Just out of sight

Just out of sight

A Story by Georgina V Solly

Unruly boys get more than they bargain for from an elderly lady.






The small provincial town dated from way back in history when streets were nothing more than mud tracks and people generally lived in hovels. Over the centuries the shape and life style of the town had gradually evolved into a thriving mediaeval commercial centre and from then on became a place where visitors went for a day out to see the precious buildings and the picturesque streets.

One of these streets had arches on either side, the roof protecting the pavements and the pedestrians from rain and sun. The effect these arches had on the street was that of darkness and coolness. Shop after shop was in function. It was the delight of inhabitants and visitors alike. Inside the shops was peace and quiet, where the possible purchaser was able to take their time in selecting something of good taste. The bars and restaurants served dishes with names more suited to life in ancient times than modern ones. There wasn’t one fast food restaurant, and those who were in the franchise business knew that it was a sheer waste of time to even try to enter the Arches. The local authorities had made it clear centuries ago that nothing cheap or vulgar would ever get its foot inside. The locals would be capable of boycotting the Arches for good if its exclusive atmosphere were to change in one small aspect. At night the Arches were lit up and this gave them a more festive air, one that was pleasing to all who found themselves having a drink or dining out.


The white-haired lady was lying on the ground with her head almost on the kerb. The rest of her was lying behind part of the arch, just out of sight. Her bicycle was lying a short distance from her. Someone called for an ambulance and she was taken to the local hospital. Her bicycle was removed by the police. The registrar in the hospital found documents that informed her that the owner of such was Theodosia Clements who resided at a 104 Parkway Crescent.


Horace picked up the telephone on the third ring. It was the hospital informing him of Theodosia’s admittance and that he could call on her as soon as he was able to. Horace looked at the time and went into the kitchen where he made himself two toasted sandwiches and a cup of tea. He knew from bitter experience, both as patient and visitor, that it would be some time before he would see Theodosia. He looked inside the garage and saw that Theodosia’s bicycle was missing. Somehow or other the accident involved the bicycle but the registrar had not mentioned it.


Horace got into his car and drove out onto the road. Hospitals never give out the true situation, everyone mistrusted the voice that conveyed the news that your nearest and dearest had been admitted. Dry, uninformative, meant that fear was put into someone for no reason at all, except that it was hospital protocol.

The hospital car park was overflowing with vehicles and it was the middle of the day when Horace arrived. He found a space in a side street, and walked to the main entrance. There were beds in corridors and people standing. What on earth was going on? He saw a group of six hanging around the registrar’s desk.

“Good morning, I’m Horace Clements, and you rang me not long ago telling me that my wife, Theodosia Clements, had been admitted.”

The registrar looked at Horace, and then at the others present, “Oh, yes, I did ring you. Your wife is in room number forty-four. I’ll tell the doctor you’re here.”

“Can you tell me what’s wrong with her?”

“Your wife was in an accident. The doctor will tell you all about it.” The registrar picked up the phone to make a call, she didn’t look at anyone.

Horace went and sat down on a bench by the wall. A group of about twenty was already occupying the other seats. No one spoke, and as time passed the would-be visitors started getting restless. From time to time one of them would approach the registrar and ask questions, but returned with the words, “No joy out of her. I don’t know why we’re here, there’s nothing to be done.”

A nurse came out of a lift and went to the registrar and said something, the registrar in turn called out Horace’s name. This didn’t go down well with those who’d been waiting much longer. Horace followed the nurse into a lift. Neither spoke. On the third floor he and the nurse walked down the corridor till they came to room forty-four.


Theodosia was lying against large white pillows, her beautiful head of white hair stood out all round her head. Horace sat down on the chair beside the bed. The nurse said, “The doctor will see you as soon as he’s finished with his other patients. You may sit here as long as you like.”

