The Girlies’ Cottage

The cottage

In the Devon village closest to the Andrei Sakharov Dissidents’ Campsite lived two young dissidents affectionately known to everyone as the Girlies. Although they looked like two peas in a pod, the Girlies were not twins, but sisters born 17 months apart. It was a mystery how such timid and reclusive young women could ever have come to the attention of censors and been persecuted to the point that they had had to seek shelter at an autonomous dissident village.

But there they were. Sye and Mone had lived in the minute cottage next to Ida’s for three years. It had been derelict when they moved in, but after living gypsy-fashion for 18 months, The Girlies had hired their next door neighbour to prettify their cottage and turn it into a forever home.

Sye and Mone, who felt uncomfortable whenever they happened to be apart, had office jobs in the dissident administration, played the piano and grew flowers as well as vegetables in their tiny back garden.

Over the years, the Girlies had become friends not only with Ida but also with Selina, another shy resident of the Andrei Sakharov Campsite whom my esteemed readers met in a previous instalment of this magnificent saga. As neither Girlie could drive, Selina often took them shopping to Barnstaple in her colourful camper van.

One fine Saturday morning, Selina, possessed by God only knows what demon, parked her camper van outside the cottage and invited the Girlies to come along to Barnstaple in order to shop at Boots. Sye and Mone, piled up enthusiastically on the front and only seat, and off all three, happily and blindly, drove off into the wilderness of small town England Saturday morning shopping.

As it was early June, Boots was packed with pre-Summer holiday shoppers though it being early morning no one was as yet stressed out. Selina and the Girlies needed lots of new toiletries as a major dissident ceremony was due to take place at the end of the month: Audrey’s, Simon Marmeladov’s granddaughter, christening. At least eight hundred dissidents were expected to attend, several, Caddy the godmother first and foremost, coming from as far away as Greece.

Selina and the Girlies looked forward to that day on which they intended to look good and smell good, all the more than Sye and Mone’s cottage, though small, had a large bathroom, a luxury which few dissidents enjoyed. Thus, the Girlies filled a wire basket with fragrant shampoos and conditioner, miniature violet-scented soap and strawberry-flavour bubble bath. As they were queuing to pay for their purchases they caught sight of a Chanel Number 19 display table on which stood miniature bottles of pale green scent on special offer for just one day. The Girlies and Selina tried it on their wrists, agreed that the smell was heavenly, hesitated (even at a discount, Chanel is never cheap), discussed it among themselves and wasted a lot of time before, as was to be expected, giving in to the allure of French Couture.

They never noticed that all that time, a young man was watching them intently and greedily. He was of medium height, painfully thin albeit pot-bellied, greyish skinned, with flat, colourless hair and eyes. Scant blond hairs grew on his weak chin. He wore a shapeless embroidered khaki tunic with a matching sarouel which looked far from clean. On his feet were cracked dull brown sandals with thick crepe soles. Let us call him the Vegan Pest, for, if Dasia ever discovered his name several weeks later, Dasia being Dasia, she never told anyone.

He had converted to veganism at university but, too lazy to cook, subsisted on granary bread, green apples and the odd raisin or nut. To save water, he only bathed once a week, perhaps believing that it never rained in England. As a result of poor hygiene and even worse diet he smelled stale. At present he lived alone, but had for several years cohabited with an obese young lady whom he still considered his best friend and the love of his life. They had parted amicably when she decided to enter a lesbian relationship with an anorexic person of unspecific gender. Together they had conceived and brought forth a sorry little mite of a baby boy, God knows how. The Vegan Pest having no self-respect and being a bit of a masochist had remained on excellent terms with them and they visited several times a week.

Of course, he worked from home doing something in finance; do not ask me what. Brexit had been the single greatest tragedy in his life. He believed Pustula von der Scheissenhaus, president of the Wagnerian Onion, was the most talented woman in the world and ought to be its president. If he had believed in God, he would have prayed on his knees from sunrise to sundown for the glorious day when Britain, its collective head hanging in abject shame and remorse, would rejoin.

