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Saturday, 23 April 2011

Chapter 5

Rosemary’s fucking baby!

Partial text of Sir Roderick Johnson speech - Greenhilll Town Hall - 21 July.

“In August 2008, at the unveiling of a slavery memorial in London, Lady Kay Hartson, a scion of the Wilberforce dynasty, said this: ‘The white population of Great Britain has got to be on its knees. The apology should be visible to show we accept that we effected the most awful wounds on a huge number of people.’
“So, despite the fact that, at the time her famous ancestor was speaking out on behalf of the negro, British men, women and children were slaving, day in, day out, down the mines, in the mills, the foundries and, as we have seen, in far off foreign climes, the descendants of these British slaves, according to Lady Hartson, must be made to feel responsible for things they never did. ‘We effected the most awful wounds on a huge number of people,’ says this upper-crust do-gooder. Well, no, actually, Lady Kate, as your husband’s ancestors ‘owned sugar estates in Guyana,’ it will have been his relations inflicting the wounds, along with the lords and ladies of the time. And let’s not forget Africa’s own rulers, who were happy to sell, not only their enemies into slavery, but also their own tribal kinfolk. (Applause)
“In 1823, the great reformer, William Cobbett, sent a letter to Lady Kate Hartson’s great-great-great grandfather, in which he said: ‘You seem to have great affection for the negroes... I feel for the hard-pinched, the ill-treated, the beaten down labouring classes of England, Scotland and Ireland… you do, in some degree… draw the public attention away from their sufferings.’
“When Richard Oastler’s Ten Hours Movement argued for a reduction in the working day for children, the government opposed the move, saying that it would be detrimental to trade. Cobbett responded thus: ‘A most surprising discovery has been made, namely, that all our greatness and prosperity, our superiority over other nations is owing to 30,000 little girls in Lancashire. If these little girls work two hours less in a day than they do now, it would occasion the ruin of the country.’
“For the little girls of Lancashire, for the bent and crippled children of England’s mills, mines and chimneys, for the hundreds of thousands who were who were judicially disposed of or kidnapped from 1619 onwards and for the 1,250,000 free, white European citizens who, for centuries, were kidnapped and sold into slavery by North African pirates, there was never a William Wilberforce and no anti-slavery pamphlets were ever circulated. (Applause)
“Against the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, it would be very difficult for the most ardent left-winger to argue that the powers-that-be have not put the immigrant a long way in front of the indigenous Briton during the course of the last 60 years. (Applause) However, as we have seen with Iraq and Afghanistan, they do not appear to care quite so much for the foreigner who wishes only to tend the roses in his own back yard.
“The journalist John Pilger described the island of Diego Garcia as ‘a gentle Creole nation with thriving villages… Every islander I have met calls it paradise,’ says Mr Pilger. In the 1960s, Harold Wilson’s government conspired with America to rob the Diego Garcian people of their birthright. To be rid of the islanders, our Foreign Office determined, with little in the way of a moral or legal case, that they had no right to be there. Consequently, the native inhabitants of Diego Garcia, with only a suitcase each, were removed, leaving behind their homes, their belongings and their lives. Arriving in Mauritius, 1,200 miles away, they were dumped on the docks and left to fend for themselves in a ramshackle, roofless ghetto, without shelter, food or jobs. As they struggled to survive, suicide and child death was common. Unemployment, drugs and prostitution, all of which had been absent in Diego Garcia, overcame them.
“In the year 2000, however, they won a historic victory in the British high court, which ruled their expulsion illegal. Within hours, the Labour government stated that they had a treaty with Washington and they could not return home. In 2003, after a second high court battle, they were denied compensation by the same Labour government. It had invoked the little-used royal prerogative to crush the earlier judgment. They then issued a decree stating that the islanders were banned forever from their own land.
“If you compare Labour’s treatment of the Diego Garcians with their high-minded insistence that the British people be tolerant and forbearing in their dealings with the immigrant, you must surely conclude that the game plan of the Left did not correspond in the slightest with the desire to treat the foreigner fairly…’ (Applause)

