succession, by another, which thrust her body clear across the room, crashing into the wall by sheer force.  She was dead before her body fell to the floor.

My heart started racing, as I made my way up the regal looking stairs to the second floor landing, walls lined with closed doors, and adorned with family photographs.

Christina their only daughter was unaware as I entered her bedroom; eyes closed listening to music on headphones.  Her eyes opened in utter shock, as the first of two shots slammed into her chest, she died almost immediately.

Michael the older of their two sons saw me coming out of Christina’s room, bloodied shotgun in hand, he made a run for it…but it was useless.  One shot to the back, sent him sprawling to the floor, and a second smashed through an artery in the leg … he bled to death.

Daniel huddled in fear, listening to the sounds, of a crazed killer prowling the house, hoping they were just figments of his imagination running wild.  He closed his eyes.  “Yes, that was a creak from the floorboards in the hallway, leading to his room.”

Daniel gasped and looked at the door.  It was all that stood between him and certain death…From the corner of his eye, witnessed the door knob turning, and with pulse racing, huddled down in one corner.

The door cracked open and slowly widened.  A bloodied gloved hand appeared around the door’s edge.

“Daniel, where are you?  Don’t be afraid,” called out Donald gazing around his attic bedroom.  Our eyes met…he was crouched down in the corner, with fear in his eyes.

I pulled him up, gave him a big hug, transferring much of the blood on my clothes to his, and then we both sat together on the bed.  It was at that moment, I knew I couldn’t kill him.  I just couldn’t do it.

“If you ever speak of the events that have happened here this day, I will hunt you down, and kill you.  Do you understand what I am saying Daniel?”  As Donald placed the bloodied shotgun on his lap, and placed his hands around it.

Fear reeked through every part of Daniel’s body, as he spoke those words, Donald expected to hear.  “I understand.  I understand.”

“It was done.  It was done.”  Donald said out loud to himself, pulling books and papers off shelves, as he returned to the cellar where he stripped off his jeans, top, trainers and gloves, putting them into a plastic bag, and putting on clean clothes he had brought with him.

Fear of being seen by inquisitive villager’s forced Donald to flee quickly across the farmer’s field adjoining the rear of the property, to his car parked in the lane beyond.

The adrenaline pumped through every part of my body as I drove from the scene…how I drove I will never know!

I reached the home of Louise Purdy; a short woman in her mid-thirties, who lived on the outskirts of the village.  She burst out of her rented cottage, with its run down garden, white front door with peeling paint, ran to the car, wearing a spring rose dress and a light green sweater, which hugged tightly to her body.

“I have done it!  I have done it” stuttered Donald.  “I have killed them,” bursting into tears.  Were they tears of joy or guilt?

“All of them…every last one?” asked Louise.

“I left Daniel, holding the shotgun, covered in blood, he won’t speak of these events, I put fear into his mind,” stated Donald.  “The police will think him guilty; they won’t look for anyone else.”

“I hope you are right?  For I am not going to prison as your accomplice,” responded Louise, as thoughts of protecting herself raced through her mind.  “Give me those clothes, I will dispose of them,” as she grabbed the plastic bag, Donald was holding, containing the bloodied clothes

As the guilt welled up in Donald, he stumbled into the cottage, as the images of the murders danced behind his eyes.  Looking in the direction of Louise, she had that wicked half-smile about her.  Thoughts raced through his mind; could I trust her to keep quiet?  Well I did it all for her!

The shots could be heard clear across the village, one or two shots, one would take it to be a farmer, but eight shots, that was a far different matter.  Something was definitely not right.

By deduction of sound, PC Roberts and Bracks the Church Warden, sensed where it originated from, and were first on the scene.  First signs indicated a possible burglary, as books and papers had been strewn across the floor.  But the true nature proved to be more gruesome, for Peter James, wife Samantha, children Michael and Christina had been discovered murdered.

It was PC Roberts who finally found Daniel, the James’ youngest son sitting on his bed in his room at the top of the house, supporting a bloodied shotgun on his lap.  Later, it would be proved without doubt, that it be the murder weapon.

Roberts, draped a sheet over Daniel, even though it was in the upper seventies, to protect the evidence, and wrapped the shotgun in a sheet taken from the cupboard.

“Why did you do this, Daniel?  You were always a peaceful child,” asked Bracks, as Roberts brought him down.

Daniel turned his head, and gazed into their eyes, he did not speak, just dropped his head…was it guilt?

Blue lights flashing, sirens blaring away, as police converged on the former Victorian Rectory in the village of Stowmarket.  Set back from the road, it stood proud and tall, overlooking the village, in its own grounds, backing onto farmland.

“Morning sir” Detective Sergeant Jonathan Weaver, greeted his superior, Detective Inspector Nelson, the officer who would take charge of the case, arriving only moments earlier, emerging from his car.

“Well, what have you got for us?” asked D.I.Nelson, in a gruff sounding voice, of the uniformed Sergeant Hearne, who was approaching him, as his officer’s gathered around to hear.

“PC Roberts, along with Mr Bracks the Church Warden, heard eight gunshots fired over a ten minute period.  Questioning the where and why…they investigated the source.  It led them straight here; where they found an open door, four bodies, and a house in chaos.

“Brave, but stupid,” commented the Inspector.  “Let’s take a look at the murder scene?”

“If you would like to follow me,” gestured Hearne.

The officers’s entered the former rectory, and were faced by chaos; books and papers flung about.  The Inspector gazed at Hearne, expecting some sort of explanation.

“Just as we found it,” commented Hearne, as they entered the study, where Peter James and his wife Samantha lay.

“I see S.O.C.O. and the Pathologist have beaten us to the scene,” stated the Inspector.

“They have been here some time,” replied Hearne.

Noticing the Inspector, standing in the entrance, Pathologist Sheila McCormack, called out.  “This is a bad one Mike.”

“I know you have only just started, but is there anything you can tell us, to help with our investigation?” asked the Inspector, in a begging manner, desperate for that snippet that would assist the case.

“Well, we have four bodies, and a total of eight shotgun pellets, estimated death, less than two hours ago, based on PC Roberts report,” stated McCormack as she walked over to him.  I intend to perform the post-mortem’s later today, and if you would like to attend … Oh sorry.  I forgot you haven’t got the stomach for it,” she commented with a gleeful smile across her face, with that she turned and waked back to the body of Peter James, the first victim.

“She brings life back, to one on cases like this,” commented the Inspector, watching her depart.

“As I understand you have a suspect, for these murders?” asked the Inspector.

“Yes.  Daniel James (14), covered in blood, and discovered in his bedroom holding the murder weapon.  He’s been taken back to the station, and the weapon has been bagged and tagged accordingly,” stated Hearne.

“Good work,” replied the Inspector, as thoughts raced through his mind, questioning the simplicity of this case, as he gazed around the house.  “Have you checked for possible intruders?”

“Everything’s been done by the book: four of my officer’s searched the house, top to bottom.  As expected nothing indicated the presence of an intruder,” replied Hearne.

Daniel was a quiet boy with dusky coloured hair, and light brown eyes.  He had that baby face look about him, and a sickly complexion.  For his age he was fairly broad shouldered, with a slim figure.  His manners were impeccable, but those who knew him well, stated he had an especially disagreeable temperament.

Daniel James, their prime suspect, never spoke to confess his guilt or innocence, during the course of two, fifty minute video-taped interviews with D.I.Nelson, D.S.Weaver, with consenting adult: Donald James.

What the police never knew, that they had in their presence, the one who had a motive to kill…money.

Perhaps it was inevitable that Daniel would become the prime suspect, and charged with four counts of murder.  For he had been found at the scene covered in the victim’s blood, holding the murder weapon; his father’s double-barrelled shotgun.

The press put no doubt into people’s minds, that Daniel was indeed the murderer as the police believe, not an innocent victim supported by his defence.  Only one person knew the answer to that; the true murderer.

The prosecution focused on four major points:

  • Daniel covered in his victim’s blood.
  • Daniel found holding the murder weapon, covered in his prints.
  • No sign of an intruder.
  • Daniel’s refusal to speak; proving his guilt.

From the outset the defence was convinced that Daniel was incapable of committing such a murder.  For one to fire and re-load a double barrelled shotgun, in quick succession, takes one with much experience, not a young boy, such as their client.  The evidence being put forward against him; was solid.

Daniel had the face of an angel, but without proof…nothing could save him.  So it was up to his defence counsel, to put a question of doubt in the court’s mind.

Prosecution witnesses hammered forth their evidence removing any possible doubt as to Daniel’s innocence.

According to the prosecution witness; PC Roberts and Bracks the churchwarden, who were first on the scene!  They found the house in a state of chaos, papers and books had been flung about.  Daniel, the surviving family member was discovered covered in blood, holding what was proved later to be the murder weapon.

Doctor Sheila McCormack, Pathologist, stated under oath, Peter James, had been found in the study, with one shot to the chest, and another having sliced through his spinal cord.

Samantha James, also found in the study, had part of her face blown away by the first shot.  A second shot to her heart had thrust her clear across the room; crashing into the wall by sheer force … blood was congealing from her fatal chest wound.  Her heart would have stopped almost immediately, resulting in limited blood splatter.

Christina James, found in her bedroom; drenched in her own blood, from two chest wounds.

Michael James had been shot in the back, and one to the leg, which caused an arterial bleed.

Police evidence, stated that the house was searched from top to bottom for signs of an intruder – none was found.  However, this could not be conclusively ruled out, as the front door had been found un-locked, and the house had a cellar accessible from the rear of the property, into the study.

Scratch marks on the upper hallway, and wood splinters under the nails of Michael James, indicated he tried to drag himself into the main part of the house.  Having failed in his quest, wrote the letter ‘D’ in his own blood on the floor…making the accused Daniel James the prime suspect.

For the whole of the proceeding’s, Daniel sat in his chair and said nothing; just the occasional nod in acknowledgement of his name, and the odd smile.  Day by day, police and medical experts, and those who knew him were brought before the court, and questioned by the prosecution and defence counsels.

“Before sentence is passed, do you have anything to say?” asked the bench of Daniel James the accused.

“How can one expect me to reply to events that have taken place, when I have no memory of that day?  I remember things before and after that day…Daniel responded in justification of the acts that had taken place.

“We the court can only go by the evidence placed before us, our hands are tied in terms of sentencing, when one has been found guilty based on the evidence.  Silence reigned around the court for a few moments, letting the words sink into Daniel.

“Daniel James, you are hereby sentenced to a term of twenty-five years.  You will be sent to a secure young offenders unit, until you are eighteen.  The remainder of your sentence will be served at the Frankland Category ‘A’ Prison in County Durham.” Reporters scurried to the door; to ring in the verdict to their papers.

Daniel could not believe the words that came forth.  “I am not guilty.  I am not guilty,” he proclaimed in a loud voice, which echoed around the court.

As my sentence neared its end, the nightmares got worse:  I saw myself standing or floating in this house.  I was a young boy of fourteen in this dream, if that what it was, and this person did not see me.  He was much older, and his face was familiar, but I just couldn’t put a name to him; the face of a cold-blooded murderer.  He was going from room to room killing each member of my family.  I could still hear the echo of the gun shots pounding in my head, as sweat poured off my body.

Casting back the bed covers, Daniel padded across his cell to the wash-basin in the corner, splashing water over his face, then raised his head gazing into the mirror.  The face looking at him was haggard and drawn, with dark rings around his eyes.  He had aged many years; was it this place or the dreams? Leaving him battle scarred for life.

But it was not until Daniel received a note from another inmate, tucked inside the spine of a book, which had been left in his cell.  This note was to release him from his incessant nightmare.

You have spent many years in jail for a crime you did not commit.  If you want the guilty party…you should seek out Donald James, who killed for the love of a good woman, and money.

How do I know, you ask?  I helped dispose of the bloodied clothes.

“I knew it!  I knew it!” Daniel whispered under his breath to himself.  “He stitched me up good and proper.  Framing me for murder, which I did not commit, then disappeared free as a bird, into a new life.  While I rotted in jail, believing I must have been guilty.  That is why he was not in court, claiming he could not bear to be in the same room.  More likely worried he could put doubt in the court’s mind, if he was called to the witness stand.”

Now I lay on my bed looking up at the dingy ceiling, as thoughts rushed through me: “Almost twenty-five years behind bars, as my life has been sucked away by each passing day.  “I will have my revenge on you…Donald James.”

Having spent twenty-five years, living in an artificial environment, I often wondered what the world would be like on the outside, and whether I would like it, Daniel thought to himself.

At that moment, a prison officer entered my cell, bringing my senses back to this time. “Come on, have you forgotten what day this is?”

I quickly scurried around, shoving twenty-five years of treasured possessions into one plastic bag.  Then sat back on my bed drinking my final cup of tea, as the minutes dragged endlessly by, waiting to be escorted off the wing for the last time.

Later, dressed in non-prison clothes, as supplied by a local charity, was taken before the Prison Governor.  He gave me the accustomed pep talk, for those leaving the prison, and reminded me I was being released under licence.  He gave me a map to the railway station, along with a train pass to Durham, the address of the halfway house, and payment for work in the maintenance department. Finally he wished me well for the future, and hoped he would not see me in here again.

The sound of the gates shutting behind me, as I passed through the foreboding gates of the prison, with a loud clanging noise, told me I was free at last.

