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Mrs Magumbi’s Christmas Party copyright Sue Kendrick 2013 All Rights Reserved

Contents 66 Sedah Villas The Perr-fect’ gentl’mun The Boatman Michael Winners And Losers About The Author Other Books By Sue Kendrick

66 Sedah Villas The house, when she eventually found it, was little more than a squeezed shadow pressed between bigger and more imposing residences. She realised, that to find it easily you had to know it was there. Even then, it would be simple to pass it by as she had done during her frustratingly repetitive search of that dark, deserted street. Grumbling to herself about the lack of directions, she had been on the point of giving up when she had finally realised that the thin wedge of inky blackness she had assumed was an entry between a row of Victorian villas was in fact, a narrow house. Peering through the sable dark at its more than slightly forbidding outline, she searched for some sign of life. If there was a party going on there, she thought, they were making a very good job of keeping it under tabs. Uneasily, she searched the window cracks for a glimmer of light or for a trace of music filtering through the paint-peeled door. Except for the faint, sluggish lapping of an oily river which she assumed ran behind the houses, all was skin crawlingly quiet and the darkness complete. She stood for a moment wavering. She wasn’t exactly frightened, but there was no denying that every instinct she possessed screamed for her to leave while she could … but then it would have all been for nothing. She knew she had been thrown a life-line. If she didn’t take it she wouldn’t get another and the alternative … well she didn’t want to think about the alternative. Even so, this wasn’t anything like she had imagined. In fact, the black, crumbling façade of flaky brick and splintered windows was more the stuff of nightmares than the venue for the jolly Christmas bash Mrs Magumbi had promised. Maybe she wasn’t in the right place after all? It would be best to check, she thought. Frowning, she pulled a scrap of paper from her pocket and by the light of a little torch she confirmed the words etched in the sooty brick above the door, proving beyond doubt that she had indeed arrived at 66 Sedah Villas. ‘Well Stephanie, my girl, it doesn’t look very promising, but this is definitely it,’ she told herself. ‘You’d better make your mind up. Ring that bell or clear out while you still can.’

In spite of her bravado she still hesitated. She couldn’t remember the last time she had been to a party, never mind one late at night in a shabby part of the city in a house that looked as if it had come straight off a Hammer horror set, but it wasn’t that. There was something else. Something she couldn’t quite define. Was she being watched? It felt a bit like someone was holding their breath, waiting for her to make a choice. The trouble was, the only option she could foresee were the consequences of returning home and they were not very appealing. While she dithered, she had a sudden vision of a spider sitting passively in the middle of its web and waiting. She knew she ought to heed the warning, but instead, she shook the image out of her head and took a few calming breaths. Mother had taught her that, she remembered wryly and it did seem to work. “Deep breaths, Stephanie,” the old witch would order when she had riled endlessly against the repeated trips for spectacles, snacks, papers, books, knitting which she seemed to constantly lug to and from Mother’s second floor room. Well she wouldn’t be doing that again and this wasn’t a trap, she told herself firmly. Just an old house down on its luck and a particularly foul winter’s night. Brave words, but even as she thought them, she could feel her bolstered courage leaking away like snow melt and with drooping shoulders and a small sigh, she admitted defeat and began to turn back to the street. Suddenly, with a vicious roar, an icy wind sprang up. It tore at her cheeks with ice-shard teeth and flung dense, needles of rain at her face … like poisoned stair rods, Mother would say. The thought of Mother, and the bitter weather stiffened her resolve and she suddenly smiled. It was thanks to Mother popping her clogs and the little pills of course which had pushed her on her way that she had at last got some freedom. God bless Mrs. Magumbi for giving it to her and for this party, she thought with a little fillip of excitement. This much longed for and looked forward to party where, she’d been assured, she was bound to meet a very desirable member of the opposite sex. It was this thought which finally dispelled her doubts and with the wind still lashing rain against her back, she lifted her hand and pressed the bell. The door was immediately flung open by a huge Negress, resplendent in an orange and purple kaftan and a glittering, lamé turban. Somewhat taken aback by this vision of psychedelic