“Honest, this bird, she had tits out to here. I wasn’t tempted though. She looked a bit like the Michelin Man. More spare tyres than Ferrari”. He had brought a load of fish and chips back and the boss groaned when he saw them. “That’s what ‘appens when you get old,” opined Steve. “Everything starts fallin’ to bits”. He left the room and came back with another carrier bag.
“I got you a present”, he said, pulling a lettuce out of the bag. The boss’s face lit up and he started peeling away the wrapping straightaway. “Got you these as well”, said Steve, producing a bag of tomatoes, a banana and some dates. He was well pleased.
“Can I have a date, Tom”? asked John. “I like a date now and again”. Steve spread the fish and chips out on the table and went to make some tea. John had eaten five or six dates and the boss had munched his way through half the lettuce by he time he got back.
“Oy oy! You’ll spoil your supper at this rate. Switch the TV on, Johnny, I reckon we’ll be on by now”, said Steve, disappearing off to the kitchen once more. Returning with a plate of bread and butter and the tomato sauce, he commented favourably on John’s performance that afternoon. They were watching the adverts and didn’t reply.
“How’d you manage to get them three ears down then? I couldn’t ‘ave done that”.
“You can sew stuff back on if you freeze it quick enough. Wish I hadn’t bitten Henry’s ear off now. Or hadn’t swallowed it at least”.
Steve pulled a face but didn’t say anything as he had better things to think about than telling John off for being a wuss. Arranging himself at the table, he made himself a chip butty and got stuck in. John joined him.
“This bloke, he was a farmer and he chopped his arm off with a combine harvester or something. Carried it a mile and a half to a hospital and they sewed it back on”.
“You’re kiddin’.”
“Straight up. I saw it on the Discovery Channel”.
“What, you saw him comin’ up the road ‘oldin’ ‘is arm? I’d like to ‘ave seen that”.
“No. They told you about it and you got to see this massive scar and what he could do with his arm now. Almost as good as new it was. Hard lads them Yorkshire farmers. Wouldn’t want to upset that bloke down a dark alley”.
“I’d rather upset an ‘armless farmer than the ear’unter”. That got them going and the boss threw what was left of his lettuce at him.

She had been sick three times. It wasn’t morning sickness, she’d been lucky with that and it hadn’t been a problem. She’d always known she would have to face Rachel at some point. She had managed to put her off so far but the hospital authorities, who were being subjected to threats of legal action, were no longer willing to cover for her. So she’d had to speak to her yesterday. Tentatively, she tried to tell her that she felt differently now and wasn’t up to maintaining the relationship but Rachel dismissed her concerns saying she’d feel better when she got home. The stress had left her feeling worn out and unready for any kind of confrontation.
“Hello stranger!” Rachel hadn’t bothered to knock.
“Hi,” replied Patsy. A glowing Rachel hugged her lover and kissed her on the cheek before sitting down on the bed alongside her. Taking her hand in her own, Rachel said:
“You’re very pale. Are you still feeling ill?”
“I’m not feeling well today. I’ve been sick.”
“Poor darling. You’ll feel much better when we get you home. They wouldn’t let me speak to you. It’s been almost three weeks now! Ridiculous! If you’re having psychological problems surely you need your loved ones close at hand! In the end I had to threaten to bloody sue to get in to see you!” Patsy took a deep breath.
“Rachel, I’m pregnant!” Her partner froze. Patsy looked away. A tear rolled down Rachel’s cheek and her hand went to her mouth.
“Oh my God! My poor, poor darling.” She drew Patsy to her. “So that’s what the problem was. And all this time you’ve had to bear this terrible burden on your own. We’re leaving here today! I’m not having you stay here a moment longer. I’ll give the manager of this hospital a piece of my mind before we leave. Who do these people think they are, for goodness sake?” She brought Patsy’s face up to her own and asked her how far gone she was.
“I don’t know. Six, seven weeks?”
“Bastard! What my poor baby must have gone through.” She stooped to kiss her on the lips but Patsy turned away at the last moment. Rachel’s face tightened momentarily. Then she patted her hand and said she understood. “Readjustment to normality will be difficult but we’ll get there. Don’t worry. When do you think you’ll be strong enough for the termination?” Patsy looked at her.
“The termination?”
“Yes. My gynaecologist is very good. The sooner it’s done the better. We can’t let it go too long.”
“Excuse me.” Patsy eased herself out of Rachel’s grip, stood up and wandered shakily to the bathroom. Rachel was furious. They must have known she was pregnant! Had they not advised Patsy to get rid of it? Why had they kept her away? Someone so vulnerable would need the love of her partner at such a time! Patsy emerged from the bathroom and sat down in the wicker chair.
“Feeling any better?”
“Not really?”
“We could go home today. We could leave now if you like. I’m sure you’d feel much better back at the flat.” Patsy shook her head.
“I’m not ready. I still feel weak.”
“I think you’d improve much more quickly at home, my lovely. We could get you a nurse. All your teddies are missing you, you know.” Patsy shivered.
“They’ll have to wait. Really. I’m still not up to it.” Rachel closed her eyes and gathered her thoughts.
“Very well, my darling, you know best. I’ll let you rest now. I’ll be having a word with the doctors on my way out. See what they have to say for themselves.” Patsy was alarmed.
“They’ve been very good,” she said.
“I’m sure they’ve got you thinking so, darling, but I’m not so sure.”
“Don’t bother them, please. They’ve been good to me.”
“Don’t get yourself worked up. Just a quiet word, that’s all I want. To see whether they think your fit enough to come home.” Rachel hugged her, kissed her on the cheek and blew her another from the door as she left. “See you this evening, darling.” Patsy sat motionless, white-faced and desperate, staring at nothing in particular.