Horace sat by his unconscious wife wondering what had taken her there. He noticed that there was bruising on Theodosia’s face and that she looked rather worn and tired. Her dark brown eyes were shut and her mouth slightly open. Whatever it was, she was still alive. Horace began to drift off to sleep and had to rouse himself, he didn’t want to be caught asleep by the doctor. He got up and moved around the room and looked out of the window. The door opened softly and he saw the doctor enter. “I assume you’re Mrs Clements’ husband, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I am, Horace Clements. What has happened to my wife?”

“I’m Doctor Whitton. It seems your wife fell off her bicycle and was found by a member of the public who rang for an ambulance. The police have her bicycle. She’s suffering from shock and bruising, and we’ve kept her in because of her age rather than because of any injuries, which fortunately are not too bad.”

“How long do you estimate her stay here?” Horace asked.

“Not long at all. Haven’t you seen the long queues in the corridors and the lines of vehicles inside in the car park? All of those would willingly change places with your wife, so don’t worry, she’ll be out before you know it.”

“How long will she remain unconscious, Doctor?”

“The blow to her head was quite strong, but she might come round pretty soon, if she does so while you are here, please ring for a nurse. Good afternoon, Mr Clements.”

Horace stayed for another hour, and then left for home still wondering what had happened to Theodosia.


Theodosia came round during the night. Her head ached like it had never ached before. She also felt a little stiff. There was a plaster on her forehead. Where was she, and where was her husband?


The morning had begun as per usual, Horace had got up and gone downstairs, Theodosia had showered, dressed, tidied the bedroom, and gone down to breakfast.

“Where are you off to this morning, Dear?” Horace had asked her.

“I’m off to the Arches, to the china store. We have to buy a present for Hollie, the girl who baby sits Norbert’s children. She’s getting married, and I thought a tea set would make an ideal present. Anyway, it’s on her wedding list.”

“Very well, I’ll be doing my usual stuff, a bit of gardening and crosswords. Behave yourself. See you at lunchtime.”


Theodosia loved cycling. From very young she had always owned a bicycle and was, of course, very competent. Theodosia, as she lay in the hospital bed, thought how unfair life could be at times. As she had been nearing the Arches, a group of silly shouting boys had appeared out of the blue and had run right into her, banging against her back wheel, making the vehicle wobble, and for her to crash onto the ground. The last thing she heard before slipping away was the awful, silly giggling of the boys who were totally unaware of what they had caused. Now here she was stuck in a hospital bed till the powers that be would allow her to go home. Theodosia was angry and when she was angry she was very dangerous.

Her son, Norbert, had married a girl of little imagination, and when the first grandchild was on the way had declared she was going to call it Dick Tracy, a cartoon character that her father liked. Theodosia, who had been extra fussy about her own children’s names, was not surprised by her daughter-in-law’s choice, after all, her name was Chardonnay. That said everything as far as Theodosia was concerned. The male child duly arrived in the world and now answered to ‘Birdie’, much to Chardonnay’s chagrin. Theodosia called him that too, just to be annoying.


Her new problem was far more serious than silly mothers and the equally silly names they called their children. She was in pain and in hospital, one of the places she most detested, where the nurses called you by your name when they didn’t even know you, and the food was so bad that if they had served it in a prison the inmates would have rioted. The pain was bad enough to prevent her from seeing out of the window, but she knew it was still night. Her eyelids were aching too and she was still undecided what she would or could do about the boys, when she fell asleep.


Horace went to the hospital at ten o’clock in the morning. The doctor was in Theodosia’s room when he knocked and entered. “Hello, Theodosia. Feeling a bit better?”

“Although I still ache all over, but mostly in my head, the doctor says I can return home.” Theodosia was still lying against the pillows in two minds as to what she wanted to do. On the one hand she wanted to go home and on the other she wanted to be looked after properly. “I’m not up to much, Horace, so don’t expect me to do any cooking or cleaning. Where’s my bicycle?”

“The police are holding onto it, in case it goes to court.”

The doctor looked at the elderly couple and said, “Mrs Cements, I don’t advise cycling for a while yet.”

Horace said, “I bet the bicycle is a write off. Still, never mind, Theodosia, we’ll get you a new one when you’re back to normal.”

