Friday, 2 November 2012

Sacrilege - Chapter 10


As soon as I rushed back into the hospital I had second thoughts and dashed straight out again. How could I dump even more worry on my mother and sister at a time like this? But I had to say something.
My ribs still hurt, but I was too worried and scared to care. Even so, I returned to the others more slowly than I’d have liked and told them I was going back to the house. “I can’t do any good here, can I?”  It was generally assumed this was a hypothetical question and no one answered. I felt slightly miffed as it would have been nice to feel my presence was at least wanted if not useful.
“I’ll drive you,” said Jackie getting up.
“I’ll get a taxi,” I told her, “but thanks anyway.”
“Let Jackie drive you, for heaven’s sake,” Marc insisted, “I can always call us a cab later, once we know for sure that Thomas is going to be okay. That is, of course he’s going to be okay,” he hastily corrected himself as my mother began sobbing, “but… well…I guess we need to hear it from the horse’s mouth,” he mumbled miserably. “Besides, Jackie can’t do any more than the rest of us.” He turned to Jackie. “You might as well make yourself useful.”
“That’s two of us left feeling useless, eh, Laurence?” Jackie flung me a wry smile.
“I’ll call a cab,” I repeated.
“You’ll do no such thing,” said my mother tearfully. “Let Jackie drive you back to the house. It makes sense. All any of us can do is wait for news and that might take all night for all we know. And don’t look so hard done by, Laurence. We’re not pushing you away, just…”
“…suggesting you go before you collapse. You look like I feel and that’s bloody awful.”  My sister gave me a look I knew only too well. It said, Piss off and stop arguing, you’re getting on my nerves.
Jackie was already on her feet and wasted no time practically frogmarching me out of the hospital. Once outside, she caught hold of my arm and forced me stop. “Okay, what is it? You might as well tell me now before the suspense kills me.  And don’t try and make out you look like death warmed-up because you’re worried sick about Thomas. Of course you’re worried, we all are. But there’s more to it than that or I’m a bloke. I may not have known you long, Laurence, but I have to tell you you’re about as transparent as a puddle in a shithouse.”
“You’re too kind,” I muttered.
“My pleasure,” was the swift retort accompanied by a marginally sympathetic grin. “Now, stop fidgeting and tell Auntie Jackie what or who has gone and put ants in your pants?”
I told her.
“And you really think my little sister has been stirring things up?”
“Not intentionally perhaps.”
“Perhaps is not a word I associate with Varicose, I have to say. Ginny always, but always knows what she’s doing. Invariably, that involves dropping somebody in the shit.”  She tucked my arm in hers and we began walking in the direction of the car park. “The sooner we get back to the house and find out how much Teresa knows the better, provided she’s still there and able to tell us anything.”
“Oh, my God! I never thought about that! Do you think the Packards…”
“Let’s not jump to conclusions.”
“But Danny, what could have happened to him?” I groaned
“Danny can take care of himself as well you know. Teresa, on the other hand, is another kettle of fish altogether.”
I stopped and glared at her. “Danny could be dead for all we know.”
“That’s true,” Jackie agreed, “but do you honestly think your favourite stalker would have been able to resist telling you that?”
“But he was using Danny’s phone…”
“So Danny has been careless, that doesn’t mean he’s bribing St Peter to open Heaven’s gate and let him in even as we speak. Have a little faith, Laurence. Now, come on.”
Jackie had let go of my arm and was already walking briskly ahead. I opened my mouth, shut it again and ran after her.
We were back at the house in no time and Teresa made no attempt to disguise the fact that she was frightened. “Thank goodness you’re back. Danny went to buy some crisps at the corner shop and hasn’t returned. That was over an hour ago. I have been too scared to go looking for him in case…” Her voice dropped to a husky whisper. “I tried calling him on the mobile and a strange man answered.  But how could they have found us so soon?” she wailed.
“Go and put the kettle on,” Jackie told her.
Teresa stamped her foot. “Why do you English always think a cup of tea will make everything okay?”
