Nora Cosette St. John, was born on a stormy night in Barry, Wales; her place of birth, the Barry Maternity Hospital the 17th of February, 1973.
Nora’s father, Captain Richard ‘Dick’ St. John, twelve years her mother’s senior, was not present at her birth. This was due to he and his Para Regiment being deployed to Northern Ireland, part of the seemingly never ending ‘Operation Banner’. Her 23 year old Australian born mother, Corina Anne St. John, nee – Moss, of Claremont, Western Australia, 6010, could not have been more alone.
Three weeks after Nora’s birth, and in direct response to post natal depression, Corina St. John took her life. It was to be two days before Captain St. John returned to his St. Athan married quarter home to meet his daughter for the first time; discovering the infant close to death, and his wife hanging by the neck in Nora’s room. In the three weeks prior to her death, Corina had never had a visitor. With exception to shopping, her only human contact was her mother’s weekly phone call. Captain St. John had been restricted to a single phone call; rifle fire clattering and spitting behind him as he spoke to her. With exception to the nurses at her birth, Nora had never been held by another.
Captain Dick St. John had retired his Commission immediate upon the grotesque discovery of his wife, and the chronic ill health of his daughter. Whilst not welcomed by the regiment, his discharged was pushed through on compassionate grounds. Six weeks after his return from Northern Ireland, Captain St. John was a civilian for the first time in eighteen years. To say he felt trepidation at the fact, would be akin to saying Genghis Khan only had a minor interest in property speculation.
Nora, when found by her father was a cyanotic blue, and via ambulance, arrived and was subsequently admitted into Barry Community Hospital. The wee bairn was found malnourished, hypothermic, and suffering pneumonia of the right lung. She was to remain an inpatient for the following two and a half months. Over the following months, and once Nora had left hospital, the ex-maroon beret wearing Dick St. John left Wales, returning to his childhood home of Stirling in central Scotland. Dicks aging, widowed, mother providing a temporary home and some little support for him and the wee Nora. A further two months on, the ex-Para, unable to find work locally, found and successfully attained a mid level security position with the Burmah-Shell Oil Storage and Distributing Company of India Limited. He and Nora moved to Bombay; a house was set up, one maid come cook, a gardener come driver, and finally a Nanny were installed.
Dick found the job immensely enjoyable, they pay almost treble of that he received whilst serving, and proved himself to be an extremely competent well liked operator. As such he was quickly promoted. This would remain the norm throughout his working life. Nora, now toddling, flourished in the warm clime; the house became a home. The years that followed had Dick’s employer change hands, yet his role within the new company and home remained the same; by the time the Govt. of India, some years later, had acquired 100% equity share holdings of his previous civil employers, Dick was promoted again to a position, no longer midlevel, but stepping into Executive roles.
Whilst Dick was winning on the professional front, Nora was kicking goals of her own. Thanks to her surrounding environment, the beautiful personalities and cultural backgrounds of the house staff, combined with surrounding society, unconsciously Nora absorbed language like a sponge. Resultant to this, Nora was multilingual, and prattled away in Marathi, Hindi, Gujarati and English. Her fluency and age uniquely left her without a ‘first’ language; something Dick encouraged the staff, and later her school to maintain within her. Aged four and a half years, her reading and writing abilities in all her spoken languages, rivalled that of children two years her senior; numeracy proved little obstacle to her.
Yet, there was an education that Dick himself added to Nora; that of threat identification, analysis, and assessment. Dick, being experienced enough not to singularly be concerned with understanding an identified enemy’s intentions and capabilities. The ex-Para’s approach was to include in his daily tutorials the focus on analysis of threats from difficult-to-identify, lesser considered entities. Essentially, ‘threat’ lingers without boundaries, and can be expected when least expected.
1982 was not a good year for Dick.
The 19th of March, 1982 saw a civil incursion into the Falkland Island. Some few weeks later, precisely the 2nd of April, Argentinian amphibious forces landed. The Falkland War had just begun.
The then British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, struck back as hard as she possibly could. Sadly lacking a contingency plan, as such an occurrence had never been considered prior; combined with the tyranny of distance, Britain’s retaliation was slowed. After a short period of time, ships, submarines, planes, and land forces arrived. Among them was the 2nd Battalion Parachute Regiment; a battalion of incredibly hard fighting men.
By May, troops were making hard won inroads in land warfare. The 27th through to the 28th of May saw heavy fighting at Goose Green and Darwin in East Falkland; and it was at Goose Green that Dick’s younger brother, Lieutenant James ‘Jim’ St. John of 2 Para, was killed in action. Dick was floored at the news.
The second tragedy to strike the St. John household was Dick’s now elderly mother passing away in her nursing home flat six weeks after the death of James. Her grief being too much for her to bear. This left Dick without any remaining family, neither immediate nor known distant. He now severed all ties with the UK.
This, whilst sad, meant little to Nora. She had no memory of her Grandmother, and had only fleetingly met her Uncle Jim twice. Yet, she felt sorrow for her father in his dual loss. It was many months before Dick returned to his former self, but return he did.
On hearing the tragic news of the deaths of Nora’s Grandmother and Uncle, Nora’s remaining grandmother left Western Australia for the first time in her life.
Margaret Moss cleared customs in the fifth most populated city in the world, and standing there in a terminal of the Santa Cruz airport was an eight year old girl and her lean, tanned, work hardened, flat muscled father holding her wee hand. on spying the uncomfortable looking pair, Margaret stopped two metres in front of them. Extended her arms, and embraced the wee lass as she tentatively entered her arms.
Australia had now entered Nora’s life; a pivotal point in Nora’s small world. A point in time that would in years to come, betray her faith in humanity, fracturing her mind as it did so, and a killer was born.
This is purely a work of fiction, if there is any likeness to any incident or character, it is purely coincidental.
Click the picture, ‘Paco Doesn’t Love Me’ follows
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