He knew she was pregnant. ‘It’s a bad business.’ That was the nearest he ever got to saying anything she didn’t want to hear. And that’s what she needed right now. She needed reassurance and back up. She didn’t need Rachel telling her what to do. She didn’t want to be ordered about and she wasn’t going to make her have an abortion! She was due in half an hour. Come on, daddy, for God’s sake! Someone knocked. It was him. She turned to greet her father. It was Rachel. She saw Patsy’s face drop and the anger rose up again. What was wrong with her? They had shared a life together for the last 16 years! She took a deep breath, got herself under control and put on her best BBC smile:
“Ah good. You’re all packed. I promise you everything will seem so different when we get you home.”
“Daddy’s coming, Rachel.” Her smile vanished for a second time.
“What does he want?” Her voice was cold now.
“He’s coming to collect me. I need some time with my parents.”
“No. You’re not a little girl any more. You need to be with me.” Rachel started collecting her things and put them by the door.
“I need to rest, Rachel. The stress…” Rachel turned on her, her eyes blazing.
“The stress? Oh, right, I’m stressing you out now, am I? What the fuck is wrong with you? You acted like I was a complete stranger this morning and now your running off home to mummy and daddy. Are you trying to tell me something or what?” Rachel was spoiling for a fight, she could see it.
“I don’t want to fight, Rachel, I’m too tired.”
“Ah, the poor little lamb is tired, is she? What about me? What about how tired I am? Up at all hours waiting for a call. Would it have been too tiring just to phone me? No, you’ve always been an inconsiderate little airhead, full of your own self-importance. Full of your own inconsequential little problems. Well, I’m sick of it! Sick! Do you hear me? Now act your age and come on!”
“It’s too much, Rachel. I can’t handle it…”
“Oh stop, you’re breaking my heart! Could you handle it when I took you under my wing, moulded you, made you what you are today? Could you handle it when I spoke up for you, introduced you to the right people and got you the interviews? Was I stressing you out when I got you promotion after promotion you didn’t deserve?”
“I’m very grateful…”
“Grateful? That’s rich. So grateful you kept me in the dark for three whole weeks. What is it then? You like cock now, all of a sudden? He stuck it in you that first night and turned you all girlie and dribbling?”
“Stop it…”
“Stop it! Stop it, mummy! You’re hurting my feelings, mummy. I’m a good girl, mummy.” Patsy tried to hold onto herself but the tears came anyway. “Oh, that’s it, turn on the waterworks. Wah, wah, wah, poor, little Patsy, that nasty Rachel’s being mean to her again!”
“I’m pregnant, Rachel. Things are different now. Please try to understand.”
“Understand, you silly bitch! Oh, I understand all right. One taste of cock and it’s goodbye Vienna! After everything I’ve done for you!” She took hold of Patsy’s arm and bullied her to the door. “You’re coming home with me!”
“No!” Patsy didn’t see the slap coming but she felt the pain and the shock afterwards. She was completely stunned.
