Work in Progress
Although I frequently decide to concentrate only on one book at a time, I inevitably find myself with more ideas than I need, so end up with several works in progress. At the moment, I’m busy with several new books, including:
The Phantom of Fiddler’s Lane
“Gracie. Come away.” The boy beckons to the girl, but her eyes are still fixed on the man at the corner, or rather, the strange creature dancing around on top of the music box.
She watches the man’s grimy fingers fluttering over the keyboard, his feet pumping away on pedals underneath the contraption. Grinning up at him, she holds a hand out to the monkey.
“Careful lassie, he’ll hae your fingers off.” The man smiles, his mouth a veritable graveyard of blackened teeth.
“Oh,” she says, withdrawing her hand sharply.
Robbie trudges back up the lane. “Come on, now,” he says, taking her sleeve. “We’ll get a row off Ma if we’re late.” He watches as the monkey holds out its tiny hat towards them.
“Can we no give him a penny, Robbie?”
He glances at the old man and a wave of guilt washes over him. “Next time, maybe. Now come away, will you?” He smiles at the man, but the musician’s happy face has gone.
The girl finally takes her brother’s hand. “Fine, but we’ve tae come again tomorrow.”
“Aye, maybe,” he says, pulling her away from the busy street and down the alley towards home. The snow begins to fall as the two children hurry away, their coats pulled tight against the cold.
The man in the black cap gazes after them, then steps out of the shop doorway opposite and crosses the street. He watches the animal’s antics for a moment, then digging into his pocket, holds out a coin. The creature stops jumping around and reaches towards him.
“A fair exchange – a ha’penny for a bit of entertainment.”
The old man stops pumping the pedals and lifts his hat. “Most grateful, I’m sure.” His tired eyes flick across the stranger’s face, but there’s something in the newcomer’s expression that prompts him to drop his gaze. Nudging the monkey, he takes the coin from its leather pouch and drops it into a bag tied to the musicbox. The animal screeches and performs a miniature bow, while its master resumes pedalling, grateful to turn his attention back to his task. He begins the tune again with renewed vigour.
Terry McManus gives a sullen nod, digs his hands into his pockets and moves off down the lane, following the two children. With any luck, they’ll be the perfect bait to lure that interferin wee lassie Christie McKinnon into his trap. And this time, she’ll no be gettin away so easily.