“Free at last, I am free,” shouted Daniel, breathing the fresh air.  He trudged the two miles to the railway station, boarded the train, and watched intently as it headed towards Durham…and his temporary home, the halfway house.

Three months passed by, before Daniel found the whereabouts of Donald James; living on the south-coast, a few miles inland from Rottingdean.  He had changed his name to Purdy, the same as his true love from Stowmarket: Louise Purdy.  He was so predictable.

The look of surprise on his face, what a picture, when this old gentleman opened the door to me; was genuine. Twenty-five years had passed by, and he knew instantly who I was.

“Daniel, is that you?” asked Donald.

“You killed my family, framed me for murder…you took my life away,” stated Daniel with sheer hatred in his eyes.  “I served twenty-five years for the murder’s I did not commit; now I am here to collect.”

“I can explain; I was in debt, I was in love and your father my brother would not help me,” Donald Tried to reason, with an angry Daniel, who had twenty-five years of his life stolen from him.  “Louise left me years ago, took nearly every penny I had, just left me this old run-down cottage.”

“Do not bother, trying to explain…I don’t want to hear your excuses for taking away my life, and killing my parents, brother and sister,” responded Daniel, pulling out a sawn-off double-barrelled shotgun, from under his long coat.

“Daniel, Daniel, there’s no need for that,” looking down the barrel.  “I will confess all to the police,” replied a scared Donald, begging for his life.

I knew deep down, he would never have confessed to the police, and I would have ended back in prison.

“Please!  Please!  We are family,” pleaded Donald.

“It is too late for that; twenty-five years too late…I want justice for me and my family.”  Daniel closed both eyes, and fired off both barrels from less than five feet away.  Donald was thrust against the wall by the sheer force, and fell across the door step, blood seeping from the chest wounds.  “That’s what I call justice!” with a smile of satisfaction.

Sitting against the wall, Daniel gazed at his handy work; Donald’s body, as he waited for the police to arrive.  With nowhere to run, prison was the only home he knew.

At my police interview, I gave my name and told my story of how Donald James now Donald Purdy had framed me for multiple murders in 1991 which I did not commit, and spent twenty-five years behind bars.  I don’t think they believed in my innocence.  I could see it in their eyes, for I had killed the only person who knew the real truth.

When I was brought to trial, pleaded guilty…for I was now prepared to serve my time, and die of old age in prison…satisfied that I had handed out justice.

Now I had come home, to the only home I knew.  I had spent most of my life in prison, for a crime I had not committed…now I would spend the rest of my life behind bars, for the crime of revenge…the one I committed.

Wikipedia Image



My Poetry Guide…


Poem Structure – Lines and Stanzas:

Poem structure – the line is a building block

The basic building-block of prose (writing that isn’t poetry) is the sentence. But poetry has something else — the poetic line. Poets decide how long each line is going to be and where it will break off. That’s why poetry often has a shape like this:

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.

No matter where it is printed, the first line always ends with the word “may” and the second line with the word “a-flying” because the poet has written it this way. If you print a piece of prose such as a short story, the length of the lines will depend on the font size, the paper size, margins, etc. But in poetry, the line is part of the work of art you have created. The length of the lines and the line breaks are important choices that will affect many aspects of the reader’s experience:

  • The sound of the poem – When people read your poem out loud, or in their heads, they will pause slightly at the end of each line.
  • The speed of reading – Shortening or lengthening the lines can speed up or slow down the way people read.
  • How the poem looks on the page – Does the poem look light, delicate, with a lot of white space around the lines? Or are the lines packed solidly together?
  • Emphasis – Words at the end of a line seem more important than words in the middle.

Poem structure – types of lines

If you are writing a poem in a standard form such as a sonnet, your choices about line length are somewhat restricted by the rules of the form. But you still have to decide how to fit the ideas and sentences of your poem over the lines. When you fit natural stopping points in a sentence to the end of your line, the reader takes a little pause. When a sentence or phrase continues from one line to the next, the reader feels pulled along. If your line break interrupts a sentence or idea in a surprising place, the effect can be startling, suspenseful, or can highlight a certain phrase or double-meaning.

Lines that finish at ends of sentences or at natural stopping points (for example, at a comma) are called end-stopped lines. Here’s an example:

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:

Lines that in the middle of the natural flow of a sentence are called run-on or enjambed lines. Here’s an example:

But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

If you are writing in free verse, you have even more decisions to make than a poet writing in a traditional form. You can decide to use short lines or long lines, or to vary the length. You can decide to stack your lines evenly along the left margin, or to use a looser or more graphical form. Some poets even write poems that are in the shape of the thing they are writing about, for example, a circular poem about the moon. You have many options, but these choices should never be made randomly.

Poem structure – stanzas:

In prose, ideas are usually grouped together in paragraphs. In poems, lines are often grouped together into what are called stanzas. Like paragraphs, stanzas are often used to organize ideas.

For example, here are the two final stanzas. In the first of these stanzas, he is explaining that being young is great, but life just gets worse and worse as you get older. In the second one, he is saying: “So get married before you’re too old and have lost your chance.”

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry:
For having lost but once your prime,
You may for ever tarry.

Poem structure – decisions about form:

So many decisions to make — line length, line breaks, arrangement, speed, rhythm. How should you choose? The right form for your poem depends on, and works with, the poem’s content, or what it’s about. If the poem is about flying, you probably don’t want lines that feel slow and heavy. If you’re writing a sad poem, short bouncy lines might not be the way to go.

You may feel overwhelmed by so many issues to think about. How can your inspiration flow freely if you have to keep track of all of these aspects of a poem? The answer is to do the work in two stages.

  1. First, let your ideas flow.
  2. Then, go back to the poem later and work on improving the poem structure and form.

In the second stage, it’s a good idea to experiment a lot. Try breaking the lines and different ways and compare the effects. Try changing the order of things. Try reorganizing things to move different words to the end of the lines so that the reader’s attention goes to them. You’ve got nothing to lose — you can always go back to an earlier version.

As you go through this process, ask yourself:

  • What is my poem about?
  • What feeling or mood do I want the reader to have?
  • Do I want the poem to move quickly or slowly? Are there places I want it to speed up or slow down?
  • What words or phrases do I want to highlight?

There are a lot of things to consider. But the more poetry you write — and read, the more natural and instinctive some of these decisions about poem structure will become to you.

Poetry Meter:

Meter is a way of measuring a line of poetry based on the rhythm of the words. But why should you care?

  • As a reader, knowing about meter helps you understand how a poem is put together. You can see what rules the poet was following and how he or she used or went outside those rules. This lets you guess what was going through the poet’s mind.
  • If you want to write poetry, knowing about meter will make you a better poet. First, it helps you understand what poets have done in the past, so that you can learn from them. It allows you to use traditional forms such as sonnets. Even if you prefer to write in free verse, you should learn about traditional forms. Being aware of traditions gives you more flexibility to use aspects of them when you want to, or to “break the rules” in a more interesting way.

Poetry meter – stressed syllables and the iambic foot

Meter measures lines of poetry based on stressed and unstressed syllables. I’ll explain. When we speak, we put the stress on a certain part of each word. For example, take the words “apple” and “fantastic.”

  • When we say the word “apple,” we stress the first syllable, the “ap” part. We say “AP-ple,” how not “ap-PLE.”
  • When we say the word “fantastic,” we stress the second syllable. We say, “fan-TAS-tic,” not “FAN-tas-tic” or “fan-tas-TIC.”

Poetry meter – meter and rhythm:

When you read metered poetry, such as a sonnet in iambic pentameter, you may notice that the meter is sometimes sounds uneven or is hard to hear. Meter is just a form of measurement. The real rhythm of a poem is more complicated than that:

  • None of us talk like robots. We give certain words and sounds more emphasis than others in a sentence, depending on a number of factors including the meaning of the words and our own personal speaking style. So not all of the stressed syllables have the same amount of stress, etc.
  • We pause at the ends of ideas or the ends of sentences, even if these occur partway through a poetic line. So this creates a rhythmically variation. When the sentence ends or has a natural pause in the middle of a line of poetry, that’s called a caesura.
  • Poets vary meter or make exceptions in order to create desired rhythmic effects.

All of these elements combine to give each poem a unique music.

How to Write a Sonnet:

What’s a sonnet?

Sonnets are a kind of rhymed poem written in iambic pentameter.

An iamb is a rhythmic unit that includes an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one. It has the rhythm, as in the words “about,” or “predict,” or “parade.” Iambic pentameter is a line of poetry consisting of five iambs. Here are two sentences in iambic pentameter:

There are different kinds of sonnets, but I’m going to talk about the Shakespearian sonnet, also called the English sonnet. The Shakespearian sonnet has fourteen lines in iambic pentameter that are divided into three groups of four lines and one group of two lines.

When a rhyme scheme is written in this way, each of the letters stands for one line. An “a” line rhymes with another “a” line, a “d” line rhymes with another “d” line, etc. So in a Shakespearian sonnet, the first line (a) rhymes with the third line (also called “a”). The second line (b) rhymes with the fourth line (also called “b”). The final two lines of the poem (gg) rhyme with each other.

Here’s an example of a sonnet by Shakespeare written in this form. I’ll mark each end rhyme with a letter:

Not from the stars do I my judgement pluck, (a)
And yet methinks I have astronomy, (b)
But not to tell of good, or evil luck, (a)
Of plagues, of dearths, or seasons’ quality,(b)
Nor can I fortune to brief minutes tell; (c)
Pointing to each his thunder, rain and wind, (d)
Or say with princes if it shall go well (c)
By oft predict that I in heaven find. (d)
But from thine eyes my knowledge I derive, (e)
And constant stars in them I read such art (f)
As truth and beauty shall together thrive (e)
If from thy self, to store thou wouldst convert: (f)
Or else of thee this I prognosticate, (g)
Thy end is truth’s and beauty’s doom and date. (g)

You may notice that some of the rhymes are not exact. For example, “art” and “convert” have the same final sound, but the vowel sounds (“a” in art and “e” in convert) are different. This is an example of what is called off-rhyme, or slant-rhyme

Rhyme Schemes:

Rhyme schemes and sound effects

Rhyme is an important tool in the poet’s toolbox. Traditional poetry forms such as sonnets often use rhyme in specific patterns. But even if you are writing free verse, you can use rhyme to when it helps you create desired effects.

Rhyme schemes – why rhyme

There are many reasons why you might choose to use rhyme:

  • To give pleasure. Rhyme, done well, is pleasing to the ear. It adds a musical element to the poem, and creates a feeling of “rightness,” of pieces fitting together. It also makes a poem easier to memorize, since the rhyme echoes in the reader’s mind afterward, like a melody.
  • To deepen meaning. Rhyming two or more words draws attention to them and connects them in the reader’s mind.
  • To strengthen form. In many traditional forms, a regular pattern of rhymes are at the ends of the lines. This means that even if the poem is being read out loud, listeners can easily hear where the lines end, can hear the shape of the poem.

Rhyme schemes – internal rhymes and end rhymes:

When the last word in a line of poetry rhymes with the last word in another line, this is called an end rhyme. Many traditional poetry forms use end rhymes.

When words in the middle of a line of poetry rhyme with each other, this is called an internal rhyme. Below is part of a poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Can you find the internal rhymes and end rhymes?

The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,
The furrow followed free;
We were the first that ever burst
Into that silent sea.

In this example, “blew”-“flew,” and “first”-“burst” are internal rhymes. “Free” and “sea” are end rhymes.

Rhyme schemes – true rhymes and off-rhymes

“Smart” and “art”; “fellow” and “yellow”; “surgery” and perjury” — these are all examples of true rhymes, or exact rhymes because the final vowel and consonant sounds (or the final syllables in the longer words) are exact matches to the ear.

“Fate” and “saint”; “work” and “spark”; are examples of off-rhymes, or slant-rhymes. In each case, part of the sound matches exactly, but part of it doesn’t. Off-rhymes use assonance and consonance:

  • Assonance is a similarity between vowel sounds (the sounds made by your breath, written with the letters a,e,i,o,u,and sometimes y) “Sing,”lean”, and “beet” are an example of assonance because they all have a similar “e” sound. Another example is “boat,”bone”, and “mole,” which all have a similiar “o” sound.
  • Consonance is a similarity between consonant sounds (consonants are the letters that you pronounce with your lips or tongue, not with your breath: b,c,d,f,g,h,j,k,l,m,n,p,q,r,s,t,v,w,x,z and sometimes y). “Lake,”book”, and “back” are an example of consonance because they all have the same “K” sounds, even though the vowel sounds in these words are different. When the same consonants are used at the beginning of the word (for example, the words “sing” and “sell”), that is called alliteration.

You might choose to use off-rhymes instead of true rhymes, or in addition to them, to create a subtler effect.

Using off-rhymes also gives you more choices of words to rhyme. This often makes it possible to create more original or surprising rhymes. How many pop songs can you think of that rhyme “heart” with “apart?” And when you hear the words “heaven above” in a song, you can bet that the word “love” is lurking nearby. There are only a few words that rhyme with “love,” so they are used over and over again. Off-rhymes can help to remove some of that predictability so that you can come up with more interesting rhyme.

Rhyme schemes:

The pattern of rhymes in a poem is written with the letters a, b, c, d, etc. The first set of lines that rhyme at the end are marked with a. The second set are marked with b. So, in a poem with the rhyme scheme abab, the first line rhymes with the third line, and the second line rhymes with the fourth line. In a poem with the rhyme scheme abcb, the second line rhymes with the fourth line, but the first and third lines don’t rhyme with each other.

