This was a short story written for the Jurassic Coast Writing Group. We had to incorporate the words ‘Sting Of Justice’ in a story of no more than 1000 words.
The Sting of Justice
Old Bill Jenkins was a very contented man. His life revolved around his garden. Every morning, rain or shine, he would inspect his plants and flowers. The garden was long, narrow and sloping down away from the cottage, which made it all the more interesting. It began with a patio next to the cottage, lined with pots of all different sizes, then a couple of steps down to an immaculate lawn, surrounded by flower beds, which lead into a shrubbery and finally at the bottom an area left to go wild, with fruit trees and wild flowers. His favourites were roses and dahlias, and he would enter local flower shows and invariably win first or second prize for his roses, but the top prize for his dahlias had always eluded him. Gerald Tompkins from the bottom of the village always managed to beat him. Bill had a wall in the conservatory filled with rosettes, but never a 1st for dahlias.
Bill also loved any flowers that attracted bees. He was never sure where the bees came from, no-one around had any hives, but everyday he would look out for them, and listen to them buzzing busily about collecting pollen until they could hardly fly. He would chat to them too; you were supposed to talk to bees, it kept them happy. He would tell them things that he would never tell anyone else, including his wife Nellie. On hot summer afternoons, he and Nellie would get their garden chairs and sit on the lawn, dozing, with only the soft droning of the bees.
In July and August Bill would open his garden to visitors. Charging £2.50 each for a walk around the garden and a cup of tea and a cupcake made by Nellie. The proceeds all went to a local charity and he would make a few hundred pounds each year which he and Nellie would hand over.
The next flower competition was due the following weekend and Bill was excited. His Dahlias were in fine form, the best he had ever seen. He was sure this time he would beat Gerald Tompkins.
Friday came, the day the flowers would need to be picked and put in displays ready for the show the following day. Bill got up and without stopping for his usual cup of tea headed out into the garden. He stopped dead in his tracks and stared. Flowers were strewed all over the patio and the lawn. Dahlias, roses, in fact any flower that had been growing had been destroyed. He walked down to the bottom of the garden, trembling with shock. Even some of the bushes had been hacked about. Everything was gone. But the thing that struck him most was the silence, no bees. They knew there was nothing here for them now.
Shaking himself out of his inertia, he ran back to the house shouting for Nellie to come and look, at the same time grabbing the phone and calling the police.
The police turned up within the hour; a kindly policewoman made the shocked couple a cup of tea while the sergeant questioned them and asked if they had any idea who might have caused this terrible destruction. Bill was reluctant to say, but finally mentioned Gerald Tompkins who had guessed that Bill might beat him with his dahlias this time.
The police said they would question Mr Tompkins, but it was going to be difficult to establish who the culprit was if there were no witnesses.
The flower show took place and Gerald Tompkins took first and second prize with his Dahlias and as Bill hadn’t got any roses left to enter, Gerald took first and second prize with his roses too.
Several weeks went by. Bill gradually tidied his garden up and a few buds were beginning to appear again. The bees still hadn’t returned and Bill still felt very despondent that nobody had been arrested for the crime.
A couple more weeks went by, then Nellie, who had been shopping in the village rushed home calling to Bill.
‘You’ll never guess what? Gerald Tompkins has been attacked by a swarm of bees in his garden. He is lucky to be alive apparently, Mrs Tucker at the post office said. He was rushed to hospital covered in stings, but is making a recovery. What do you make of that?’
‘Hmm,’ said Bill, who still had his suspicions about Tompkins, although nothing had ever been proved.
That evening, as they sat in their conservatory having a cup of cocoa before bed, the doorbell rang. Wondering who on earth could be calling at this late hour; Bill opened the door to find the same police sergeant and the policewoman standing on the doorstep. They were sorry to bother Bill and Nellie, they said, but could they come in for a few minutes. Bill ushered them into the conservatory and Nellie offered them a drink which they both refused.
‘A strange business Mr Jenkins.’ The sergeant said, ‘this evening someone found a body in the ditch below Gerald Tompkins’ garden. A young man, a stranger by all accounts. This man was covered in bee stings, so many they killed him. Terrible to look at he was. We just thought you might be interested to know. The sergeant stared hard at Bill who had the slight hint of a smile on his face. ‘The sting of justice perhaps Mr Jenkins?’
The very next day, the bees returned.