The kitchen

The very moment the Vegan Pest beheld the Girlies, his sick and twisted mind decided that it wanted them together in his (filthy) bed and that nothing would stop him in this depraved pursuit. Being scientifically illiterate (among other things) he believed they were identical twins though Sye was blond and Mone dark, and the erotic charge of their duality drove him mad with lust.

Meanwhile, the Girlies and Selina were heedlessly heading to the door, giggling and chatting among themselves. The Vegan Pest who, to top it all was a miser, had bought nothing (what had he been doing at Boots on a Saturday morning? I wonder) and decided there and then to follow them so as to find out who they were and where they lived. When they reached the camper van, he got on his e-scooter and followed them all the way to their cottage.

Why, oh why did The Girlies not choose to go to Boots on that fine Saturday morning with Savannah the Carpenter instead of Selina? Savannah, though as young and pretty, was canny. She would have noticed that her carpenter van was being followed by a frowzy progressive type on a e-scooter; the e-scooter itself, being a dead giveaway, would have rung alarm bells in Savannah’s mind. Savannah was a close friend of Rosie and Gideon’s. As soon as she returned to the campsite, if not sooner, she would have informed them and thus nipped the Vegan Pest’s amorous designs in the bud.

Selina, meanwhile, drove on, chattered, and paid no attention to her rearview mirror. When they reached the cottage, she dropped the Girlies off and then took herself back to the campsite.

As soon as she was gone and the Girlies’ front door had closed, the Vegan Pest hid his eco-friendly vehicle behind some bushes and took a walk round the tiny cottage. There was no name on either the door or the letterbox, but the back window opening on to the garden afforded him a full view into their living room.  Unfortunately for him, the Girlies had gone upstairs, so after spying for a little while, the Vegan Pest rode home half hopeful half disappointed.

His intention had been to look them up on various social media, on which, by the way, most of his life was spent, but without even a Christian name that option was out. Little did the Vegan Pest know that dissidents avoided social media like the plague and that even with their full name he could have searched until he was blue in the face and still found strictly nothing about Sye and Mone.

The following morning, the Vegan Pest, who could be persistent when he chose, rode again to the village and posted himself near the Girlies’ back window. Although they had a dog, he was the playful and, in my opinion at least, rather silly sort, unable to guard anything. Like his two mistresses he never noticed that right behind the sofa-bed on which he was sitting lurked an unsavoury predator.

At last, Mone got up, went to the kitchen and called up to her sister,

“Sye, what do you fancy for lunch?”

“I don’t know, Mone,” came Sye’s answer. “What do we have in the fridge?”

The Vegan Pest rode back to Barnstaple in a state of elation. Those were unusual names, to say the least. He was sure to find them on Bitter or Fesse Bouc, if not on both. However, he was to be disappointed yet again. As far as the Internet was concerned, Sye and her sister did not exist.

He slept poorly that night, tossing and turning, wondering how to make contact with the sisters. Of course, he could have knocked on their door and just walked in there when they opened it, but perhaps they might find it a little bit forward. The solution dawned on him exactly as dawn was breaking: he would slip his name and phone number into their letterbox. He had watched the cottage long enough to make sure neither of them had a boyfriend. They were probably frustrated and bound to call him straight away to arrange a meet-up.

Inside the cottage

Refinement and delicacy were quite alien to the Vegan Pest’s nature. Instead of a card, he scrawled his name and number on a crumpled red napkin he had found lying on the floor of his untidy loft and off he went again.

“Look at this, Sye,” said Mone the following morning walking into the main room with the post. (Dissidents write  many letters every day.)

Sye took the nasty red napkin off her sister’s hand and examined it closely.

“There’s a word I can’t read,” she said, “and what appears to be a mobile number. Do you think it’s one of our own asking us to make contact?”