Here’s an example of a rhyme scheme:

GATHER ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.

Here’s an example of an abcb rhyme scheme.

The itsy bitsy spider (a)
Went up the water spout (b)
Down came the rain (c)
And washed the spider out (b)

This one’s aabccb:

Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet
Eating her curds and whey.
Along came a spider
And sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffett away.

Here’s a sonnet by Shakespeare. The rhyme scheme is abab cdcd efef gg.

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun; (a)
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red; (b)
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;(a)
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.(b)
I have seen roses damask’d, red and white,(c)
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;(d)
And in some perfumes is there more delight(c)
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.(d)
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know (e)
That music hath a far more pleasing sound; (f)
I grant I never saw a goddess go; (e)
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground: (f)
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare (g)
As any she belied with false compare. (g)

Types of Poems:

Types of poems – how to write an acrostic poem

An acrostic poem is one where the first letters of the lines spell out a word or words if you read them vertically. For example, here is an acrostic poem by Edgar Allan Poe. You can see that if you read the first letters of the lines from top to bottom, they spell out the name “Elizabeth.”

Elizabeth it is in vain you say
“Love not” — thou sayest it in so sweet a way:
In vain those words from thee or L. E. L.
Zantippe’s talents had enforced so well:
Ah! if that language from thy heart arise,
Breathe it less gently forth — and veil thine eyes.
Endymion, recollect, when Luna tried
To cure his love — was cured of all beside —
His folly — pride — and passion — for he died.

Choose a word to be your poem’s topic, and write it vertically, from top to bottom. Then turn each letter into a line of poetry about that topic.


  • Write an acrostic using your own name, or the name of someone you love.
  • Write an acrostic about a month of the year, with the lines spelling out that month.

Types of poems – how to write blank verse

Blank verse is unrhymed poetry written in a regular meter, usually iambic pentameter.

An iamb is a rhythmic unit made of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one. Here are examples of two sentences written in iambic pentameter:

  • Forget the car, I’ll take the train to work.
  • At school today, he caught a nasty cold.

Much of Shakespeare’s dramatic work is written in blank verse. Here’s an example, taken from Hamlet. (You will see that Shakespeare’s use of iambic pentameter is not mechanical — he varies the rhythm for effect).

Good now, sit down, and tell me, he that knows,
Why this same strict and most observant watch
So nightly toils the subject of the land,
And why such daily cast of brazen cannon,
And foreign mart for implements of war;
Why such impress of shipwrights, whose sore task
Does not divide the Sunday from the week;
What might be toward, that this sweaty haste
Doth make the night joint-labourer with the day:
Who isn’t that can inform me?

Below are some lines written in iambic pentameter that you can use in your own poem, if you want, to start you off or give you ideas.

  • Last night I had a dream about a girl
  • Before today I didn’t know your name
  • The leaves were dark against the glowing sky
  • My mother always lied about her age

Types of poems – how to write a sestina

A sestina is a poem with 39 lines. The final words of the first six lines are repeated in the other lines, in a specific pattern. For an example of a sestina, look for Elizabeth Bishop’s famous poem called just “Sestina.” Sestinas can be very haunting to read. The same words keep coming back like echoes. And they are a lot of fun to write, like working out a puzzle.

But in case you prefer to read an explanation: here goes. A sestina is divided into six six-line stanzas, or sections, plus one final stanza of three lines. We’ll call the last word of the first line a, the last word of the second line b, etc. The order of these words in the first six stanzas is like this: abcdef faebdc cfdabe ecbfad deacfb bdfeca. In other words, the last word in Line 1 is also the last word in Line 8. The last word in Line 2 is also the last word in Line 10. Etc. The final stanza, or section of the poem has three lines. Each of these uses two of the words, one somewhere in the middle of the line and one at the end. The pattern of this section is: be dc fa.

Poem Types:

Poem types – how to write a narrative poem

A narrative poem is one that tells a story, true or imagined. It can have all of the elements of fiction, including:

  • A character or characters. The main character may be the same or different from the narrator, the voice that tells the story.
  • A setting – the place where the story happens.
  • A plot – what happens in the story.
  • Dialogue – conversations between the characters.

An example… This poem is a kind of horror story. Here is the beginning of the poem:

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“Tis some visiter,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door
Only this and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; — vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow — sorrow for the lost Lenore
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me — filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
“Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;
This it is and nothing more.”

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you” — here I opened wide the door…

The main character in this poem is a man who has lost a woman he loved named Lenore. This character is also the narrator or the speaker of the poem, so he tells his own story using the word “I.” The setting of the poem is the man’s room on a bleak December night. As the poem continues, a raven, a type of black bird, comes into the man’s room, settles on top of the door frame, and refuses to leave. No matter what the man says, the bird answers with the word “Nevermore,” and the meaning becomes more and more horrifying until the man sinks into despair. This is the plot of the poem’s narrative.

Poem types – write a narrative poem!

Want to try writing a narrative poem of your own? Here are some tips:

1) For there to be a story, something has to happen or change between the beginning and the end. A happy situation is not a story. It becomes a story when a problem arises that interrupts the main character’s happiness. Similarly, a depressed character moping around his room is not a story. It becomes a story when the character decides to improve his situation… or when something happens that threatens to make his situation even worse.

2) Help readers imagine the story. Give details related to the five senses – sight, sound, touch, smell, and even taste. Be specific. Did Maria seem angry at Jeff? Instead of just saying, “she seemed angry at him,” think about what, exactly, this was like. Consider showing the evidence of Maria’s anger, instead of the conclusion. If you say, “Her jaw tightened, and she refused to look at him,” this gives the reader a stronger picture.

Poem starter:

Think of an upsetting fight or argument you had with a family member, friend, or romantic partner. What was it about? Write a poem that tells the story of whatever caused the argument.

If the argument was over a particular event, then you’re all set. You have a characters, a setting, action. If the argument was over an ongoing situation (for example, your partner didn’t participate enough in child-care), then think of or invent a particular instance of this and write about that. Hint: try not to tell readers your opinion or feelings about the situation or the other person. Instead, show all the details (the “evidence”) that will let readers figure this out on their own.

Poem types – How to write a ballad:

A ballad is a rhyming narrative poem written in a form that can be sung to music. Ballads most often use the rhyme scheme abcb. This means that in a group of four lines, the second line rhymes with the fourth one. The first and third line do not rhyme.

Here’s part of a ballad by William Blake (1757-1827). I have written the letters a, b, and c to mark the end rhymes.

The Maiden caught me in the Wild,(a)
Where I was dancing merrily;(b)
She put me into her Cabinet,(c)
And Lockd me up with a golden key.(b)

Poem types – write a ballad!

Topic ideas:

  • A time you fell in love at first sight… or thought you did.
  • A car accident.
  • A time you received bad news. Don’t tell the reader how you felt about the news. Instead, show the details of the place and situation where you heard the news, doing this in a way that expresses your feelings. Think of how, in movies, the camera zooms in on objects to create a mood.

Haiku Poetry:

Haiku is a Japanese poetry form. A haiku uses just a few words to capture a moment and create a picture in the reader’s mind. It is like a tiny window into a scene much larger than itself.

Traditionally, haiku is written in three lines, with five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second line, and five syllables in the third line.

Haiku example:
The last winter leaves
Clinging to the black branches
Explode into birds.

The following are typical Characteristics of haiku:

  • A focus on nature.
  • A “season word” such as “snow” which tells the reader what time of year it is.
  • A division somewhere in the poem, which focuses first on one thing, than on another. The relationship between these two parts is sometimes surprising.
  • Instead of saying how a scene makes him or her feel, the poet shows the details that caused that emotion. If the sight of an empty winter sky made the poet feel lonely, describing that sky can give the same feeling to the reader.


Sick, though I love her
even though she always lies
cherishing my bones.

Voice of nightingale
Like God’s angels, playing harp
Dwells into our hearts

The pond, blue, round, fresh
The frog jumps, breaking surface
In and wet he is

A dew drop smiles sitting on a leaf
the tree looked indulgently at the juvenile
the Great Oak secretly fumes

That quenches my thirst
Ocean vast and beautiful
But she is salty


Village of the Cursed (4/4)

Ghost Village

There seated at the octagonal table in the bay, sat a young petite woman in her mid-thirties, in the quaint village styled tearooms, with its rustic beams, lead-light windows, attracting his attention.  Uninterested in her surrounding’s she gazed intently out of the window with her deep blue penetrating eyes, and long blonde wavy hair.  Almost hypnotised by her elegant figure, unable to withdraw his eyes off her; and oh how fragile she seemed.  Had she noticed him, intently gazing at her . . . she must have been blind not to have, or was she wrapped up in her own world?  He wondered what she was doing, sitting there all alone.

Time passed by without her giving any sign of preparing to leave.  It looked as if whom ever it was that she was waiting for, had stood her up.  What a jerk, he must be, letting her wait like that.

He hadn’t had a real conversation with anybody for so long now, and had started to feel lonesome.  He resolved to approach her, and having built up the courage to do so, got up and walked over slowly to her table.

“May I join you?” he asked.

She looked up briefly and smiled.  “Please do, I have been expecting you,” she answered, looking back out of the window, without any display of interest or show of surprise.

“I saw you looking at the old rectory,” Benjamin blurted out in an apologetic manner, “and I wondered…I lived there for a few years as a child.”

“You did?” she asked without managing to show surprise or interest.  “You don’t sound local though?”

“I have been abroad for some years now.  I guess that makes me sound a little funny.”  I couldn’t tell her the truth . . . she wouldn’t believe me.

The laughter of the once light-hearted couples that filled the tea-room and turned it into a warm sanctuary, faded away quickly as they had risen in his head.  Leaving them again in the cold atmosphere; as the street light, cast a shadow upon their window table.

One of my fondest memories of the village has to be our first day home for the holidays.  My brother, sister and I would ride our bicycles through the village and wave here and there, heading for the isolated cottage, nestled down by the river.

She was not our real grandmother, but she was ‘Gran’, to us.  We would dash up her path, round the side and in the back door.  There she would be, waiting to greet us as usual, sleeves rolled up from her floury hands, wearing a spotless white apron.

She would butter fresh scones, ever so warm and tasty, topped with home-made jam, along with cream cakes.  We munched and munched, as we told her about the adventures we had at school, as we sat round her kitchen table.

We would leave with cheeks bulging and glowing as we retraced our way home.

“I am so sorry,” Benjamin said.  “I let my mind wonder to the good times.  You were saying?”

“I was asking if they are friends of yours,” she said, looking at the group of people standing outside.

Benjamin turned and gazed through the window, following her amused gaze, and gaped at the window in utter astonishment.  Standing only a few feet from him, they looked ever so familiar.

“That’s my parents,” Benjamin blurted out.  Peter and Samantha James, and along side my brother Michael and sister Christina, just as I last remember them.  “But of course, it can’t be them, they died many years ago.”

His father, Peter was standing, motionless, staring at Benjamin, with his right hand above his eyes, apparently in an attempt to shade whatever light came from inside.  Benjamin was staring back in utter disbelief, unable to decide how to react to this vision.

“But what does he want?” Benjamin asked of himself.  “Why is he staring at me like that?”

Peter James retraced his steps back within the group, smiling, waved a hand in a saluting motion, turned around, and disappeared into the dense fog that seemed to arrive and disappear with them.  He had a very fond time of life with his family, who had been gunned down in their own home; the look brought back forgotten and painful memories.

“I’m glad they have gone,” Benjamin said quietly, almost to himself.

He turned back to the woman, making an effort to act his composed self again.  “I must apologise for my behaviour.  You will think me rude.  I have been sitting here without introducing myself.  My name is Benjamin, and you are?”

“I’m Anna Beaumont, and I didn’t think you rude.  A little strange perhaps,” she said, smiling reassuringly.

“I’m glad,” he said, smiling back.  “So, what are you doing here, all alone?”

A light of amusement passed through her eyes . . . she had beautiful, lively eyes.  His own gaze was riveted to her graceful face, and he could not bring himself to look away.  “I am only having an innocent conversation to while away the time a bit,” she replied.  “What about yourself?”

He suppressed the urge to tell her about his dream and, the real reason he was there.  After all, she was a total stranger who would be justified in thinking him odd to undertake such a trip on account of memories from a past time . . . or would she?

“I have come to visit the streets of my youth, you could say,” he said guardedly.

“And how do you find it?” asked Anna.

“The neighbourhood, you mean?”  She nodded slightly.  “Well, I don’t know.  It’s kind of strange . . . it’s just as it was when I left.    On one hand, I know every stone around here, but on the other, I don’t seem to recognise anybody, but people have acknowledged me.”

“So what are your plans?” asked Anna.

“To tell the truth,” Benjamin said.  “I’m not sure what I want to do next.”

“It seems to me that you are making a very poor job of your visit,” Anna said looking at him with mocking eyes.  “Didn’t you make any plans at all before you came here?”

“Actually, I acted on impulse.  It felt right that I should visit here, and so I came.”  The truth of this fact had only just dawned on him.  He actually had no plans at all, except for the general idea of getting to the roots of his memories.

“For one thing, I just feel like walking around to make my peace with the streets of my childhood.”  He now felt as if he owed these streets an apology…for leaving them so suddenly, but it wasn’t his choice.

