“I’m a Piscerian, dreamy but with a hard edge, and Heather, she was a Leo. So you see we were always heading for problems.” Suzy smiled, her white teeth flashed under the strip light and in her mind she had already explained the reasons why.
“How old are you?”
“Sixteen.” She answered in between drinks of hot tea from a plastic mug. Her sleeves were pulled down over her palms to warm them. “When is my mum going to be here?”
“Not long now, we had to get her out of work.”
Suzy’s eyes widened, “Was she in a bad mood?” She bit into her lip and began mumbling to her self.
“Mrs Grant was hit by a bus this morning, the number seventy three, outside the Disney shop in Regent Street.” The statement was given in monotone. Mr Harper tried, but in reality he had never talked to the horoscope writer. “I’m sure we will all miss her. Sally, write the obituary,” he shouted to a mouse of a girl. “And drag out that picture of the politician who was mowed down there last year. Milton, my office.” Mr Harper slammed out of the canteen and was annoyed that the old dead woman had caused him make a speech.
His office smelled of Bensons and the curry house two doors down. Harper kept his window open and blew his smoke out into the air over a pile of butts building on the sill.
Milton tucked his blue shirt into his trousers, flattened his hair with his palms and wished he had gone home the night before. Stale beer, fags and perfume mixed with a second day shirt. This new girl was fun, young and a bit full on. But it had been comfortable staying over while her parents were away. In reality he was just messing around. He needed a writing break, something to match the hard work he had done at university. He opened his polo’s took two and crunched them before entering the office.
Two years at the Citizen and a second class degree in English had got him a job delivering the post in the morning, coffee run at eleven and Dunken Doughnuts at four. His sole use of his education was to be Dr Rose Banks, agony auntie to the local community. His novel had taken a sabbatical and his dream of writing a classic was drowning in real ale and one night stands.
“Milton.” Harper stopped, raised an eyebrow and continued. “It is Milton, right?” Milton nodded. “Grant being splattered over the tarmac means we need a new person to take her column and your it.” He lit up turned to the window and blew his smoke out. “You are the new Mystic Maria, seer of our future, knowledge of the stars and other crap like that. Twenty extra a week.”
Milton swayed, the blood sugar level had dropped and he could do with a sandwich. The twenty would be useful. A text message rang from his pocket breaking the silence.
“Go, get out of here, we need a column for tomorrow, write it tonight, we will print it ready for the Saturday edition.” Harper waved a hand and Milton, happy to leave, swayed through the door and fell into the wall.
Dear Dr Rose Banks
My life is a mess, and I have no one to talk too. It all started two weeks ago at the park. Heather, my best mate and I were sharing a fag and all she can talk about is this new bloke she met down the Horse and Hounds. Heather told him she was eighteen and he fell for it, but that Cancerains for you (He was born in July), they fall for any rubbish. Now she’s following him everywhere. It’s like I don’t exists. At first she find an excuse not to meet up, then our lunch fag over the far field disappeared. This Tuesday she stopped answering my calls. And on Thursday she sent a text cancelling our shopping trip this weekend.
All I want is my best mate back. What do I do. She is a Leo
Suzy- aged 16, Pisces .
Milton read, yawned and flicked though the other correspondent for a better problem. It was unusual to get more than one letter each week, so at least this week he would not have to pretend to be a lonely housewife of a carpet salesman, and then reply as a middle aged female Doctor .
‘Suzy my dear, how dreadful you must feel, abandoned by your best friend over the passions of a young man. I read your letter with deep sighs and a full heavy heart. But I wonder, if I may be so bold, that perhaps the problem may be a touch of the green monster. It is hard to hear, but hear you must. Take a good look, is it time you yourself met a young stag of your own?’
‘Be the Pisces you are, young, vibrant and joyful., And then I am sure you and your best friend can converse over boy talk and the troubles they bring.
Dr Rose B xox
Please read my good friend Mystic Maria for further advice.
Milton poured a brown ale into a pint glass, lit up and after a quick edit, saved the reply and emailed it for a paste up ready for print.
He turned his attention to being mystical. He shook his head in disbelief, two writing credits, both as women and both written in the evening whilst half cut. A transvestite in words. But at least he was writing. Breathing in through his nose he let his head drop back and became Maria
You really are a fish out of water, time to dive in deep and fill your gills. The ocean is your oyster. Just go for it!
Friends are fickle, if you can’t beat them, join them, get out, live a little.
