Monday, March 4, 2019
What Invisible Means, by Mat Coward
I believe this is the second time this has happened, but please don't expect me to find the other example.
I refer to the fact that the same author is appearing in this space two weeks in a row. That would make sense if I was reading a collection of the author's stories, but instead he just happened to have tales in two magazines I have been reading.
This is Mat Coward's fifth appearance on my little list. As I said, his fourth was last week. Here is his winning opening:
Tuesday was a great day. Wednesday less so, of course, because that was when he got the letter saying that someone was planning to murder him, but Tuesday went better than Des could have hoped.
Apparently in England if the police have reason to believe someone is planning to kill you they are required to send you what is called an Osman letter. As D.C. Vicki explains "the Osman letter is basically to cover ourselves if your widow decides to sue us."
But in the case of Des, it is a fake letter. Someone is trying to intimidate him. Or warn him?
I'm not going into the plot here, a convoluted tale of a terrible cribbage team, a cigarette smuggler, and a perilous taxi ride. What makes Coward's work so delightful is the language.
For example, here is Vicki dealing with her very serious partner.
"How can they charge for this coffee?" [Abi] added. "I mean legally? We should be charging them for getting rid of it.
Vicki laughed. Whenever Abi said something which Vicki thought might be intended to be humorous she made a point of laughing. Which on one occasion had led to Abi not talking to her for seventy-two hours. Vicki hadn't blamed herself for that one, thought, because to be fair, "I knew she had a drink problem, I just didn't know she had a machete," doe SOUND like a joke.
Indeed it does. Very funny story.