Well. I did it. I made my escape. I had to! Nobody came for three days and I’d run out of biscuits. Thank the lord my hip wasn’t playing up. I decided not to take anything with me, figuring I could just steal things off washing lines when I wanted a change of clothes. I’ve always hated carrying heavy bags. I reckoned it would look less conspicuous, too. Just an old dear popping out for digestive perambulation. Nobody suspects old dears of anything, not unless they’re dragging a suitcase round, and I had no intention of doing that. I did put a couple of spare masks in my pocket though, you can’t be too careful these days. And it would help with the disguise. I didn’t want any do gooders trying to catch me and take me back to that place.
I had the presence of mind to wear good stout walking shoes and not my pink feather mules, even though it was a wrench to say goodbye to them. I used to love to see them peeping out from under my bath robe. One day I might strike lucky and find another pair.
I’ve been eating like a king, better than ever! I accidentally coughed on someones burger one day, and they dropped it and ran away, and I thought to myself, well there’s an idea. I stuck to random snacks in the street at first and then one day I fancied a Chinese so I thought, well why not give it a try. Coughed all over his brown bag of prawn crackers as he walked out of the restaurant and he put the whole takeaway in the nearest bin. Piping hot meal for six! Even had that expensive crispy duck!
Tonight I fancy sushi. Wish I’d thought of this trick years ago, I said to myself the other day, then my other self said, yeah but it wouldn’t have worked so well before the plague.
Not having much luck with the washing lines though, lazy sods either not doing any laundry or putting it all in the dryer. Weeks of sunny weather as well, the lazy bastards. Lazy and wasteful! You should see the clothes they throw in the clothes bank bins! If the bins are full you can get your arm in and pull out the ones on the top. I change outfits a dozen times a day some days if I’m in the mood. I do sometimes get an urge to keep something if I like it but I’m sticking to my guns and being ruthless about not carrying anything with me.
“Oh Sha, can’t I sleep a little more? My head’s still dizzy after that cryo gin treatment. All those shots, I don’t remember what I did afterward.”
“You tried to seduce that young Canadian boy. I can tell, his lady wasn’t very pleased. If she could make voodoo dolls you’d be in big trouble.”
“Ah! Shouldn’t be so far from that acupuncture treatment in Bali when you didn’t want to pay the price. Remember your face afterwards? I bet that girl had used those needles on sick pangolins without cleaning’em.”
“It hurt. But never had my face skin so tight in my life!” Sha cackled.
“And lips so big you could replace Anjelyna Jawlee in Lara Crop.”
“She’s already up. Wanted to take a walk on the beach with the cows, she said. You better don’t invite us, I said.”
They put on their tight yogarments, a beach hat and left for the class.
“I don’t like walking in the sand like that,” said Glo. “With or without shoes, the sand come in between your toes. I could still have eaten something, my stomach sounds like a whale during mating season.”
“They sent a message this morning. It said: ‘Come, Fast’.”
When they arrived at the practice room, they wondered if they took a wrong turn. Maybe the cryoga class was in another bungalow.
“Why all those tables and milk bottles?” asked Glo.
They went to see the lady with the beehive hair that looked like a teacher.
“Sorry, young’un,” said Sha. “Wasn’t that supposed to be cryoga class?”
“Oh! no,” said the teacher. “It’s cryogurt class today. How to make your own yogurt ice cream and apply it on your body to flatten out tight those wrinkles.”
“This is the life, eh!” June said, stretching out on the sun lounger sipping a fruity cocktail. “Turquoise sea and a salty breeze, this is the life for me!” she said, kicking off her new deck shoes in nautical blue and white, and hitching her dress hem up to expose her thighs to the sun.
The skipper raised an eyebrow and smiled sardonically, while simultaneously averting his eyes from the unappetizing sight of the doughy flesh. He could imagine this one rolling around below decks looking green as soon as the weather changed.