“Not everything,” Jackie conceded, “but it usually calms everyone down, and in my experience, you can’t talk or think anything through unless you have a cool head. So…how about making us all a nice cup of tea, eh?”
“Make it yourself!”
“Okay, I will.”
Jackie was as good as her word, but I for one did not calm down. “We need to go to London and find out what the bitch is playing at,” I fumed.
“We can’t be certain our Ginny has anything to do with Danny’s disappearance,” Jackie pointed out, “and even if she has, she’s not going to admit it is she? Mind you,” he added with a grin, “she might if the price was right.”
“Why go to London?” Teresa wanted to know, “You have a phone number, don’t you?”
“You need to be face to face with someone to know if they’re lying,” I told her.
“Not our Ginny you don’t,” said Jackie, “She has keeping a straight face while lying through her teeth down to a fine art. Ask any magistrate. I’m telling you, that girl has committed perjury more times than a bleeding elephant could remember.”
“So what do you suggest?” I demanded, “That we sit here and wait to read about Danny’s body turning up somewhere? Besides, don’t forget the chances are I’m next on the stalker’s list,” I raged at Jackie. “I’d feel better, if not safer, if I were doing something. Find Danny and we find the stalker, right?”
“Not necessarily,” Jackie pointed out in such a reasonable tone of voice that I got angrier than ever.
“We can’t just sit here drinking tea!” I yelled. “The chances are your sister knows something or I’m a Dutchman and, so help me, I intend to have it out with her.”
We glared at each other across the table.
“Who is this…stalker?” Teresa asked.
I told her about the calls, but thought it better not to reveal that the last one had been made on Danny’s phone.
“You should go to the police,” was her immediate response, and then before I could say a word, “No, I suppose not.” Her face brightened. “But you don’t have to say anything about me or Danny, just that someone has been threatening you.”
“Tell her,” said Jackie.
“Tell me what?”  Teresa looked from one to the other of us with an expression that was vulnerable as it was aggressive.
Jackie told her about the last phone call.
“Oh, no!” she cried in genuine distress, “But, yes, we must find out what is going on. We must find Danny before…” She burst into floods of tears then, “You must go to London, both of you. If there is any chance at all that Ginny can help us you have to try.”
End of argument. Within the half hour, Jackie and I were on our way back to London.
It was late when we parked outside the widow’s house. It looked as if every light in the place was on. That alone should have warned me something was up that I wasn’t going to like.  But I was tired, we both were, and dying for a pee. I rang the doorbell.  I always did unless I was sure no one was at home. The widow, I knew, appreciated the courtesy.
We did not have to wait long before the door was flung open. But it was Philip, not the widow, who stood there looking like the Grim Reaper incarnate.
“Well, well, here’s a surprise!” he exclaimed in the most extraordinary tone that I was about to ask what the hell he thought he was playing at. “Come in and join the party,” he said in the same strange, almost hostile voice. He waved us airily into the little hall. Only then did I see that he was carrying a gun. My astonished gaze flew to his face in time to catch a warning wink.
“I think we should do as the man says darling,” Jackie murmured in my ear, “and save any questions for later.”
I took the hint and stayed silent.
As we entered the living room, I quickly counted four people. Of the three men, one was Vincent Packard. Another was someone I vaguely recognized but couldn’t place. The third was Andrew Bolton, looking a shade green and like a man who knows he’s out of his depth but feels he must put a brave face on things. The fourth person, sitting next to Bolton on the sofa, a protective arm around him, was a grim faced May Finn. Her face lit up as we entered, but she said nothing.
“Ah, if it isn’t our friend, Mister Finn, turned up again like the proverbial bad penny!” Packard exclaimed and leapt to his feet, “or should I say, Mister Fisher? Oh, and our old friend Jackie, too.  A wonderful, thing, modern surgery, isn’t it just?  Mother Nature had better watch her back, I reckon. Oh, yes…” He gave a short laugh as I my expression must have given me away. “We know all about our Ginny’s big brother. We should do, since she never stops talking about how the family ugly duckling turned into a well fucked-up swan.”
“Flattery will get you everywhere,” Jackie purred.
