Crankwood Chapter 27 The Leeshi

The Leeshi had stood for an age brazenly capturing the light above the village. A massive stone and black wood farmhouse it was almost an organic part of this old landscape. A farm already ancient before the Tudor house was built, its huge blocks and beams seemed forever to steal sunlight and drop the temperature simply by force of sentient will. It towered ominously high over Crankwood, blackly dominating the landscape for miles around.

Signs surrounded the area and informed trespassers of dire, possibly fatal consequence. More than one exploring pet dog had been shot and hung, with rusty wire, on a gibbet above the stinking midden. Along with a large selection of rotting vermin, rat, stoat, weasel, crow and fox. Swinging in whatever breeze occasioned or even dared along.

The farmyard itself, that inside the pale of a partly filled green moat, was in constant shadow. Black buildings hinted at undefined purpose, a garage, a stable, a workshop? A brick lined channel filled with stinking detritus, bisected the dirty cobbled courtyard and curved lazily around a huge, out of place, ugly, Oak tree. A form more suited to graveyard than farm.

Arches into this inner precinct were blocked with venerable gates of rust, wood and bailing twine. A large pig rooted amongst mildewed and stinking sacking in a corner. A couple of scrawny, patchwork cockerels sized each other up with evident, ruthless and habitual violence. An old blind dog seemed to scan the sky for constant intruders.

The farmer, Alec Ratcliffe, suited his environment perfectly. Whip thin and corded, with piercing blue eyes appearing slyly by tacit agreement with the rest of his features. Shining covertly from the middle of a lined and wood grained face. Framed with greasy yellow grey hair and with a permanent white stubble, his face was apparently as unapproachable as his abode. Age undefined but old, he was camouflaged into his place of work as much as the tree or the rust holding together the promise of a field gate.

The dog barked hoarsely just once causing the farmer to turn from his task, washing soft pink and blue bullock testicles under an outside tap, and consider the door to the house.

“Bugger”, was all he said, softly.

Throwing the balls, which he had been looking forward to cooking, to the dog, he moved purposely towards the farmhouse.

Everything in the yard achieved a sudden quiescence. Even the dirty leaves of the tree became still, achieving, unaccountably, a peace that had hitherto eluded. All life waited.

Ratcliffe brought his hands round to an old briar wood pipe poking out from a waistcoat pocket. Placing this unlit into his mouth he advanced on the door with something like a determination fit for the occasion.

As he reached the door a furtive shuffling was heard from the other side, breaking the silence and causing the blind dog to whine piteously. Pig gazed up intelligently from its snouting and cockerels suddenly found something immediately more interesting than their epic battle on the other side of one of the gates.

Ratcliffe wiped suddenly clammy hands on his trousers before reaching for the door handle. Making an obvious and conscious decision to turn it he entered quickly shutting the door fast behind him. The farm yard breathed neviously again.

Crankwood Chapter 27 The Leeshi


Joined January 2008

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