“Sure beats that jail. That had me worried, I’ll admit it. I wasn’t sure we were ever gonna make it outta there,” replied April, smiling fondly at Ella Marie and giving her hand an affectionate squeeze. “You saved our bacon, honey.”
“If it weren’t for that there Lord Wrick turning up, even the money might not have got you out.” Arthur chimed in. “Promising ole president Lump that land for the golf course if’n he pardoned you. Jacqui, you done wonders there.”
“Ah well, the young Lord Wrick owed me a favour, you might say. But that’s another story,” Jacqui replied. “The main thing was we had to get out of the country fast before Lump finds out about that land in Scotland.”
June sniggered. “Can’t imagine him in a kilt, can you? I wonder if he’s orange down there as well.”
“Oh, please! You really know how to lower the tone, dontcha? Gawd, what a thought!” April started to feel queasy. Changing the subject, she said, “Hey, did I tell you our Joanie’s going to meet us in Australia too?”
“That trip of yours was surprisingly, or must I say, suspiciously long…” Lucinda gave them both a long glance full of innuendos, and added in case those were missed “where you on a honeymoon or something?”
“Oh, you, will you just wipe the snark from your face, it’s making you look ten years older Luce. It wasn’t really a holiday if you must know everything.” She elbowed Shawn-Paul, who was looking vacantly at the tip of his shoes. “Why don’t you tell her?”
“Why don’t you tell her?” he replied automatically.
“It’s just been 6 months! Why do you make such a fuss about it?”
“I’m not making a fuss, look who’s cranky! I can see you are venting your spleen on me after a sleepless night in the plane…”
“Haha, yes”, Maeve admitted with a nervous chuckle. “The only thing that matters is we managed to collect the dolls and the keys, just don’t ask me how.”
“You know I’ll ask.”
“Yes, I know. Just… don’t.”
“Fair enough. But it might be tough for me not to ask. I may forget… Besides, I must ask, do you have a secret benefactor that’s funding you all this time? Fabio’s kibble didn’t come free you know, you left me with barely enough for a week!”
“Oh really? Dog’s kibble now? Let me make you a check right now.”
“I think you need a good night of sleep.” Lucinda winked at Shawn-Paul, “him too. And we’ll talk later. I have tons of things to update you about my theater writing group. You might help me with the continuity bits… Waaa, calm down, no pressure!”
June was born in Glasgow, Kentucky in 1957. Her real name is not known yet. She comes from a military family who used to move around a lot, hence, never really felt home in any place, and kept largely her distances with relatives. At a young age of 17 (1974), she eloped with her then fiancé and did a tour of the USA on a shoestring, aiming to stow away on a Californian ship to reach Hawaii. We find her years later, happily divorced, and sought in 5 states for various charges, primarily identity theft and credit card fraud. A chance encounter with April led her to her next scam: registering as an experienced nanny “au pair”, coming from Glasgow, Scotland. She didn’t manage to stay too long at her employs, yet a fortunate event led her to apply and be selected for the nursing of the President’s precocious baby. She loathes all that the President represents, but likes a challenge, and the irony of being a wanted con-artist on the run under the nose of the Secret Services.
Oddly enough, I was optimistic about the new year. First of all, it was novel to even realize it was a new year. And what a tonic it was to have Finly back! And not just because of the dusting, although it was a pleasure to see a bit of sparkle about the place where she’d spruced things up. Even Mater had a new spring in her step. She said it was the chocolates, one a day she said was better than any vitamins. I’d eaten all mine the day Sanso and Finly and the others had arrived (and regretted it) but Mater had hidden her box to savour them slowly and secretly. I remarked to her more than once that she should have the decency to wipe the chocolate off her lips before coming downstairs, gloating because all mine were gone. But it was nice to see her happy.
