Exclusive Excerpt from Body Parts and Mind Games
by Jude Tresswell
Morning in ‘Cromarty’, a much-loved home in the Durham hills. Cooking odours drifted through the kitchen, up the stairs and out of the open windows. They reminded Phil of the smell from one of Warbridge’s less-inviting cafes and he wrinkled his nose in protest. He looked critically at the heap of greasy protein that Mike described as ‘a proper breakfast’ and sat down to a bowl of porridge and a thick slice of wholemeal toast, thinly spread with margarine. Low fat.
“I can see you lookin’ smug,” said Mike, “but you don’t have to sit with your bum on a bike for the next six hours. You said you’re not workin’ today or tomorrow.”
“Keep eating that stuff and you won’t be working tomorrow, either. You’ll be on a drip in one of the wards,” Phil retorted. He was a consultant surgeon at Warbridge General Hospital, a forty minutes’ drive away. Mike worked in Warbridge too, as an examiner for the Institute of Advanced Motorists—for short, the IAM. Mike laughed and began to tuck in.
A tall, heavily tattooed, bare-footed man entered the sunny kitchen: Raith, Phil’s husband.
“Oo! That looks tasty. Can I have a bit?”
Mike slapped the hand that was about to steal a slice of fried bread. “Get your own!” he said.
Before Raith could complain, the fourth member of the quad came into the room. It was Ross, Mike’s partner, and he was brandishing a letter.
“Finally!” he exclaimed. “McAllisters. They’ve agreed to sell us the quarry.”
Ross had plans for the quarry. For a long time, he had wanted to clean it up, install a ramp and steps, and erect an eco-friendly workshop and display area in the quarry bottom. There wasn’t much spare, flat land in Tunhead itself. The cobbled lane between the houses, known simply as The Street, rose steeply and beyond it were wild moors. Although neither Mike nor Phil nor Raith shared his enthusiasm, they knew the quarry was a danger. What’s more, they had their own reasons to see it cleared; the previous summer, Raith had nearly died there. They had plenty of money. They were willing to support Ross’s big ideas.
“So, as it’s celebration time,” said Raith, “can I have a mushroom?”
Raith took two. Being greasy, they slipped out of his fingers and onto the floor.
“Are you intendin’ to pick them up?” asked Mike. “Cos if you’re not, I might strangle you with one of your ribbons.”
Raith’s hair was waist-length and often adorned with ribbons and bows. He ignored Mike’s threat and, for answer, swiped a tomato and asked, “What do you think we’ll find down there, Ross? Body parts?”
“Parts of my last bike, more likely,” growled Mike, smartly forking the remaining tomato. “Didn’t your mam tell you not to play with men with guns?”
“Didn’t yours tell you not to talk with your mouth full?”
Phil, who didn’t wish to be reminded of the previous autumn’s events—Raith, held at gunpoint in the quarry, Mike, racing to save him on his bike and wrecking it in the process—turned the conversation back to Ross’s letter.
“What exactly do McAllisters say?” he asked, so Ross poured himself a cup of coffee, and began to furnish the details.
But there are many types of body parts. Just a few weeks later, Raith was wondering if Phil still fancied his.