The following two short stories extend a few of the situations and reveal more about some of the characters.
The Old Lady Encounter
In chapter 33 of 'Deadly Secrets', after he'd escaped from the Russian gunman, Gavin Shawlens feared for Emma Patersun's life and rushed to her house. Gavin felt certain they were still in danger, and he convinced her to leave her house. They sat in Emma's Ford Mondeo and prepared to leave. The following is a short story of what happened next -
Newton Mearns, Glasgow
A black Mercedes raced up the driveway to Emma Patersun's house, swerved to block their path, and screeched to a halt. Gavin Shawlens gaped at the passenger in the car. The man who'd shot his technician, Christine. Gavin froze in panic.
The Merc driver's door opened and the driver put his foot onto the gravel. The gunman got out from the passenger's side of the car. Gavin revved his engine.
The Merc driver's door opened and the driver put his foot onto the gravel. The gunman got out from the passenger's side of the car. Gavin revved his engine.
The gunman called out, 'Doctor Shawlens, stop—'
Gavin stepped on the gas and rammed the driver's side of the Merc, crushing the driver's foot between the door and sill. He screamed a piercing screech as his shin bones shattered.
'It's THEM!' Gavin shouted at Emma as he steered the car through shrubs lining the drive. Panic and turmoil filled the evening air as the driver howled like a Banshee.
The gunman hurried around the front of the Merc while Gavin made violent manoeuvres to get the Mondeo moving through stubborn shrubs. The gunman ran to Emma's side and hit the door window with the butt of his gun.
The glass shattered into hundreds of tiny fragments. Emma turned away and protected her eyes with her hands. Fragments of broken glass scratched across the back of her hand as the gun followed through and collided with her hand.
The shrubs yielded, tyres gripped, and Gavin accelerated violently. The Mondeo's wheels screamed as Gavin sped recklessly down the driveway.
The gunman rebounded from the Mondeo and fell to his knees in the shrubs. He recovered, took aim, and fired three shots. The first bullet missed the car, the second pierced the rear bumper making a neat hole, and the third hit the cluster of indicator lights.
At first, Emma didn't seem conscious of the blood on her hand. She stared at the gunman through the rear window. Gavin swept the Mondeo out of Emma's drive and onto the main road, narrowly missing a white van travelling in the opposite direction. Cold evening air rushed through the broken window and made them shiver.
The shattered glass had cut a vein on the back of Emma's hand. She clamped her fingers over the cut, and her hands were soon covered in blood.
Four minutes later, Gavin merged the Mondeo into busy traffic. No sign of the black Merc. He pulled over to the kerb, and they continued on foot. The Mondeo had almost run out of fuel.
Gavin had pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and she wrapped it around her hand.
'How bad is it?'
'It's fine. I'm sorry … I doubted you. If you hadn't come to my house … I don't know what would have happened.'
Emma found paper handkerchiefs in her bag and used them to stem the flow of blood. Stinging pain fuelled her anxiety as they hurried away from the Mondeo and joined a column of pedestrians.
Emma bowed her head and pressed her two hands hard into her abdomen as if nursing a stomach wound. Before they turned a corner, Gavin looked back and saw the Merc drawing up behind the Mondeo.
'They're at your car.'
Gavin and Emma turned a corner and hurried along a street lined with tall red sandstone tenement buildings on both sides with cars parked tightly. Gavin felt safer. They could dart into an entrance close if the Merc followed.
While looking back to spot the Merc, Gavin collided with an old lady coming out of a tenement close. He held on to her and stopped her falling over. He apologised profusely. The old lady seemed more concerned with the blood on Emma's hands.
'Pet. You're bleeding,' she said.
Emma's pale face grimaced with pain. 'I'm fine, really.'
'Let me treat that for you,' she said confidently.
'We're all right thanks,' Gavin said as he looked up and down the street.
'Don't be silly I live just here. You can sit for a minute while I see to your hand,' she insisted.
