New feature - Promoting Author B.P. Smythe
Today on Authors on show I have the pleasure to promote a very talented writer, B.P. Smythe. A previous winner of our short story competition with his piece Wanting to be loved.
A little about the author.
Barry was born in 1946, within a short distance of the world renowned All England tennis club, racquet sports quickly became an important part of his boyhood activities while attending the only shool in the area actually with a tennis court. Later he studied engineering at Carshalton college, and eventually went on to become a member of the institute of quality assurance.
Barry’s engineering career took on many roles, including as a technical writer for an artificial limb manufacturer, he has always enjoyed writing, particularly in creating quality manuals and report writing.
As well as playing tennis, Barry wrote several articles for a local county tennis magazine, and relaxes at home reading crime and horror fiction. These early foray’s coupled with a technical writing career, partly influenced Barry’s transition into creative writing.
Sow and You Shall Reap
A story of how cruelty, abuse and greed created a monster of a former care home matron and the haunted hotel that hid her evil secret. Just released from prison after their care home atrocities, former Matron Elizabeth Waverly, and her accomplice, Norman Christie, team up and see an opportunity to inherit two million pounds in cash. But first they have to kill the main beneficiary, Elizabeth Carragher, with Waverly taking on her identity.
At the reading of the will they see their plans back fire when a second will is found and a long lost brother, Victor Carragher, turns up and claims it all. Salvaging what they can, they plan to kidnap the brother’s young precocious daughter, Helen, for half the inheritance. Before the kidnap can be arranged, Victor, a hotel manager, very quickly fulfils a life long ambition and moves to Majorca with his daughter and new found wealth, to buy his own hotel. The killing couple follow him with Elizabeth Waverly still in disguise helping Victor run the hotel. But unbeknown to them the hotel he purchases is haunted. What follows is a series of terrifying events including flashbacks of the main characters, the breakdown of their early family lives and how cruelty, abuse and greed, installed with a liberally wielded trouser belt, can manifest itself later like a cancer on their morals.
All author royalties and profits from Sow and you shall reap will be donated to cancer research U.K.
A brief excerpt from Sow and You Shall Reap
After some time in Majorca she was still white. Elizabeth sunbathed well covered up and with a factor 60 cream. She was really a night person, staying up long into the early morning watching television. Elizabeth would sit bolt upright while the others slept, looking at Upstairs Downstairs re-runs in Spanish with her eyes not responding, not taking anything in.
Sometimes she would give in to a slight rocking motion. Like a Buddhist monk chanting a prayer. Even at the end of transmission with only a blank hazy screen for company, she would stare with a fixed smile. Like someone long after the joke was told had eventually got the punch line. The TV screen would be still glowing like some dark star in the constellation of her mind.
She remembered as a child holding her tatty old snoopy dog, hiding with it underneath the bed covers hoping Ralph, her stepfather, wouldn’t come tonight and do things she didn’t understand, making her promise not to tell mother. It was their secret. As the door closed, he would put a finger to his lips and smile. She always felt bad afterwards; not right…not clean. Rocking gently, holding her snoopy dog after he’d gone, too afraid to say anything to mother.
Elizabeth Waverly’s mother, Vera, had attended evangelical meetings. She was a staunch revivalist. When she was twenty-three years old, Vera, an only child, had cut herself off from her mother and father. That was when she got the calling. Her views as a revivalist had narrowed to the strict fundamentalist.
Vera had confronted her parents once for not using single beds. She accused them of living in sin as a double bed is for procreation only. What they were doing was like downright fornication, sleeping belly to belly. Told her mother she was sinning because she liked the presence of the serpent. Vera eventually raged out of the house screaming things about sluts and strumpets. She never saw them again.
In nineteen-fifty-four Billy Graham on his crusade came to London’s Harringay Arena. That’s where she met an American called Ralph. Vera’s first husband Arthur had died in a factory accident a year after Elizabeth was born. Ralph was a Pentecostal preacher, a healer from the Deep South. He told Vera stories of how they queued all night in Little Rock to hear him preach. Vera was completely smitten; her head was turned.