“No,” answered Mone. “This definitely isn’t the approved procedure. Do you remember when we stayed at the safe hotel in Salisbury and we were brought typed letters by Tameer?”

“That’s right!” exclaimed Sye. “They were always in sealed envelopes.”

“I don’t know why but I’ve a feeling this isn’t friendly,” mused Mone.

“I think you’re right,” said Sye. “Let’s burn it in the garden.”

Once nothing but black ashes were left of the napkin, Mone asked Sye,

“Do you think we should inform one of the leaders?”

“I don’t think we ought to bother them with that,” answered Sye. “It’s such a small thing.”

Like all plant-based creatures, the Vegan Pest had no self awareness. He considered himself totally irresistible, so when three days had passed and the twins, as he believed they were, still had not called him, he was painfully puzzled. He logged on to his Fesse Bouc account and informed all his friends (whom, by the way, he had never met) of his predicament.

One of them suggested he send them a photograph of himself just to remind them. Such pretty girls were bound to be solicited by loads of men; they might have mistaken him for the beer-bellied racist who had chatted them up at the pub, or something.

Not once had it occurred to the Vegan Pest that he was so insignificant the Girlies had not even noticed him. Accordingly, he searched his loft for a likeness of himself and at last located a smeared passport photograph at the bottom of his rarely emptied wastepaper basket. Again he rode his trusted mount all the way to the village and slipped the picture into the Girlies’ letterbox without a word of explanation, or even an envelope.

The bathroom

The post was delivered early in the morning, so this fresh offering was not discovered until the following day. Sye brought it along with several letters into the main room where she and her sister had been drinking tea. Without a word she gave it to her sister who examined it carefully.

“Have you ever seen him?” asked Mone after a time.

“No,” answered Sye. “Have you?”

“Never,” said Mone. “But I have a nasty feeling about this. Maybe we should tell Gideon…”

“Let’s wait a few days,” said Sye. “See if anything else happens.”

Though it revolted them, the Girlies decided not to burn the photograph but to keep it as evidence in a file.

Meanwhile, back in Barnstaple, the Vegan Pest was growing restless. Why the Deuce did the twins not call him? After much mental gesticulation, he decided that they must be old-fashioned (which secretly pleased him immensely) and that it was he who had to phone them.

For this to come about, he had to get hold of their phone number. Accordingly, he once more rode his e-scooter to the village, parked it out of sight, and sneaked into the Girlies’ garden. He peeked through the window into the living room and found it empty, crept to the front of the cottage and peered into the kitchen. There was no one there either.

“Maybe they’re upstairs,” he thought.

As there was no ladder in sight, the Vegan Pest decided to return to the garden and wait. Looking again through the back window, he caught sight of a mobile phone left unattended on the piano. He tried the window, found it unlocked. In less than a minute he had leapt into the room, ambled to the piano, and called his own number from the Girlies’ mobile.

He was riding elatedly to Barnstaple when his e-scooter ran out of electricity. As there was no power point along the country road, he had to push it all the way to town. Still, for once, this small mishap did not darken his mood.

The Vegan Pest waited until evening to ring the stolen number. It was Mone who answered

“Missing me?” he asked in what he thought was his most seductive voice, but actually sounded hoarse, croaky, and intensely vulgar.

Without a word, Mone cut the connection.

“Damn!” thought the Vegan Pest, who had come to believe in his own fiction. “She mistook me for the pot-bellied racist.”

But when he phoned again, the following afternoon, his number had been blocked. Undeterred, he rang again from his other phone (for he had more than one). The Girlies’ phone number no longer existed!

Rage and hatred engulfed the Vegan Pest. He swore that he would exact revenge in blood on the twin sluts who preferred a fat racist yob to a kind, tolerant, generous, and progressive man who had been beguiled into wasting all his precious energy on two worthless tarts and had nonetheless always treated them with fairness and equity.

