He doesn’t bother looking. She’s become too squeamish, coming to her rescue every time a bug scares her won’t help.
‘What if it stings?’
‘Them buggers haven’t hatched, I wouldn’t think. It’s January.’
‘Ain’t no bluebottle, though. It terrifies me.’
She stifles a scream. Exasperated, he goes into the other room. She’s cowering in the corner, shielding herself with a book. He freezes before he sees it hovering above her. It’s the sound out of his nightmares – the sound of a hornet drone. He curses the day he had the idea.
Behind him, a synchronised shake of heads. Tone of his voice screams drill sergeant, though. His minions lining up behind him like birds on a wire, in their identical suits and crew cuts – let’s just say I know a liar when I see one.
‘So, whadda ya wan’?’
A question to make him tell more porkies. We all know what it is they’re coming for, we’ve all heard the rumours.
‘Open your door.’
No way, I’m gonna keep the semi-automatic hidden till the last sec. I’m gonna stand up for my rights.
‘Body, throat ripped out. Another one, many others. Bite marks from tigers and lions. Have they ganged up? They must have, neither group could have taken out this many soldiers on their own. Remarkable development.’
I stop recording. They didn’t sent me to Regent’s Park for research – I set the big cats free when the water rose, I have to get them back into their enclosures again.
I didn’t think they’d work together.
A low growl in the tall grass – Cinta. But when she shows her face, I know the stun gun isn’t going to cut it, despite my modifications.
‘Jazz, sonny? Bit ambitious. You’d better keep practicing your scales.’
The old guy wants to walk away, but I am gripped by a strange rage. It makes me do the unthinkable: I offer him the sax.
‘Think you can do better?’
He takes it, searches his bag for something and pulls out the right mouthpiece. He stops my background track and launches into Take Five. Only a few bars in, a crowd has gathered. A pretty blonde girl who sometimes listens sings along.
It’s like magic flowing from the sax. I swear the old guy now looks half his age.
He asks in jest and I chuckle, as he expects me to. I pick up the slipping rug that almost sent him toppling down those treacherous stairs.
‘I put it there because…,’ but he dismissed my explanation with a ‘yes, dear’ and asks when lunch will be ready. I inspect the uneven floorboards, looking for the loose one. No matter where I push, they won’t stay level. Someone will trip over them.
‘Lunch, dear? I am quite hungry, you know.’
Will I get away with it if he stumbles, falls and his neck takes a twist?
Stage fright? He thought he’d exorcised it at RADA. In school, he volunteered to play sheep in the nativity so he could hide in the back and keep his mouth shut except for the odd baa.
He chose the roundabout for its bright lighting, there’s nowhere to hide. No reason to worry, nobody’s paying attention in this weather. Not yet, anyway. He arms himself with the props, launches into the monologue and after a dozen shaky words, his voice steadies.
He nails it like a pro.
But nobody’s paying attention in this weather. Nobody bothers to find out his name.
Blueberry pancakes – the aroma greets me before she opens the door. A peace offer. Don’t feel like smiling, but I do.
‘Just want to pick up my stuff. Your dad in?’
‘No. I’m by myself. I made…’
‘I can’t. Gotta be places.’
My stomach roars.
‘Have one, okay?’
I love her pancakes. But it’s late. Her dad meant it when he said I’d not leave this place alive if I showed my face again.
‘Okay, one. I’ll fetch the DVDs. Be right there.’
I sneak out. On the way home, one final time, I enjoy the view from Primrose Hill.
I wrote this for this week’s Micro Bookends. I’ve been meaning to write something for the challenge for a few weeks. I am not going to post this one to the site, though, because I won’t have time to comment on stories this week. And now I’d better go and pack a few more boxes – I’m moving house tomorrow…