Remember times now are no reason to forget the past. Friends are for life and they will stick with you. You may need them. Work with it.
He finished his pint and read back his work, twelve horoscopes complete, all rubbish but positive and fun. He closed his computer and jumped to the sound of a text buzzing in his pocket. He flicked it opened and focused on the words. ‘Hm’ he thought, ‘that’s odd’. Milton hit the delete before a second buzz brought him a new text from the same person. He deleted again.
He read his work in print, sat back and linked his fingers behind his neck.
Silently pleased he closed his eyes and dreamt about getting his book published again. Before long the tiny hairs on his arms prickled and the sense of a stare made him uncomfortable.
“Milton. It is Milton right?” Harper was close into his face and staring. Milton nodded and gulped.
“Can I be frank?” Harper put his palm onto the young mans knee and made Milton more rigid. “The stars were okay, the problem page satisfactory, but it needs more. Have you read ‘It’s Agony Fiona’ in the Star or ‘Magic Tony’ from the Globe? They are gritty, hard and make you want to scream. Give the stars more direction; tell those readers what to do. And with the problems, chuck in sex, everywhere. Got it?” He smiled down at Milton. “Good lad. Now get me a coffee.”
Sergeant Millie Butler sat down, and to relax the tension offered both Suzy and her mother a tea, both shook their heads. Her mother held her daughters hand under the table and pulled her little girl in closer.
“Lets start shall we,” smiled Millie.
Suzy nodded, pushed her long straight hair out of her eyes and stared intensely at the sergeant.
“I decided to keep trying with Heather, after all my stars told me ‘not to give up’. She had now stood me up for a second time and I had heard that this bloke was taking her to the Horse and Hounds regularly. What was she thinking, only pleps go in there, all the other kids hang out in the Malt and Hops.” Suzy opened up her palms wide to the ceiling, surly there was a pattern forming and both her mother and Sergeant Butler must see this.
“Well, I examined my signs again that week, and they told me to put my foot down, so I did.” She dropped her head to one side. “Oh, and guess what, Dr Rose published my second letter.”
Dear Dr Rose
Thank you for your advice, I checked my own green monster and can reflect that I only feel utterly deserted by my ex best friend over her stupid boy fixation. She has been in touch, but only because they had an argument. What was she expecting, a Leo and a Cancerain , she must know they don’t mix. I told her and typical Leo, she said I was talking rubbish.
Their disagreement only last a few hours and now she’s blocked me on Facebook. And she’s telling everyone else that I’m nuts. But what am I supposed to do, I have no-one to talk to but you. I am so lonely.
Yours sad face- Suzy, 16- Pisces.
Milton spread his work over his dinner table, sober and eager to please, his boss was right, he had taken a lazy approach. He drifted his being into a middle aged woman doctor, put his hands through hair and tensed.
Dear Suzy, what a mess we find ourselves in. We have tried to be there for you friend when it all goes wrong, and we find it thrown in our faces. Well, at least we were the bigger person. But times change as so should our tact.
Sometimes we need to give others a taste of their own medicine. She is spreading rumours, lets not be bullied. Because words or deeds; both can hurt. You tell that friend what you really think and make sure there is an audience. This will show that were not to be messed with.
Be strong and remember we were right.
Dr Rose Banks. Xox
Please see my friend Mystic Maria for some more good advice.
Always seeing both sides, for once, go in strong and say, do what you deep down, really want too.
Are you happy with your mate? Think hard. It may be time for a change.
Compatibility is important to you. You can eat and only leave the bones of those who do not belong in your set. Make sure you surround yourselves with those with the same ideas.
Milton completed his twelve, e-mailed it to the office and shut down his computer. He picked up his jacket and headed for his local. He set down at his usually stool, ordered a pint and decided to send out a text. Within second she replied. ‘Better than spending a night on your own’ the thought and ordered a short to go with his drink.
The next morning arrived too quick, and as normal Milton arrived at work, unmotivated and hung over. Harper caught his arm as he rounded the top of the flight of stairs. Out of breath but not wanting to show, Milton turned purple and then grey.
“Boy, Milton, good work on the mystic crap and problem stuff. Much, much better. Now, pop down the Causeway police station will you. Some young girl is being interviewed over a body found floating this morning in the cannel. Get you pad, pen and get the details ready for tonight’s print.” Milton stood shocked, his first big break, a real journalist job.
“Yes Mr Harper, I’ll get straight down there. Thank you very much, I won’t let you down.” And with this Milton leaped back down the stairs and headed towards the station.
