I sat in the coffee shop and listened to the inane chatter of the people beside me. After a while I tuned out. There’s only so much of other people’s talk that doesn’t involve you it’s polite to listen to after all. I checked my watch again. He was late. That wasn’t unusual in itself. He was always late. He said it was one of his lovable traits. I thought better but kept my opinion to myself because I needed him.
Finally just as I was about to give up and leave he shouldered the glass door open and sat down at my table, red faced and clearly out of breath. Interrupting my tirade mid-flow he grabbed hold of my hand and yanked me outside.
“Hey, what’s going on?”. “Not here, it’s not safe”. “Now I know you’re being paranoid” I replied.
We walked hurriedly up the high street, all granite and sharp corners, a carbon copy of myriad others in countless other cities. We came to a halt at last in a glass strewn neglected bus station that had once done a roaring trade until council officials replaced it with a high tech brand spanking new one. The only roaring trade it saw now was homeless people and alcoholics but it was too early in the afternoon for that.
“Listen Suze, it’s not safe for us to be here or for you to be seen with me.Don’t do that “ he protested at my dramatically rolled eyes. “I know what I’m talking about, these are people you don’t want to mess with. I don’t know how long they’ve been watching me but it won’t be long before they try something really desperate”. “In that case why are you still here with me?”. “Because I came to say goodbye”. “What are you talking about? Why won’t you just go to the police? I asked. “I tried that remember. Look how well that turned out”.
He looked at me sadly. I knew he’d already mentally said goodbye and was trying not to make it harder so I swallowed the lump in my throat and forced a smile. He didn’t know I loved him and now wasn’t the time to tell him. We’d always had bad timing. “Where will you go?” I enquired. “I’m not altogether sure and it’s probably better you don’t know anyway”.
He stood up and pulled me into a brief embrace. I closed my eyes and savoured the moment. “I’ll be in touch Suze, if I can”. Then he was gone and I was alone again, back to the solitary greyness of my life, or so I thought.
I made my way home and locked the door behind me as I was in the habit of doing. Then I let the tears fall. I curled into bed in my clothes like I hadn’t done since a child, pulled the covers over my head and fell into a fitfull sleep. I didn’t surface until the telephone pealed into my conscience the next morning. Annoyingly it wasn’t someone wanting my editing skills or offering me a fantastic job opportunity on a sunsoaked beach, rather a telesales call for ppi that was supposed to be screened out by the tps application.
I started the shower running from my inefficient boiler and switched it over to freezing as I stood under it. It was invigorating and almost took my mind off my worries. After I threw on some clothes I checked my mobile again for messages. I knew it was unlikely Solomon had left one but I lived in hope. Nothing. Just a blank screen and the network logo. Looking critically at my appearance in the mirror I decided to smarten up a little and run a comb through my hair and go and see one of my journalist contacts to see if there was any good freelancing projects around. I loved being my own boss but didn’t enjoy the financial uncertainty it often brought.
When I arrived at the newspaper offices in Blackfriars, Rob, my contact was out on a job but being assured he was expected back any minute I slid into one of the faux leather chairs and leafed through a magazine. It was one of those awful free ones that all receptionist foyers seem to prefer. Lots of pages of advertising but no real substance.
“Suze?”. Rob stood there impatiently tapping his hands on his cords. “I’ve only got 5 minutes. Come up to the books department. I think they’ve got some freelance going”. That was one of the things I loved about Rob. He knew me of old and always cut straight to the chase. That was his attitude to everything in life. We’d had a fling once but it soon burnt out and he was on to the next girl. I didn’t take it personally. I knew him of old.
(So this was a quick piece of fiction dashed off, worth continuing or not?)