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Monday 4th November 1985: 18.28 – 18.30
From his vantage point in the branches of a conveniently-placed tree, Ronnie watched his son disappear through the wreckage of the bungalow’s front door.
He didn’t want to admit it, and he wouldn’t have done so to Dazza on pain of going straight and getting a (gulp) job; but he was sick with worry. In fact, when he’d seen the mess, he’d nearly high-tailed it up to his son and dragged him away sharpish; would have done, too, but on third and fourth thoughts he didn’t want to embarrass the boy. Whoever’d done that to the door wasn’t to be trifled with, though.
He ran through the possibilities. Mafioso? Triads? Ninjas? The Camtown Women’s Rugby Club on an evening out?
Sod it! On eighth and ninth thoughts, no way was he leaving Dazza to face any of that lot alone, embarrassment or no embarrassment.
He dropped from the tree, and ran over to the gate and up the path. Bloody ’ell, that doorway was even more of a mess up close.
The hall was dark inside, and he stared around, disconcerted that there was no sign of Darren. Or of the copper woman he’d been following, come to that.
‘Dazza?’ he hissed into the gloom.
There was no reply.
‘Dazza!’ he hissed a little more loudly.
There was still no reply.
‘Dazza!’ he called, not bothering to keep his voice down any more.
There was still no reply agai-
Ronnie’s yell was totally involuntary, and after it and the scream had both died away, the hallway lapsed into a shocked sort of silence.
Slowly, Ronnie unfolded from the bent-over-double, arms-shielding-the-head-from-falling-masonry position he’d adopted without even noticing he’d done so.
Right, that was it! Whatever the blue blazes was going on, he was getting Dazza out of there toot de bloody suet, as the Frogs had it.
Climbing over the front door again, he went back out into the garden. A quick look round unearthed a flowerpot, heavy with soil and with what looked like some sort of conglomeration of stick insects poking out of it. Nobody’d be missing that.
Drawing his arm back, he took aim at the large front window.
End of Chapter 18
Monday 4th November 1985: 18.30 – 18.33
The scream had the weirdest echoing property about it. As if it had been about a dozen screams all mixed into one.
After it died away, Kevin Proctor found himself, for no reason he could think of, standing beside his car rather than sitting in the driver’s seat.
The door was open, so he assumed he must have jumped out. He couldn’t remember doing that; but he’d been inside, and now he wasn’t. So…
That novel he’d been thinking he might write. The editor hero had obviously leaped out of the car because his love interest, the beautiful, curvy (but aloof) PA, was in desperate trouble, and needed him to spring into courageous action.
But where to spring?
He stared over the roof of his car towards the bungalow. That was the obvious place. But did he really want to spring in that direction? He rather thought not.
A figure emerged.
It was the last person who’d gone in; the older of the two seedy look-alikes. Who now began staring round the garden as if trying to find something.
And then Kevin felt a touch on his shoulder, and sprang into action so high he nearly landed on the roof of the car.
He did land in not quite a crumpled heap. It was a close-run thing, though; his legs were again shaking so badly he had to hang on to the roof of the car to stay passably upright.
And stared into the fierce eyes of – erm, fierce eye and fierce – erm – fierce – shudder – of the old lady – erm – old – erm – old – whom he’d driven here. Erm…
The erms came to a dead end, interrupted by a sort of strangled giggle. He glanced around to find out who might have made such a noise, and realised it was him.
He clamped his mouth shut in case another one escaped, and concentrated instead on being very, very nervous.
‘Ah, dear,’ the old woman…
Kevin fixed what he hoped desperately was a smile onto his face. To his embarrassment, another giggle took the opportunity to make a break for freedom.
If she noticed, she didn’t appear to share his discomfiture. Instead, she reached into the white coat she was –
Well – wearing was too neat a word. Occupying summed it up better.
In an evening that had already contained so many astonishments Kevin had well and truly lost count, she handed him a brown A4 envelope.
‘I bumped into someone earlier who was supposed to be delivering this to you in the morning,’ she… ‘I’m afraid he’s a little inconvenienced now, so won’t be able to. So I said I’d give it to you for him.’
Thank – Thank –
It was no good. He’d forgotten how to get his breath to make the right noises.
‘You’re welcome, dear,’ the old woman… As if he had managed to say the words.
‘Well – bye then, dear,’ she added. ‘I think I might well see you again.’
Added. At least that didn’t require ellipses to replace it, like the word said did.
Hang on! What did she mean by ‘might well see you again’?
He opened his mouth to try asking, but she was already stomping off down the road.