It was a funny thing with chocolate, I’d forgotten all about it. It wasn’t like I’d spent years craving it, and yet when I unwrapped (gift wrapped! oh, the memories!) the box Sanso gave me, it all came flooding back. I popped one in my mouth and closed my eyes, savouring the slow melt, ecstatic at the way it enveloped me in it’s particular sweet charm.
I felt so sick afterwards though that I was left with the thought that there was something to be said for a simple life with few opportunities for indulgence. I hadn’t felt that sick since the plague.
I was glad I’d worn that old red dress when Sanso arrived, and just a little disappointed when he left before my seduction plans reached fruition. I did try, but he had a knack of dematerializing whenever I got close enough to make a move. Disconcerting it was, but it kept me on my toes. Literally, in those high heeled red shoes. I twisted my ankle on the damn things and been limping ever since. Oh but it was worth it.
Finly! What water larks, where? Did you see…? I was almost afraid to ask. Had she seen the twins?
Yes, she said, with a smug and enigmatic smile. But that’s a story for later, she said. Maddening creature that she is, she still hasn’t told me about it. She will when she’s finished cleaning, she said.
Liz was not pleased about the latest insubordinate action of those plotting against her. Fashion choices indeed! She had been sorting out her wardrobe, having to do it all herself because of Finnley’s latest scam to take time off, putting away the summery things and bringing out the clothes for the coming cooler weather.
She’d had the usual little thrill at seeing familiar old favourites, clothes that she’d felt comfortable and happy in for many years. It would be unthinkable to throw them out, like tossing out an old friend just because they were getting wrinkled and saggy, or fat in the wrong places.
Liz prided herself on her thoughtfulness about the environment when making her “fashion” choices, always choosing second hand items. She liked to think they already had a little of their own history, and that they appreciated being rescued. She abhorred the trends that the gullible lapped up when she saw them looking ridiculous in unflattering unsuitable clothes that would be clearly out of fashion just as they were starting to look pleasantly worn in.
Warming to the theme, Liz recalled some of the particularly useless garments she’d seen over the years. Woolly polo neck sweaters that were sleeveless, for example. In what possible weather would one wear such a thing, without either suffering from a stifling hot neck, or goose flesh arms? High heeled shoes was another thing. The evidence was clear, judging by the amount of high heeled shoes in immaculate only worn once condition that littered the second hand markets. Nobody could walk in them, and nobody wanted them. Oddly enough though, people were still somehow persuaded to buy more and more new ones. Maybe one day in the future, collectors would have glass fronted cabinets, full of antique high heeled shoes. Or perhaps it would baffle future archaeologists, and they would guess they had been for religious or ritual purposes.
Liz decided to turn the tables on this new character, Alessandro. She would give him a lesson or two on dress sense. The first thing she would tell him was that labels are supposed to be worn on the inside, not the outside.
“One doesn’t write “Avon” in orange make up on one’s face, dear, even if it’s been seen in one of those shiny colourful publications,” Liz said it kindly so as not to rile him too much. “One doesn’t write “Pepto Dismal” in pink marker pen upon ones stomach.”
“While you’re out, I’ll see what Liz has thrown out, so I can cut it up for dolls clothes,” Fnnley said, to which Liz retorted, “I have thrown nothing out.” Liz cut Finnley short as she protested that Liz didn’t wear most of it anyway. “Yes, but I might, one day.”
Turning to Alessandro, she said “Although I’m a busy woman, I will come shopping with you, my boy. You clearly need some pointers,” she added, looking at his shoes.FloveParticipant
“Come on now,” said Ricardo. “Nobody has put anything out there about the dolls. Come and sit down on this nice comfy office chair and tell us what is going on. You will do yourself an injury running in those heels. Lovely shoes of course,” he added quickly.
“That’s right,” he said. “Just let me wipe that chair for you before you sit. Now, you tell us what’s going on while I make the tea. One sugar?”
Slimy creep, hissed Connie.
“No hurry then,” said Hilda. “We’ve only been waiting half an hour for tea already.”
