Like Cats And Dogs – Episode 33

While Tim was making the arrangements with the two police officers, Cally had her nose buried in a volume of Shakespeare’s collected works at the local library. Questions about the Bard’s plays were standard fodder for pub quizzes, and she was determined to become her team’s expert on that particular subject.

Beside her, Sheila was immersed in the latest Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child. She swore that it, too, was for research purposes, though Cally couldn’t recall a single question about the series or its all-action hero ever having arisen.

It was quiet all around them except for the rustle of the pages of a newspaper being turned at the table across from them, and occasional footsteps as the librarian went about her work.

Every so often Cally would sit up and stretch her arms above her head, shifting position before she started on the next closely typed page.

The next time she did it, Sheila picked up the tube of mints lying on the table and offered her one.

“Thanks,” Cally whispered, popping one in her mouth.

Sheila leaned closer.

“Did I tell you about the ice-cream vans?” she muttered so only Cally could hear.

Cally shook her head and raised her eyebrows in inquiry.

“You know the two ice-cream vans that come round the village?”

Cally nodded.

“I like the Kool Dude. He gives out bigger scoops. Mr Frostee’s a bit mean with his. Anyway, what about them?”

“They’ve been told to stop playing their chimes.”

“They’ve what?” Cally squeaked, and looked round hastily.

The elderly man with the newspaper glared in annoyance and she gave him a small apologetic smile.

“Sorry,” she mouthed.

“Why?” she went on, her head close to Sheila’s. “Is it a new EU thing?”

“No, it’s another noise complaint. They can play their tunes, but not at the same time. They’ve been given a route and a schedule each. Though I think it only applies to our village.”

“But that’s completely ridiculous,” Cally said, and hastily lowered her voice again. “I mean, who would object to ‘Greensleeves’?”

“Well, someone certainly does when it’s played at the same time as ‘Waltzing Matilda’.”

They giggled into their hands like schoolgirls in the back row of the classroom.

“Of course, you know what I’m like – I’ve decided it’s about me again,” Sheila said, and Cally rolled her eyes.

“How do you work that out this time?”

“Think about it: me and the kids go to the ice-cream van almost every day during the summer.”

“Look, it’s not about you,” Cally hissed. “It can’t be. I just wish I could figure out what it is about.”

She shook her head and turned back to her book, but there was no way she could concentrate now. This noise thing was growing into quite a mystery.

She let her gaze wander round the room with its tall shelves of books and posters on the pale walls, its grey carpeted floor and the six study tables. The afternoon sun slanted in through the high windows, creating beams of dancing light. There was hardly a sound.

“Do you think the noise complaints and the bell-ringers being locked in the belfry are connected?” Cally asked after a few minutes.

“I don’t see how – except for the fact that they both affected me,” Sheila replied. “Though they all involve noise, don’t they?”

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.