Gavin and Emma felt vulnerable and anxious. The thought of a chance to sit down seemed welcome. The old lady led them through the entrance close of her tenement flat.
'It's on the third floor, middle door,' she said.
'My name is Emma and he's Gavin.'
'I'm Sadie, and I'm pleased to meet you, Emma.'
Emma helped Sadie on the final few steps of the stairs. Gavin waited for them at the door.
'It's open, son. Go on inside.'
OPEN! That's asking for trouble he thought as he stepped into her living room. The room reminded Gavin of his grandmother's house, cluttered with old furniture, and old photographs covering every wall. The tops of her cabinets bulged with brass ornaments and figurines.
She didn't have a TV or radio but she did have lots of newspapers stacked in very neat piles in one corner. Her traditional furniture reflected a time long past.
Although overweight, she seemed fit for her age. Climbing the stairs hadn't sapped her energy. She'd pinned her silver-grey hair in a small bun at the back. With a wonderful chubby smile, Emma felt a warm family presence.
She led the way through to her kitchen. Emma sat down and rested her wounded hand on the kitchen table. Sadie sat beside Emma and gently took control of the bloody hand. Emma looked away as Sadie removed the blood-soaked handkerchiefs wrapped around her hand. She put on her spectacles to examine the wound more closely. The one inch cut had exposed underlying tissues.
'Luckily, pet, it's only a small vein. I can heal this for you. Before I retired, I worked as a nurse at the Southern General,' she said confidently.
Sadie placed the damaged hand firmly in her left hand and covered the wound with the palm of her right hand. Sadie's warm hands compressed firmly.
Emma felt light-headed as if she might faint. She felt a strong urge to withdraw her hand, but Sadie had a firm grip. For almost a minute, they stared in silence at each other.
'Blood and cuts don't bother you?' Emma asked.
'I've seen much worse, pet. Last month, when I walked through the old part of the park. A silly seven-year-old boy had tried to climb over the metal railing fence. He slipped and a railing spike stuck into his side.'
'Oh my God!'
'A man and his wife scurried around, shouting for someone to call an ambulance. They couldn't bear to touch him. I lifted him off the spike, sat him down, and stopped the bleeding,' she said proudly.
Gavin said, 'It might have been safer to leave him on the spike to stem the blood loss.'
Sadie looked put out. She hadn't been accustomed to criticism or giving an explanation. 'He wouldn't stop wriggling about. The railing moved further into his body and could have touched a major organ.'
Emma shuddered at the thought. She looked at Gavin and he frowned and shrugged.
A fierce itch grew in her wounded hand. It felt almost too unbearable to hold on. Sadie unclamped her hands and released Emma's hand. Sadie's hands and Emma's wrist were covered in dark red blood. The cut had stopped bleeding. Emma ran her finger over the wound.
Sadie lightly smacked Emma's good hand, and said, 'Don't rub it.'
She washed her hands in the sink, and then fetched some gauze and warm water to clean the wound. Emma flexed and exercised her fingers to ease the stiffness in her hand.
Gavin had watched Sadie wash the blood off her hands. 'Don't you worry about getting AIDS?' Gavin asked.
Emma's jaw dropped, what a ridiculous thing to say.
'Oh yes, son. The batteries are so expensive and they don't last long. But I can hear you fine,' she said. Emma smiled and patted Sadie on the upper arm.
'Do you have a bandage?' Emma asked.
'Fresh air is the best, pet.'
Emma watched as she gently dried the area around the wound. Sadie had wonderful hands and Emma felt comfortable as if she'd known Sadie all her life.
'I won't need an ambulance then,' Emma said.
Sadie looked slightly confused. 'An ambulance, pet? Not for you,' she said with concern.
Sadie went over to a large fruit bowl, and picked up a small pineapple. Holding it in one hand she rotated it back and forth.
