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Saturday, 24 March 2012

The Weekend: Chapter 3

                      Dirty Little Secrets

"Rob Meadows? Hyde Park, Albert Memorial, 4 p.m. Understand three things only Mr Meadows. Be on time. Be alone. Tell nobody. I trust that you appreciate the importance of this."

The cold, sullen tone of the female voice, left no doubt as to its sincerity. Running his fingers through his short, stubbly hair on the pavement, Rob was now very confused. Who was that voice? Where was Alicia? What the hell was going on?

Staring into the sunny, midday sky, he questioned to himself if this was really a dream? Yes, of course, he'd wake at any moment, to the smell of Alicia toasting crumpets, her morning 'fix', with Spike the cat jumping on the bed and claiming her pillow. Yes, all would soon be ok.

Turning, still befuddled, he ambled back up the driveway, his thoughts interrupted by an anxious Debs coming to meet him.

"Rob? What's going on, where's Alicia?", she queried.

He looked into her eyes; for once not entranced by their chestnut beauty, nor flattered by their resident twinkle in his presence and certainly not recalling the fiery intensity they emitted from under him on THAT morning, the morning of burnt loyalties on the kitchen table.

Their unspoken tryst was far from his mind as her voice questioned once more.

"Rob? Where's Ali?"

"Tell nobody." Much as he hated lying, the voice had contained brooding, sinister intent.

", she's just rung, she apologises but has had to pop into town urgently, she was a bit fraught that she had left Archie's medicine behind, you know his 'magic stuff', so has nipped out to pick some more up, she said she won't be long.

"Right, ok", Debs replied, giving him the kind of blank look that people give when they don't really understand what you've just explained to them.

"Well, come in, I don't bite.....often", she giggled.

"Archie's out like a light in the spare room, I'll make us a coffee", she continued, her voice trailing off to the kitchen.

"So how come Jack's not back?", Rob asked, voice raised, so she would hear.

"Been held up in Vienna until tomorrow. He's at a plastic surgeon's conference, always says that it's good for business", she answered in similar, elevated fashion. 

Her husband was a very well-connected man, with influential contacts in both the upper echelons of his native pharmaceutical industry and also international politics. With his burly, powerful build and handsome looks, Jack really was a poster child for the business of cosmetic perfection and eternal youth. Yet for all the riches gleaned from such glamorous exploits, Rob knew that Debs was not happy.

2.02 p.m. His watch told him the Hyde Park rendezvous was less than two hours away.

"Debs?", Rob asked, now leaning on the doorframe, "Ali's just texted, she says there's some kind of mechanical problem with the carrier? Sorry about this, one of those days isn't it? He nervously laughed. "I'll walk down myself and sort it out, shouldn't be too long. Would you mind looking after Archie for a little while?"

"Yes of course", Debs answered, smiling sweetly. He knew the spark between them still existed but right now he was more concerned with her sister's whereabouts.

The mechanical excuse sounded fairly implausible but he didn't have time to worry about it. He had to make the meet, maybe Alicia would be there and this nightmare would start to make sense. He hoped to God she was ok.

Briskly half-walking, half-jogging, Rob made his way to the Wimbledon Underground; with South Kensington nine stops away, he would have to hurry.

Dark questions invaded his inner thoughts as he moved swiftly through the leafy, suburban streets on that bright afternoon; was Alicia was in mortal danger, was he at risk in some way, why had this happened, why us? It was all so very mysterious.

Unbeknown to him, it would be a day not only of intrigue but of lies and danger, the likes of which would change their lives forever....

© Nigel Pamenter 2012
The right of Nigel Pamenter to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

The Weekend: Chapter 2


She was quiet, unusually so on the journey down but I'd guessed that she was suffering the effects of being up with Archie most nights over the past few weeks. I hadn't bargained on her tears and bloody hysterics when we arrived though. Thankfully, she hadn't 'had a moment' for some time, yet she made a big bloody show at the bottom of the driveway. We'd hardly got off the road before she was babbling about 'telling me something' but then, typically, just sat in the car crying, while I brought our boy inside. It would be embarrassing, especially in front of her sister and my future brother-in-law, as Alicia regularly referred to him. It was somewhat of a relief to reach the doorway.

"I'm sorry Debs, Ali's been a bit under the weather, she'll be up in a mo, can you keep an eye on Archie while I'll pop and see if she's ok?"

Radiant, glowing after her early morning run, the sporty black tracksuit contrasting her fashionably boyish blonde bob, Alicia's younger sibling looked a picture, as always.

Every time we visited I was struck by how markedly different the girls were; Debs, willowy and lean, with pretty angular features, her trendy clothes always flattering her pert body, whilst Alicia was older, dumpier and bookish. And thankfully, never seen in Lycra. And the books, she always had her head in those damn books.

"Yes, of course, no problem, is she alright?" Debs replied, her smile warm and friendly.

"Oh, she's fine, I'm looking after her of course, as usual!", I answered, regretting immediately the weak joke, although Debs seemed to actually find it funny, laughing more than I would expect.

"You're such a good man, Rob", she said, holding my eye for what seemed an age.

"So different to Jack", she continued, still staring.

"Err, well yes, I guess so", I mumbled, feeling slightly embarrassed.

"He has been delayed in Vienna, so I'm home alone", her tone dropping to a breathy whisper, the suggested implication very clear.

I could feel my heart flutter, lips suddenly dry, as this conversation threatened to become decidely inappropriate.

The brief, awkward silence was broken by a middle-aged man approaching up the long driveway.

"Anyone own a silver people carrier?" the stranger asked.

"Yes, it's mine", I answered, " I'm  just goi..."

"Yeah, well it nearly f*****g killed me, screaming out of here so fast", he interrupted angrily.

"What, what the...??", I replied, turning and running back down towards the entrance gate, hearing the man repeating his complaint to Debs.

Breathless, I got to where the new Toyota was, my pride and joy....and now where it wasn't.  Standing there, by the road, confused, I fumbled my phone from my jeans and flicked through the contacts list and waited impatiently as the number rang. No answer, eventually diverting to voicemail, then the obligatory pre-recorded message.

Only these were words I hadn't heard before and neither was the voice..........

© Nigel Pamenter 2012
The right of Nigel Pamenter to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved.