Blonde Moment

Written by Amalasuntha and Tiro

She flicks open her fingers in surprise as if a static shock had just jumped into them, head drowning with heat, she forces a breath in and the pen falls, she watches it bounce off the bar in slow motion and hit the floor with a dull clank.  Tony isn’t quite fast enough to catch it; he ducks down and snatches the pen up off the tiles with an audible huff.  He stands up and glares at her.  “That was bloody expensive, that pen,” he complains.  “I’m going to be really pissed off if you’ve damaged it.”  He storms away, leaving her gripping the worktop for stability, still gazing ahead at the sudden pictures in her memory: an image of a dark room.  An office, perhaps.  Street lights glare yellow through the ground floor windows.  She’s standing next to a desk – computer, papers, abandoned coffee cup with a child’s face on, clutter.  In front of her on the floor, an Asian man, probably in his thirties, not bad looking.  He cowers, scrabbling backwards and holding out his arms towards her, fending her off.  She reaches out to grip his shoulders and lifts him up, before her left arm yanks back and delivers a solid punch to his jaw.  He reels away and backs ungainly into a chair, sending it spinning into the desk.  Her knuckles sting and tingle with the blow.  The feeling is celebratory, demanding and predatory, a feeling of relief and success.  But no – these aren’t her arms.  She can see them extending forward from her shoulders, but these are a man’s arms.  Hairy.  Bunched fingers, short clipped nails, Wiry, but strong. Blue polo shirt sleeves.  A scratched watch strap on the left wrist.

Actually…  It’s quite a distinctive watch.  It’s a watch she knows; one she’s seen countless times before.

She pulls herself together, smoothes her blonde hair back under the corporate baseball cap, brings her attention back to the diner and tries to focus.  Sounds slam back into her head with all the tact of a frat house party.  She watches Tony through the doorway, standing in the office, holding his precious gold pen up to the light and turning it back and forth.  He flicks a sullen look in her direction.  “Forget the cashing-up training, blondel” he says, almost too low to hear over the restaurant Wednesday night buzz.  “We’ll do it later, when you’re back on Earth, go back to watching your covers.”  Damn.  There goes the last three weeks’ worth of flirting, accidental touching, late night pizza, smiles and, when all else failed, hard work to get Tony’s interest.  She feels dizzy, disoriented from what just happened, maybe it’s like the onset of something, exhaustion perhaps?  She claims her break early and feigns illness.  It’s not far off the truth: unlike other renowned times done because of boredom, she really doesn’t feel well.  As fat Casey comes in for her precisely-timed break, she makes her excuses, asks Casey to please tell Tony, grabs her coat and bag and goes out into the fresh air through the back fire escape.  It’s strictly forbidden to leave through the fire escapes, but she’s done it before and really feels the need to go somewhere private and throw up.

+++

The familiar question glows on the screen: What’s on your mind?

She sits looking at the screen, unsure of what to say.  For the first time in as long as she can remember, she’s not entirely sure what IS on her mind.  She had called in sick to work this morning. It would come out of her pay for sure, but for once she really didn’t care.  Over the course of the morning, watching repeats of Judge Judy, she’d thought it over and just about convinced herself last night was just her imagination.  Probably working too hard, she decided.  Working tables was so stressful.  As the day starts to settle in, she wonders again how a brief daydream could be so distressingly realistic.  And why would she be having daydreams about Tony anyway?  He was alright in a middle-aged-on-occasional-drugs way – she’d even done a reefer with him on occasion, but none of the serious stuff; but honestly, going after him was just for the benefit of being the boss’s girl.  Pay rise, longer breaks, the ability to boss the other waitresses around and no bin duties.  Why couldn’t the kitchen staff just do them, anyway?  Maybe she would even get as far as getting his ugly wife to leave him.  Then she could move in and voilà! No more work.  She didn’t even feel like having more seaweed bio-smoothie.  If she wasn’t in the middle of a month-long detox, it would have been chocolate.  Gah.  She is privately ashamed, as if the act of admitting would automatically put the calories on, but still wants the comfort of Hershey’s.