The Vegan Pest sat dejectedly on his lumpy sofa and pondered ways of avenging the betrayal the racist whores had just inflicted on him. He could of course feed their retarded dog poison then set their puny cottage on fire. But then, fear not, those two harlots would be sure to get him into trouble with the RSPCA. He might just walk in there and rape them at knife point, but he was not a physical man and, though they were slight, there were two of them, not counting their vindictive mongrel. No; he would have to find a surer way.

As my beloved readers must have fathomed long ago, the Vegan Pest lacked intelligence and imagination, among other things. So he took to spying on the Girlies when they were at home. Standing in the garden for hours on end at the risk of growing roots, he listened in on their conversation, which proved easy since, the weather being mild most of the time, the back window was kept open. This went on for nearly two weeks and still neither the Girlies not their dogs noticed the intruder. A month later Dasia was to gather everyone in the village hall and give them an earful about their carelessness. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Savannah the carpenter

One evening, the Vegan Pest still seething with wrath and indignation had his much anticipated breakthrough. Sitting on their sofa-bed the sisters were discussing what they would wear at Baby Audrey’s christening this coming Sunday, thus unwittingly giving their enemy all the information he needed to exact his revenge. That baby and the rest of that racist crowd (birds of a feather, etc…) would be christened alright! In blood.

As soon as he returned to Barnstaple, the Vegan Pest walked into a novelty shop and bought balloons together with half a gallon of stage blood. He started rehearsing at home on that same day and did not stop until he had mastered the trick.

On Sunday he set off, ready to act, for the village shortly before nine o’clock. In his excitement he did not realise that he was going way too fast. Half a mile from his destination the e-scooter failed and sent him flying thirty feet over a white wooden fence into a pasture.

The farmer to whom the field belonged was not in a good mood that morning. His name was Tom and though he was not quite a dissident, he had been an ally for many years. He had been looking forward to Baby Audrey’s christening for weeks when he discovered that two of sheep had been attacked by a fox and he would have to spend the morning attending to them. He phoned Simon Marmeladov to say that he was sorry but he could only make it to the party sometime in the afternoon.

Sye, Mone and their dog

Tom was bandaging one of his sheep when he heard an explosion and saw a man catapulted into his pasture.

“Now what?” exclaimed Tom angrily.

Leaving his sheep he ran to the man’s rescue and found him sprawled unconscious and covered in so much blood that it had logged the ground all around.

“And now a bloody suicide bomber has detonated himself in my field!” snarled Tom.

He took his phone out, called an ambulance and waited.

The paramedics arrived half an hour later and proceeded to examine the victim.

“He’s not dead,” said one them.

“Why has he lost so much blood, then?” grumbled Tom.

The paramedic put a finger into his mouth and said:

“It’s not real blood. He seems to have carried balloons full of stage blood. They burst when he was tossed.”

The microbus

Tom was a shrewd man. Over the weeks he had noticed the e-scooter come and go and wondered. So as soon as the ambulance containing the Vegan Pest had gone, he took his phone out. He knew that Dasia would not be able to answer the phone in church, so he sent her a text asking her to wait for him at the party (Dasia was a notorious loner who never stayed long at parties); he had something extremely important to relate.

The Vegan Pest was not badly injured. He had landed on grass, and everyone knows that Devon grass is generous. What worried the doctors was that he appeared to have lost his memory; even his own name he could not remember. After scrutinising every last area of his brain with every instrument they could think of, they determined that he suffered from traumatic amnesia. The prognosis was not good: even with years of therapy he was unlikely ever to recover his memory.

The e-scooter was a write-off, but then its owner did not remember it had ever existed so he did not mind. He had forgotten he had ever been vegan which improved his health mightily and above all, he had no memory whatsoever of the Girlies. From now on, Sye and Mone could rest easy.

© text & images Doxie 2021