Theodosia was fuming. Horace was treating her as if she were stupid. Worse for him, he would soon find out what she was capable of doing.


At the police station, Theodosia told the sergeant that she wanted to make a statement about her accident. She was taken into an interrogation room, where she told the young policeman who was typing it all down what had taken place: ‘Theodosia was just entering the Arches when a group of silly giggling boys had come running out of nowhere and knocked her off her bicycle. They had been so intent on what they were doing that they had even enjoyed leaving her lying on the ground and the bicycle lying near her.’

“Mrs Clements, did you recognise any of the boys?” The sergeant asked.

“No, I didn’t, but I remember a name, Gary Cooper.”

“That’s the name of an old film star,” replied the young sergeant.

“Yes, I know, but one of his mates called him Gary Cooper and to hurry, and they all ran off, still making a terrible racket and running as fast as possible. Absolutely no respect at all.” Theodosia declared, now feeling better than ever having told her story to the authorities.


Theodosia and Horace left the police station without the bicycle; the state of it was evidence of what had happened. Before going home, Theodosia went to the local newspaper office and asked for Randolph Hiller. The gentleman in question was in his office busy putting together a story that should put all the other papers out of print.

 Randolph saw an elderly couple enter his office, but after hearing Theodosia’s story he saw the possibilities that could be wrung out of it. “Leave it to me, Mrs Clements, I’ll make it good and clear of how rough and undisciplined young kids are today. There have been quite a few incidents around the Arches lately, and no one seems to care. Some say they don’t even see or hear these wild youngsters.”

“Do you think it might be a franchiser who wants to set up there and uses the boys to stop elderly people from going to the Arches?” Horace asked Randolph.

“Wouldn’t surprise me, and it wouldn’t be the first time either. Get rowdies in a building and it’s empty in a flash, the interested parties move in and make a fortune at the expense of others’ misery. Still, wait for a few days and you’ll see the difference the article makes.”


Even before the article appeared in the local rag, Theodosia got in touch with a lawyer. The police were informed, as no one wanted to do anything illegal. Gary Cooper was easily found, and his two mates. They were the scourge of the Arches with their bad behaviour.


The article had the desired effect. One morning the three sets of parents received a letter asking them to appear at a children’s court. The boys had a history of not only being rowdy, but of grabbing elderly ladies handbags, kicking dogs, and using threatening behaviour with knives. The magistrate didn’t know who were worse - the fathers or mothers. Some of them behaved worse than their offspring. The general atmosphere in the court was that of ‘boys will be boys’, and the victims were considered to have ‘asked for’ any violent behaviour from the boys.

Gary Cooper’s mother was thought to be brainless, she lived for pop singers and film stars. Her husband had chosen the child’s names to please his grandfather who had been an ardent fan of the original Gary Cooper. The other two were just as hapless as Gary Cooper, and the magistrate, after seeing Theodosia’s bicycle and hearing evidence from others, decided to send them to a special school for a while, to try and cool them down.


The magistrate, Frederick Gore, was not a happy man, as he had a similar problem in his family. His grandsons were the same age as the terrible trio, but a little bit more refined with it. Their bad behaviour was of a similar kind, rudeness and unruliness was part and parcel of the very young generation. He was happy that Theodosia had brought the case, in order to show the general public that children could not carry on behaving badly. Someone somewhere had to take charge and make them fall into line.


Other elderly people had joined up with Theodosia to make a case of it. And they did.


Theodosia appeared on television and radio, as did some of the others who had received worse treatment than she had. 


The Arches also came in for publicity, and those who had never visited the town made a beeline for it. They all asked the same question, how a lovely place could produce such rotten tomatoes.

© 2013 Georgina V Solly

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Added on August 11, 2013
Last Updated on August 11, 2013
Tags: bicycle, hospital, hooligans


Georgina V Solly
Georgina V Solly

Valencia, Spain

First of all, I write to entertain myself and hope people who read my stories are also entertained. I do appreciate your loyalty very much. more..