'This has healing powers. The flesh will help to heal your wound. Old ways are the best, you know,' she said as she watched Gavin.
He checked his watch while he paced anxiously back and forth.
'I'd keep an eye on him. He might need an ambulance,' Sadie said, and they both smiled.
She called to Gavin, 'Son, cut a slice of pineapple for me. Knives are in the drawer. Be careful—they're sharp.'
No kidding Gavin thought as he collected the pineapple and cut off a large slice.
Sadie squeezed the slice gently between clean towels. She laid a thin slice of pineapple flesh against the wound and pressed it gently.
Emma flinched as it stung her hand sharply. She made a tortured face to show her hand hurting.
Sadie said, 'This is an old remedy. Passed down through countless generations.'
Gavin looked impressed. In the bowels of Glasgow, he'd found an old woman using pineapple to heal wounds. 'It's true, Emma. Bromelain is an enzyme in pineapple that will kill bacteria, and clean the cut.'
'I don't know about that, son. People around here think its magic potion.'
Gavin said to Emma, 'It's a remedy that dates back to Christopher Columbus. He saw native Indians rub pineapple flesh into battle wounds.'
Gavin nodded and smiled.
'You sit there and I'll make some tea. Camomile soothes the nerves. It will help calm you down,' she said while she gave a cursory look at the scratches on Gavin's face.
The three of them sat around the kitchen table. Gavin hadn't tasted camomile tea before. He took a few sips and no more. He didn't drink tea without milk, and he didn't like tea with leaves floating in his cup. Emma enjoyed her tea.
Sadie took the pineapple from Emma's cut. 'There, doesn't that look much better. Keep it clean and fresh air will do the rest.'
Gavin asked, 'Do you mind if I go through to the bedroom and have a look at what's happening on the street?'
'Not at all, son, on you go.'
In the cold bedroom, Gavin stood in the dark, and peered through the curtains to the street below. No sign of the Merc or the gunman. He slipped into the space between the curtains and the window for a look further along the street.
He sensed Emma behind him, looking over his shoulder. He felt a tap on his shoulder, and a soft voice whispered, 'Everything okay?'
Gavin kept his focus on the street. He didn't whisper. 'I don't think they'll hear you up here,' he said snappishly. He turned around to apologise for his abruptness.
'Uugghh! He gasped for air. No-one else in the room. He froze, and for a moment he wasn't sure if his legs would move. He stood between the curtains and felt trapped. He pushed the curtains behind him and hurried through to the kitchen.
Emma saw his white face and his hands trembling. 'Have they found us?'
He shook his head, 'No sign of the Merc,' and then to Sadie he asked, 'I thought you lived here alone?'
'I'm never alone, son. I always have seven bright ones with me.'
'Bright ones?' Emma asked.
'Lights, pet. They keep me safe and sound.'
Gavin sat down beside Emma and rested his hand on her good hand as if to gain strength. The colour returned to his face.
Sadie looked into Emma's empty cup with great interest. Emma smiled and while looking at Gavin, she said, 'Will I marry a handsome university lecturer?'
Sadie swirled the liquid in circles inside Emma's cup. She allowed the leaves to stick to the inside of the cup. She place a napkin on the table and turned the cup upside down on the napkin. She rotated the cup until the handle pointed to the north, then to the south, then to the east, and then to the west. She returned the cup to its upright position, and examined the shapes formed by the leaves.
'I see you at the centre of a loving family, pet. A lovely family. I see three lively babies in your life. Quite a handful,' she said.
The words cut deeply into Emma's heart. Her face reflected a profound sadness.
'Triplets?' Gavin blurted with disbelief.
'Not identical babies, son,' Sadie looked up from the cup and smiled.
'Three individuals. Quite a handful, but you'll love them equally,' she said in a vague voice as if straining to see.
Emma's eyes welled up. A tear ran down her cheek. 'I doubt if I could cope with one baby,' Emma said to Sadie.