Her fingers hover over the keyboard.  Should she confess the odd experience to her Facebook Friends?  She’s hesitant: although the story is bound to net her some interest and maybe a little sympathy too, she wouldn’t want anyone to think she was, you know, like mad or anything.  Maybe if she makes light of it, she can dress it up as, you know, just one more wacky Day In The Life.  Perhaps leave out some of the details.  She looks at the blank screen and begins to type, anticipating and dreading the comments to come.

+++

 

StarMagick Faeriechild: “lol ur totaly pschycic babe u belive me, i no bout this stuff ye cos im pyshcich to. u seen a pyscich msg,dis gu’ys done sum bad shiz n u gotta make it rigt so like u maybe shud tell cops ye.”

 

She mulls the words over, and wonders why she’d never thought that she’d had a psychic experience.  She’s heard of it before: some of the established celebs had personal clairvoyants and fortune tellers on hand; one supermodel had recently announced in an exclusive interview that she had a personal guardian spirit, a fourteenth-century Flemish poet who visited her regularly and gave her style advice.  And she’d seen that documentary about how the police in Alabama kept psychics on retainer to help them identify murderers and find missing kiddies.  It just hadn’t occurred to her that she would be additionally gifted in that way.  She was already beautiful and socially successful, what more was there?  But she trusts StarMagick – a relatively new friend; brunette from Richmond, 17, likes cats and Kings of Leon, velvet dresses and silver jewellery, Witch of the Old Path – even though she’s never met her, and it’s the first time she’s ever commented, because you’d have to trust a genuine witch about this sort of thing, wouldn’t you?

Leaning back from the screen, she bites her lip thoughtfully.  Drums her nails on the desk.  The more she thinks about it, the more obvious it seems.  She’s solved a crime.  She’s identified a villain.  She could…  She could go to the police, and tell them what she knows, and they’d capture the criminal – and she’d be famous.  She’d get paid for her talent.  No more waiting tables.  She’d be on the news.  In the papers.  She could give exclusive interviews to Playboy.  She’d get invited onto talk shows.  People would ask her advice.  She might even get a show of her own, where she would use her new-found powers to solve people’s personal problems.  The future possibilities are endless.  Celebrities would hire her, and come to depend on her to guide their careers and personal lives.  She spends the next hour of an otherwise empty Thursday lunchtime doing her nails and straightening her hair, before spending the following one choosing what suit and shoes to wear.  First impressions count, especially when it’s the first interview in a long line of many to come.  A text comes in on her BlackBerry from Tony, asking if she feels better.  She ignores it; there are bigger things at stake now.

Mascara, lip gloss, a dab of So! behind the ears and she is ready.

+++

She’s never been inside police offices before, it’s a completely unassuming brick building on the corner of Madison and Fourth.  It looks ugly from the outside and she stands outside with her eyes closed trying to get a vibe about the place.  After a moment she feels it’s going to be friendly and welcoming to her information and with her new-found confidence, she marches up the steps and pushes open the doors.  The first thing to hit her is the smell of the couple waiting on the plastic seats, coughing phlegm and fiddling with their clothes and tatty carrier bags.  The officer behind the desk looks long-suffering, so she puts on her full-watt smile and walks smartly across the floor, mentally going through her best models walk ‘chin up, back straight, feet in a straight line, shoulders back’.  It was only a few paces to the worn counter, but she was anxious to make her good impression.

“Good afternoon officer” she began politely, “I’d like to talk to one of your colleagues about a private matter”

His eyebrows go up a fraction “Ok, what are your details?”

She wasn’t sure that this was the way it was supposed to go, but she gave them anyway as he filled a form in.  “Licence?” he asks.  She goes into her fake Radley and produces it.  He stares at the photo for a long moment, makes a note and hands it her back. “Letter?” he asks, she’s confused and frowns before she remembers that she’s supposed to be making a good impression and that wrinkles are bad for her skin anyway.  She uncreases her brow.  “I’m sorry, which letter?” she asks courteously.

“Your fine letter?  Speeding or parking?”