“That’s what you get when you spread your legs for a Jew-killer and like it! Did you know he specialises in chopping the heads off people like me! That’s it isn’t it? You don’t want me any more because loverboy’s an anti-Semite!” Patsy stood transfixed as Rachel moved towards her. She leaned in closer and pecked at her lips. This time Patsy didn’t turn away.
“That’s better. So much better.” Rachel was rubbing her body against her. “Silliness gets you nowhere does it?” Her tone was conciliatory now. She reached upwards and cupped a breast. “I know you’ve had a hard time, my darling. You’ve been raped by a madman. Anyone would lose it such circumstances.” Rachel found her mouth and kissed her passionately, forcing her tongue in as she raised the hem of her dress.
“Stop it!” Patsy pushed her away and sank down on the bed with her back turned. Rachel raised her fist and took a step towards the bed. Slowly she let her arm fall to her side:
“I know you’re not feeling yourself. I’ll carry your suitcase. Once we’re home everything will be much better. You’ll see” She raised Patsy from the bed and escorted her to the door. “Come along, darling. You’ll be fine now.” Patsy was half way out of the building when she saw her father.
“Sorry, I’m late, sweetie, but the traffic… What’s going on?” His daughter had been crying, that much was obvious.
“She’ll be all right. We’re going home.” The wicked witch. So that was it. He looked from daughter to Rachel and back again.
“Patsy?” She tore herself from Rachel’s grip, fell into his arms and began to sob. “Thank you, Rachel, she’ll be coming home with me tonight. Tomorrow perhaps.”
“No!” Patsy clung tighter to her father.
“I don’t think she wants to see you, Rachel.”
“She’s coming home with me. We agreed.” Stone-faced.
“That’s all very well but she appears to have changed her mind.”
“Well, she can fucking change it back again, can’t she?” He gave her what he hoped was a disdainful look and turned on his heel.
“Come along, darling. Time to go home now.” Rachel kept pace with them as they retreated towards the exit.
“This is what you’ve been waiting for, isn’t it? You’ve always hated me. You’ve turned her against me! You and that psychopath who’s brat she’s having! You dirty bastards, you’re all the same!”
Before he knew what was happening, Gerald was subjected to a furious two-fisted assault. Turning his daughter away from the blows, he swung round with his walking stick and caught Rachel a glancing blow across the top of her head and she fell to the floor dramatically.
“You saw that! You all saw that!” Two nurses, one doctor, a porter and a patient had, indeed, been watching the performance. “Call the police! I want charges pressed against that man. He is a violent lunatic! She isn’t safe with him! I have to take her home with me!” No one moved. Gerald walked his daughter over to the doctor and took a card out of his wallet. Handing it to him, he said.
“That’s where we’ll be if the police need to speak to us.”
“Don’t worry. I saw what happened,” he replied. “We all did”.
Gerald thanked him and led his daughter from the building as quickly as the prosthesis would allow.
“How on earth did you stay with that creature for so long, Patricia? Why did you want to? It’s beyond me?” Patsy shook her head. He didn’t press the matter and, as she was dozing most of the way, they drove back to Epsom in silence.

Rachel was apologetic and said she understood when he told her Patsy didn’t want to speak to her. Eventually, she put the phone down.
“What did she say?” asked June, nervously.
“Says she’s oh-so sorry, blah, blah, blah. Wanted to talk to Rachel to ‘put things straight.’ Wanted to ‘remain friends’ and would she call her. If Patricia never saw her again it would be too soon “
“I never liked her.”
“Me neither. Ghastly woman.” Gerald picked up the paper and sat down. June went into the kitchen.
“The creature from the blue lagoon says she’s off to a conference in Moscow tomorrow and Patricia can pick up her things if she wants.” June came back through to the living room.
“Moscow? Hmph. Doesn’t surprise me.”
“You always said she was a Commie, didn’t you?” Gerald occupied himself with the crossword. June laid the table. “Is she still in bed?” June nodded. “Good thing. Let her rest.” Gerald put his paper to one side. “I’m not sure about the Moscow thing.”
“What, you think it might be a trick?”
“Might be.”
“Does your army revolver still work?” Gerald looked at his wife.
“Bit over the top, don’t you think?”
“I wouldn’t put anything past that woman, Gerald”.
“I’ll have my stick. Came in useful last time.”
“My hero.”
“Sarky beggar.”

Abdul went to see Hugh Champion expecting to learn nothing new. The Headhunter had contacted him and said he’d spare the life of those he’d kidnapped if The Herald would publish some of his thoughts. Alan Gilroy put his job on the line to get the first few issues out and, as a result, the paper was selling twice as many issues now as it was before ‘Hannibal Speaks’ was first published. Eventually, Abdul got around to his real reason for calling and asked him if he’d be interested in being there when the serial killer was apprehended. Champion, of course, was all for it but wanted to know why he was being offered such a tasty commission. Abdul described his predicament. He wanted someone he could trust up there to maintain a proper watch and keep him informed.
When Abdul left Hugh considered what he’d been told and who had done the telling. Strange wasn’t the word. What if he was wrong? It would be a whole day wasted. What if he was right? It would be the scoop of a lifetime. What if he was right won by a mile.

Patsy contacted Rachel’s office and was told that she would, indeed, be spending the next three days in Moscow. She wanted to ask for details of flights and hotel reservations but was a bit nervous about it and, in the end, didn’t do so. However, as the BBC delegation was eight-strong and the event was posted on the Internet, she told herself she was worrying over nothing and it was decided that she and Gerald would collect her things the following morning. The next day they were getting in the car when June emerged from the house with her handbag.
“Here comes trouble,” said Gerald.
“I decided to come with you.”
“It’s not necessary, darling. We won’t be two ticks.”
“With three of us, we’ll get it done that much quicker, won’t we?”
“She’s got that look on her face, Patricia. May as well give in now.” Patsy smiled. Gerald started the car and they set off for W2.