“Then why are you wasting your time sitting here, staring at this old building?  Shouldn’t you be out there instead?”

“You know, I wish I could visit the old house.  I should like to stay awhile and let my mind go back to when I was a child.  But I don’t think that its’ present occupants would agree.” Benjamin stated, with a yearning to see inside.

“I’ll tell you what I’ll do for you,” she said.  “I’ll take you around to see the streets and what’s in them.  I can show you things.  I know my way around here.”

Her hand was in his, and she was on her feet.  He didn’t know why, but he sensed he could trust her, the feeling was there.

“Thank you, I’d like that,” Benjamin replied with thanks.  “I do feel a little lost.”

“Okay.  Now just hold my hand and don’t let go.  I don’t want to lose you,” she said, with a soft reassuring smile.

He left with her through the main door, and they were outside, blending in the milky white mist that had appeared and enveloped them in it.

A sensation passed through his body as he looked deep into the mist, as he gazed he was sure she had taken him back to his childhood times, when he lived in the village, but how can that be?

That was the last time anybody saw Benjamin again.

Finally, he had found an everlasting peace, he had come home!


Village of the Cursed (3/4)


The door opened and Detective Chief Inspector Nelson strode purposefully into the staff canteen, with a drained expression upon his face, as he gazed around looking for his prey.

“Morning Chief,” Weaver said, looking up from his paper, “has someone died or something?”

“Worse!  Much worse!”

Weaver put the paper down, took a sip of tea, and sat back in the chair.  “I am all ears,” as his D.C.I. dropped a file onto his paper, and sat down opposite him.

“What do you make of this?” asked Nelson.

Weaver picked it up, and casually browsed through the contents, which included a formal letter sent by the Court of Appeal, that the case in question:  Benjamin James would be heard at the High Court, four weeks from today.

“I remember this case, vaguely.  I was just starting out in C.I.D at the time.  To think that after all this time has passed, that the boy Benjamin, now a man in the eyes of the law, could be innocent of the murders, they must be joking.”  Weaver responded, with disbelief in his voice.  “If my memory serves me right, it was an open and shut case at the time. They had the weapon, suspect, and victim’s blood on his clothes . . . and now they believe after all this time, there is a possibility he could actually be innocent?”

“That’s about the size of it.  I was one of the leading Inspector’s on the case, it was my part in his conviction, that got me my promotion two years later,” stated Nelson.  “So we have got to check over the case, and ensure everything had been, and was undertaken in a legal manner.

“What we don’t want is some smart arse lawyer getting him off on a technicality,” suggested Weaver.

“You have got that right.  You had better dig out the original files, check the statements with original witnesses, what we don’t want are any nasty surprises waiting for us, at the hearing, stated Nelson, as he got up to leave.  “It might be worth checking out the village, to see if anything of interest to the case has gone on, since the James’ murders.”

“What do you expect to find, more ghosts jumping out of the woodwork,” Weaver responded.  He put his hands up, “only a joke.”

Nelson gazed at him, but said nothing as he left.

“Well, what a can of worms to be dropped in our laps.  I thought this case was dead and buried,” Weaver said to himself in a shallow voice, as he walked from the canteen.

“D.S.Jones,” Weaver’s trusted right hand man. “Phone through to the records office, and request that all the files and evidence on the Benjamin James murder spree of 1991, be sent up to C.I.D.” as he walked into the office.  “Then I want a list of any unusual happenings in the village of Barrisgough, any incidents where the police have been called in, from 1991.”

“Yes, sir!” replied Jones.  “What gives?”

“Some Psychiatrist and Priest, have started raising the question whether Benjamin James, could actually be a murderer or an innocent victim, which has led to an appeal,” Weaver responded.

Jones, accessed his computer for information on any related events, to the killings, within the village and surrounding area.  His link to Barrisgough, would bring up a chain of deaths . . . they hadn’t expected this.

The first anniversary of the James’ murders; post woman was arrested for murdering her husband, Christopher, by stabbing him with a kitchen knife seven times.

The second anniversary of the James’ murders; Jackie Lawson was killed when she reversed her car, into the path of an oncoming lorry.

The third anniversary of the James’ murders; Carolyn McGovern, knocked a young man off his bike; who died in hospital from his injuries.

The fourth anniversary of the James’ murders; James Harvard killed the village busybody, one Mary Laidlaw, at his mothers request, by crossbow.

The fifth anniversary of the James’ murders; Harold Jacobs murdered the landlady of the Green Dragon P.H. for refusing to serve him.

The sixth anniversary of the James’ murders; Arthur Hayley murdered Edith Hamlyn, during the execution of a burglary.

The seventh anniversary of the James’ murders; Peter Quinn local Poacher, fired and killed former police officer, Cliff Roberts, now gamekeeper.

The description given by those charged, had been quite similar on all accounts.  Minutes before the act of murder took place, each claim to have seen a shadowy figure, wearing a frock styled coat the hat, cross their path,” quoted James reading from the screen.

To local people then – and today – the evidence is overwhelming; the ghost of the Reverend Patterson continued to haunt the village.  He had returned to play out the dramatic events that have made the killings in this quiet rural corner of East Anglia, headline news, the length and breadth of the country.

After August 15th 1998, no murder or accidental death has been reported, the village has lived in peace and harmony ever since.

“Could it be a coincidence that the murder’s ceased after the seventh anniversary, which happened to be the same year Benjamin reached twenty-one?” suggested Jones.

“I would find it hard to believe he could be possible of orchestrating murders, but anything’s possible in this day and age,” Weaver pointed out.

Or was it the removal of old bones from the rectory well by archaeologists, believed to be that of a French Nun, that brought peace?”

“What a load of utter rubbish, what will they think of next,” Weaver responded, looking over D.S.Jones’ shoulder in disbelief.  “We work with facts, not make believe.”

“Historians would believe in it,” suggested Jones.  Add archaeologists into the mix, and a sympathetic appeal court, and Benjamin could easily walk.”

Weaver looked at Jones with disgust at the suggestion. “What news on the original case?”

“Not good at all, PC Roberts, the officer who was first on the scene retired due to ill health, was killed in August 1998, whilst working as a game keeper.”

“What about the church warden, he was one of the first on the scene?” Weaver asked.

“Bracks died in 1996, from a heart attack,” Jones replied.  Here’s some additional information, from the day of Benjamin’s imprisonment, right up to his death, Bracks visited him every month without fail.”

“It can’t get much worse, can it?” asked Weaver.

“It can, and here it is, Detective Chief Inspector Dawson, who headed the case, was killed in a car accident in 1998, whilst travelling across Europe with his family.”

“I remember Dawson’s death, I attended his funeral, hundreds turned out to pay their respects,” interjected Weaver.  “This doesn’t look good; most of the major witnesses are dead!”

Detectives wanted to question Donald James, brother of Peter James, but they couldn’t find him.  He had sold the company, and vanished with his wife to locations unknown.

Further investigations revealed, he had been left financial guardian of each child until they reached the age of twenty-one.  It appears he had disappeared with the James’ entire estate.

Questions were raised about Donald, made one wonder if there was any possible doubt; whether Donald had any involvement, in the murders.

Harold Brackman, crime-beat reporter of twenty-five years with the Chronicle, couldn’t believe what he heard from his sources at court.  Benjamin James was appealing against his sentence after all these years . . .  The young boy who has spent the last ten years behind bars.

Front page news on the first day of the Appeal Hearing:

What caused Benjamin James (14) in August 1991, to take his father’s shotgun, and cold bloodedly murder his family?

The suspect never uttered a word during his police interviews, and trial, other than to confirm his name.  The physical evidence was enough to prove his guilt.

Benjamin never confessed his guilt, or pleaded his innocence . . . forcing the court to base the case on the evidence brought before them.

Now ten years on, Benjamin James is pleading his innocence in the Court of Appeal, on the grounds of mitigating circumstances.

The day is stifling hot, over eighty degrees, and still rising as the Appeal Court sat to hear the case brought before them on, on the grounds of a mis-carriage of justice, with mitigating circumstances.

Very few cases in the English legal system have attracted so much attention from the Media, as that of the Benjamin James Murder Spree, a case that had shocked, mystified, and fascinated people, the length and breadth of the country.

The horrific act in an otherwise peaceful country village is startling beyond belief.  Along with the gruesome nature of the crimes is the unexpected character of the accused, not a maniac, but their youngest son; Benjamin James.  Charged with the murder of his parents, Peter and Samantha, his brother Michael and sister Christina

A lawyer representing Benjamin James, addressed court:  In the original murder case, the evidence submitted was almost entirely circumstantial, which passionately divided public opinion, as to the guilt or innocence of the accused.  Thus he was found guilty for the violent and cold bloodedly murder of four people, which led to his conviction; to be detained for an indefinite period.

The Crown’s conviction was based solely on the fact, that Benjamin James’ was found holding the shotgun, and covered in blood from his victim’s.

Here, we are going to prove without doubt, Benjamin’s part, as the murderer.

The Appeal Court consisted of three judges for the appeal led by Judge Carsdale into the ‘James Murder Spree of 1991,’ as it has become known.

This is a murder case in which the accused was found guilty at the Juvenile Court in 1991, for the violent and cold blooded murder of four people, namely his own family.

“You may call your first witness,” said the Judge, indicating to the defence.

Mathew Hillsdale of the defence acknowledged the judge.  For he knew they had an upward climb convincing the court, of Benjamin’s innocence.

The first witness for the defence is Professor James Beaumont, Historian for Cambridge University Museum.  Who stated, that a French Nun, one Adele Dupre, worked in the area as a maid during the times of the Witch Finder Trials.  Part of the village’s own recorded history, refer to the maid in question being tried as a witch, for her association with animals.  Her body was burnt at the stake, and her remains were thrown down the old well.

In 1863, the Reverend Edward Markham built a rectory at the far end of Barisgough village, to look over his flock.  Apparitions of a Nun started early on and were seen by many a visitor to the rectory, for many centuries to come.

Then in 1955, the Reverend James Patterson took up residence, and in 1972 when poltergeist activity was ripe in the area, he was found hanging from the Bell Tower rafters, by the then church warden; Mr Bracks.

The Reverend Patterson was observed by villager’s partaking in Black Magic rituals, at the Manor House graveyard.  The evidence was laid out for all to see the next morning, the remains of a black cock and white hen, all the hallmarks of a Black Magic ritual.

When the James family moved into the converted rectory, villager’s feared for their safety . . . their fear was well founded.

Our search revealed the old well, covered by years of growth, it was here the skull and bones were discovered, during an excavation, and taken to Cambridge University Museum.

The skull broke in two, and glass display cases, within close proximity, shattered.  Two of the original archaeological team in their late twenties, died within seven days of the remnants removal from the old well; of old age.

Then on the 20th September 1998, the Nun’s remains were buried on sacred ground, within the Convent of our Lady in Holt.  At last she was at peace.

“Thank you Professor, no further questions,” the defence hoped this would put serious doubt, into the minds of the court.

“Come now professor, this is no more than a story made up for the tourists,” the prosecuting attorney James Lansdale for the Crown put forward, in a jovial manner.

“The entire happenings and events taken place are recorded in the British Library.  What we have done is try to answer questions, about historical events taken place in the village,” replied the Professor.

“So Professor, what has this got to do with Benjamin James murder spree,” he asked.

“I have the court the facts on the village, it is not for me to speculate,” the Professor replied.

“But you do, don’t you,” stated the red faced Prosecutor Lansdale, “no further questions for this witness.”

“Before I call my next witness, I would like to enter a document into the proceedings,” A copy was duly given to the Judges and Prosecution.

According to the statement you have before you, as provided by Trinity House resident psychiatrist Dr Andrew Sinclair and witnessed by the said Governor; Mr Calahan.  Benjamin James regained use of speech on the21st September 1998, some twenty-four after the skeletal remains of the Nun; Sister Adele Dupre was buried on sacred ground.

“Therefore it has been concluded there must be a connection between the two events,” proposed the defence.

“But that still doesn’t prove that Benjamin is innocent of the murders,” stated the Prosecution.

“Bear with me, and I will prove it to you and your court, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the original conviction is flawed,” stated the Defence.

The second witness for the defence is Mr Rackman a gunsmith, of 30 years experience.  Who stated that a double-barrelled shotgun breaks beyond the stock so the barrel drops down, and the fired or spent cartridges as they are referred to, can be extracted and the gun reloaded.

It is my considered opinion that a 14 year-old boy, some , 4ft 10inches in height, would have great difficulty holding such a shotgun, let alone fire, reload and fire again in a matter of seconds?  The length and weight isn’t designed for quick action.

“No further questions for this witness,” as the defence returned to his table, with glee in his eyes.

“Mr Rackman,I put it to you isn’t it possible to fire, reload and fire again in quick succession, if one is  used to the shotgun?” asked the Prosecutor.

“In my opinion, it would be highly unlikely,” replied Rackman.

“But not impossible?” asked the prosecutor, pushing the defence’s witness into a yes or no situation.

“I am unable to give a yes or no answer to the question, it would depend on many factors, height, type of shotgun.”

The prosecution knew he had been beaten by this witness.  “No further questions,” as he retreated to his table.

The third witness for the defence is Doctor Gerald Carter Psychiatrist of Harley Street, and Royal Brompton Hospital.  Who stated under oath, that Benjamin James has limited memory for that fateful day; 15th August 1991, up to 21st September 1998.  In short he suffers from amnesia covering a seven year period.

