Colleen panted her way along the dark greasy pavement, conscious of the huge scats of crap she had seen smeared across it, she hoped they were animal but she really wouldn’t of been at all surprised if the source was human.
In the distance she could hear the church bells she’d recently passed, sounding out six o clock with their melodius rhythm like a sanctimonious reproach “Hope Mcfees not waiting in the cold for me” she thought distractedly wishing she had a cigarette.
Suddenly a short distance ahead, out of a doorway came two shadowy figures with hoods pulled up high and over their faces.
Colleen tried to assess if they could be ignored or if they in fact posed a danger to her, there was not a chance to cross to the other side of the street if she was going to go down the subway.
She felt the familiar panic rise in her throat and tried to swallow it down. The men were kicking against the door and shouting obscenities at an unseen occupant of the apartment building, Not drug dealers? at this time of the morning! They glanced in her direction, she noted the unspoken challenge, if you choose to live round here we’re in charge keep walking bitch!
Colleen hated it! hated having to play the role of the meek unassuming victim.
She could not see the entrance of the building clearly as it was set back a little.
She decided to front it out, there were only two of them and it looked like a problem for someone else not her.
She took a deep breath, but just as she got up close and prepared to weave around the two men, the bottom entrance door was flung open and another angry looking man complete with obligatory drug runners bike came bursting through it, a young blonde girl, close on his heels “not much more than a child in appearance” Colleen noted. The hooded men were exhorting the angry man to calm down, Colleen tried to get a better look at at him out the corner of her eye, he looked familiar, in fact they both did. She racked her tired foggy brain could they have possibly been punters she’d served when she worked at the bookies? Howell Hunter? Her brain obligingly gave a rapid list of Hunters misdeeds, and they were only the ones she’d heard about
The newcomer now straddled across the bike in the middle of the road was growling “she thieved it” Colleen was startled did he mean her? Did he think she was part of this welcoming committee? she quickened her pace and made for the subway, but not before instinctively reaching in her pocket and making sure they saw clearly what her intentions were if they decided to follow her. She was sick of playing the victim role…
The subway linked together into many different directions, Whoever had designed it with its myriad hidey holes and darkened stairwells “all the better to be pounced upon my dear” obviously didn’t have to use it. Coleen looked warily upon everybody she saw as a possible threat “working for the dealers”
She practically raced through from end to end, heart pounding, cold sweat pooling at the base of her spine, trying not to care that she was breaking her most golden rule about not showing fear, until she was in the relative safety on the other side.
Mcfee was waiting for her in the car park outside his work building she gave him a kiss and enquired about his night and together they re-traced the route Colleen had just taken, “Theres a few assholes up by the flats” she told him, casually “Oh don’t worry about them” he said, so she didn’t…
But she couldn’t help notice the looks she received as she walked past the now disbanded crew, the men now trading obscenities with an unseen Scottish lady far above their heads The couple , now stood innocently on the other side of the street by the newspaper kiosk “they could almost pass for an ordinary couple if she hadn’t seen what she had seen earlier” Colleen thought but she worried that she’d marked herself out now, flown above the radar, she hoped she was strong enough when the time came to be able to deal with anything that was thrown her way… only time would tell.
Later on when Colleen and Mcfee had drunk their Ovaltine and Mcfee had finally finished spoiling Georgie (with a whole pouch of cat food and some dreamies), they all got ready for bed, Mcfee took his daily dose of medication and Colleen took her new tablet, it was apparently going to help with the recent anxiety and panic attacks she’d begun to suffer with.
She knew though that right here, right now snuggled in bed with Mcfee on one side and listening to Georgie’s hypnotic purring on the other was the best medicine of all.