King Stephen, the Silver man and Greta the Witch

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Chapter 35 – Who is Elvis ?

The next morning Greta marched into Ellen and Carla’s bedroom without knocking and announced that she had used the toilet. She was still dressed in the tights and top she had slept in, she had not bothered to put on the rest of her clothes. The cats followed her in.

She said, ‘she would shower’, and without being invited removed her clothes and walked into the shower. Carla noticed she was using her best shampoo, but said nothing.

Over breakfast, Greta asked who the people were pictured on the mugs. She had failed to recognise any of the current British Royal Family.

Carla then showed Greta several pictures on her computer tablet to see if she recognised any of them. Greta was either one of the best actresses in the world or she failed to recognise Elvis Presley, The Beatles, the current President of the United States, President Nixon, President Carter, President Clinton or either of the President’s Bush. She failed to recognise the British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, Saddam Hussein, Michael Jackson, Princess Diana, Charlie Chaplin, Gandhi or the current Queen of England – Elizabeth II. Although she did hesitate when she saw Diana’s picture.

Greta was not lying, as Witches both Carla and Ellen both knew that, but was she suffering from some form of memory loss? Or was it an elaborate hoax, like the famous case of Anna Anderson who claimed to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia, the youngest daughter of the last Tsar and Tsarina? Or was she suffering from delusions of grandeur.

They asked her to explain how King Stephen had come to the throne, and as Carla checked the facts on her tablet, she accurately described the accession to the thrown of King Stephen from Henry 1.

Ellen decided to throw in a curve ball, and Greta, ‘how many wives did Henry VIII have?’

Ellen thought for a moment and then said, ‘I don’t know, I don’t know Henry VIII ’

Ellen put a sympathetic hand of top of Greta’s, and said soothingly, ‘that is alright he wasn’t born until 1491.’

Greta looked confused.

They were distracted by a noise, a thump from the hallway as the newspaper was put through the letter box. Carla went to collect it and she opened up the front page. She put the newspaper on the kitchen table in front of Ellen, and pointed to the date at the top of the paper. Tuesday 6th March 2012.

Greta said but the year is 1136, and her voice trailed off … at that moment all three witches realised that Greta was from a different time.

They were brought out of their shocked silence by a knock on the door. Ellen went to open it, and Carla and Greta followed her along the hall corridor.

Outside were two uniformed female Police officers. One said, ‘morning madam, we are conducting door-to-door enquiries, because the fugitives from the Hazeley Common murders are still at large. Did you hear about the murders yesterday?’

Ellen replied, ‘yes we were at the market yesterday when the shooting happened, terrible business,’

‘Indeed, what were you doing at the market?’

Carla had been behind Ellen when she opened the door, but quickly retreated back into the kitchen, when she recognised one of the Policewomen who had cautioned her during a particularly violent confrontation with some of the fake witches at a Psychic Fare in Wokingham the previous year. She grabbed Greta’s hand and took her with her. As she retreated down the hall back towards the kitchen she could hear Ellen saying, ‘we have a stall at the market, hear the shots, but didn’t see anything of the actual shooting.’

After a few more minutes of questioning, while the second Policewoman took some notes, the Policewomen gave Ellen a business card, and asked her to call that number if she saw or heard anything that could help.

Ellen put the card on the table in the hall, and went back in the kitchen. Carla and Greta were both sitting in shocked silence, each wondering what to say next.

Ellen had an idea, she said, ‘Let’s go shopping.’

They took Greta to the large Marks & Spencer superstore near Camberley. Carla drove in her old Volvo, Greta screamed in excitement at being driven in a horseless carriage at such speed, Ellen and Carla both laughed.

Greta behaved outrageously in the shop.

She rushed between racks of clothes and shoes, she had never seen such abundance, such opulence, and such vivid colours. Her behaviour was noticed on the CCTV cameras, and security were called. Ellen was trying on new clothes over her existing clothes, and then rushing to the next rack for more.

The two security guards were ex-Ghurkhas from Nepal. They had handsome Asian features and Greta stared at them in open mouthed wonder, attempting to touch their faces, as she was forcibly evicted from the store. Carla stood outside with Greta, while Ellen apologised to the store supervisor, and bought £250 worth of clothes and shoes for Greta on her credit card.

Ellen’s phone rang as she was leaving the store. It was a regular client, a dear old lady, who came to her regularly for a reading. Ellen arranged for her to visit the next day. Well she thought, her £100 would go some way to paying for Greta’s new things. She also realised she had a bunch of unread messages, she should get back to work.