Miss Bossy Pants wiped her forehead with a tea towel, too relieved to question what a tea towel was doing on the desk. She pulled her phone out and scrolled through her messages.
“I received this,” she said. “Read it out will you, Ric. I can’t stand to look at it again.”
“Put a lid on the doll story or you will be sorry. And I mean very sorry Very very sorry,” read Ric. “Hmmm rather unimaginative as threats go, don’t you think?”
“Scroll through to the next one.”
“By the way, it’s the DOCTOR sending this, in case you think for one moment this is an unimaginative idle threat.”
Did madness run in Maeve’s family, was that it? She’d admitted that her Uncle Fergus was a paranoid old loony, and it was becoming obvious that Maeve herself was becoming a little unhinged. What was she doing, galloping out of Shawn Paul’s door, and what was all that gleeful cackling for? It was going to make Lucinda’s plan to get the twelve addresses harder, with Maeve being so unpredictable. She would simply have to be prepared to take advantage of it and seize any opportunity that arose.
The fact was, there was no plan to get the addresses, but she knew she had to have them. She had to find the connecting link between them.
Oh bugger it! Lucinda muttered. Just go for a nice long walk, my girl, and stop thinking about it. She glanced up sharply at the doll, but no, the voice had been her own. This time. I’m going as mad as Maeve, she mumbled as she rammed her feet into a pair of walking shoes.
“Mad as Almad.” With a pained expression Lucinda spun round to glare at the doll before slamming the door on her and stomping off down the corridor, loudly complaining that that idle cleaning woman had left bits of paper on the floor in between Shawn Paul and Maeve’s doormats. She bent down to pick it up to put it in the bin outside, noticing that it was an old newspaper clipping with a paperclip attached to it.
“Oh my god!” Could it really be that easy? It was an advert for a trip to Australia. There was a photo of an old woman standing in front of an interesting looking old hotel. The old woman in the photograph had been smiling, the welcoming hostess, when Lucinda first looked at the picture, but she seemed to be frowning now, a searching intent look. Lucinda shook her head and blinked, and looked again. The smiling face in the photograph looked quite normal.
When Lucinda called her friend, Shawn Paul felt it was time to go back home. He wasn’t sure if it was his natural shyness, that he had already seen and talk to so many new people today, or if it was the fear of the unknown. What would he tell a stranger? What would she think of him, his outfit and his scarf? All that made it too much at that moment to meet someone new. So he looked at his phone and pretexted something had come up. They agreed to meet at the reception at the French embassy and he left.
Shawn Paul was walking crossing streets on autopilot, lost in his thoughts about the adventures of the day, when a crazy honking that sounded like an elephant fart brought him back to reality in front a bakery. He realised too late that he had forgotten his granola cookies on the table. But he shrugged and smiled when a little yellow butterfly flew by and landed momentarily on the rear light of a red car. He stopped and wondered how such a light creature could live in a city like this. It took off and fluttered around into the general direction of a public garden nearby where children played under the kind presence of their parents.
“Hi.” They said at the same time with the same awkwardness. Maeve’s dog was sniffing out his shoes, making Shawn Paul self conscious of himself. He feared a moment she might think he had a sloppy hygiene.
“Come Fabio.” Maeve said. “Sorry for that. Dogs…”
Shawn Paul smiled in an attempt to hide his embarrassment, and each of them went in their own direction.
Shawn Paul arrived late at the reception because he spent too much time deciding on which scarf would match his new deep purple velvet jacket. The others were already inside and drinking, their body moving more or less in rhythm with the music.
“Your dress suits you so well,” said Shawn Paul bending closer to her hear and making an effort to talk louder. A smile blossomed on her face at the compliment, contrasting with a lingering nostalgia in her eyes. She was wearing one of those black body fit dress which gave her silhouette all the contours they needed to pop out in a flattering way.
“You missed the speech of the ambassador,” she said with a wink. “Nothing memorable, it’s the same every year.”