She looks blank, and then the officer’s meaning dawns “Oh!” She smiles reassuringly “It’s not about that; I mean I don’t have one, a letter or a fine.  Or any past parking violation.  And I’d like to speak to an officer in private.  Please.” She added the please and another smile, trying to make a mental note of what he’d said in case an interviewer asked her about it in future.   She catches him looking her up and down, a fractional glance over the counter, taking in her manicure, immaculate make-up and blouse, low cut enough to be fashionable, buttoned up enough to be demure, he turns away to pick up the phone. He covers the receiver: “Take a seat” He motions to the plastic benches which the couple still inhabit.  She mentally suppresses a shudder and nods in agreement.  Instead of taking a seat near them, she walks as if down a catwalk over to the nearby notice board and reads the posters.  Behind her she can catch his odd words between the coughs and rustles of the couple.  In front she reads ‘Rat on a rat’, ‘Domestic Violence, don’t suffer in silence’; ‘Claim a community reward for informing on a dealer’, well what she had was bigger than a small-time weed dealer, wasn’t it?  So there must be a reward for it.  Maybe they didn’t want every fake showing up claiming to know stuff, so they wouldn’t be able to advertise that they paid for services like hers?  They probably had people like her on retainer already.

She had read all the posters three times when she heard a door open behind her and a voice say “Excuse me Miss, would you come through?”  ‘Finally’ she thought as she turned smartly and clacked purposefully across the tiled floor.

 

+++

 

The interview room wasn’t like the ones she knew from television programmes.  It was small, cramped and smelt overwhelmingly of sweat.  She had followed the officer in, and he had pulled one of the plastic brown upholstered chairs out from under the table for her to sit down.  Good start.  She felt reassured in her abilities.  He was young and clean shaven, with pale blue eyes and sandy blond hair, perhaps a little older than her and his badge read ‘Officer Mallard’   She made a mental note to use it.

She sat and waited patiently till he sat down and got his notebook and pen organised.

“Right,” he said “Can you tell me what this is about?”

‘Ah, Officer Mallard, what a team we’re going to make’, she thought ‘Your crime fighting connections and my innate ability is going to transform this precinct, and my working life.’  She realised that he was waiting for her reply and looking right at her; she blushed right on cue.

“Well, Officer Mallard, that kidnapping you’ve been investigating,” she began, no point in delaying the truth “I know who did it”.

He nods, makes a note and looks her up and down “Tell me more”

And she does, everything right from the cashing up training to the vision to the comment on Facebook and her decision to come here.  He makes her go through it again in detail.  Somewhere in the middle he leaves to get her a cup of coffee and asks if it would be alright for another officer to come in.  She agrees, an officer offering coffee is no bad thing, and he must be taking her seriously to want another officer in already.  He returns with two mugs of sweet coffee and a handsome young black officer he introduces as his working partner Officer Stonesby.  They sit back down and she continues.  Their questions are easy and they both take plenty of notes, smile a lot at her, conferring every now and again.  The coffee isn’t bad.  By the time she walks back out the precinct front door she feels like she’s done a good thing, even got the officers card. “Don’t worry, we’ll look into it,” he’d said smiling, his oh so pale blue eyes meeting hers “if you remember anything else or just want to talk, I know these things can be distressing, this is my personal mobile number”.  She smiled at the thought.  Good first impression made, now it was just a case of waiting for the police to confirm and her retainer to begin.

+++

Back in her flat, she updates Facebook with her latest and sends StarMagick a personal e-mail thanking her for her advice.  She spends the remainder of the evening changing her Facebook page to have pictures of stars, tarot cards and a crystal ball on.  At first she thinks it probably should be discreet, but then why should she hide her talents?  She decides to preface her name with ‘Mystic’.  Another message from Tony comes in late in the evening ‘have seen yr Facebook, are you alright?  Want me to come round with pizza and help you feel better?’ she ignores it.   He’s in her past, a new life waits.  She can aim higher than being the Diner boss’s indiscrete affair.  Officer Mallard and his cute boyish blond hair is only the tip of this new, um… cake.