incandescence, which contrasted alarmingly with the crisp, matronly uniform she usually associated with Mother’s daily carer, she could only stammer a greeting. “M … merry Christmas …” “Cum on in, honey chil’,” cooed Mrs. Magumbi, cutting her short and enveloping her in a huge, hug of wobbling, black flesh. “Yo shure will have a good time tonight! Iz got the purr-fect gentl’mun fer yo!” Firmly clamped in the black woman’s hot, soft flesh, she was propelled through the door and into a huge room, throbbing with music and continually raked with shattered fractals of pulsating light. Blinking in the sudden glare, she watched slack mouthed as scalding reds, putrid purples and vomitous yellow strobes, spewed their rainbow hues like volcanic fallout upon a wildly yelling mob. This screaming horde, although jammed tight in a heaving mass of shaking heads and twisting limbs, jerked and leaped in frantic convulsions to the cacophonous roar of an off-beat jazz band. In shocked fascination, she watched as a slash mouthed transvestite, wearing nothing but a Santa hat, red stilettos and a thong, took the stage and began a cracked rendition of Jingle Bells. “Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle down to hell! The devil waits at Sedah’s gate let’s ring upon his bell!” Roaring a thunderous approval, the crowd surged forward and took up the refrain. From a shadowy corner, a predatory looking Christmas tree rocked with hurricane violence on its narrow plinth. Its web of flashing, fusing, goblin leering lights fizzled, sizzled, blanked, died and sprang back to life in a series of ear-splitting pops and bangs. Each explosion sent a cloud of deadly, poison tipped needles hurtling over the half crazed dancers. Those unlucky enough to be struck on the naked parts of their bodies, collapsed with a blood freezing scream into the depths of the melee, their agony twisted bodies alternately kicked and stamped into a pulpy mess which sucked and squelched under foot as a dreadful, rhythmic under beat of viscous horror.

The Perr-fect’ gentl’mun Shaking with terror and desperately trying not to vomit, she searched frantically for the door. Guessing her intentions, Mrs Magumbi tightened her grasp and pulled her a little closer. “Yo don’t want to be leavin’ uz yet a-while, sugar when ‘ere cums tha’ purrfec gen’lmun Iz tellin’ yo about.” She looked around and there he stood. Tall and dark with sparking eyes and beautifully white teeth flashing serial smiles. He reached for her hand and with a sweeping bow, pressed a warm kiss against it. The ground seemed to shift and she felt slightly giddy. It was as if she were toppling backwards, floating and spinning in a warm flush of sweet, wistful longing. She had never experienced anything like it. How could she? All those years with Mother and seen to that. ‘Purrfec gen’lmun? Oh Mrs Magumbi, how right you are, she thought!’ She tried to speak, but her tongue felt glued in her mouth and the only sound she managed was a small squeak which made her blush at her awkwardness. He didn’t seem to notice. Instead, he smiled and pressed a long, thin finger to her lips, as if to say there was no need for words. His eyes, locked into hers, deep, beguiling and so compelling, they seemed to whisper the profoundest of sentiments straight to her heart. His thoughts were her thoughts, he said. They were old souls, reconnecting after many life times. What need had they for speech? Their bodies would do all the talking they needed. Entranced and unable to tear her eyes from him, her shrivelled heart, softened under the wine warm syrup of his words and when he beckoned, she followed him sheep-like onto the dance floor. Swaying rhythmically to the music, she trembled in the grip of his embrace. She marvelled how her body seemed to instinctively know how to mould itself to the hard curves and contours of his body, answering the racing heat of his building passion with a

wild intensity of her own. For an instant she seemed to be outside herself, watching herself dance in his arms. The two of them so perfectly in time they could have been one figure, moving in dreamy grace to a melody only they could hear. Content to sway in his arms, she savoured with trembling excitement, the feel of his liquory breath tickling her ear with seductive whispers which sent strange tingling sensations to the uncharted, secret parts of her body. Never had she felt so alive, so vibrant, so wanted! At frequent intervals tumblers of sweet, fiery liquid appeared, which he held to her lips and laughed engagingly when she coughed and spluttered. She returned his laughter, absurdly pleased with herself for making this handsome creature who, it seemed, had eyes only for her of all people, laugh and burn with a desire as fierce as her own! Not such a plain Jane, after all she thought, smugly. God, Mother, I should have listened to Mrs Magumbi years ago and given you that little push when she first suggested it.

The Boatman At that moment the huge Negress sashayed into view, a large glass slopping wine in one hand and the twisted figure of a hunch-back trailing in her wake. In marked contrast to the rest of that strange company which sported every garish colour of the rainbow in the most outlandish of fashions, he was dressed in a drab tunic of dusky brown with a loose cowl drawn well down over his head. Beneath the dark folds, she caught a glimpse of a dead eyed stare and the sharp, angular planes of a death’s head. Unable to suppress a gasp, she took a step back and shivered. “Yo having fun, Stef-nee, hun?” slurred, Mrs Magumbi, sliding nimbly in front of the hunchback and blocking her view. “Of course she is, aren’t you my dearest?” said the perrfec’ gentl’mun, brushing her cheek with his lips. But she was no-longer sure. Hemmed in by the swaying crowd, jerking to the deranged music and dazzled by the lurid glow cast by dozens of flickering candles and popping fairy lights, she began to feel queasy again. Flickering nags of suspicion snapped like a persistent terrier at her consciousness and some very uncomfortable questions, which previously she had silenced through sheer will power, began clamouring for answers. Why had this delightful vision of masculinity fallen so heavily for her of all people? She knew she was no oil painting, as Mother had gone to great pains to point out on frequent occasions . Then there was Mrs Magumi. Since when had her accent become so thick? She spoke perfectly good English when she came to change Mother’s dressings … and that awful song … she shuddered as she noticed the transvestite totter back onto the stage and begin whipping the crowd into a fresh round of frenzy. “Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle down to hell! The devil waits at Sedah’s gate let’s ring upon his bell!”