Jerk was standing on the side, wearing a suit like one would wear camouflage clothing. He seemed to deeply wonder what he was doing there. Shawn Paul, who was wondering the same, addressed the man a sympathising smile. A moment of connection happened and went away. Jerk took a sip of his glass of champagne and Lucinda put a flute in Shawn Paul’s hand.
She took his other arm and said : “Come. There is something I want to show you!”
“How’s the new dog settling in, Ma?” asked Albie, playing for time.
“Oh, she’s doing fine, don’t you worry about that, and don’t try and change the subject!” retorted Freda. “Lottie told me all about it this morning. You had one job to do, one job!”
“That’s what Lottie said,” replied Albie, looking down at his shoes and halfheartedly attempting to knock the dried mud off them on the chair leg. “Sorry, Ma,” he added sadly. “Shall I take the new dog for a walk?”
Freda sighed. “Oh alright then, but don’t let her off the lead. And make sure you get back before the rain. And stop kicking mud all over the floor!”FloveParticipant
“She found the entrance, you say?”
“I am afraid so. I am sorry indeed to say that this is the case.”
“How could she have found the way in? Where were the guards? And who is she who would dare to enter the Doline?”
“It’s been so long … I think the guards got lazy. And who can blame them … so many years they stood at their post and nobody even trying to find the way in. I think they got tired of waiting for something to happen. And as to who it is … all I have heard is she is a traveller and not anyone from the Village. A traveller from far off parts, I have heard.”
“Dearie me … always the way, isn’t it? Heads are going to roll of course and I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes. What’s going to happen now?”
“It’s very hard to get someone out once they have found the way in. That’s a well known truth.”
“It is indeed. Indeed it is.”
Eleri’s eyes began to feel heavy and she blinked, trying to resist the increasingly strong urge to nod off to sleep, as a gust of wind rustled the branches overhead allowing the moonlight to illuminate something that looked very much like dragon scales. Eleri blinked again and shook her head slightly to shake the illusion back into some kind of realistic image. The sudden wind had dropped and the trees were motionless, the path below them dark. It was impossible now to even see what had looked like dragon scales in the brief flash of moonlight. All was still and silent.
With nothing to see in the darkness and nothing to entertain her, Eleri’s mind started to wander, wondering if her grandmother being a dragon (as her father had often said) meant that she was one quarter dragon herself. It occurred to her that she very rarely thought of the dragon that was her grandmother, and wondered why she was thinking of her now. She had been a strong woman, who would fight tooth and nail to get what she wanted, always on the move wanting to get her teeth into a new project, leaving discarded suitors along the wayside as she swept along, grandly announcing to all and sundry, “Do you know who I am?”
Formidable armed with a rigid crocodile (possibly baby dragon skin) handbag and matching shoes, stately and considerably girthy notwithstanding the stiff corset, her grandmother was not one to easily ignore. Dressed in dragon scale twinsets, in no nonsense crimplene navy blue and white, many were quite charmed by her forthright manner and the spirited ~ some would say arrogant ~ toss of her peroxide lacquered waves. Others were not so enchanted, and found her imperious manner unpleasant.
It was a simple matter of teeth, when it came to disabling her. The difference was remarkable. There was no actual reason why her lack of teeth should change her so ~ she still had the matching shoes and handbags, but the regal stance and the arrogant tilt of her chin was gone. Not having any teeth made her seem shy and evasive, and she mumbled, saying as little as possible. She lost the power of manipulation along with her teeth, and although nobody really understood why, many wished they had thought of hiding her teeth years ago. It was such a simple solution, in the scale of things.
And the moral of that story is, Eleri concluded with a wry but not too dentally challenged smile, Toothless Dragons Don’t Bite.
“Well, the backdoor was opened, you see, like my wife says…” Inspector Melon started to explain Finnley how he managed to be in the house no sooner had she turned back to dusting duties, or rather turned her back to the door and said duties.