“Dr Rose’s advice really helped. Why should I take that stupid cow’s personal attack on me? Besides she started all this. All weekend I thought about it. Her, a Leo, him a Cancarian, and me a Piscian. Well none of it matched”.
The officer typed as quickly as Suzy could rabbit the words out.
“I text the boy to met up, I thought we could talk, get him to see my point of view, get him to chuck her. Both of us water signs, he was bound to understand.”
“Her parents had grounded her for sleeping out. They found out about him and went ballistics. It was all over the youth club by Saturday night. So, knowing he was by himself, I sent him a message.” Suzy stopped and looked around at the dedicated focused on her; she gulped down some water and flew into it again.
“Anyway, about half ten, I’m waiting in the park and he comes in swaggering around, drunk and hardly able to talk. I knew it was him from Heather’s description, twenty three, crazy hair, unshaven and a shabby chic.”
“Milton’, I called, ‘over here’ He stumbled over and draped his arm around my shoulder and started kissing my neck. Milton started to slur, but I could just about make him out.” She paused again for maximum effect.
“Just as I thought, Heather was giving him a hard time, bossing him around and telling him who he could hang out with”.
“He was all eyes and hands.” Suzy watched the officer type it in. Her mind focused as she pulled back her thoughts.
“The temperature dropped and he pulled his jacket around me. He wrapped his arms around my waist and I giggled. It felt good to get the attention, especially with Heathers boyfriend. He was good looking, I mean in a kinda rough way.”
“So, I want to go home, it was getting late and he was out of it. We came out of the park and walk straight into Heather. I was shocked. I just stood there and froze.” Suzy shot her hands up to show she had given in.
“Heather is screaming, calling me all the names, spitting in my face and pointing her finger at me. Milton is getting between us and trying to clam her down. He’s falling all over the place and she is trying to get round him.
“A car came flying by and lit up their faces and it all stops. By the time it had gone Heather had turned away and is stomping down under the railway bridge. Milton has his arm out and then crashes after her.” She stopped, took a deep breath. Her mother tighten her grip and they all waited for the next step.
“And that’s the last I see of them, they head through the bridge and down towards the canal path. Sorry I can’t help you any more.” Suzy sat back, wide eyed and loving the focus. The sergeant was all hers, the officer was writing down every word and her mother was, for once listening. They were all swallowing in every word she said.
Sergeant Millie Butler walked out of the interview. She read back over Suzy’s statement and drifted towards the front desk. Already a local reporter was waiting for the police to give him details
“I hear you have some one in custody over the discovery of a young woman’s body floating in the canal asked Milton.
“A young girl has been interviewed over the death of another teenage girl. We are looking for a twenty to twenty five year old man last seen in the vicinity of Chase Park at approximately eleven last night.”
Milton took out his note pad and hungrily wrote down the words from the sergeant. His head was bagging from the hangover and his brain went inwards to a picture of him standing alone outside a park whilst Heather and her friend called him all sorts of names. It was cold and the drink made his shiver. Her friend, Suzy, pulled the drunken Heather towards her and away from him.
Both Heather and himself were plastered when Suzy had turned up at the park She was telling Heather stories of texts that Milton had sent her, and meetings he had tried to arrange . At first Heather was talking over her, telling her to shut up and leave them alone. ‘You’re just jealous,’ she sang over the stories pouring out of her friend.
Heather was swaying all over the place but Suzy kept shoving text messages in her face. Texts that she said had sent back to Milton ‘Your going out with my friend so leave me alone’ and ‘I think your nice, but not for me.’ Text messages he had deleted.
“He got my number and he’s been bombarding me with messages, I told him Heather, were mates, keep away!” Suzy was shouting.
Heather started focused in, she became quite, then white, and then she screamed at Milton.
The drink and the emotion caught up with him and over a flower bed Milton threw up a mix of beer, vodka and cider. When he raised his head the girls were locked arm to arm, Suzy supporting Heather as they wondered under the railway line and on towards the canal path. Suzy pulling Heather in that direction.
Milton’s head came out of his note book, his pen stopped writing and any blood he had drained from his face. It was a matter of time until they realised what was plain to him. He had his story straight and was ready, after all he had studied English literature at university.
“Sergeant, I think I am the twenty to twenty five year old man you are looking for.”
The sergeant grabbed hold of his identification card, ‘Mr M Jones’ it read. “M for Milton?” She asked