She spends her days off on Friday and Saturday waiting for the cheque to arrive from the police.  It doesn’t.  Well, these things take time, and maybe the finance department was just setting up her details.  It would take time for them to investigate things and confirm that she’d been right.  Then there’d be a letter of thanks from the Chief and a cheque for her services.  She wondered what the going rate was, would she be able to jack in her job straight away or have to wait?  She lays in bed thinking about it when she falls asleep.

She could see Tony fifty foot high and stomping on the city, he roars into the sky and she could just ignore him.  He stomps on the Diner, and his hideous wife and his tired hatchback.  She swats him with a left hand punch and he falls backwards into a chair.  The stars laugh at him and she does too, as the camera flashes go off and journalists ask her to comment on her latest revalation.  He knocks on the door and she stops walking the red carpet.  The journalists stand frozen and she is puzzled.  Where is the door?  How could a fifty foot Tony knock on it? The knock comes again.   She wakes up to tangled sheets and insistent repeated knocking, fumbles for the bedside light and winces when she turns it on.  The knock comes again.  She calls out “Just a minute” and fumbles for her robe.  Her alarm says 0202 as she ties the robe sash, brushes her hair quickly, brushes the sleep from her eyes and goes to the door.  She turns the hall lights on and walks down the cream carpet barefoot, picking up an umbrella from the stand just in case.  She puts the chain on before standing behind the door and asking “Who is it?”

“It’s the Police, will you open the door?”

“Can I see some ID first?”  She’s watched recently on Crime Today that burglars had started using this line to break into places late at night by getting the owner to open the door to them.  The letterbox flap rattled and a card was pushed through.  She pulled it out and recognised the familiar face of Officer Mallard.  She undid the chain, opened the deadlock, rested the umbrella on her shoulder and opened the door to a group of six Officers stood out on the communal hall.  For a moment no-one spoke, then the front one said “I’m Detective Cooper, these are my colleagues.  You came to see us on Thursday and spoke to Officer Mallard, may we come in?”  Despite the late hour she saw the door curtains twitching on the flat opposite.  Mrs Clarke would be all ears she knew, and the visit would be all over the block by breakfast.  It didn’t matter, she would be moving out soon, when her money came through.  She stood aside, lowered the umbrella and let the police walk in.

She showed them through to the living room, thankful that she’d had the foresight to tidy up the evening before, and they graciously checked her bedroom out before allowing her to go get changed prior to talking to them.  Officer Mallard didn’t meet her gaze and she wondered what was going on, how serious was this kidnapping?  Maybe it was the relative of someone really rich and they would be really grateful to her?  Would that be too much to hope for?  She wondered what would be appropriate for wearing for her second police meeting: not a suit, jeans and a smart top perhaps?  No time to do her hair or even proper make up, she settled for a cream off the shoulder jumper, skinny jeans and strappy heels, hair pushed back into a bun and a quick swipe of ‘barely there’ lip gloss.  She surveyed herself in the full length mirror and could hear the officers taking quietly and moving around outside.  She opened the door gracefully and walked into the lounge.  It wasn’t really big enough for this many guests and it was fair to say that some of the officers loomed.   She walked into the middle of the room “Can I get anyone a coffee?”

Detective Cooper answered for all of them, “No, thank you.  You came to the police station on Thursday afternoon to tell us about a very serious matter.”  She nodded as he continued “Recent investigations have brought some further information and we’d like you to come down to the station and tell us all that you recall.  Would you do that, help us out again?  We’d like to make an official record of all that you can remember.”

She was puzzled, surely Officer Mallard had made a record the first time round, she’d seen him writing notes, maybe he’d lost them and they’d investigated and found out she was right and needed her help urgently.  Maybe that’s why he wouldn’t look at her.  Well, she’d better get used to this, if she was going to be on retainer for them from now on.  She suppressed a yawn and blinked to get the sleep feeling to go away.

“Of course,” she replied with a smile “I’ll just get my bag and we can go.”

Detective Cooper smiled and said, “Thank you, we’d appreciate it.  We’ll be on our way then.”  All the officers stood up in concert.  She turned off all the lights, closed the flat door behind them and locked it.