“Stop it!” she interrupted, “and put those shoe covers on your muddy shoes, damnit, I’m not going to do the floors again on your behalf, you miscreant.”
Finnley put her fists on her hips with a defiant air, not gone unnoticed by Godfrey, “Well, THIS dripping wet gentleman pretends to be a policeman investigating on the Jingly girl disappearance… Not that we know anything about that anyhow.”
Inspector Melon couldn’t help but say “Interesting you should mention it, did I say I was looking for Ms Jingle Bells?”
At first he’d stayed in the same spot. Waiting, for what he didn’t know, but for someone or something to provide a clue, or a reminder. He’d given up checking his pockets, hoping he was mistaken and that of course he had a wallet, some keys, a phone. But there was nothing. Nothing but that suitcase, lighter than it should have been for its size, because there was nothing it in except a few pairs of underpants and a couple of ties. A toiletry bag, unzipped, with nothing in it but a toothbrush.
He closed his eyes. Stay in the same spot if you’re lost. Had his mother said that once, long ago? His head hurt with the effort to try and recall.
He’d found himself sitting in an alley next to a rubbish container, sprawled on the suitcase. Squinting in the shaft of bold sunlight, he automatically reached into his shirt pocket for sunglasses. The pocket was empty. He checked his other pockets, his alarm and confusion growing. Why was he wearing socks but no shoes? He elbowed himself up to a sitting position and noticed the suitcase. A wave of relief washed over him: everything must be inside the suitcase. Relief gave way to horror. It was almost empty. I’ve been robbed! he thought. But what did they take? What did I have in there?
And then the full realization hit. He had no idea where he was. And no idea who he was.
Someone will come looking for me, he thought. But who? He weighed up his options. What could he do? Go to the police? And tell them what?
He shrank back as two women approached, looking down as they glanced at him. They walked past, continuing their conversation. Why were they speaking Spanish? He looked around, noticing a number of signs. Most of them were in Spanish, but some were in English. For a brief moment he was inordinately pleased at the realization that he was English speaking. The first puzzle piece. He was thinking in American English. Therefore, he must be an American. He rubbed his eyes. His headache was getting worse.
Liz looked at the fat dealer with a snicker “Oh, you’re still here talking nonsense Big G? Haven’t you got your cabbages already? The staff these days… FINNLEY!” she shouted to the gaping muttering maid. “Snap out of this silly trance, will you! Get the man his cabbages, and show those drug-dealing gentlemen out. Can’t be here all day with the cement to set, I have a wedding to plan now.”
She turned at the window, looking for Godfrey who had temporarily left her, “what on Earth is he doing talking to that devilishly handsome fellow. Those rubberducks give me an idea for the wedding dress though. Golden yellow for the colour. With gorgeous yellow shoes. I’m feeling ages younger today… Oh, sweet love.”
His mother had told him not to trust what he would see. Somehow she’d spoken as if she knew more than she wanted to tell.
After the mayhem with the quakes, and the meteor impact, he thought that was it. There was something more to the reality of these events.
But then, nothing could have prepared them for what happened next. “Bloody aliens?”
Suspiciously, everyone seemed completely hypnotized and blissfully eager to follow them wherever they led. He had tried to wake Yz up, she was usually the no-nonsense one, but she’d looked at him with vacant eyes barely recognizing him with a faint “Johnny?”.
He started to get really suspicious when one of the robots started looking at his behaviour, not packing like the others. It even tried to force him to drink water —dehydration was common in these airtight environments, it said. It was then it dawned on him, that there must have put something in the water. But for what? A Mars take-over?
How he was somehow immune? Well, for a while he’d collected the water dripping from the stones, and had analysed it, found it very pure. A few days ago, before the whole string of disasters, he’d tried to drink it, see how it tasted, and it seemed safe. Must have been why. By now, most of the stones he’d collected had dried up, and his water supply was limited.