'There is a large hole in the leaves. Something is missing in your life,' she said and looked at Emma for feedback.
Emma blinked to hold back more tears. She hoped Sadie would realise the reading had upset her. 'I lost my husband recently.'
'Of course, that's it. But he's not lost ... he's ... I'm so sorry. I'm getting too old. I can't see clearly. Have you consulted a medium?'
Emma shook her head. 'No.'
'I know a young woman with great ability. There is something important. I can feel it. If your husband passed recently, he might have news for you. Speak with him soon, pet.'
Emma looked unconvinced. 'I'll think about it.'
'A few years ago, I could have made contact for you. No-one told me that when I turned sixty-five, I'd have all sorts of physical and mental weaknesses to deal with.'
Sadie looked expectantly at Gavin. He didn't drink the tea. He offered the palm of his hand. She looked impressed with his strong hands and soft skin. He half expected her to say he worked with his mind and not his hands.
'Wonderful hands, son, powerful. You know, I think these could be healing hands. Look after them,' she said with a knowing smile.
'Just the one baby for you. Do you wish to know if it's a son or a daughter?'
'Sure,' he said in a mocking voice.
'A lovely wee boy. A son with strong blond hair, just like your own. He'll grow up to be an engineer in a large building with lots of nice people around him. There's a sweet girl there. She would be good for him. Let them get together. Don't stand in their way.'
'I'm so pleased,' he said sarcastically.
'You have a weakness in your stomach. It will cause you some trouble. See the doctor as soon as it starts. Don't delay and everything will be fine.'
Gavin drew back his hand and ran it over his dark mouse-coloured hair. His patience had drained. 'We need to go. I'll go downstairs. Check the street is clear.'
Sadie looked disappointed with Gavin's rudeness. Emma apologised for him, and reached over to lift Sadie's frail wrinkled hand. She cradled it between her own. Their eyes locked together.
'I can't have children. I have a medical problem … no cure for me, sadly,' she said and her eyes glistened as she patted and released Sadie's hand.
Sadie cupped the side of Emma's face in her hand. 'Pet, your body just wasn't ready,' she said sympathetically.
Emma bowed her head and tears rolled down her cheeks.
Sadie put her hand under Emma's chin, and gently raised Emma's head until their eyes met again. 'Your body wasn't ready before, but it is now.'
'Huuggh!' Emma felt a cold chill as if she had stepped into a walk-in freezer.
'The older man who passed on. He's happy for you. He says you'll need to be strong for them.'
'Your babies. I'm getting the letter J. Was he a sailor? I'm feeling a dark stormy sea.'
'I was married to Jim. His business is called SeaPro.'
'He loved you dearly. He has a message from your mother. A very important family message. You should try to make contact. The letter D is very prominent.'
Emma shook her head and her face signalled that she didn't want to hear any more. Emma's parents and her younger sister, Donna, were dead. Emma didn't want to revisit the painful and unhappy times in her family.
Sadie took the cups over to the sink to wash them. She looked back at Emma and felt her sadness.
Emma joined her at the sink. 'Thanks for everything. I feel much better now.' She put her arm around Sadie and gave her a gentle squeeze.
'Don't lose your way, pet. Your dreams can come true, but you'll need to hold on until the end.'
Sadie nodded to her door. 'It's a terrible shame about him.'
'He has five bright ones around him. Strong spirit lights. They'd love to pass a message to him, but they know he's too frightened.'
'Really?' Emma looked puzzled.
'Yes. His older sister had a Ouija board. Silly girl scared him witless when they were youngsters. He's been afraid ever since. They're very proud of him, and they love him so very much.'
Emma raised her eyebrows. How could this stranger know anything about her or Gavin.
'How do you know he has an older sister?'
'His grandfather is unhappy with her for frightening him. You know his sister is a minx.'
Emma nodded. 'I've been on the receiving end.'
'He doesn't remember, but you know when he was born he had a mop of blond hair.'