She suggested to Carla that they go into town and get their nails done. Greta’s nails were unbelievably bad.

Greta embraced 1,000 years of progress fast. She came home with a new hairstyle, fantastic looking nails and a make-over. She felt wonderful. Ellen also said she had booked to see a cosmetic dentist the next day. She mouthed behind Greta’s back, ‘who is paying?’

Excitedly Greta tried on her new clothes, even Carla was swept away in her joy and excitement. Carla cooked dinner that night, her speciality, toad-in-the-hole. Which is sausages cooked in batter. It was impossible to explain to Greta that it contained no toads! She still didn’t understand what bit of the animal that sausages were. Carla and Ellen were doubled up with laughter.

After dinner they watched TV together. Television was a concept that it was impossible to explain to Greta. But there were so many new things that by now Greta had sort of given up asking questions. She just hoped it would all become clear later. However like a small child she had secretly examined behind the TV to see where the images came from when Carla and Ellen had left the room.

The lead news story was still the man-hunt for the academic Dr Keith Maxwell and accomplices unknown, centered on the Fleet and Hartley Wintney areas. They had been responsible for two murders, and their fourth accomplice, who was still unidentified, had killed one Police officer and seriously wounded a second with his bow and arrow, before being shot dead.

The story used video clips of varying quality. Most had been taken at the scene by members of the public on their mobile phones. Carla and Ellen had been there of course at the time, and had heard the shots, but all they really saw was that backs of the heads of a crowd of people.

Ellen remembered feeling Greta’s presence when she was serving on the stall, but didn’t remember seeing her in the crowd.

After the shootings, the Police closed the market. Ellen and Greta packed away their stall in the back of Carla’s trusty Volvo and went home. They had pieced together most of the story from gossiping with other stall holders and checking the news-wires on the internet. It had also dominated the radio and TV news ever since. An image of a man’s face appeared on the large Plasma screen Ellen owned. It was a very life-like colour sketch of the man who the Police had shot and killed on Sunday.

Greta pointed at the screen. ‘That is Henry of Gloucester, the finest bowman in England.’

Carla and Ellen exchanged a look. Both realised at that point that they may have something to contribute. Ellen remembered the card the Policewoman had left her. It was still on the hall table. But said nothing in front of Greta.

In bed that night, Carla and Ellen discussed what they should do. Carla thought they should call the Police first thing in the morning, Ellen was not so sure.

‘But what would we say, that we have a Witch staying with us from a 1,000 years ago. They will lock us in the funny farm and throw away the key.’

‘We could just tell them that we have some information that may help with their enquiries. You don’t even have to give your name these days.’

‘But that would be betraying a Sister, we cannot do that.’

They couldn’t agree, eventually they fell asleep back to back. Chapter 35 - Ellen contacts the Daily Chronicle

The next morning they still couldn’t agree. Ellen took Greta to the dentist in her BMW X3. Carla drove back to Surbiton to see her mother in her trusty Volvo.

In the waiting room, Ellen read the magazines and newspapers. There was a newspaper there she didn’t normally read, the Daily Chronicle. Inside there was a picture of a very sexy reporter called Cathy Murphy, who was pictured clutching an award, dressed in a stunning low-cut evening dress. Apparently she had won the award of ‘News Journalist of the Year’ last night, and the story went on about her recent achievements including being the first to reveal the horrific beheading story in Hampshire.

On a whim, Ellen used the complimentary wireless internet in the Dentists’ waiting room and her mobile to find the Daily Chronicle’s website, and quickly found Cathy Murphy’s bio and contact details.

She sent an email to Cathy from her phone, asking her to call, because she had some information about the murders in Hampshire.

At the Daily Chronicle’s offices in Wapping in East London, Martha was at her desk nursing a killer hangover. Cathy had not yet arrived in. They had both got royally pissed after Cathy had won her award. JC had driven them both home. Martha didn’t remember getting into bed.

Martha read all Cathy’s emails from the website. They received so many, most were from timewasters and nutcases. All got an auto-reply thanking them for their Email and promising it would receive Cathy’s careful attention in due course, but they received so many that it was impossible to reply individually. They changed the text of the auto-reply from time to time, but the gist was the same.

Martha went through this morning’s emails one by one, hitting the delete key on most of them before she had read to the end. Most were nutcases. Some were from men of a certain age after Cathy’s body.