Ralph had been distributing Billy Graham leaflets outside one of the entrances. He was also recruiting members for his own congregation, The Sinners of Babylon he called it. Meetings, with his special brand of fire and brimstone sermons had been on-going for over a year. They had rented a Boy Scout hut from the weekly donations. Vera later helped to distribute the bread and water, as penance for the sinners.
While tendons stood out on his neck and spit shone on his teeth, Ralph whipped up the meeting. Sometimes red in the face, shouting into the microphone, hissing like a burnt cat, he would yell to them, ‘Why are you spawned from the devil?’ They would shout back, ‘Because we are so cursed.
The ones that could, dropped to their knees and crossed themselves. Swaying, trance like, grinning and gibbering, drooling down their chins. Clawing at their necks and cheeks. Making red marks and scratches. Praying, sobbing and screeching, ‘I was so sick, Jesus, I was so sick!’
Other times in the heat of repenting they would queue up to come onto his makeshift stage. Ralph would spot their cheeks and foreheads with lamb’s blood. He would cry out to them, ‘And God made Eve from the rib of Adam, and Eve was weak and loosened the Raven on the world, and the Raven was called sin, and the first sin was intercourse. And the Lord visited Eve with a curse, and the curse was the curse of lamb’s blood. And she smeared her belly with the blood, and her belly grew big with child.’
He would stop to wipe the spit from his lips and then continue, ‘And there was a second curse, and this was the curse of childbearing. And Eve brought forth Cain in sweat and blood. And following Cain, Eve gave birth to Abel, having not yet repented of the sin of intercourse. And the Lord visited Eve with a third curse, and this was the curse of murder, and Cain rose up and slew Abel with a rock. And still Eve did not repent, nor all the daughters of Eve, and upon Eve, did the crafty serpent find a kingdom of whoredom and pestilence.’
Ralph by then had the congregation in a hypnotic frenzy. They would yell back at him, ‘I wanna be saved, oh! Jesus, I wanna be saved.’
Not long after they met, Ralph moved into Vera’s ground floor flat in Finsbury Park but the relationship remained unconsummated. They both lived celibate lives with Vera and Elizabeth in one bedroom and Ralph in the other. Vera was the wage earner. The compensation from her late husband’s accident was all but gone. Although it had paid up the mortgage, they still had to live.
While Ralph worked on his sermons and babysat, Vera got herself a job working in a local café; mornings and lunchtimes. Her religious scruples didn’t quite reach to petty pilfering. Once a week or more, walking along the Broadway, Vera’s canvas bag swung like a pendulum in the crook of her elbow, weighed down with the usual kitchen perks: eggs, bacon, sausages, tea, sugar and of course the odd loaf.
Vera Waverly’s religious fervour was mostly aimed at her daughter. She’d made sure Elizabeth’s adolescent years were purged with the feeling of guilt. At the slightest misdemeanour she was sent to the closet, sometimes dragged there by the collar with Vera screaming scalding abuse, ‘Devil’s child, Satan’s spawn,’ she would shriek, her face as red as a fire engine as she whooped with insane rage. ‘Cat got your eye, girl? That’s God’s punishment…’
Frequently, Elizabeth would recoil from the sharp sting on her face. Her mother’s handprint from the slap stood out on her cheek like a fortune-teller’s sign. With the closet door shut the kicking and screaming would start and, as she tired, the weeping and pleading would follow until eventual silence.
There was some solace in her prison in the shape of a plug-in eighteen inch plastic crucifixion which was lit with a dull pink glow. The Jesus impaled looked down on Elizabeth, its face grotesque with a mouth drawn down in a straining rictus of pain. His crown of thorns bled in tiny ripples of red paint down the temple and forehead, while the upturned eyes gave an expression of agony and compassion.
After a while she was hardly coherent through her tears. Her good eye had become swollen and bleary. Her mother would then shout through, ‘Pray, my child, bow your head. Ask forgiveness for your sins.’ Vera with difficulty would drop to her knees. With her head pressed against the closet door she would say, ‘Let us pray together, child.’ Vera would look up to the ceiling. ‘O Lord, help this sinning girl beside me see the sin of her days and ways. Show her that if she had remained sinless the curse of blood every month would never have come on her. She may have committed the sin of lustful thoughts. She may have been tempted by the Antichrist. Lord, show her the ways of the straight and narrow from here on out, if she is to avoid the flaming agonies of the eternal pit. Amen.’