Even worse was the Christmas tree. Rocking ever more furiously, it still spewed its deadly venom over the gyrating forms of the dancers and to her horror she saw it topple from its pedestal and begin a series of spastic lurches in her direction. It’s spiny, half naked braches reaching out with the greedy pleading of an unfettered glutton. She put a hand up to her head and rubbed at her eyes. This couldn’t be happening! It must be the drink, she thought. She had long ago lost count of the glasses she had been handed, but she knew it was far more than the occasional sherry which Mother meted out before Christmas dinner.

Michael Dazed, confused and desperately needing to think, she spied a partially opened patio door. Pushing through the crowd she slipped out into a small, weed strewn yard where she clung to a low wall and waited for the world to stop spinning. Below her the river slew in a wide, lazy arc, black and brooding, but after the heat inside, she welcomed the biting cold rising from its surface and was soon recovered enough to look about her. The rain, she noted thankfully, had stopped, but no moon shone or stars pricked the sky to lend beauty to the night. The only light leaked from the room behind her, a baleful, lurid glow which far from comforting her, made her stomach clench and a shudder rack her body. “All a bit much is it pet?” The sound of a voice made her start. “It’s alright petal, I’m here to help,” it went on, reassuringly. She turned and saw what she could only describe as a very large, effeminate looking child. His, smooth, innocent face was crowned with tumbling curls and eyes, bluer than a mountain lake sparked and twinkled above plump and peachy cheeks. “Who …” “Michael,” he broke in, offering a limp hand. “Always on hand when most needed.” His camp manner made her smile and she relaxed slightly. “What are you, my guardian angel or something?” Cocking his head to one side, he considered for a moment. “I think you could do with one. You’re treading a very dangerous path, you know.” Startled, she felt a sudden stab of anger. Who was he to criticise her actions? She’d had enough of that when Mother was alive. Now she was gone, she didn’t have to suffer that any longer. “What do you know about anything,” she retorted testily. “It’s just a party.” His eyes welled with sympathy as he stared at her for a long moment. She had the impression of drowning, drowning in compassion and she wasn’t sure she liked it. She didn’t do compassion and had long since exhausted tears. There had been too many

years of bitterness and resentment which had eventually turned to hate, Mother had seen to that, she thought grimly. “Couldn’t you have waited?” he said, quietly. “She hadn’t long.” “You know!” she gasped, her hand flying fearfully to her mouth, “but …” “How? Oh easy, I know everything about you darlin’ and I tell you, you’re a lamb to the slaughter!” He turned and pointed down to the river where she made out the dark outline of a boat. Around the prow she could just make out the words, “Lord Of The Styx,” scrawled in something red and glistening. With a lurch of stomach flipping terror she looked into the bow and met the dead eyed gaze of the hunch-back with the ghastly visage. “Who ..?” “His name is Charon, petal or the boatman taxi driver as that fine fellow in there will tell you, should you dare to ask him, but take it from me, this chappie don’t do return journeys.” “My love, there you are, I’ve been looking all over for you.” Spinning around she saw the tall and heart stoppingly beautiful form of the perrfec’ gentl’man. His warm smile flashed and his dark eyes swam with promises. “Come, he said,” holding out his hand, “it is time to go my darling. We have waited long enough.” “No!” said, Michael, giving her a warning look. “It isn’t too late! Go back and get help, you could save her if you hurry! Remember, Charon doesn’t do return journeys!” “But why would you want to return, my darling,” said her dark lover, folding her in his arms and planting a gentle kiss against her lips. “Misery? Loneliness? Misguided punishment? Give yourself to me and I will show you delights undreamed of!” Uncertainly she looked from one to another. Michael’s cherubic face was creased with concern. She felt her heart skip as the implications of what he had said hit her. She could go back! Leave this ghastly nightmare behind and pick up the life she had left and all would be well.