On the way, June noted down what needed to be retrieved from the living, kitchen and dining rooms. Gerald was left with the study and the garage. Patsy would check the bedrooms, basement and the various cubby holes dotted about her home. They hoped Rachel was as good as her word and most of her stuff would be boxed up and ready to go but they weren’t counting on it.
When they got there, though the curtains were drawn and the house looked uninhabited, they still sat there for a while looking the place over. June thought she’d seen a bedroom curtain twitch but, after five minutes squinting up at the offending drape, June, herself, decided it must have been a trick of the light and they got out of the car. Patsy clicked a button on her remote control and the garage door opened. Her own much loved 2CV and Rachel’s Morgan were parked side by side and, wonder of wonders, a host of cardboard boxes were piled up in front of the cars. “I don’t believe it,” said Patsy, smiling.
“That’s a relief,” said June.
“Let’s check before we get too excited,” said Gerald. “Wouldn’t surprise me if there was a cow pat in every box.” Patsy laughed and went to check. Over her protests, Gerald insisted that he have a look first. However, when he discovered nothing but her neatly parcelled up belongings in the first two boxes, it was decided that he should pack things into the estate whilst the girls toured the property checking for anything Rachel might have missed. Patsy unlocked the door leading from the garage to the kitchen and she and her mother went through.
“That’s a waste” said June, spotting a third of a bottle of Glenfiddich that didn’t have the top on. “I’ll start then, darling.”
“OK, Mum. I’ll be upstairs.” Would she miss all this? There had been happy times here but, no, she had been restless for a long time now and had found herself longing for the times that her work took her away. Rarely did she ever look forward to coming back here these days. Apart from the odd occasions Rachel would be away herself. She saw Freddie, her favourite Teddy Bear, squashed underneath the bed and bent down to pick him up. ‘Poor Freddie,’ she said. ‘What on earth are you doing there?’ Taking hold of his head she gave it a gentle tug. There was no resistance. The head no longer had a body attached to it. Suddenly she felt terribly cold and the hair on her head began to stand on end.
“Freddie’s dead, Patsy. Your boyfriend cut his head off with a pair of garden shears. I saw it all. You should have heard the little fucker screaming!” Rachel tittered. Patsy was rooted to the spot and couldn’t move. “Got you a leaving present, sweetness.” She was drunk and slurring her words. “Turn around, darling. I want to stick my tongue down your throat one last time.”
“I thought you’d gone to Russia.”
“I just bet you did, you disgusting cunt. Fancy a line of coke, darling. I’ve got some here.”
“I can’t, Rachel. The baby.”
“The baby! Rosemary’s fucking baby! Stick a fucking knitting needle up your dirty hole before it destroys the fucking world, you silly, bloody tart!”
“Mum and dad are downstairs, Rachel. Please don’t make a scene.”
“Pleeth don’t make a theen. Fucking schoolgirl even now. What the fuck is a silly, little schoolgirl like you going to do without me? Oh I know. You could always be a prostitute! You’re good at spreading your legs for mass murderers, aren’t you?”
“Please Rachel…”
“Pleeth, Wachel… Look at me you coward, little shit.” Patsy recoiled in horror as Rachel spun her round but she couldn’t get away as her former partner had hold of both her arms. Rachel’s face was red and mottled, her eyes puffy and her breath stank of whisky.
“You’re hurting me, Rachel!”
“Oh dear. Are you in pain, my dear? I’d have thought you’d know all about pain by now. Surely he fucked you up the arse! All men fuck their girlfriends up the arse, didn’t you know that? Hasn’t he rammed his big, thick, mass-murdering prick up your tight, little arsehole yet?”
“You’re disgusting. Get off me!”
“I’m disgusting? I’m disgusting? You’re the fucking whore, you bitch! Here’s your fucking present!” Patsy doubled over and collapsed to the floor, unable to breath.
“I bet the bun in your oven’s in pain now, eh?”
June opened the door to her daughter’s bedroom and saw Rachel standing over her, slowly drawing a carving knife across her daughter’s throat. She rushed at her, screaming for her husband as she did so. Both women hit the deck hard but June recovered first, grabbed Rachel by the hair and began banging her head on the floor. Rachel lashed out blindly with the knife, which she still held, and June fell away.
Rachel was back on her feet by the time Gerald entered the room. Seeing the carnage before him he swung his walking stick hard. It connected with her face and she fell onto the bed. However, the momentum overbalanced him and he landed heavily with his artificial leg beneath him. Rachel rose from the bed a look of pure hatred on her face.
“Hello Daddy. Come to rescue Rapunzel, have we?” She sank to her knees beside her former lover and laughed as he threw his stick at her.
“Missed!” she yelled, raising the knife above her head.
“No!” he cried, reaching out as he crawled towards them. Rachel nodded, her face triumphant.
“Yes!” she hissed. As the knife began to descend, she was thrown back against the wall. Suddenly, everything was happening in slow motion and he couldn’t hear anything any more. Rachel was staring intently at a thin trickle of blood oozing from her right shoulder. Then she kicked out at Patsy’s body and the knife was above her head once more. Again she was sucked back against the wall by some unseen magnet. Raising her head unsteadily, Rachel looked past him and mumbled some incoherent oath. She was still cursing as she fell slowly to the side and lay still.
Gerald struggled towards his daughter and carefully turned her over. She was alive. Her throat was bleeding but the wound wasn’t deep. Pulling out a handkerchief, he held it to the wound and drew her own hand up to support it. As he did so she opened her eyes.
“Daddy. My baby. She killed my baby.” He kissed her gently and checked for signs of further injury but found none.
June was lying face down on the carpet behind him. Blood was seeping from her wounds and forming in a dark pool around her. In her right hand she held his service revolver. It was still smoking.