At the time of these murders, the village was rife with paranormal activity, and the centre point was the old rectory; home of Benjamin James.

I like you, doubted the existence of living ghosts, that was until I visited the village of Barrisgough seeking answers, and it was there, I met Howard and Anna Beaumont, who told me the story of the rail crash; off 18th May 1921.  Some forty people died that day, when a passenger and goods train collided.  What I learned later from library reports shocked me to the bone.

Remnants of a gentleman bearing a silver ring with the initials HB, and a woman, bearing a broach with AB, were both discovered in the first carriage.  The only signs left of the old railway track, were bumps in the ground where the old track sleepers lay.  Legend said a train would exit the misty gloom, every evening at 18.50pm . . . and it did, the lights of its passenger cars like a string of yellow beads, dragging a dull roar behind it.

I had actually spoken with real living, breathing ghosts of Barrisgough, and seen the haunted train, at the exact time of the original accident, drive right through me, proving to me the village is haunted.

The former church warden Mr Bracks, claimed satanic events took place at the Old Manor House.  What I found was dried blood stains among bird feathers, the same as associated with Black Magic rituals.  I could not guess how long since the ritual took place, as the feathers are soft to the touch, I would guess fairly recent.

“Thank you doctor, no further questions,” the defence believed his witness, had left the court perplexed in many ways.

The Prosecuting Barrister raised himself from his seat and walked towards the good doctor, in the witness box, eyeing him up and down for a moment.

“What you and the defence here have concocted for the court is based on supposed paranormal activities.  So I put it to you, it is no more than a state of mind?” proposed the Prosecutor.

“You can believe what you want.  Why don’t you visit the village, it is still rife with paranormal, even the dead from the train crash, openly walk around,” responded Carter.  “I am sure they will make you welcome.”

“Just answer the question,” asked a flustered Prosecutor.

I only work with facts put before me, by my patient.  How can one so young and innocent, be, considered, responsible of such a horrific crime?” the doctor threw back in the Prosecutors face.

“So who do you think killed them, and placed the murder weapon in Benjamin’s lap, spraying blood from his victim’s over him?” the Prosecutor asked, playing right into the hands of the doctor.

“That is the job of the police to discover who carried out the crime.  Benjamin had to have been in a state of shock at the time, which would account for his silence, during the police interviews and trial.  He was to spend the better part of the next seven years in silence.  If he had not regained his voice, we would not be put in this situation, questioning his innocence or guilt?” replied a satisfied doctor.

“But you do question the police outcome . . . are you saying, they got it wrong?” asked the Prosecutor.

“The truth is in the evidence as I see it,” replied the good doctor.

“No further questions”, said the prosecutor, knowing he had just met his match, in that exchange of words.

“I call to the stand the Reverend Baines.”

The fourth witness for the defence is the Reverend Baines, vicar of St.Mary’s Church at Holt, and a prison visitor to Trinity House Hospital.  Who admitted he found it hard to comprehend that one so small, could be capable of lifting a double barrelled shotgun, and firing off a total of nine rounds in quick succession.

It is my belief, another committed his crime, and the supernatural events, rife in the village, were somehow connected to these murders.  Unfortunately, much time has passed by, and whoever actually committed the act, has got clean away.

At the time of the so-called murder spree, Benjamin was only 4ft 8 inches tall, making it virtually impossible for him to carry out the crime.  The shotgun used to carry out these murders was nearly three-quarters his height, how could he wield it, fire and reload in quick succession?

“No further questions, for this witness,” the defence nodded towards the prosecution, as he returned to his table.

The Prosecuting Barrister rose to his feet.  “I see we have another joker, who believes in super-natural events, could actually be responsible for the deadly atrocities, of August 1991,” gazing between the defence counsel and the witness.  “So Reverend, do you believe in the super natural events, that have enveloped this village since the, 1645 Witch Finder Trials?”

“I have to concur, I have no choice but to believe; the evidence speaks for itself.”

The prosecuting counsel tossed his papers loudly onto his table, out of sheer desperation.  “I have no further questions for this witness.”

The fifth witness for the defence is Samuel Sanderson, Professor of Scientific DNA Studies.  The clothing worn by Benjamin James back in 1991 had been studied, using techniques of today.  We found blood transference, as though being hugged by the real killer, but no direct blood splatter.

Our DNA tests, brought up some surprising results, who ever hugged the accused had to be a relation of the family.  Not just anyone, but one related to the father; Peter James.

The other item of clothing, tested for DNA, was an exact match to that found on Benjamin James’ clothing . . . one of many clothing items found in the police, evidence box.

“No further questions, for this witness,” the defence stated with a wry smile on his face, nodding towards the prosecution.

“No questions for this witness,” the Prosecutor said, rising from his seat to speak.  He could not believe what he had just heard, an item of evidence that could put serious doubt on the guilt of the accused.

The final witness for the defence is the accused, Benjamin James, currently resident of Trinity House Hospital, on Saint Unix Island.  My life changed in August 1991, when the authorities believed I murdered my parents, brother and sister with my father’s shotgun.

Like my brother and sister, I spent only school holidays at our home in Barrisgough, for we attended boarding school.  The thing I remember most would be the first day back from school, riding through the village, to the old cottage nestled down by the river.

There waiting for us would be our mother’s part-time house-keeper, who fed us freshly baked cakes and scones.  Actually she had been burned as a witch, in times gone by, and worked as a house-keeper, for previous occupants of the old rectory, that’s a story she told us.

At first we didn’t believe her, until Michael and I observed the ghostly coach, careering across our garden, late each Friday night.  We even saw the Nun cross the terrace; she even acknowledged our presence, on more than one occasion.  Another sighting I remember was that of a vicar, sitting at dad’s desk in the study, Benjamin gazed around the court, looking at the stunned faces, in response to ghostly events that took place at their home; the old rectory.

We kids couldn’t talk to our parents about these events, they just wouldn’t believe us.  But my godfather Donald James, told us kids, what you see is true, and the story of the Nun burnt as a witch really happened.

Dad used to get very annoyed when Donald told us of the satanic rituals that took place at the Old Manor House grounds . . . we knew him and his wife who was born in the village attended, but we never let on.

Dad and Donald always argued, you could hear it all over the house, always about the same old thing . . . money.

Donald always came in by way of the cellar, using the external door in the garden for he had a key like the rest of us, but really it was known as his personal access door.  He would come up by way of the inner staircase, to the tall bookcase in dad’s study which was on hinges.  A catch at the back would release it.

The faces of the prosecution were shell-shocked, for it was the first they heard of this.

“I would like to offer a document as evidence into the proceedings, a copy of the original plans held at County Hall Surveyor’s Department,” asked the Defence.

My mind still remains partially blank for 15th August 1991.  What I do remember is Donald came round really early . . . and had an argument with my father, then slammed the front door as he left.  The next thing Bracks the church-warden, finding me covered in blood, with my father’s shotgun in my lap.

I just don’t believe I could have committed such a murder, the length and weight of the shotgun outweighed logical reasoning.

How I came to be holding it . . . I have no explanation.

“No further questions, for this witness,” indicating the floor was free for the Prosecution.

“So Benjamin, do you believe in ghosts?” asked the Prosecution.

“If you had met one like I had, you would know they exist,” replied Benjamin.

“Benjamin, when you came before the courts back in 1991, charged with murdering your own family, you refused to speak?” asked the Prosecution.

“It wasn’t that I refused, I just found no words came forth,” stated Benjamin.

“So when these supposed bones of the Nun were re-buried some seven years later, you got your speech back?” stated the Prosecutor.  “You expect us to believe it?”

“That’s how it was,” Benjamin replied, “if I could have spoken, I would have.  Who would want to be locked up for a crime you are convinced you are innocent of?”

“Isn’t it true that you argued with your father on the morning of the murders?”

“My memory that far back is a little rusty . . . as far as I can remember, I don’t think so, but I can’t be sure,” replied Benjamin.

“Have you ever held or fired your father’s shotgun?” asked the Prosecutor, getting to the nitty gritty of the case.

“No.  He wouldn’t let us children handle it, he told us it was dangerous,” stated Benjamin.

“I ask, did you take your father’s shotgun, and kill your own family in a fit of rage?” asked the Prosecution in a badgering mode.

“No, I couldn’t kill those I loved,” replied Benjamin.

“You were found holding your father’s shotgun, covered in blood,” asked the prosecution.  “You expect us to believe you be innocent of the crime?”

“I can only answer what I know,” replied a calm Benjamin.

The prosecutor knew in his heart, any evidence that would keep Benjamin James locked away, was never going to come from the accused.  “No further questions, for this witness.”

“That concludes the case for the Defence.”

The first witness for the prosecution is Detective Inspector Weaver, who was a Detective Sergeant back in1991.

At the time, it had all the hallmarks of an open and shut case; we had the murderer, the murder weapon, with his finger prints all over, and he was covered in the victim’s blood.

As was the usual procedure, we checked the house top to bottom for any intruders . . . but we didn’t expect to find any, we had our culprit . . . the evidence proved his guilt.

Since the deaths on the 15th August 1991, there has been a death in Barrisgough, one for each of the next seven years.

1992: Linda Harvey killed her husband Christopher, with a kitchen knife.

1993: Jackie Lawson reversed into the path of an oncoming lorry.

1994: Carolyn McGovern, knocked a young man off his bike; who died from his injuries.

1995: James Harvard killed Mary Laidlaw with a crossbow.

1996: Harold Jacobs murdered the landlady of the Green Dragon P.H. because she refused to serve him.

1997: Arthur Hayley murdered Edith Hamlyn, during a burglary.

1998: Peter Quinn poacher, killed Cliff Roberts gamekeeper, a former police officer, who was one of the first on the scene at the James murders.

We have seven deaths, all on the same date each year of the James’ murders.  Then by some fluke, discovered in the old rectory well, are supposedly those of a Nun, burnt as a witch.  The yearly murders stopped, once her remains are re-buried on sacred ground, and Benjamin spoke for the first time since the murders . . . too much of a coincidence.

“No further questions, for this witness,” stated the prosecutor, believing the deaths on the yearly anniversary would be enough to put doubt into the minds of the court, as to his guilt.

“So you don’t believe in ghosts?” asked the defence rising to his feet.

“No I do not,” proclaimed Weaver.

“Detective Inspector Weaver, is it not true, that most of those who committed an act of murder on the yearly anniversary, stated under oath, of seeing a shadowy figure, wearing a frocked style coat and hat, before they committed murder?” asked the defence.

“Well yes, but we in the police believe in hard facts, not some fanciful tale of ghosts,” replied Weaver.

“Maybe not, but you have to remember, that we have heard in this very court, that the village of Barrisgough is haunted,” the defence counsel put forward.

Weaver nodded in reply.

“In your statement, you stated the police searched the house top to bottom, but made no mention of the access between the cellar and study, by the staircase.  Is it not true, that an intruder could have escaped that way?” the defence rammed home this question.

“We never knew of this access staircase, so we can’t be held responsible,” replied Weaver.

“You have to admit, that it is a possibility, that an intruder, could have entered and escaped this way?” pushed the defence.

“Well, yes,” replied Weaver, in a gingerly reply.

“Did you question Donald James, the deceased’s brother?” asked the defence.

“We interviewed him, yes, no further action was needed,” replied Weaver.

“Did you not investigate his background and finances?” the defence asked, watching the bemused witness.

“We had no reason to,” replied Weaver, “for we had our suspect.”

“Would it surprise you to know, that at the time Donald James was in financial difficulty, and had everything to gain from his brother’s death,” stated the defence.

“I was not the lead officer in this case,” Weaver replied, trying to divert attention or blame away from him.

“Did you know, Donald James had been left financial guardian of each child, on an estate worth some twelve million ponds?  Of course you didn’t,“ the defence replied, for him, “you didn’t see fit to check him out.”

“Would you not agree, he had the motive?” suggested the defence, watching the witness squirm.

“Well . . . yes,” replied a hesitant Weaver.

“So I ask you, D.I.Weaver, where is Donald James now?” asked the defence.

“We have no idea where he is, the company he owned with his brother has been sold, and he seems to have vanished with his wife to locations unknown,” stated Weaver.

“Along with the money,” suggested the defence.

“Yes,” stated Weaver.

“No further questions, for this witness,” stated the defence, putting yet another question of doubt into the court’s mind, that someone else could be a suspect.

The second witness for the prosecution is Michael Sands, Professor of Psychology.  Upon speaking with the accused Benjamin James, he believes the Nun has set him free to express himself after seven years of silence.  Even though he believes it, it was more likely to be just natural causes.  Since being released from the chains that bound his speech, he now proclaims his innocence, with no evidence to back it up.

Having listened to the police account, of the seven anniversary murders.  Could Benjamin be held responsible even though he has been locked up . . . miles away? Over the centuries, some people’s thoughts have been responsible for deaths . . . as to whether this is the case with the accused . . . I wouldn’t rule out the possibility.

“No further questions, for this witness,” the prosecutor nodded in the direction of the defence,”give it your best shot.”

“Professor, do you believe in ghosts?” asked the defence.

“In certain circumstances yes, in other’s no,” replied a cagey Professor.

“So, it is highly possible, for Benjamin to have spoken to a Nun, when he lived in Barrisgough?” asked the defence.  “Even though she had to be a ghost, for she died centuries before.”