Sometimes she was locked in for hours. She used to cry until the tears began to run their course and the sobs became occasional gasps. The need to use a toilet would become unbearable.
It was Ralph who always got Vera to relent. Ralph who always bought Elizabeth her little presents. Ralph who could gauge Elizabeth’s adolescent turmoil, exploit her weaknesses, feed her childish desires with comics, cheap dolls, plastic jewellery. Later, as she got into her teens, it would be pocket money or some new clothes, always at the price of a little favour.
It all came to a head one Friday evening in 1966. Elizabeth was sixteen then. They had said prayers and were in the middle of supper. Silence was the norm around the kitchen table. Ralph, in his vest and braces, sucked the bones of his oxtail stew while concentrating on a rough draft of his new sermon, already stained with gravy.
Vera sat stiff, back straight, wearing her house coat, hair in curlers, ready for another hell fire Friday evening service. She slowly mopped up the gravy around her plate with a slice of bread, her mind far away, smiling about something. Behind her on the wall the small tapestry with its fancy needlework sermon, Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap, stared down at them. The only thing Vera had taken out of her bedroom when she had left her parents’ house for the last time.
Elizabeth wasn’t hungry. She nibbled at the oxtail but it was fatty. Suddenly Vera snapped out of it and flashed a glance. ‘Eat your stew, girl.’
Elizabeth prodded her food. ‘It’s too rich for me, mama, it makes me have pimples.’
Vera spat back with scorn, ‘Your pimples are the Lord’s way of chastising you. Waste is a sin, girl, now eat.’
Elizabeth picked over the meat and then looked up. She considered, swallowed hard, and finally said, ‘I saw this boy I know, Leonard Carpenter, on the way home from school yesterday. He’s asked me out for a date tonight. He wants to take me to the pictures to see the latest James Bond film…’ She broke off, as if the words had been splintered from her mouth.
Vera and Ralph stopped eating. They both looked at her. Vera’s nostrils flared like those of a horse that had heard the dry rattle of a snake. ‘No, you can’t go,’ Vera said immediately. ‘I don’t want you hanging around with boys.’
‘But, mama, I’m sixteen now. Most of the girls at school go out on dates.’
Ralph looked down and continued sucking the last of the marrow from the oxtail bones, still concentrating on his sermon. He wasn’t going to get involved in a mother and daughter spat.
‘I said no, Elizabeth, you’ve got exams coming up. You’ve got to study.’
She answered back indignantly, ‘But I study every night, mama.’
Vera snapped, ‘Shut up and finish your stew or you’ll get the back of my hand.’
Elizabeth raised her voice. ‘I never get to go out with boys like the other girls.’
Vera threw back her head and donkeyed a shrill and frightening laugh. ‘The boys – the boys, she’s discovered boys. Now you shed Satan’s blood once a month, it was only a matter of time.’ Vera looked up to the ceiling, her hands raised, hooked into claws. ‘The boys come next, like dogs sniffing out a bitch on heat,’ she said with smoking sarcasm. ‘Like sniffing and slobbering. Trying to find out where that smell is. That …s…m…e…l…l..,’ she hissed.
Elizabeth threw her fork into the dinner in temper. The gravy spattered the table.
‘I’m going anyway, so suck on it!’ Elizabeth stood up, but before she could move, Vera as quick as lightning had leaned over and slapped her across the face. She winced at the ferocity of the blow and collapsed back into her chair in tears.
‘Suck on it! Suck on it! You speak to me with Satan’s talk, girl.’ Vera rained down two more slaps as Elizabeth cringed, raising her arms trying to protect herself. She could feel the hot slithery burn of tears under her eyelids.
Sow and you shall reap is available on amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Sow-Shall-Reap-B-P-Smythe/dp/145677171X/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1322845341&sr=8-3