'Oh, my —'
Emma gasped as a feeling of déjà vu slapped her mind. She recalled her first visit to Gavin's house when his mother said the exact same words as she showed Emma a photograph of Gavin as a baby.
When he didn't hear Emma come down the stairs, Gavin hurried back up to the third floor landing. Emma waited outside the flat.
Gavin called to her. 'We need to go.'
Emma nodded. 'I left my bag. Sadie has gone inside to get it for me.'
'I'm glad to get moving. She gives me the creeps.'
Emma's mind had moved elsewhere. 'Do you think she meant adoption or something. I mean three kids? I just know I couldn't cope with three.'
'Of course she's wrong. She's not even smart enough to make the predictions the same. How can I have one and you have three?'
She looked at him with the face of a young girl asked out on her first date. 'True, that's true.'
He shook his head. 'We don't need a consultation to work that one out.'
'Does Siobhan have a Ouija board?'
'One of her pals had one. I'll go back down and check the street.'
'I'll be no more than a minute behind you.'
Gavin peered out through a glass panel until he had to move out of the way of a young woman with a bag of groceries pushing the door open. Gavin held the door open for her but didn't allow the door to close.
They both heard Emma coming down the last flight of stairs.
Gavin called to Emma, 'Everything okay?'
'Yes, I've got it.'
The young woman asked Gavin, 'Can I help?'
Gavin nodded toward Emma. 'No thanks. We're just leaving.'
'Were you looking for someone?'
Emma arrived at Gavin's side, and said, 'The old lady on the third floor, middle flat.'
'Sadie McCracken? You're not her eldest from Canada, are you?'
Gavin shook his head. 'No. Why do you ask?'
'I'm afraid you're too late. Her funeral was last Tuesday.'
© Gordon Bickerstaff 2017
In chapter 40 of 'Deadly Secrets', Gavin Shawlens and members of Special Branch arrive at a factory in Miltonbrae Street to rescue Emma Patersun from a fate worse than death. To gain covert entry to the factory, they forced Krystal Pallork to help them overcome the factory gatekeeper. This is Krystal's story.
Two hours before Gavin Shawlens arrived in Miltonbrae Street, Krystal Pallork had taken her usual pitch to attract her punters. She stepped up and down on the spot to keep her blood moving.
A cold wind blew her black chest-length hair onto her face, and she'd developed a nervous head flick to throw the long tresses off her face. She pulled out her bright red lipstick and refreshed her lips for the tenth time. Thick lipstick and heavy makeup were essential accessories to ensure none of her punters wanted to kiss her lips.
Krystal worked as a night time butterfly on a desolate street populated with factories and offices on one side, and a large wall-enclosed industrial precinct on the other side. The precinct, known locally as the compound, contained various factory buildings and storage facilities.
Krystal twitched and tugged her clothes. Uncomfortable in her uniform of sheer black stockings, short skin tight black skirt, loose gaping white satin blouse and large black leather blouson jacket with loose flapping cuffs. If thugs tried to drag her into their car by grabbing her jacket; she could easily allow the jacket to be pulled over her head.
On cold and wet winter nights, Krystal worked in a brothel known as B.J.D.'s Health & Relaxation Club. Always warm, dry, and safe, the club punters were much easier to control. A couple of welcome drinks helped lubricate her joints and she had fun with the other girls, sharing stories about their clients.
Punters such as Lefty with his penis that bent sharply to the left when erect and Dopey Dick, so fussy about his privacy, he wore a paper mask to protect his identity but paid the club by credit card. For these comforts, the club took a hefty percentage of her income.
On the street, there were no good times, just money and sex but all her money stayed in her purse. Krystal never deluded herself into thinking she provided a service to lonely men. She cringed when prostitutes spoke on daytime chat shows of service to the community. Krystal despised men who used women for selfish, aggravated, sometimes violent, sexual exploitation. She made no excuses to anyone. She suffered it for hard cash.