+++

An hour later and she was beginning to become irritated.  She reminded herself that she should be gracious, the police had asked for her help and she would politely give it.  Detective Cooper had led her to another interview room behind the enquiry counter and somewhere in the warren of corridors.  This one had more chairs and video cameras.  There had been two officers from the start this time, and they had said something about cameras and legal rights, she didn’t need that, they had come to her for assistance.  Maybe they had to say it, as a formality.  They had asked her to go through it all again from the beginning, and she had, and again, and again.  Now on the fourth retelling she was losing patience.  They seemed to have no end of questions and were perfectly polite through the whole thing.  Then it happened, the promise of a solid future retainer weighed off against the early morning hour, the constant questions and the unfailing polite requests to just go over it ‘one more time’ and she snapped:

“Look, I’ve told you all I know, it’s somewhere in the early morning and I’ve had enough.  You said I wasn’t under arrest and I’d like to go home now.  I’d like to go to bed, and get some sleep and wake up in the morning and come back if you need anything else.  I’ve had enough.”  Perhaps not quite the gracious exit she had intended, but what did they expect?

Detective Cooper smiled. ‘Good she thought, he’s seen sense and I can go, maybe Officer Mallard can give me a lift and I can be upset about how harshly I’ve been treated.’  She stood up and looked towards the door.

Detective Cooper leaned back in his chair and said words she would never forget “I’m arresting you on suspicion of the kidnapping or aiding the kidnapping of Asif Montgomery.  You have the right to remain silent.  You have the right to speak to an attorney.  If you do not have an attorney…”

She stared at him in disbelief.  He carried on through more words which blurred together until:

“… do you understand these rights as I have explained them to you?”

She walked to the cells unaided and quietly went through processing.  Her bag was taken, even though she protested weakly that she couldn’t be without her lipstick and perfume.  In the cell she curled up under the blanket and cried until she slept.

+++

When she woke it was daylight and the cell was cold.  Breakfast being offered was so full of carbs, protein and probable high salt that she didn’t dare take more than cold water, probably unfiltered, and an apple.  She waited sat in the corner of her cell, listening to all the noise and bustle of the outside world passing her by.   She slept again.  Lunch came and went, tea came and went.  Sometimes there was shouting, drunken singing, officers calling for assistance, the sound of keys, but most of time it was quiet and she was forgotten.  The evening brought a visit from Officer Mallard, who provided her with a gorgeous smile, a mug of sweet coffee, casual conversation and a walk round a small yard for 20 minutes before she was locked away again.   As night fell, the cell lights were turned off and she tried to get comfy under the blanket.  She was rudely woken by the cell lights being turned on and the door opening.  An officer said the magic words “You’re free to go, come and get your things” and she was out.  She received her handbag back in a sealed paper bag, had to sign some papers about some kind of Non-Communicational Special Order thing, and was given a lift back to her block of flats in a squad car driven by an uncommunicative sergeant.  Her BlackBerry said it was 0346, and that she had missed calls from her parents and Tony.  The last two days had been unbelievably surreal.  The officer watched her go up to the communal door and let herself in before he drove silently away.  She went up in the lift to her floor and let herself back in to her own flat.  With her own chain and deadlock, and her own bed and her own shower.  Strangely the first thing she wanted to do was have a shower and get clean.  These jeans couldn’t be worn again, she reflected sadly.  She’d better dispose of them in the morning.

After a thorough shower she was no longer sleepy and decided that the best thing she could do would be to document her police brutality experience on Facebook whilst it was fresh in her memory.  Besides, she’d need notes to write her autobiography in a few years’ time.

By 0512 she was sat in her robe after a long shower as hot as she could stand.  She’d exfoliated as harshly as she dared and moisturised thoroughly.  No telling what had been in that cell before her.  Her jeans, jumper and underwear had been consigned to the kitchen bin and she was sat looking at the blank screen of Facebook wondering where to start.  ‘Things have gotten weird’ she typed ‘I’ve just spent the night in a police cell, though I met this gorgeous officer and got his number.’