She read Ellen’s email and noted the ‘murders in Hampshire’ phrase but also the anonymous gmail email address with the prefix [email protected] She hit the delete key without opening the message. Probably a nutter. She went to get another mug of strong coffee.

Ellen received the Autoreply from her email to Cathy Murphy just as Greta left the dentists surgery, and came back into the waiting room. Unusually the dentist came out with her, he was clearly excited.

He said, ’I have never seen a set of teeth like Greta’s, fantastic.’

Greta obviously took this as a compliment, and smiled when she shook hands with the dentist. Ellen found this curious because Ellen’s teeth were clearly in a terrible state. He nodded to Ellen, a neutral expression on his face, but clearly eyeing Ellen up. He handed the receptionist a buff folder with writing on the front.

The receptionists smiled with radiant white teeth. She said, ‘Your estimated treatment cost is £3,000, we will require payment of £1,000 today and then I will book you three more appointments.’

Ellen handed over her credit card reluctantly, trying to think what she would tell Carla.

But just as she handed over her credit card, she asked the receptionist if she could have a quick word with the dentist. The receptionist said of course and touched a button on the keypad. She assumed that Ellen was about to query the bill, so she said, ‘Michael patient out here has a query.’

The dentist emerged, and said politely, ‘How can I help?’

‘Yes, I am a friend of Greta’s – you said just now that you had never seen teeth like Greta’s before, what did you mean exactly?’

Relieved that this didn’t seem to be a query about the cost, Michael smiled his whitest dentist smile and said, ‘I mean they are truly unique, as if they are from a different time, there is no evidence of modern filings or dentistry, there is no fluorine, and I cannot explain it. I have reduced my bill accordingly because I am so fascinated by her case.’

‘Thank you said Ellen that is very kind.’ She punched her PIN code into the credit card machine.

The receptionist removed the card with a flourish, and flashed her whitest smile again. Ellen thanked her, and Greta followed her out.

When Carla arrived for dinner, she told her about her call to Cathy Murphy. She had also showed her Cathy’s picture at the award ceremony on her tablet computer. Carla saw why Ellen had called her, she was very sexy.

After a good dinner, a few glasses of wine and some special Ellen and Carla time in the shower before bed, Carla agreed that this was better than calling the Police.

As she still had no reply to her email the next day, Ellen called Cathy’s office and got Martha’s voicemail. She left a message, saying she had emailed the previous day.

She called again after lunch, as Martha was away from her desk. Cathy took the call, and was immediately intrigued.

Cathy hit the record button on a tape machine and spoke to Ellen for 15 minutes. They arranged to meet, but Ellen had set a condition.

The condition that Ellen set was that Cathy came alone, and she would be met at Surbiton railway station. No cameras. A slender dark haired woman met her at the station exit, and introduced herself as Carla. Carla was polite as she greeted Cathy, but more business-like than friendly.

They drove in Carla’s Volvo a short distance and parked outside a restaurant called Zizzi, which was part of a national chain of Italian restaurants. Carla had suggested it, partly because it had reasonably high backed booths, where they could talk discretely, but also if Greta misbehaved and they could never go back, it would be no great loss because after eating once at the restaurant with her mother, Carla described the food and service as ‘distinctly average’.

Carla explained they would meet her friends in the restaurant. Cathy used the bathroom before she went in. As she sat on the stall she sent a text to Martha with the registration number of Carla’s Volvo. She also knew that Martha would know where she was because they used a simple cell-phone tracking App on their smartphones.

Martha text‘d back – JC is with you. Martha then sent a text containing Carla’s full name and address, date or birth, value of the car, and that she had no known criminal convictions. Her credit rating was average. She had connections as a clairvoyant and she recommended the Spaghetti Carbonara as it had the best reviews on the TimeOut website.

Cathy text‘d back ‘Smart arse xx’

JC, their chauffer and ex-Police officer, had followed Carla’s Volvo from the station to the restaurant, but Cathy had not spotted him. JC would have been mortified if she had.

Cathy was introduced to Ellen and Greta, they shook hands. They had already ordered white wine, and Ellen poured her and Carla a glass. Cathy ordered a bottle of the most expensive red wine on the menu. She also asked for some sparkling water.

It was a bit of squeeze in the booth, Ellen was a big girl. But Carla didn’t seem to mind being close to her. Ellen sat on one end, Cathy the other, and Greta sat next to Cathy. Cathy was reminded of the story of the three bears, daddy bear, mummy bear and baby bear. Greta had a childlike physique.