Packard glared.
My heart sank. “Where’s Danny?” I demanded.
“Danny?” Packard looked genuinely puzzled. “Oh, you mean Daniel, your pretty Goth boy? I really have no idea. But I’m sure we’ll all meet up again soon and live happy ever after. I do so love a happy ending, don’t you?  But don’t just stand there, pull up a chair and make yourselves comfortable. We have a lot to talk about, after all.
Some hard chairs had been taken from the living room. We sat down. Jackie crossed her shapely legs and adopted an ‘I don’t give a toss’ pose that reminded me so much of Ginny that I wondered why the resemblance hadn’t struck me sooner.
Philip remained standing by the door and I couldn’t decide whether he meant me to feel reassured by this or not.  Certainly, reassurance was the last thing on Vince Packard’s mind. For no particular reason, I believed Packard when he said he had no idea about Danny’s whereabouts.
So where the devil was Danny?
“You wouldn’t know who started the fire at my house, I suppose?” Packard was saying.
“None,” I lied bravely.
“You wouldn’t have wanted to cause a diversion so you could help Teresa slip away?  Oh, Teresa sends her love by the way.”
“Where is she? I demanded, “What have you done with her? You won’t get away with it, Packard. You won’t get away with whatever you’re planning for us either,” I added without quite knowing how I found the nerve. “You’ll get your comeuppance, you can be sure of that. You’re sort always do.”
“My sort, what do you mean…my sort?” Packard growled menacingly, “Bold words for a man with a gun at his back. I’d watch my manners if I were you, Fisher, I really would.”
“Huh!” snorted the widow Finn, “I don’t call barging into someone’s house and taking hostages at gunpoint the height of good manners. People like you make me sick.” She flung a look at the six feet tall Packard that would have made a giant appear small.  “How many young girls like Teresa do you have on your conscience, I wonder?  It’s sick what you do to them. Worse than sick, it’s a sacrilege. God didn’t put women on this earth to be pimped by scum like you.”
I recoiled in horror at what might happen next. To my amazement and relief, Packard merely threw back his head and roared with approving laughter.
“I must apologize for barging in without a proper invitation,” he told May Finn at whose arm Andrew Bolton was anxiously tugging. “I regret any distress I may have caused you, I really do. Upsetting old women isn’t my style.”
“I’m not upset, I’m angry,” the widow told him.
“My dear lady, I wasn’t referring to you,” said Packard, mouth twitching as he transferred his gaze to Bolton who hadn’t stopped wriggling in his seat since we arrived. Packard and his crony guffawed. I suddenly placed the latter as the same shifty looking character I’d seen literally bump into Jackie on her way out of the hospital ward. I glanced at Jackie but she was sitting, head bowed, staring at the carpet.
I recognized Philip’s dry laugh behind me.
“What do you want?” I asked Packard, “Why are you here? How did you…?” But I had already answered my own question. Shifty or someone else must have followed us from the hospital to my mother’s house, and then… “What do you want?” I repeated.
“My money, for a start,” purred Packard.
The envelope hadn’t left the inside pocket of my jacket. I retrieved and handed it to him. “Don’t look so worried. The insurance will cover the fire damage. I just wanted to make sure our little arrangement was still on, that’s all. Of course, I’ll expect a freebie, given all the trouble you’ve put me to.”
“Arrangement…?” I croaked.
“You, me, the pretty Goth boy and Teresa are due to have having a little rough and tumble together, right?  You hadn’t forgotten, surely?  Teresa will be so disappointed if we don’t all get together again real soon. As for me, I can’t wait. I’ll be in touch. Oh, I nearly forgot. This is my new address. It’s only temporary you understand, just until the Richmond house is ship-shape again. By the way, you’ll be pleased to know the fire did less damage than everyone first thought. Even so, I think you owe me, don’t you?”
He handed me a card. I refused to give him the satisfaction of sparing it any more than a cursory glance. 
“Oh, and don’t even think about pulling any more stunts,” he went on, “although I take my hat off to you, Fisher, I really do. The way you pulled a fast one on our Phil in Sawbridgeworth was a stroke of…I was going to say genius but I think we should settle for luck, don’t you?  It rarely lasts long, you know, luck.”