Yes, that was the right thing to do. She would tell the perrfec’ gentl’man that it couldn’t be, it was over even though it had hardly begun. She turned and began to pull away, but she knew she was already snared. His eyes drilled into hers with a greedy longing and with a quickening thrill she saw a sudden tongue of flame flare in their depths. Gasping and her heart thudding hard, she felt a finger of excitement race down her spine as her knees trembled and her skin crawled with sensuous goose pricks. Unbidden, a series of visions flashed before her eyes, the whiskery chin of an old woman glistening with spittle, stale urine on bed sheets, the incessant call of “Stephanie bring me …” She shivered as the rain began to fall once more and Michael’s curls fell in limp twists around his cheeks. His plump hand, still outstretched, seemed ludicrously ineffectual while she was acutely conscious of the hard pressure of her perrfect’ gentl’mun’s lithe frame against her hip and the brush of his lips against her cheek. From the room behind her came another rendition of Jingle Bells and to her surprise, far from recoiling she felt the urge to laugh. As for Charon, he was only a taxi driver. Besides, she got the feeling she wouldn’t have to look at him for long.

Winners And Losers Smiling, her mind made up, she turned and answered the pressure of her perrfec’ genl’mun’s thighs by swaying seductively against him and planting a fierce kiss upon his lips. Without a word she took his hand and followed him down to the river. Mrs Magumbi, entering the yard, watched the boat pulling away with a malicious chuckle. “Gawd bless yo’ babe, though don’t reckon it do yo much good where yo be goin’ but yo’ done gi’ ole’ Gumbi gold and Iz grateful fo’ that!” As for Michael, he pouted and hooked a hand upon his hip. With the other he roughly slung a be-ribboned disc around the Negress’s neck. “You win some, you lose some,” he said petulantly. “Next time Gumbi, my place and my boss!”

About The Author I live on a small farm in rural Leicestershire surrounded by a close family consisting of four children and their respective partners, dogs, horses, a small herd of British White cattle and hens! Their various demands have to be fitted in with running the family business and my writing career which I have been doing for over thirty years in a variety of styles and genres. Mrs Magumbi’s Christmas Party is a deviation from the usual type of story I favour, but was great fun to write. I hope you have as much enjoyment reading it, but be careful about who you accept party invites from! Mrs Magumbi’s Christmas Party is part of Short Shivers, a series of short stories with a spooky or paranormal theme. If you would like to know when the next story in the series is available subscribe to my website. Lots of advantages in doing this as I’ll be posting special and free subscriber offers. Finally, if you enjoyed the story, it would be great if you could leave me a review, either on Amazon: or my website: Many thanks for reading and your help!

Other Books By Sue Kendrick The Digfield Conjuror “… you ain’t never heard of the conjurer I suspect, but they were common enough them times. They had powers no ordinary folk had. Mostly they used ‘em fer good, but they were not a part from doing ill wi’ ‘em. They weren’t to be trifled wi’. You had to treat ‘em respectful and you didn’t have to give ‘em any money neither. That were bad luck and an insult …” Bad luck certainly dogs young Georgie’s heels in this delightful glimpse into the folklore and superstitions of nineteenth century rural life. Told by his older sister Aggy, we learn how Georgie’s life is inextricably linked with the nine lives of a kitten he is given by the local cunning man, Joe Dancer. Better known as “the conjuror,” Joe’s price for saving Georgie’s life puts his mother in a moral dilemma and leaves Aggie to find an unexpected solution. If you enjoyed Larkrise To Candleford, Thatched Village and Cranford, The Digfield Conjuror is another charming read of bucolic nostalgia reflecting the long since vanished lives of our rural grandparents and great-grandparents and definitely deserves a place in your Kindle collection.

The Inbetween It was the time they call the inbetween. When trees raise bare and withered arms to keening skies. When wild fowl move like grey shades over leaded waters. The time when the lord of the green has long gone to the summer land and he who they call the winter king rides out from the land of shadows with death on his helm and a sword of ice in his hand.

Lambs For The Freezer

In an age that has seen unparalleled interest in personal food production, "Lambs for the Freezer" is a timely and comprehensive introduction to breeding and rearing lamb for home consumption. Writing for the small-scale sheep keeper with little or no knowledge of rearing livestock, Sue Kendrick draws on her own extensive experience of keeping farm animals to guide the new shepherd through the whole process of breeding, rearing and ultimately filling their freezer with home produced lamb.

Showing Sheep For Pleasure And Profit Planning to show your sheep begins with the birth of the lamb and, whether you want to enter your sheep to compete in local or national shows as a hobby or for practical reasons, this book covers all aspects of preparing your sheep for the event. It includes selecting your sheep, training for the ring, show preparation, show day, what the judges are looking for, sheep behaving badly, postshow arrangements, breed standards as well as an invaluable resource section.

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