Krystal's money supported two dependants, Marie and Marie's daughter Elaine. Marie had slaved on a succession of low paid jobs but with no training or education, she didn't stay in work for long. Krystal handed over enough money for Marie to ensure Elaine could have a comfortable life.
Krystal longed to have an active part of Elaine's life. She craved for the mother-daughter love she admired between Marie and Elaine. But Marie kept them apart. She feared the outcome of Elaine becoming too close to a whore who allowed cold-hearted animals to violate her body for money. Marie tolerated Krystal for one thing only—her money.
But Krystal had a plan. Sending Elaine to medical school would be very expensive, and Krystal had decided that the money would only be forthcoming if Marie welcomed Krystal into her family as Elaine's long-lost aunt. She had hinted as much to Marie, and now that Elaine had decided to go to university, Krystal prepared to issue her ultimatum.
Elaine had just reached eighteen years of age, and all of her teachers were eager for her to pursue a university education. Having passed her school exams with straight A-grades, she had a wealth of opportunities available. After long discussions with her teachers, she'd decided to study medicine, and then build a career in paleopathology.
Many times, Marie had taken Elaine to the Kelvingrove art gallery and museum in Glasgow, and Elaine had developed an enduring fascination for old bones and what could be learnt from them. Her interest grew into a hobby and had now become a career plan.
A model daughter, Elaine had good looks, sense, a confidence to succeed, and above all, a warm and generous heart.
Marie had always wanted Elaine to break out of their poverty circle, and had coached her to desire all the benefits of a professional career. Surrounded by deprivation, it would have been easier for Elaine to fit in with her peers, failure, teenage pregnancy and relentless misery.
Regularly, Elaine gave her mother many glorious hours of intense and overwhelming pleasure. For four evenings each year over the past eight years, Elaine had filled Marie with supreme personal satisfaction and rapturous delight. Wonderful evenings spent with Elaine and her teachers on parent's night.
Marie looked forward to them for months, and although times were hard, she always turned out neatly in her smart two-piece suit with her light-brown Pixie crop hair, and large tinted spectacles that dominated her face. With poise, dignity and pride, Marie sat in front of Elaine's teachers and luxuriated in moments of pure bliss.
'Elaine is such a hard worker and has great aptitude for maths.'
'Elaine is again at the top of the French class.'
'… very capable, very clever girl and will certainly get an A-grade in chemistry.'
'… a very pleasant girl. She's such a delight to teach.'
'… and Elaine is simply the best pupil this Biology department has ever taught.'
'… and you must be so proud of her. I know I am—and I'm just her English teacher.'
'... and I agree that if she goes into medicine, she'll have a brilliant career.'
None of Krystal's punters gave a dog's shit for her feelings. Krystal had a life of regular pain and unobtainable desire. She clung to Marie and shared in Marie's dreams of the day Elaine would become somebody important. Krystal paid cash for her share of Elaine's success and that investment sustained Krystal through the dark and painful times of her work.
She treasured the few photos Marie had given to her. During bad times, she sat with the photos of Elaine and she talked to them about the pain in her work. She wanted Elaine to understand that she gave her cash so they all could have a better life.
Elaine believed her mother worked part-time in the evenings as a bookkeeper for a local supermarket store. She would be devastated if she knew her mother had no job and that her money came from the earnings of a prostitute.
Marie fought a difficult battle with Krystal, and buried an immense amount of guilt in her heart. She took Krystal's cash and ensured Elaine's success but Krystal wanted a place in Elaine's life. Marie forced Krystal to stay in the shadows. Krystal wanted to be welcomed as a long lost aunt, and she demanded that Marie make it happen or the money would stop.
Krystal had no choice in the matter when Special Branch officers approached her and said she could co-operate or get arrested for prostitution. She did exactly what they told her to do, and within minutes the Special Branch officers entered the large wooden gate of the factory complex. Without another thought, Krystal returned to her pitch and waited for her next punter.