“You didn’t have to force your way into my house to tell him that,” the widow told him sharply. “You could at least have waited outside.”
“Ah, but baby it’s cold outside, Packard crooned the words to the old song before turning to me again with a huge smirk. “I’ll be in touch with a time and date. Don’t even think of letting me down or I might just try my hand at a spot of arson myself.” He turned to the widow, “I dare say you’re insured, but...well...home is where the heart is, right? I wouldn’t want to see a sweet old dear like your good self have a heart attack.”
“You wouldn’t dare…” The widow bristled and I swear it was only Andrew Bolton’s restraining hand that prevented her jumping up and giving Packard a slap around the face. It crossed my mind that perhaps Bolton was capable of earning a few Brownie points after all.
“Oh, but I would dear lady, I would,” Packard chuckled, and then promptly left the room without another word. Shifty hurried after him. We heard the front door slam. I didn’t need to look to know that Philip, too, had gone.
“Goodness, what a turn up for the book that was? Who’d have thought it? Taken hostage by the Mafia, whatever next? Oh, my giddy aunt, that was just too… too much!”  Andrew Bolton wailed.
“They aren’t the Mafia,” I murmured.
“They might as well be as far as we’re concerned,” Jackie observed.
 Disentangling himself from the widow’s arm, Bolton leapt to his feet and rounded on me.  “If they weren’t the Mafia, who the hell were they? That’s what I want to know. I demand to know. How dare you put May’s life at risk by associating with such people? How dare you?” he raged until his face took on an apoplectic hue and he sat down again.
“I’m sorry,” I mumbled to the widow who was already on her feet.
“We all need to calm down. There are times when a cup of tea will do the job nicely and others when something stronger is called for. Fortunately I always keep some brandy for medicinal purposes. If a nervous wreck isn’t medicinal, I don’t know what is.” She crossed to a mahogany cabinet with glass doors and I saw that her bony her hands were trembling. Jackie must have noticed it too because she jumped up, told the widow to go and sit down and poured the drinks herself.
“Not for me,” Bolton snorted, “I never touch the stuff.”
“There’s a first time for everything dear,” the widow told him mildly. “Besides, you look as if you’re about to throw up, and I for one am in no mood to clear up your mess…or anyone else’s,” she added, pointedly glaring in my direction.
“I can’t bear it. I can’t bear it!” Bolton was in tears now and wiping his eyes with a large handkerchief.  Suddenly he gave a start and cried out, “We might have been killed!” as if the prospect had only just occurred to him. “Shouldn’t someone call the police?”
“The police are already monitoring the situation,” Jackie told him. “I suppose you could say they’re on top of it even.” He tossed me a wicked wink to which I was in no mood to respond. My thoughts regarding Philip at that moment were best kept to myself.  
“Monitoring the situation?” Bolton cried in disbelief, “On top of it?  Cobblers to that, I say, cobblers!” He paused and gave a little shrug. “Not that one can have much confidence in the police nowadays. Look at these murders we keep hearing about. A serial killer on the loose for months and what are the police doing about it? “He shrugged again. “Mind you, I dare say they’ve got their hands full chasing terrorists. I don’t know what the world is coming to, I really don’t.”
“Shut up, Andrew, just…shut up!” the widow snapped and went to the cabinet to refill her glass before handing the bottle to Jackie who gladly did the same.
“Well, if that’s how you feel…” Bolton stood up and looked around expectantly. No one tried to persuade him to stay. “I shall expect a visit from the police and you can be sure I won’t mince my words. Monitoring the situation, my foot!  As for being on top of things...who’s bullshitting who?  That’s what I’d like to know!” He stormed out of the house.
The rest of us gave a huge sigh of relief. 
“I’ll go and see him later,” said the widow. “Don’t worry. I’ll make sure he doesn’t upset any apple carts. Somehow, though, I don’t think he’ll be in any hurry to speak to the police again after that business with Danny. They gave him a good telling off, you know, for wasting police time. Mind you…” she glared at me again, “I must say I’d rather like to know myself what Philip thinks he’s playing at.”
