Jeremiah James Taylor, AKA Jeremy Smythe, AKA Eric Bolen, AKA who the hell else ... was demobilised in 1946 as a Captain, but he’d never led a company of troops. He’d been spotted early in his enlistment, commissioned and transferred to SOE, where he trained Resistance fighters and, sometimes, carried out targeted, specific assassinations. He was unusual, however, in two respects. One, was a conscience which caused him great distress when the death of a target resulted in reprisals on the civilian population. The second was a respect bordering on reverence for women. Only once during the war in Europe did he kill a woman. She was a notorious member of the Geheime Staatspolizei, whose methods had (as far as he was concerned) removed any right she may have been born with to the title of human, let alone woman. It had not taken many accounts of her actions, or the brutalised body of a young woman – girl, really – who had been caught escorting an Allied airman from one supposedly safe house to another, to convince him the world would be a better place without her. But it was a clean shot, rather than the slow death by torture that she deserved.
He wasn’t unemployed for long, and was snapped up by British Intelligence. Assassination is not a routine tool of intelligence agencies, but was necessary from time to time. Often enough to keep him busy and travelling. His salary, while not great, was really only needed while he was in Britain for a few months each year – his duty related expenses were met. As a result, he was able to buy a few acres with a crumbling farm house in Cumbria, overlooking Coniston Water, which he gradually restored to a habitable state. He had help from his organisation in excavating and constructing an underground firing range, where he could hone his skills with a selection of firearms.
One unusual assignment was the elimination of an organised crime boss, who travelled in an armoured limousine and enjoyed his golf. Various methods were considered, but in the end he took four shots with a Boyes .55 calibre rifle, killing both the boss and his driver, before melting away into the forest behind him.
He was largely alone, though as an attractive man had a succession of occasional lovers whom he visited from time to time, and he enjoyed using his collection of vehicles. He retired in his seventies and lived comfortably in his Cumbrian home, his financial position excellent as a result of astute investment. His family had largely disowned him. Always independent, the final straw had been his enlistment in 1939, but he’d kept contact with his sister, then with her daughter, his niece, who were the main beneficiaries of his will. His sister died – a lifetime inveterate smoker – but his niece kept him up-to-date with her son’s progress.
At the age of eighty, he decided he was no longer steady enough to ride his 1948 Norton motorcycle, and purchased a BMW R51/3 in perfect condition, and had it fitted to a Watsonian sports sidecar. On that, he did most of his local travelling. The Lotus Seven sports car and the VW camper were blocked up, the oil and coolant changed and the batteries removed, leaving the big Ford and the combination for his use.
One day he’d decided to get some fresh air, and a little exercise, and took the BMW to the Grizedale Country Park; a favourite destination to try to catch a glimpse of a red squirrel. The red squirrel is all but extinct south of the Scottish border, hanging on in a small handful of habitats where greys are excluded.
He didn’t see any red squirrels. His eye was, however, caught by something pale on the ground among the trees.
Sally Fellowes had run away from an abusive home situation, only to find herself, age fourteen, in the hands of a less than scrupulous Dominant. He had ‘trained’ her, reinforcing a latent submissive personality, and two years later he was becoming bored. She no longer gave any reason to punish her, not that he needed a reason, and the shine had certainly left her youth. There was one possible source of amusement, however, one he wouldn’t have made use of for any girl he wanted to keep.
She followed him, obediently, into the woodland; watched as he positioned motion-sensing cameras. Stripped at his command and docilely submitted to being tied spread-eagle on the ground. Waited for him to return. Slept, off and on, through a fortunately warm night.
Sunrise brought no return, just thirst and resignation. Mid-morning, having seen no-one else, she looked up at a tall, spare, grey-bearded man.
“Well, fuck me,” the man exclaimed. “Who left you like this?”
She half expected him to use her sexually. Perhaps he was too old to get it up, though? Would he hurt her?
He rummaged in a pocket and produced a clasp-knife. “Let’s get you out of that,” and cut the ropes. At another time, he would have untied the knots, but dew had swollen the fibres and he wanted her free as quickly as possible. “Get up, girl,” he held out a hand and helped her to stand, then brushed dirt, pine-needles and assorted small wild-life from her back. He delved into a backpack and produced a light rain-suit. “Put this on. It’ll at least cover you.”
“Yes, sir,” she spoke for the first time, obeying the order.
“What’s your name, girl?”
She hesitated for a moment. “Sally, sir.”
“And how old are you, Sally?”
Longer hesitation. “Sixteen, sir.”
“Could you go home?”
“No! No, sir.”
“Very well. Let’s get you somewhere safe, Sally. Hungry? Thirsty?”
“Yes, sir.” She finished with the rain-suit and rolled up the sleeves and legs. “Thirsty, sir.”
“My name’s Jeremiah.”
“I can’t take you into the café like that, so I’ll just take you home for now. Can you walk? Sorry I haven’t anything for your feet.”
“I’m used to walking barefoot, sir ... Master Jeremiah.”
They started walking down the path.
“I am no-one’s Master, Sally.”
She slumped. “Yes, sir. Sir...”
“May I stay with you? I can cook, clean...”
“For now, certainly. For the future ... we’ll see.”
He led the way and installed her in the low seat of the sidecar, and set off home. On arrival, he put the machine away and led her into the house where she promptly removed the rain suit and stood naked once more.
“One thing, Sally ... your Master?”
“Is that his name?” She nodded. “Will he come back for you?”
She shrugged. “Maybe. I guess he was getting tired of me anyway. He may expect someone to take me. But he’ll return for the cameras.”
“Cameras? Damn!” He was genuinely angry – at himself, for not thinking of the possibility.
“Sir ... he might track you? He might want a price for me.”
“He’ll be paying the price if he comes here.”
“I’m an old man? Yes, I’m old ... because those who wished me ill are all dead. Come with me.” He paused, hesitating. “I’ll find you something to wear. And you were thirsty. I’m sorry. Let’s deal with those.”
“Sir, I don’t need clothes. I’m used to being like this.”
Jeremiah might have been old, but he’d never minded looking at a pretty girl, so he shrugged and led the way to the kitchen. Sally downed about a pint of tap water and sipped a second while consuming a cheese sandwich. Jeremiah had a sandwich, too, but drank tea. When they’d both finished, Sally carried the crockery to the sink and reached for the taps.
“Later, Sally. Come with me, and I’ll show you something about me.” He led the way out of the house and through the garden, into the trees, and then to the open space with saplings growing over a mound. He opened the door and ushered her into the range, unlocked the gun safe and handed her ear protectors before donning a pair himself. He picked up the old Webley revolver and stood holding it by his side; flicked a switch. Nothing happened for several seconds, but then a target twenty-five yards away popped up. There were six rapid reports, sharp even through the ear protection. He broke the weapon open, ejecting the cartridges, and laid it aside, then walked down the range (removing his ear protection) to fetch the target, which showed six 0.45inch holes forming a tight hexagonal pattern round the centre. “Not that I’d carry the Webley these days. The Browning semi-auto is more convenient. I considered getting a Glock, but there doesn’t seem much point these days.”
She was wide-eyed as he laid the paper down and went to fetch cleaning materials. “A gun should always be cleaned after use,” he commented, explaining what he was doing.
He reloaded and put the weapon back in its place, then picked up a Browning in a shoulder-holster. “Let’s get back to the house.” As they were leaving,”Tell me about this ‘Master’ of yours.”
She was still wide-eyed as he locked up and led the way back to the house, listening as she told him what she knew.
.... There is more of this story ...