While pretending to slowly pack his things, he was looking at everyone queueing in short lines, all very ecstatic to go to the implausible blue boot-ship surrounded by watchful Finnleys. The exodus had a very eerie feeling about it.
He could see most of the persons he knew, even the new ones, Prune cuddling a box with her hamster family, Hans, even that daft Lizette and the mines guy. The religious nuts were so stoned they were all following an obviously overdressed robot with a headpiece they probably took for their religious leader.
But wait… His mother? He hadn’t see her. Where had she gone?
“You can call us the Blue Enders” said gently one of the blue aliens, which by the shade of it, must have been a top ranking official.
Kale was a bit confused, and space had a jelly consistency that harped and warped around his ears. It may have been the injections they gave him after the meeting with the sculpturesque Fin Min.
She had explained to him, they had made contact with a unknown sentient civilisation, and that they had in their infinite and blue compassion decided to warn us of impending doom on the Mars colony. They had requested a translator to go with them on a rescue mission on their faster-than-light bluship named Sprakle Star.
Hazy and fuzzy, he was quickly put and wrapped in a ball of cotton, ear-deep into a globe coaster of roller proportions.
At least, that’s how it felt… That waccine must have been full of blue bees.
“Arrival on Mars orbital level 1, in 5,… 4… 3…”
At least, the Blunders had the good idea to put an instant translator in his ear-muffins.
Around 3:37pm, the three queens heard a loud noise coming from the street that lasted for about five seconds.
“What was that ?” asked Terry.
“It sounded like a fucking coughing ass”, said Consuela.
“It sounded more like someone grinding the pavement with sandpaper”, said Maurana.
Her two friends looked at her with an air of wtf.
“You remember my Uncle Bog, the sculptor ?” she continued. “He used to spend hours polishing granite with sandpaper. My father said he was just too lazy to get the job done. Well, it sounded a bit like that. Except louder.”
Terry ran to the door and looked outside. She wanted to be the first to know.
“Oh My God! It’s her”, she said, her voice shaking. “She drives a Harley, and I think she just braked with her platform shoes. They’re still smoking.”
She turned and looked at them wide-eyed.
“She’s a dwarf queen.”
The room numbers were framed in a golden disc carved with what looked like zodiac animals and a circle of eights.
Linda observed the man walking in front of her. As soon as the effects of the lust gas had dissipated, she had been able to focus on something else than his butt. He’d been watching over his shoulder, and it was not to see if she was keeping with his pace. He had been frowning ever since she’d met him, and you could say his whole attitude exuded wariness. Despite her Happiness Training and the meditation practice at night with Sadie, she was beginning to feel some bowel tension. Not good for her digestion.
He stopped in front of room 57. He knocked, didn’t wait for an answer, instead used his magnetic key to open it, and entered. She followed. He looked one last time on both sides of the corridor, then locked the door.
They were in a big yellow lounge. Linda addressed a silent prayer to the Good Taste Goddess, sympathizing with the pain She must have endured each time an interior designer had expressed such lack of sobriety. It wasn’t just the color. The furniture seemed to come from Hart to Hart, except the sofa was in a dark yellow leather, and the cushions in a bright magenta.
“Wait here ‘till I call you”, he said. He left through a door on the right, taking his frown with him.
Linda heard him talk to someone in the other room, certainly a bedroom. A feminine voice answered him. They argued for some time. The woman was the last to speak. Then the silence.
Linda hesitated to seat on a jumping armchair with yellow and brown stripes. It was as if every cell of her body, and even the molecules of her clothes were repelled by the choices of the interior designer. She would have sworn her platform shoes were trying to levitate from the carpet.
The man’s head appeared at the door.
“Come in, she’s ready to see you.”
Linda could see emotions struggle on his face.
“But I warn you”, he said, his fists clenched, “she’s been sick since we have arrived. If my wife is tired, I’ll ask you to leave.”
“Oh!” Linda said.
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