“Well yes, if one believes the village is haunted,” stated the Professor.

“In the late twenties, there was a horrific train crash where many died, and it is said the dead openly walk among the living.  Would you consider this a possibility?” asked the defence.

“I have heard of many such cases, so I wouldn’t rule out the possibility,” replied the Professor.

“You mention that proof would prove the guilt or innocence of the accused.  He was found with the murder weapon and covered in his victim’s blood.  So that would conclusively prove his guilt, would it not?” asked the defence, going down a dangerous route.

“Yes,” replied the Professor.

“So how could one barely five feet tall, fire and load in quick succession a shotgun, nearly three quarters of his height,” suggested the defence.

“You have got me there, I can not give a reasonable answer to that, but I am sure you have one,” replied the Professor with a slight smile.

“Thank you Professor.  No further questions for this witness,” the defence acknowledged the court.

The prosecution rolled out one after another witness, confirming the argument Benjamin had with his father that could be heard across the village only hours before the killing spree.  It was more out of desperation, most of the original witnesses from the original trial and investigation, had since died.


We the defence concur with the police.  When a murder takes place in the home, with no signs of an intruder, they focus on remaining family members, and in a high percentage of cases, they are usually right.

In this case, the police were too quick in finding a suspect to pin these murders on.  Benjamin James aged (14) at the time, barely strong enough to hold a double-barrelled shotgun, let alone, fire-load, fire-load, in quick succession.

Why, oh why, did the police, look no further for suspects?  I tell you why, they found the only surviving family member, Benjamin James, holding a shotgun on his lap, and his clothes covered in blood.  That was more than enough to convict him.

Benjamin still in a state of shock, never spoke a word during police interviews and the trial, just the odd nod to confirm his name, and the occasional shrug of the shoulders.  Believing him to be guilty of such a horrific crime, he was found guilty, and detained for an indefinite period.

WE have also heard in this court, events that have taken place in the village of Barrisgough, providing proof that it is indeed haunted.  The passengers killed in the train crash of 1921, openly live in the village.  Ghostly sightings of a vicar preparing his sermon in the old rectory study.  The former Nun, burnt as a witch, who was the James house-keeper, and other’s before.

Benjamin regained his speech, when the Nun’s remains were re-buried on sacred ground.  He remembers only snatches of 15th August 1991.  Being hugged by somebody in his room and that was how he got blood on his clothes.  In today’s world of advanced technology, we would have been able to prove the difference between direct blood splatter, to that of blood transference, from one to another.  We have heard in this court, the blood on Benjamin’s clothes was blood transference . . . the killer had hugged him, a final act, passing the blame over to him.

Could the person who hugged Benjamin that fateful day, have been Donald James?  He knew his way about the house.  It is also common knowledge he handled Peter’s shotgun, and would have known its whereabouts.

You have to ask yourself, who had the most to gain by the death of Peter James, his wife Samantha, and two of their children?  The answer should be Donald James, who was very much in debt at the time, and became Benjamin’s guardian on an estate worth twelve million pounds.

So where is Donald James?  He sold the business he had with his brother, and taken the money, which was Benjamin’s by right, and fled the country . . . leaving no trace.

Is that not the act of a guilty man?

If you have any doubt, as to Benjamin’s guilt, I ask that you find him innocent of these murders, and put an end to this nightmare, for my client . . . looking straight at Benjamin James, hoping for a sympathy vote from the court.


I stand before this court, asking that Benjamin James, who was found with a shotgun on his lap, covered in his victim’s blood, should spent the rest of his life behind bars.

The defence asks us to believe, that the village is haunted, that maybe so, but ghosts responsible for deaths in the past, I don’t think so.

On the anniversary of these murders, up until the accused reached twenty0one, a death took place each year in the village, and we are asked to believe it has nothing to do with the accused, looking in the direction of Benjamin James.  It is odd, that it stopped when he was twenty-one.  It has been suggested these are the act of a ghostly phenomenon, as each murder remembers seeing the ghostly image of a vicar, moments before the killings took place.  I put it to you; it is more likely, some sinister act, conjured up by Benjamin.

Grasping at straws, the defence points the guilt towards Donald James, who we now agree had a motive, but could any of you openly kill your brother and his family, pointing at each juror in turn.

No, it is more likely that Benjamin is guilty, and the original sentence should stand.  So I ask that you find him guilty.

The evidence from the original trial back in 1991 had proved little doubt as to his guilt.  Now it was the turn of the Appeal Court Jury to consider the case, behind closed doors.

At the news that the Court of Appeal had overturned the original conviction, it became front page news for days.  Benjamin James was found not guilty, because of technical evidence put forward, proved in all probability, that Benjamin, could barely lift the shotgun in question, let alone fire and reload the shotgun in quick succession . . . and it became the consensus that other parties were responsible for the murders.

The murder scene was entirely consistent with an act of unplanned violence, based on intense, buried emotions, very similar to a crime of passion.  Even though Benjamin had been found holding the murder weapon, and covered in the victim’s blood, it proved to be by means of transference, not direct, as would be the case of the murderer.

The gruesome nature of the killing’s is consistent with that of an adult, not that of a young boy, barely tall enough to hold a shotgun.

Benjamin jumped and shouted with joy, his sounds of excitement could be heard around the court . . . “I am free, I am free.”  As Father Baines and Gerald Carter gave him a hug, tears ran down his cheeks.

Benjamin James was awarded five million pounds in damages, from the Court of Appeal, in an innocent verdict, for taking away his childhood.

For days after, the news reports added:  Someone’s getting away with these murders; where the justice in that.  Benjamin James the only survivor of the James murder spree of 1991; where his family was brutally murdered.  Someone out there must know something, if so the police are waiting to hear from you.

The police issued a nationwide arrest warrant, for one Donald James, wanted for questioning in the murders of Peter, Samantha, Michael and Christina James killed in August 1991, and fraud.


Village of the cursed (2/4)

Ghost Train

Without a doubt I was lost… Gerald Carter tossed the map onto the passenger seat, cursing to himself as he levered himself out of his car, looking up and down the road for a signpost.  Sure enough some two hundred yards in front of him, stood West Raynham, and he had driven past the South Raynham signpost some way back.  “So where is Barrisgough?  According to the Ordnance Survey Map, it should be situated between the two Raynham’s.  So where is it?  It can’t just disappear,” he said out loud to himself.

He knew the village had a fearful history, with a ruined church, dating back to 1754, and the river ran alongside the main street.

“Maybe you can help me, I seem to have got lost,” asking a couple, walking a pair of golden Labradors.

“Ask away,” the man replied, as he turned to help the woman, over the stile.  She was tall, with shoulder length blonde hair.  She gave off an appearance of the exotic flair about herself.

“I was looking for a place called Barrisgough.  Do you know where it is?” carter asked of them.

“You have missed the turn,” replied the man.  “It is about a mile or so back.  There’s a dense wood on the left, and a sharp bend in the road.  Barrisgough is off to the left of that bend, down a rough track, through the forest.”

“I remember the sharp bend, as I struggled with my car, and I vaguely remember seeing the turn you mention,” Carter commented, remembering how tight the road had been at that point.

“The track used to be signposted . . . but stories of murders and paranormal activity in the village brought unwanted attention to our doors.  Some years back the sign was ripped out of the ground by gales, and has never been replaced,” he replied.

“I am looking for the old rectory, former home of the James’ family” at that moment you could see disgust in their eyes. They thought I was another of those interested in the paranormal, and the murders that had taken place, over the years.

I had to change their thoughts.  “The name’s Gerald Carter, and I am looking into the case against Benjamin James,” I watched his facial expression, and I could tell he seemed much relieved, that I wasn’t another of those paranormal hunters.

“The name’s Howard Beaumont, and this is my wife Anna,” stated Howard.  “That was a nasty business.”

“Nice to meet you,” I said, much relieved by their friendliness.

“Following the murder of the James family, they being the last occupants of the place, it lay empty for some years, until Benjamin reached twenty-one, as the story goes, if my memory serves me right.  Then the old rectory was burned down . . . it was a terrible place, with a bad history . . . many have died there,” stated Anna Beaumont.

Carter looked at the pair, stunned at the suggestion that Benjamin could have been responsible for the fire, even though he was locked up . . . saying nothing in reply.

“There have been many deaths in the village!”  Howard Beaumont stated.  “If we go back to 1921, there was a train crash, and the souls of the dead, are said to roam the village.  Then the Reverend Patterson died in the church, and Reverend Mathews, then four of the James family died in the rectory, it is as though the village is cursed?

“A railway accident, I didn’t even know the railway ever ran through the village?” asked Carter.

“It happened nearly a hundred years ago, and forty people are believed to have been killed that day,” Howard Beaumont stated.

“I didn’t see any mention on my Ordnance Survey Map, to that effect,” Carter quoted, with map in hand.

“The old line used to run alongside the river.  There was a passenger train on its way to Peterborough, and a goods train heading towards Norwich, on the opposite track.  One of the wagons of the goods train jumped the tracks, and pulled the others across the line, the passenger train could not stop in time, both trains crashed into each other.  They said you could hear the shriek of its brakes miles away, and that the sparks from its wheels, set fire to three miles of the embankment,” Beaumont informed Carter, who listened with great interest.  “It is a day the village and its people will not forget!”

An odd comment thought Carter.

“There’s a monument in the village cemetery, in memory of those who died, if you are interested,” interjected Anna Beaumont.  “There was much uproar following the accident; the line has since closed.”

The Beaumont’s repeated their directions to the village along with a warning; “Don’t stay in the village after dark . . . it is not safe,” stated Howard.

Carter found the turning for Barrisgough, and steered his car down a rough, gravel track that ended in a small turnaround with trees on two sides, and an unkempt hedge at the far end.

Switching off his motor he clambered out seeing the iron gate, leading to the church, where headstones stood in waist-high grass, obviously uncut in many years.  A bramble bush had rooted itself in the shoulders of a headless stone angel.  Yet the gravel path was free of weeds.  A hand sized hole in one of the stained glass windows had been patched with cardboard, suggesting that although its congregation had long deserted it, someone still cared for the place.

The sun was going down, low over the fields where mist was beginning to gather.  Too dark, for Carter to examine inscriptions on the gravestones, or look in the church.  Carter followed a line of trees, leading to the old rectory, overlooking the village.

The moment was curiously disappointing; perhaps it was because there was hardly anything left to see of the place . . . just a ruin.

Carter fished out his digital camera to take a few photographs of the remains.  He noticed in the camera’s viewfinder, an old church stood a few hundred yards beyond the rectory ruins, its’ square tower not much higher than the embankment behind it.  The hedge around it had grown tall and wild; long briers trailed from it like unkempt hair.  He found the unnerving stillness of the unpopulated countryside, sent jitters down his spine.  Beyond was a wide, rough meadow, backstopped by a steep former railway embankment, with a line of trees on one side, and the river on the other.  As he unhooked the gate and stepped through, a train drove out of the misty gloom, the lights of its passenger cars like a string of yellow beads, dragging a dull roar behind it.

“I thought the train never ran along this old line, anymore, according to what he had been told by the Beaumonts,” said a confused Carter out loud to himself.

There had once been a narrow street here, there were grassy lumps on either side, where cottages once stood.  Finally he walked along the river’s edge, and back to the safety of his car, before darkness consumed the village. “Talk about ghosts,” had set his body on edge, he said lightly to himself, observing the winter sun disappearing below the tree line.

First thing the following morning, Carter found an express photo centre, to process and print his images in two hours.  Then he walked through the busy shopping arcade, to the town’s library, and spent the next few hours browsing the local section; for answers.

He found several accounts of the railway accident of 18th May 1921 at 18.50pm.  But what caught his eye was the reference to the body of an unknown gentleman, burnt alive in the first carriage, and all that remained was a silver ring bearing the initials H.B.  Police inquiries gave a brief description, late thirties, five-five inches tall, average build, with dusky blonde hair.  No one claimed his body, and his remains were buried at Barrisgough, with another unidentified body, that of a lady, in her early thirties, wearing a broach bearing the initials A.B.

“These two sets of initials rang alarm bells, Carter’s mind focusing on his meeting outside the village.  H.B. is Howard Beaumont and A.B. is Anna Beaumont.  Could it be that simple, could they be one and the same people, if so I have been talking to ghosts; Barrisgough is indeed haunted?”

Barrisgough was also mentioned in the Doomsday Book, and had been no more than a hamlet of some forty souls, dependent on the wool trade.

Upon returning to collect his photos it was mid-afternoon.  As he checked through his order, there were no rectory, or village, just solid grey images.  “It looks like you have made some kind of mistake processing my order?” showing the young assistant, with bleach streaks of red in her blonde hair.

“It is all done automatically by computer these days, mistakes never happen . . . maybe you forgot to remove your lens cover, or your camera’s broken?” she suggested.

“Let me speak to your manager,” asked Carter in a rather demanding voice.

“She won’t be in until the day after tomorrow,” she replied, adding an explanation; “We are only a small shop.”

“My camera is not broken, it works perfectly well,” Carter said to himself in a low voice.  “There can be but one explanation.  It must be the village,” as the young assistant gave him an odd look.

After an evening meal of Chicken Curry, and several glasses of wine at the local Curry House, Carter returned to his Hotel; intending to make an early night of it.  That was not to be, for he was in for a restless night.