He handed them a shortlist of possible targets.
“You leavin’ the rifle with us, boss?” He nodded and told them if they could do away with any of them it would cause a big commotion.” They studied the list.
“Be nice to get ‘im.” John nodded and asked if they all lived in London. He said they did and handed them a list of addresses together with an itinerary of the various targets. He tapped Derek Savage’s photograph and told them to see what they could do about him between 9.00 and midday on September the 26th. He also said that they should toss a Molotov cocktail though a window if he wasn’t there.
“Better and fucking better,” whispered Steve. John nodded.
“I don’t want anyone but him hurt so be careful. We’ll be keeping in contact with each other so make sure your mobiles are charged up. Here are a few more things you might get done while I’m away.” He gave them another list and went upstairs.
“What’s this? ‘Cut a circular hole in the rear door of the van?’ That’ll be for snipin’ out of,” said Steve. “We’ll cut two. One for shootin’, one for spottin’.”
“Right. Good idea.”
“‘Cut a hole big enough for a body to get through in the floor of the van?’ What’s that for then?” John shook his head. “A body, I suppose.” John nodded. ‘Find a large grating that leads to the sewers. One that is easily accessed.’ That’s your department. You know anywhere off the top of your head”?
“Maybe. They’re everywhere. Won’t be difficult to find something.”
“‘Carry on doing up the house. Place fit for a king by the time I get back or you’re sacked.’ Cheeky sod!”
“Who’s a cheeky sod?”
“Oh, ‘ello there, boss. ‘E just nipped my arse.” He threw a wad of cash on the table.
“Four grand. Should be enough for whatever you need. Save a bit for your wife and kids, John. Any questions?”
“This sewer lark and the hole in the bottom of the van, what’s that all about?”
“Right. There may come a time when we get chased by the police. You get to the grating, park the van over the top and slip down into the sewer. The cops spend half a day wondering what to do and we’re back here, tucked up in bed, nice and cosy.”
“Fuckin’ brilliant!” He knew John had been in the army and asked him if he was any good with a rifle. When he said he was about average, the boss asked him if he could hit something three hundred yards off.
“With a scope I should, definite. As long as the rifle is tickety-boo.”
“What about me?” Steve looked worried. “Don’t I get a go?” He said John was the boss of the rifle and he would get his chance when John said he was ready. Steve was a bit miffed but didn’t play up.

He staunched the blood as best he could before calling the emergency services. After he put the phone down he drew his wife to him and held her tightly. When the paramedics arrived he would not let her go.
“I shall hold her until a bloodline is attached. You may have some in the ambulance. Type O, the most common.”
“It really would be better if you let us tend to her, sir.”
“She’s lost a lot of blood and she’ll lose more if I pull away from her right now. I know it’s a bore but, really, if you can figure out a way of taking us both out together I’d be very grateful. Please, look at my daughter. She’s been struck in the stomach and she’s pregnant.”
In the end, they settled for attaching a plasma drip and helping him get his prosthesis back on so he could accompany his wife to the hospital. Patsy left in the first ambulance and was there two minutes before her parents arrived. Whilst sedated, she was scanned with ultrasound and the wound in her neck treated. She came round three hours later in a private room. Her father was asleep in a chair by the bed.
“Daddy.” Gerald awoke with a start.
“Hello pumpkin. Must’ve dropped off.”
“Where’s mum?” He didn’t answer. “Oh no, please, no.”
“She’s alive, darling. Lost a lot of blood. Her heart stopped in surgery. The doctors got it going again, thank goodness.”
“Oh God, it’s all my fault. I’m so sorry.” Gerald held his daughter and tried to comfort her.
“She woke up before they operated. Said she felt her life had been validated. Told me to tell you she was the happiest woman in the world.”
Patsy was inconsolable, even when he told her the baby was fine. After a while, Gerald eased himself away from her, saying he was going to check on June. Patsy clasped her hands together and asked God to spare her mother’s life.

“We’re more hopeful now than we were before. She lost a lot of blood, which is never a good thing, but she’s a fighter and I think the chances are better than even that she’ll come through it.”
“Would it be possible for us to sit with her, doctor? I think our presence might help.”
“Of course. Just don’t trip over any wires.” He wheeled Patsy through to where her mother lay, pale-faced and peaceful, in the intensive care unit. Patsy wept. Gerald prayed. They both held a hand.

June could see her mother and father. She waved to them and her mother waved back, Daddy gave her the thumbs up before shooing her away with a wink and a smile. She felt weak and very dry.
“Chance of a drink of water, darling.” His head came up from the bed.
“You back with us, honeybun?”
“They wouldn’t have me. Said you’d never get the crossword done if I pushed off.” Gerald laughed softly, his eyes misted over and, embarrassed, he left the room. June looked over to where Patsy was sleeping, smiled and drifted off.
She was back home a week later resenting the wheelchair and her family’s culinary efforts mightily.

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