She shuts down the computer after the entry and goes to bed.  Sleep does not come, and she lays there looking at the ceiling, watching the light brighten slowly by degrees and feeling the ghost of the scratchy cell blanket round her shoulders.  What if the whole experience was so traumatic that it’s inhibited her talents?  Will she be years before she gets another vision?  Can you get therapy for something like this?  Could she afford it?  She would have to, besides the police owed her for this, and maybe a couple of sessions would be enough.

She was still awake a couple of hours later, though starting to feel sleepier.  Another day off work, she decided and phoned through to the morning shift to leave a message for Tony.  She gave the official reason as ‘stomach upset’, though by now, everyone at work would know where she’d been the previous night, and would be racing to be the first to tell Tony.  She hoped it wasn’t fat Casey. She’d just drifted off to sleep when the doorbell rang.  Feeling decidedly pissed off, she throws off the covers, grabs the robe and stomps down the hallway to the front door.

“What?”

“It’s Tony, I came to see how you are.  I brought coffee and doughnuts”

Ah crap.  “Hang on” she calls as she undoes the chain and unlocks the door.  The brief thought of ‘Hmm, Tony’s going to be in my flat, all concerned and I’m stood here in my robe, this could work’ comes flitting through as she opens the door and lets him in.

He smiles “Hey, how’re you feeling?”

Her BlackBerry rings insistently; she ignores it, Tony was much more interesting.

“Not good, listen I’m sorry about work…” Then suddenly the realisation of ‘But it’s him!’

“Don’t worry about it,” he interrupts “Just came to check, that’s all” He offers the BeaBies Coffee Shop paper baggie to her, she takes it and looks inside to find two lidded cups of coffee and two sugar doughnuts.  He steps in and closes the door behind him, scratching his watch strap absent-mindedly and dropping the chain on.  She smiles and thinks: Bastard.  He knew she was on detox this month.  She’s reaching in for a cup when he gently takes hold of her shoulder and pulls her in close for a hug.  She feels hot pain pushing into her belly and his clenched hand there; maybe she’s spilt the coffee?  Suddenly it’s hard to breathe, her heads hot and she’s just about to ask him to let go, when she can see someone else, a group of men someone else’s stood by the open back doors of a white van, she’s talking and they’re listening.  “It’s done” she heard herself say, arms folded and maybe a little hint of scared.  These were people who didn’t take ‘but I really couldn’t…’ well.  “He’s all there for you, just as you asked” She looks past them into the back of the van.  There’s a prone figure there with a mop of dark hair, lying still under an old pink patchwork bedspread.  The people in front of her nod.  She hopes it’s because they’re impressed with the professionalism of a first time job, impressed enough to let off the remainder of the debt.  Wasn’t easy, she knew.  He was going to have a set of bruises in the morning.  But that’s their problem now.  They nod in unison, like a set of watching predators.  The front tall one says “The deals good, you’re off.  Nicely done though, might call on a man with your talents sometime.”

She nods.  It’s the only thing she can do.  She wants badly to walk away, but doesn’t know if there’s some protocol that she doesn’t know about, and she really doesn’t want them at her back.