A dense smell of burning hit him, as he opened his hotel room door.  There was no smoke, or fire . . . just the smell.  By the time the landlord arrived it was gone . . . Had I imagined it?

Was it something about ghosts from the railway accident . . . what an absurd thought?  Barrisgough, had been rife with superstition over the centuries, had my visit stirred something.

Frost lay in the rough meadows, and a light mist floated above the river, as Carter entered the village, early the next day.

In the Churchyard, a stone pyramid commemorated the rail accident of 18th May 1921; and according to local legend, the dead haunt the village to this very day!  Some of those who died in the accident, could not be identified, and have been buried around the pyramid . . . the Beaumonts?

The iron handle leading into the little church was so stiff Carter thought it must be locked; then it gave way, and the door slowly creaked open.

It was much colder inside the church than outside.  Carter shivered from the cold, as he gazed at the pews, the plain pulpit, and the draped altar beyond.  Tablets were set into the rough stone walls, commemorating those from the parish killed in the Great War, the Second World War, and previous vicars.  There were other memorials to families, on the uneven flagstones on the floor, as he studied them one by one.  Located at the base of the altar, a stone plaque commemorated the building of the church in 1754; each corner had the emblems of a crossed hammer and chisel.

Carter heard a sound, thought it was a creaking sound of the door, looked round, saw that he was alone, and the door closed.  Then he heard a distant, drawn-out metallic screech, smelt the same, gritty, sulphurous stench he had encountered back at his hotel room.  The smell grew in density, until he could hardly breathe.  He staggered to the door, wrenching it open, bursting out into the bleak daylight.

Carter’s hands were shaking.  He just couldn’t stop them from shaking, and rammed his hands deep into his pockets . . . the sensation lasted only a matter of minutes, but the fearful sensation stayed with him most of the day.

He walked to the old rectory, observing the ruins in the light of day . . . dark and dismal, its’ burnt walls had caved in on itself, tearing out floor by floor right down to the cellar, windows of dark holes with limitless space.

Houses are nothing more than a laboratory, designed to preserve the memories of human existence, to incarcerate the spirit of the human body.

The old rectory stood vacant, but was in too conspicuous a state of repair to seem haunted . . . but one never knows!

He found the Old Manor House, set back from the road, as mentioned in the files passed on to him by Father Baines.  There were signs on the ground of dried blood, bird feather remains; those associated with black-magic rituals.  How recent it was hard to say, but the feather’s still appeared reasonably soft to the touch.

As he returned to his car, he found what was believed to be the house-keeper’s cottage; for the rectory.  It was no more than a dilapidated shack now; its roof lay in pieces on the floor.  No one would believe it had been lived in these past fifty years or more.

Now the Nun of the old rectory has been laid peacefully to rest, and the rectory is no more . . . the cottage will never come to life again.

“It was all here,” Carter said to himself.  “Could someone from the past be held responsible for the Patterson – Mathews – James murders?”


Village of the cursed (1/4)


Our story begins in Barrisgough, a former Saxon village, consisting of a single road, with a circular green midway, once the site of a Saxon styled fortress.

The Eastern Times headline read:

GUNNED DOWN IN THEIR HOME:  On Thursday 15th August 1991,  Mr Peter James (38), his wife of twenty years Samantha (37), and two of their three children; Michael (14), and Christina (15), were brutally murdered at their home, a former Victorian rectory, in the East Anglian village of Barrisgough.

The police had quickly dispensed with the possibility of an outside intruder carrying out the murders.  For it was the weight of overwhelming physical and circumstantial evidence, which pointed the police towards Benjamin James (14), the only family member, left alive.  It was considered Benjamin had the opportunity, but as yet the motive eluded them.

The James’ mystery is centred on suppositions, assumptions, and public opinion, all of which revolve around Benjamin’s blood stained clothes, and the shotgun he was holding.

Benjamin was a quiet boy with dusky coloured hair, and light brown eyes.  He had that baby face look about him, and a sickly complexion.  For his age he was fairly broad shouldered, with a slim figure.  His manners were impeccable, but those who knew him well, stated he had an especially disagreeable temperament.

He refused, or couldn’t speak about the events.

The murder’s occurred at the James’ residence on a cool and wet summer morning, which suddenly turned wet and dry.  By mid-morning, the family were about the house; Benjamin was tidying his room, Michael readied his bike to go riding, and Christina was helping her mother in the kitchen.

Confusion reigned.  Police and doctors were summoned.

Peter James, had been shot once in the chest, and another had sliced his spinal cord.  He died almost immediately, much like his wife Samantha, whose face had been partly blown away.  Her body had been thrust clear across the room, crashing into the far wall by the sheer force of the second shot to her chest.  Their daughter Christina was drenched in blood, from her chest wounds, and their son Michael, had been shot in the back, and the leg, bursting an artery, and bled to death in minutes.

Perhaps it was inevitable that Benjamin would become the prime suspect, for he had been found in his room covered in blood, holding the murder weapon in his lap; a double barrelled shotgun, which felt warm to the touch.

A four-man team of police officer’s searched the house from top to bottom.  They found nothing to indicate the presence of an intruder, enhancing Benjamin’s guilt.

Benjamin had been convicted of the murders by the press; before the trial had even started . . . he had no chance!

Trinity House, perched high upon a treacherous wall of granite, with its jagged outcrops, formed the outline of the northern face of Saint Unix Island, split into two parts by a causeway running between them.

The dark tower, part of the former 18th century manor house, located on the northern island, overlooked the sea below, with four floors around an inner courtyard of cobbled stones.

Three sides are surrounded by sloping greens, with guard towers, and an electrified fence.  The fourth side, protected by the treacherous rocks far below, in the wake of the oncoming storm.

The southern island consists of a rural settlement, and farm land, as it has been, for the past hundred years or more.

A single light glowed, from behind the moving clouds, as a lonely taxi, struggled up the steep cliff road.  Inside two gentlemen sat deep in conversation, oblivious to their surroundings; one of swarthy complexion with ebony eyes, and an air of competence, whilst the other, fairly short and stocky, expressionless, dressed all in black; the clothes the trademark, of a priest.

Gerald Carter peered out of the taxi, at Trinity House looming overhead.  “Why on earth did I let you talk me into coming with you to this awful place?”

Curiosity got the better of you, as to what, or should I say who, have drawn me to this place every month?” stated Father Baines.

Carter gazed over at his life long friend.  “You are right as always.”

“Behind these walls, I believe one patient, could be innocent of his crimes,” Baines started with conviction in his voice.

“He wouldn’t be here, unless they believed he was a threat to society,” suggested Carter.

“The evidence was stacked against him, before the trial, and it is my belief, he was still in shock.  I doubt he was capable of committing the crime . . . yet he was found guilty.”  Baines put forward his personal beliefs.  “All I ask of you is to meet him, with an open mind.  You will see why I question his guilt.”

The taxi came to an abrupt halt, and Father Baines, retrieved his briefcase that, had tumbled to the floor; black and old with a metal buckle.  Then he sat back for a moment gazing at the building, which stood before him, saying nothing as thoughts washed over him.

They got out, “thanks very much,” Baines said to the driver.

“I didn’t expect to see you today, Governor Calahan stated, watching his visitors walk up the path, through the large wrought iron gates, to the large foreboding oak doors with iron studs, where he stood.  “The clouds have turned black . . . a warning that rain was on the way.”

“When we left the weather wasn’t so bad, but in the last half hour or so, it has steadily got worse,” commented Father Baines, looking up at the darkening sky.  “We may be forced to say overnight at the Inn, if the ferry doesn’t come back.”

“Forgive my manners, I would like to introduce you to Dr Gerald Carter,” who was standing in the shadows.  “Long time friend and psychiatrist, who I have mentioned on previous visits.”

“Good of you to come to this hell hole of a place in the middle of nowhere,” replied Calahan.

“The good Father here can be very persuasive, when he’s got the bit between his teeth,” replied Carter with a broad grin across his face.  “I always wondered what drew him here all these years.”

“You will find Benjamin in the tower as usual, you know the way Father.  I’ll leave you to it,” stated Mr Calahan in a calm and softening voice, with a hint of an Irish accent.  “When you’ve finished come and find me, I will be in my office.”

“Thank you,” replied the Father.

Father Baines, led the way and Gerald Carter fell in by his side, as they walked across the courtyard towards the narrow stone staircase.  At the bottom, sat a swallow skinned warder, with blonde hair, and pain in his eyes.  He nodded in acknowledgement of the visitors.

“Is he there for our benefit, or the patients?” asked Carter.

Father Baines looked in his direction, smiled, but did not speak.

Carter scuttled after Baines, mounting the steep and winding steps.  At the second level, he was forced to take a break, and rest against the balcony to catch his breath. Upon reaching the top, he found his old friend, sitting on the top steps, awaiting his arrival.

“You’re a bit out of condition these days, too much time spent behind a desk,” exclaimed Baines with a cheeky grin across his face.

“Hmm,” grunted the breathless doctor.

The pair entered the top room of the tower, and there sitting by the window was a young man drawing away upon an easel.  “Take a seat Father; I have been expecting you, ever since the ferry docked, and who have you brought with you?”

“Doctor Carter, an old friend of mine.  I mentioned him before on my previous visits.  I just want you to talk to him,” asked the Father.

“So what type of doctor are you,” as he swung himself round to face his visitors.

“I am a Psychiatrist,” replied Carter.

“Don’t you think we see enough shrinks in this place, so what’s different about you?” asked Benjamin.

Father Baines jumped in with a reply, before Carter had a chance to answer.  “Benjamin, I want you to talk to my friend on your own as a personal favour to me, and there are no catches, just be honest with him … that’s all I ask of you.”

“Okay. Okay.” Benjamin raised his hands in defence.  “I will talk to him, but I think it’s a waste of time,” replied Benjamin with a disinterested tone in his voice.

“I will leave you two alone for a while.  I will take a walk in the gardens,” stated Father Baines, as he headed towards the door.

As Father Baines left the cell, Carter removed his notebook from his pocket.  “Do you mind if I take notes?”

“It’s your choice,” replied Benjamin, shrugging his shoulders.

“Benjamin, tell me about yourself, and your life please?” asked Carter, trying to break the ice.

“First, tell me what year is it?” asked Benjamin.

“Why, it’s 2001 of course,” replied Carter.

“For theses past ten years, I have been excluded from the outside world.  The bars on my window are here to keep me from escaping.  I have only one visitor from outside this place; Father Baines.  My time is spent drawing in this octagonal cell; 15 paces from east to west and from north to the south wall.  I have come to terms with the fact, that I will live out the rest of my days in this place,” Benjamin stated with sadness in his voice.

“What about friends in this place?” asked Carter.

Benjamin laughed at the suggestion.  “My only comfort and friend is provided in the form of a cactus plant, which I have studied in every intimate detail, watching it grow inch by inch, and drawing its every change.”

Beyond these two luxuries, everything else is so flat and featureless, even the walls look so clinical.

In my most desperate times, I yearn to escape the confines of this place, to make a move to the freedom of the outside world; but I would surely die, I would not get far, that much I know, as one gazes out at the rough and choppy sea yonder.  It feels so unfair to be constrained to this life when I have done nothing wrong.

I am innocent of all crimes and guilty of none.  What gave them the right to take me from a life that seems so far away now, and could have been mine to enjoy.

I look at my warders sometimes and wonder; do they feel sorry for me?  I am sure they must know that I am without blame.  They feed me three times a day, knowing that to eat it is a highlight to my daily routine …although the food itself remains the same.

Once Benjamin had finished talking, Carter gazed into his light-brown eyes, with a wondering.  “For all his years in captivity he was quite eloquent for someone of his age; that he put down to his early years of schooling,” he said quietly to himself, more in thought than actual words.

Benjamin looked lost in his own thoughts, turning round to gaze upon the rough and stormy seas, crashing against the rocks below.

The dream … or rather, the nightmare … had begun many years ago.  It was short, but no less frightening for that.  In the dream, he remembered this woman dressed in a ‘Nun’s Habit’, although I never saw her face clearly in the dream, I knew with absolute certainty that she was there.  The exasperating part of it was that I always woke up, drenched in sweat, just before … I discovered … the reasons for my acts, that would make them appear perfectly rational in my mind.

I have had many nightmares that have haunted me over the years in captivity, but it was this one that carried a quality of reality that I did not sense in all other dreams, and that had remained unblemished for years.

Was she reaching out to me, if so why?

Was she asking to be released from this tormented life of hers?

An hour or so later Father Baines caught up with Carter, coming down the stone steps, from the tower.  The look upon his face was one of bemusement, leaving him in a puzzled state of mind.

“Well what do you make of Benjamin?” asked Baines.  “Was it worth the trip?”

“I believe so,” Carter answered.  He’s an interesting young man, with a pleasant manner about him.  These years of incarceration, have deprived him of intelligence, and I assume your visits keeps his mind active about the outside world.”

Baines smiled, knowing his friend had observed well.

“So what’s his crime, to be sent to a place like this?” asked Carter.

“Would you believe he murdered his own family,” Baines calmly replied, watching intently his friend’s face change with every thought.

“First impressions,” Carter considered Baines comments.  “I would find it hard to believe him capable of murder . . . I would need to know more!”

“Come, let’s go to the Governor’s Office, and with his help we will outline the events that led to Benjamin being sent here for life,” Baines watched his face change to one of surprise at the mention of the dreaded word; life.