When the Special branch officers started out to rescue Emma Patersun, one of them turned to Gavin Shawlens, tilted his head in the direction of the gate, and mouthed, 'You go and sit with Helen. Quietly.'
Gavin nodded then slipped out of the gatehouse. He crept through the panel door, and then stepped onto the road. He gave out a deep sigh of relief.
When he looked up and down the road, he saw the Special branch vehicles to his right. To his left, he saw the prostitute on the ground trying to crawl off the road. Gavin hurried along the road toward her.
Gavin's alarm soared when he saw blood streaming from Krystal's head and down her neck. He helped her to her feet, and they stumbled off the road and into a dark recess in the wall. An old fire exit that Krystal used as her place of business.
Gavin scanned her injuries. 'What happened to you?'
'Two … bastards … battered me,' Krystal said, and pain pinched her voice.
'Jesus—you need to go to a hospital,' Gavin said.
'Nah … all you get … stupid forms, stupid questions.'
'You need medical care.'
'Nah … good hot bath, I'll be as right as rain,' Krystal said, and then doubled over in pain.
With a trembling hand she wiped blood from her nose. When she attempted to stand straight, she flinched and winced. Gavin helped her to stand steady until she looked ready to move.
'Did you get the number plate?'
'No car. They came over the wall on a rope. Called me "a fucking bitch". They beat me and ran across the road—there.'
Gavin looked back at the wall. 'Were they wearing combat clothes?'
'Yeah, that's them.'
Gavin felt numb as he looked at her bloodied and beaten body. He backed into the dark recess and hid. His mind blanked with fear. Gavin had no idea what to do next. He slid down the door and sat on the ground. Then he rested his trembling hands on his bent knees while he stared straight ahead. All hope of rescuing Emma had gone.
Slowly, Krystal made her way down the street.
Krystal stumbled and hobbled to the flat of her good friend Cindy who immediately brought her inside, ran a hot bath and helped remove Krystal's blood sodden clothes. Something she'd done for Krystal too many times before.
Later, Cindy went into her bathroom to find Krystal, naked except for a towel wrapped around her hair, as she wiped blood from the side of the bath. Krystal's long black blood-stained wig lay on the floor. Cindy scanned the bruises on her friend's body.
'Leave that I'll get it later. Come on, I've made tea and toast,' Cindy said.
'I need painkillers?'
Cindy nodded. 'I've got them as well. The strong ones I got from the doctor.'
Cindy felt rage as she wrapped a bath sheet around her friend's battered and bruised body. They sat in front of a small gas fire and Cindy put her arm around her and gave her a sisterly cuddle.
Cindy said, 'Do you know the punters who did this? If you do, I'll get someone to batter them!'
'Strangers from inside the compound.'
'What will you tell her when she sees this?' Cindy asked.
'The TRUTH! And so will you! I slipped … and fell down your stairs. RIGHT!'
Cindy shook her head. 'No. We've told her that one before. I'll think of something else. Drink your tea. I'll dry your hair.' Cindy said, and then handed over a packed of Co-Codamol.
Marie took two tablets and swallowed them with a sip of tea.
Cindy unravelled the head towel and gently rubbed Marie's short light-brown hair. She stopped to look at a big bruise on Marie's shoulder. The shape of a heel, and if she'd had a ruler she could have worked out the boot size.
Marie closed her eyes and sobbed as the big metal shutter rolled down while Krystal screamed and banged to try and stop it. For now, Marie still had the strength to handle the psychological battle needed to put Krystal back in her dark place.
Marie knew a time would come when Krystal would become uncontrollable. Marie knew when that time arrived, she would need to kill Krystal to protect Elaine from the awful truth. She had no idea how to do it, but she knew it would have to be done, someday.
© Gordon Bickerstaff 2017
© Gordon Bickerstaff 2017