Cathy asked if they minded if she recorded the interview, that way she wouldn’t have to take notes. They said they didn’t mind and she pressed a button on a mobile phone like device that she placed on the table in front of Greta. Cathy explained that it recorded like a MP3 player, without tape. Ellen and Carla seemed impressed; Greta had no idea what she was talking about. In fact the device was also a radio transmitter.

Martha listened live in her office in London, while JC listened in his car outside the restaurant. To pass the time, JC and Martha sent text messages to each other making sarcastic comments on the food choice Cathy made:

Not sure I fancy that starter

No I would have gone for brioche

I see she went for the Carbonara

Listening on the live link, both Martha and JC heard the laughter from Ellen and Carla when Greta asked the young waiter if they had any toad-in-the-hole. In the end Greta just said she would have the same as Ellen, Parma ham with melon, followed by Lasagne. JC and Martha were both a little confused when they heard the voice identified as Greta add, ‘whatever that is.’

Cathy had often been in these situations and she knew how to entice people to talk. She was an astute and clever listener and was able to steer a conversation to quickly get to the salient facts. She was also a past master of keeping other people’s glasses charged, but drinking little herself.

She had expected that the dinner would last just an hour or so, and then she would be back on the train home. She had already filed her story for tomorrow, a profile interview with Michel Devereau the Deputy Director of ESA, the European Space Agency ESA, and she was looking forward to an early night after the excesses of the awards ceremony. She drank more of the sparkling water than wine, but the three Witches had finished the white and were now on the red.

Cathy ordered more wine. She was completely unprepared for Greta and her story.

Between mouthfuls of melon and Parma ham Ellen said, ‘we have a stall at Blackbushe market and were there last Sunday when the Police shootings happened. I felt Greta’s presence, but never met her until she arrived at my house the day after.’

Greta interjected, ’I followed the energy lines to Ellen’s house where I also met Carla. I recognised Henry of Gloucester’s picture on the television.’

The Witches were falling over themselves in their enthusiasm and to tell their story. So Cathy asked a question to bring the story to the real fact she wanted to test, ‘so how can you be sure that Greta is from a different time?’

Carla had finished her starter, so she took over the story to allow time for Ellen and Greta to eat theirs. ‘We showed Greta a variety of pictures of well-known figures from recent years like Elvis, the Queen and the Pope and house failed to recognise anyone. Also Ellen took her to a dentist who said he had never seen teeth like hers in modern times’.

Cathy asked, ‘what is the name of the dentist?’

Ellen answered, ‘Camberley Cosmetic Dentistry’.

Cathy made a show of making a note on a pad, but knew that Martha would already be Google searching to verify.

As the conversation continued, Cathy’s excitement built from a possible feature story, to a headline tomorrow, to another scoop for Sunday. Her tiredness and early night forgotten, she excused herself and called Martha on her cell.

She said excitedly, ‘are you getting this, are you fucking getting this?’

Martha said, ’Do you want me to book them in at the Ritz, do you want JC to break cover?’

‘Yes and yes, let the good times roll, let’s do it.’

As Cathy sat back down in the restaurant booth, a tall handsome man in a dark business suit appeared at their table and Cathy introduced John Constable. By this time there were three empty wine bottles in the ice bucket. Greta though she had never seen a more handsome man. Ellen thought he probably had a nice cock, and Carla ignored him and put her hand higher on Ellen’s thigh.

To book someone in at the Ritz, was their journalistic code for making people an offer they couldn’t refuse for an exclusive on their story. JC was now discussing with the three women the terms of an offer where the Daily Chronicle would pay them £100,000 if they did not speak to any other journalist about this story until next Monday. JC produced a contract from his pocket where their names and addresses were already written in.

Carla was a little surprised at this, and as probably the most sober of the three Witches said half-heartedly that they really should show it to a lawyer before they signed. JC and Cathy went into a well-practiced dialogue about why showing it to a solicitor was a bad idea, why it would delay things and end up reducing the fee. Besides, what did they have to lose?

Cathy ordered a bottle of champagne and they all signed.

Cathy got a taxi back to the station. By now Carla had drunk too much to drive, she left her old Volvo parked outside the restaurant while JC drove the three women back to Fleet.

He asked if he could stay the night, so he could take them to their hotel in the morning. This was actually a ruse to obey Cathy’s last whispered instruction to him ‘don’t let them out of your site, big boy’.

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