“Life,” replied Carter, “It must have been serious, to impose such a harsh sentence on one so young?”

“Benjamin had been sentenced to life with no option for parole as laid down by the then Home Secretary, at the time of his trial,” Father Baines, even he thought the sentence harsh.  “The murders had been called horrific at the time, to have been committed by one so young.”

“Well, did you enjoy your talk with Benjamin?”  asked the Governor, as he showed them into his office.

“Let’s say it was interesting, but what I would like to know, is how he ended up here, serving a life sentence?” Carter eyed each man, waiting for a response.

“Baines is your man,” stated the Governor.  “While we talk, I have arranged for hot coffee and sandwiches,” which were placed before them.

Father Baines, released the old and rusting buckles on his briefcase, fumbling for a few moments, before bringing out a bundle of papers, some yellowing with age, held together with string.

To understand the events leading up to Benjamin’s incarceration for these murders, we have to go back to the year 1863.

It was one man’s dream: The Reverend Henry Markham to build a rectory, overlooking the village of Barrisgough, his parish, in East Anglia.

Edward Markham, son of Henry was appointed the new vicar in 1895, upon his father’s death, and held the position until his death in 1928.

Horse Drawn Carriage

Edward would wait at the rectory gate, close to mid-night, each and every Friday night, for the passing of the driver less ghostly coach.  The sound of rumbling wheels, clattering of horse’s hooves, would approach along the road, reaching a crescendo at the gate, and gradually fade into the distance.  This was one of many manifestations that would take place in the village.

The late John Brown, former groom to Edward Markham, for twenty-four years, described a blazing carriage with light careering through the rectory grounds.  A story he told his son, and his grandchildren, on more than one occasion.

16th c Nun

A more significant manifestation associated with the rectory, concerns that of a Nun.  According to many witness reports over the years, she walks across the terrace, reading a small book.  Historians and churchmen believe it to be a prayer book.

Then in 1939, lightning struck the rectory, destroying the west wing, and it was not re-built until the early 1950’s.

Summer 1955, Reverend James Patterson took the post of village vicar.  Poltergeist activities were ripe in the rectory. Black Magic rituals took place in the Old Manor House graveyard.  In 1972, Patterson was found hanging from the Church Bell Tower.  His death was declared as a suicide . . . but villager’s did not agree.

Winter 1972, Reverend Mathews appointed new vicar.  Never lived long enough to take his first Sunday service . . . died forty-eight hours, after stepping foot in the rectory.

“Has the practising of Black Magic continued within the village to this day?” Carter interrupted, unable to believe what he was hearing.

“Enquiries within the village, and recent animal blood splashes can be found on the Old Manor House grounds.  Based on those findings, I would have to say yes,” Father Baines shocked his friend.

The Church and Rectory were closed and boarded up.  Only the Church remains so, following the sale of the Rectory.

Over the next six years, villager’s beliefs that the building was haunted bore out by reports of James Patterson, in his study, and Edward Markham, walking the corridors, according to witnesses.

Some believed the occupation of the Old Rectory, would invoke historical events of the past.  Were they right?  Then in 1988, the James family took up residence with their three children; Michael 11, Benjamin 11, and Christina 12.

All the villager’s worst fears were to be proved right, for on 15th August 1991 gunshots were heard, from the former Rectory.  History had come back to haunt the village once again.

Bracks the churchwarden, and PC Roberts, were first on the scene, inside all was quiet, they found chaos, furniture flung about causing a scene of disaster . . . Peter James, wife Samantha, along with two of their children; Michael and Christina murdered.

Benjamin their other son was found, drenched in blood, holding the murder weapon; his father’s shotgun.  He never spoke; he appeared in a state of shock.

The police doctor, ordered him to be detained at the David Rice Mental Hospital, in Norwich.

During the course of three fifty minute video-taped interviews with D.I.Nelson and D.S.Weaver, Benjamin never spoke to confess his guilt, or proclaim his innocence.

Police evidence proved without doubt, that someone had killed them with Peter James’ shotgun . . . as no evidence of an intruder could be found.  Benjamin James was charged with four counts of murder in the first-degree.

The question which was on many peoples lips at the time; was he a murderer or an innocent victim?

According to villager’s, they believe there has to be a connection, with the Reverend James Patterson, who supposedly took his own life in 1972, and the village itself, as Baines finally closed the first of many folders.

“A very interesting story, one that warrants closer inspection,” Carter commented.  “The reason you asked me here, is to see if I would be interested in taking a look at this case.  Well, don’t worry old friend, this case merits closer scrutiny . . . and I would enjoy the challenge.”

Baines and Governor Calahan, smiled at each other with much satisfaction.

Don’t go getting any ideas, he may still be proved guilty,” Carter, stated wearing his serious facial expression.  “Do you have a copy of the trial transcripts?”

“Just a summary,” replied Baines, passing them over.

Carter, ignored Baines and Calahan, spending a few minutes reading through the summary, making a few notes in the margins, and the occasional smile.


Benjamin James’ trial began on Monday 25th November 1991, at a closed session of the Norwich Juvenile Court, being that he was under 16 years-of-age at the time of the trial.  He was charged on four counts:  The murders of Peter James, Samantha James, Michael James, and Christina James.

The prosecution focused on four major points:

  • Benjamin covered in his victim’s blood.
  • Found holding the murder weapon, covered in his prints.
  • No sign of an intruder.
  • Benjamin’s refusal to speak, proving his guilt.

The defence was fighting a losing battle, with all the evidence stacked against their client; Benjamin James.  Their only hope was to put a question of doubt in the court’s mind.

The defence was convinced from the outset that Benjamin was incapable of murdering his own family . . . let alone man-handle a double-barrelled shotgun, firing it in quick succession.

Proving it would be difficult, for Benjamin’s refusal to speak; could be seen as an admission of guilt.

According to Police Constable Roberts testimony, he along with the churchwarden Mr Bracks, were first on the scene.  The house appeared in a state of utter chaos, furniture had been tossed across the house.

Doctor Mathew Hayden, the police doctor arrived on the scene a little after 11.30am.

Peter James, had been found in the living room, having been shot twice, once to the chest, and a second sliced through his spinal cord.

Samantha James, also found in the living room, her face had been partly blown away.  A second shot to her heart had thrust her body across the room crashing into the wall with sheer force . . . blood was congealing from her fatal chest wound.  Her heart would have stopped almost immediately, resulting in limited blood splatter on walls, floor, and furniture.

Christina James was drenched in blood, from her chest wounds, which would certainly have killed her, outright.

Michael had been shot in the back, and leg.  He may have seen his attacker?  From scratch marks on the floor, he appears to have tried to drag himself along the corridor, to the main part of the house; for help.

Following the horrific murders of the James family, police performed a detailed search of the house, from attic to the ground floor.  They discovered the house had a cellar, which was only accessible by means of the rear garden.  No evidence of an intruder could be found, and Benjamin became the prime suspect.  Physical and circumstantial evidence, pointed to him, without a doubt.

For the whole of the proceeding’s, he just sat in his chair and said nothing, only the occasional nod, acknowledge his name, and the odd shrug of the shoulders.  Day after day, police and medical experts gave their evidence, and he had a blank look on his face, which remained so, throughout the trial.

“Do you think he had any idea, what was going on, or where he was?” questioned Carter.

Bracks believed Benjamin was oblivious to the events, surrounding him, but I sense he must have had some idea, for he nodded and shrugged his shoulders in reply to some questions,” suggested Baines.

Benjamin’s sentence, based on psychiatric reports and the crime of multiple murders, led to him being detained for an indefinite period, and he eventually ended up here, in a mental institution for the criminally insane.

“So, how did you get involved, in such a complex case?” asked Carter.

It all started many years ago, when I visited another patient here, as a prison visitor, who has since died. It was at one of these visits, I was introduced to Mr Bracks, who told me of Barrisgough, its past history, and Benjamin’s conviction for murders.

Mr Bracks, died some seven years ago, leaving all his files on Benjamin to me, with a letter begging me to prove his innocence, and get him released from this awful place.”

From that day forth, I started visiting Benjamin once a month, initially he did not utter a word, that all changed on the 21st September 1998, but that’s another story.

Since then he has become more talkative, and spoken of his life, and belief in his innocence.

What I am about to tell you, could prove to be enough evidence to get you started on an appeal, as Baines opened another of his folders.

Life in Barrisgough took a surprising turn, when Archaeologists and Historians descended upon the village, seeking answers to its historical past, and the ghostly apparitions that have been reported.

Apparitions of a Nun, seen by many a visitor to the old rectory over the centuries, led to the possible connection of the so-called murdered maid theory, part of the village’s history.  They refer to a French Nun, who worked the area during the mid 16th century.  The Witch finder General; Mathew Hopkins worked this area 1645-1647, and local history states a maid was put on trial for being a witch.  Her crime was her association with animals, and it is believed she talked to them.  Her body was burnt as a witch, and then thrown down an old well.

Paranormal believers theorised, that the frequent materialisations, causing much agitation in the spirit world, could be that of a young woman.  Some had suggested that the murdered Nun, and the maid, come housekeeper who was employed by the Markhams, Patterson, then the James household, are all one of the same.  After each death, she mysteriously disappears leaving no trace . . . it is as though she never existed.

The police in their quest for answers were drawn to Christina James diary:  On the first day home from boarding school, Michael, Benjamin and myself, would ride through the village on our bicycles, waving to the villager’s as we passed by.  Our destination, the old cottage nestled down by the river; home of our housekeeper.  She would be waiting for us, with plates of freshly baked cakes and scones.

This being the former house-keeper, they were stunned to find a derelict cottage.  Windows were broken and only dust and cobwebs remained inside.  The door was gone, lost long ago.

This left the police perplexed, and inquiries about the house-keeper and her cottage, from the villager’s, brought replies that were to confuse the case further.  No one seemed surprised that the cottage was derelict, the rectory was empty, and so she had no need to stay around.

Female skull and bones were removed from the dis-used well, in the former rectory gardens, by archaeologists.  Her remains were taken to Cambridge University Museum, where extensive examinations, including carbon dating were carried out.

Over the next few weeks a series of unexplained incidents took place.  The skull broke in two, glass cases were cracked, and valuable works of art in the museum were damaged, all within close proximity to the skull.  Two of the original archaeology team, who went down the well to retrieve the remains, died within seven days.  Physically fit young men in their late twenties died of natural causes, but their bones were consistent with someone aged sixty or more.  No logical explanation could be put forward, so is it possible these bones were cursed?

As I previously mentioned, a Nun, employed as a maid come house-keeper was tried as a witch, burnt at the stake for her crime in 1645-1647, and her remains tossed down a well, and left their to rot.  Then in 1863, Reverend Henry Markham built a rectory, and the old well was situated in the grounds.  Something must have happened in the spirit world, because the Nun, became a ghostly presence of the rectory.

Then on the 20th September 1998, the Nun’s bones were buried on sacred ground at a local convent . . . at last she was at peace.  Then on the morning of the 21st September, Benjamin spoke his first words, since the horrific killings that robbed him of his family back in 1991.

“What about the memories of that day?” asked Carter.  “Has he any recollections?”

“So far his mind remains a blank for the day of the killings, but slowly with the help of psychiatrists here, they are piecing his world back together again,” Baines replied, ever hopeful they will succeed.

“Enough to throw doubt on the case?” asked Carter.

“I have made it my business, to ask whether he should be held accountable, in light of these and other discoveries.  The reply received from the authorities, was no more than expected.  They claim it was no more than a coincidence, and the sentence stands,” Baines stated.

“But the question still remains, is he innocent or guilty of the crime?” asked Carter.

“In my heart I believe him to be innocent, but my judgement is based on Bracks belief, his files, and discussions I have had with Benjamin, but hard evidence to put before a court; no.  So we have to prove doubt in the original prosecutions case,” replied Father Baines with a wishful smile.

“Let us look at the facts, at the time of the murders.  Benjamin aged 14, and some 4ft 8inches tall.  So how on earth did he lift a double-barrelled shotgun, fire, break and remove spent cartridges, reload fire in quick succession, as he walked from one room to the next?  Even I would find that hard to do,” stated Carter.  “How many spent cartridges were discovered at the scene?”

“According to the police report, a total of eight,” replied Baines.

“Four murders, two shots to each body,” Carter spoke out loud.

“At the original trial defence questioned Benjamin’s inability to lift, fire in quick succession, but prosecution evidence proved otherwise,” stated Baines.  “The village dressmaker, one Miss Mary Laidlaw, better known as the local busybody, claimed under oath, she had witnessed Benjamin holding his father’s shotgun, from some distance away, it was enough to get him convicted.”

The good doctor smiled, but said nothing.  It was obvious to those around the table; an idea was forming . . . could it be, had he found a flaw in the prosecution’s case?

(Image) Horse Drawn Carriage: Planet Mine Craft
(Image) Castle/House: Wallpaper Image
(Image) Nun: Wallpaper Image


My Pilgrimage

Poseidon Temple at Cape Sounion near Athens, Greece

A pilgrimage of the mind
as we set foot on her land,
she receives us, as travellers
upon this forgotten land.

We feel the stones of time
press down, under our feet,
as we seek out ruined temples
to mingle with our mind.


Garden Birds


Crumbled bread
no use for me
no use for you,
for our birds
matter of survival.