“I’ll be off then” she ventures as two of them close the back doors to the van.  Her belly lances with pain again, sharp enough to make her hold her breath; maybe she really does have a stomach upset.  The men discount her and she’s glad not to be the focus of their attention any longer than she has to.  She walks away from the van and the deal and down the track to the family hatchback.  Thankfully it’s still dark.  She doesn’t realise how tense she is until she gets in, locks the doors and starts the engine.  No lights though, not until the main road.  She doubles over the steering wheel, feeling the carpet pile against her forehead and slows down, it’s over, it’s over, she repeats to herself.  Through the rear view mirror she can see the roll of tape on the backseat, accusing her with no voice at all.  She reaches backwards, grabs it and knocks it to the footwell.  The silence is crushing; she puts the stereo on and discordant music slams into the space.  It hurt so much; it wasn’t supposed to hurt she thought frantically.  Perhaps it was just the deal, it’s over, it’s over.  The cream carpet is changing colour as she watches the dawn come up over the trees and distant buildings.  At least the deal was done now, and she could go back to living her life.  Maybe even get that little horny blonde from work into the sack by payday.  Her fingers touch red hair and she realises that the door is still open.  Maybe it’s some kind of red wine that will shift blood from cream carpet.  Not coffee though, that’s something else.  The car stops at the lights, she doesn’t breathe until they change colour and the red light leaks out and over the pole and onto the road.  The deals over, concentrate on the driving.  It’s over, it’s over.  The red light rains down on the windscreen and she puts the wipers on.  It’s on her hands and on the carpet, and on her face and in her hair.  She’s sure it’s wine that can lift blood, her mom would know.  Focus on breathing, can you hear me?  What happened?  Can you tell me your name?  Officer requests a date, assistance, dance, ambulance; the doors open and she’s lying here in her robe.  Her front door is off the chain and she can see the concrete grey of the shared hall, and a pair of black polished shoes by her with no legs.  Awkward.  Her hand moves uselessly up and down, pressing blood out of the carpet until it is caught and held and Officer Mallards disembodied head grins like a cat.  He was cute.  Maybe later, she felt so tired and quiet and couldn’t be bothered.  Sleep would be good; her hormones would be all over the place with two nights of broken rest. Dammit, Officer needs immediate assistance, focus, tell me your name.  Mallard was knelt behind her, reaching over, pressing on her stomach, maybe that’s why it hurt.  You already know, we’ve met.  She thought.  Why was he asking?  The blood started to drip upwards into the ceiling and she watched it fall.

+++

She wakes in someone else’s bed.  Briefly she wonders if it’s Tony’s.  She’s never pictured him as a white sheets kind of man.  Her belly doesn’t ache anymore, matter of fact; she can’t feel anything below her chest at all.  It’s alright.  It’s not a bedroom though.  Leastways not one that she recognises.  Her parents are there, sat at the end of the room, talking to Officer Mallard.  Her Mom looks worried, her Dad notices she’s watching and smiles in relief.  They should be in Tucson.  Not here.  She looks sleepily round as they all walk over, it takes them ages to cross the room, she notices that she’s got a tube thing attached to her hand, the pipe wiggles when she moves and makes little rainbow dots on the wall.  And suddenly they’re all around.  Officer Mallard smiles and says that he’ll step outside, tell the docs that she’s woken up and take her statement in a bit.  That’s ok, she doesn’t feel much like talking right now and he already knows her name and details.  Just the phone number missing.  She smiles.  Her parents crowd the bed.  She looks at them and at the rainbow dots, then back to them to find her Mom talking “… as quick as we could, well you know what the flights are like and the airport was so crowded.  Anyway, we got straight through and got here and a nice officer met us at the airport and said you’d been transferred here, and the police said that you’d been helping them with their enquiry, that’s a nice young man outside.  Been seeing Lance a lot have you?  Anyway I never thought that it would happen again, I mean it’s not supposed to, and Officer Lance said you’d been very helpful and they couldn’t have done it without you.  They’re very grateful, might even be a thank you letter on the way, you never know.  They said they’ve got him now, whoever he is, and the doctors say that you’ll be alright and that it’ll mend and there’ll be very little scarring if it heals right.  I brought your make up bag and your straighteners, thought you’d like them.  It’s good that you have a private room, the police organised it, and your doctors nice.  He’s been round once already today, I expect that he’ll be back soon with that nice boy Lance.  Well, we were both shocked, weren’t we?  Didn’t think it would come through, the doctors said that there was high chance that it wouldn’t be there, and when you didn’t show any, well, it wasn’t there when you were a child, we had all the tests done and there was nothing.  Tell you the truth, I was relieved and well, never mind, now it has, we can get the tests done and out of the way, and the rating and registration and everything.  It’ll be fine, and work itself out, just you wait.  You know we love you just the same, don’t you and always…

Her Father cut in “What your Mother is trying to say is: how are you feeling? and…” he grinned “that’s there’s something about me that you probably need to know.”

Read more about Tiro, or read more about Amalasuntha

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