“You and me both,” I groaned.
In the end, it was Jackie who made her way unsteadily into the kitchen and made a pot of tea.
“Where’s Danny?” May Finn finally put the question I had not been only asking myself over and over but also blamed for sending my head into a spin. After debating with my conscience whether or not to tell her about the phone call, I decided it was more than my life was worth to keep her in the dark.
She listened gravely, without interruption. “And you have no idea who this person might be?” She pressed me further. “You didn’t recognize the voice?”
I shook my head. “I think he may have been speaking into a handkerchief or something,” I told her, “As for the caller’s identity, I haven’t the faintest idea or how he came by Danny’s phone. I thought it might be Vince Packard but…”
“It would appear not,” she finished my sentence for me and her expression changed to one of alarm.
“But it would appear they have Teresa.”
“Yes,” I echoed miserably, “it would appear they have Teresa.” Only then did it occur to me to call Marc and make sure he and my mother were safe.”
I needn’t have worried. They were still at the hospital and there was still no news of Thomas except that he was stable. “Why do they always say that?” I growled into the phone.
“Hopefully because it’s true,” my brother yawned. “Are you okay, Laurie? You sound a bit odd.”
“I’m fine,” I lied. “But there’s something you should know.”
“Teresa and Danny, they’re not at the house any more.”
“Yes, they…just upped and went. I don’t know all the ins and outs of it yet. I got a call to say they were leaving and not to worry, they would be in touch.” I improvised with difficulty.
“You’re lying,” said my brother, “Now, what’s going on? Is Jackie with you? Is she okay?”
“Jackie’s fine,” I said and shook my head as Jackie motioned for me to give her the phone, “Sorry, Marc, you’re breaking up and I can’t hear you. I’ll call you again later.” I hung up. “Don’t say a word,” I warned Jackie, “I could hardly tell him the truth, could I?”
“Whatever that might be,” commented the widow as she calmly poured us all another cup of tea from an earthenware teapot big enough to hold, if not solve, its fair share of crises.
When I announced my intention to seek out Ginny Sharp, both Jackie and the widow shook their heads in unison.
“Too risky, Laurence,” the widow protested, “I wouldn’t trust that young woman farther than I could throw her.”
“But she might know something,” I argued.
“I’m sure she does,” Jackie agreed, “All the more reason you should keep well away. Varicose may be a slut, body and soul, but she wouldn’t knowingly grass on a mate. From what you tell me, she and Danny go back some way.” I nodded. “If she does know anything about Danny and you turn up asking questions in your inimitably worthy but a shade naïve fashion, the Packards will smell a rat and poor Varicose will have no choice but to spill the beans.”
“So much for not grassing on a mate,” I muttered scathingly.
“Believe me, darling, you only have to push someone into a corner and hit them hard enough. They’ll grass up their own grandmothers for growing cannabis in the greenhouse, just see if they won’t.”
“You speak from experience of course,” I retorted before I could stop myself.
“Is that what your grandmother did, grow cannabis in her greenhouse?” the widow was curious to know.
“Never mind my grandmother. Let’s leave her to rest in peace, shall we?” Jackie sighed for the umpteenth time, letting her eyes take refuge behind a curtain of false lashes.
“We can’t just sit here and do nothing,” I declared.
“Did I say we should do nothing?” Jackie demanded. “What’s more, I agree that it might be useful to find out what Varicose has to say for herself…which is why I, Laurence, not you, will pay her a visit. Then if Packard gets to hear about it, she can simply say we were playing unhappy families and….”
“Varicose?” The widow interrupted.
Jackie explained.
“That’s horrible!” the widow exclaimed, “You can’t hold a woman’s varicose veins against her, for goodness sake, however much you may dislike her.”
“She hasn’t got any, that’s the whole point,” Jackie repeated wearily. “Besides, I don’t dislike her, I detest the bitch.”
“I don’t care. She’s your sister and you will show her some respect,” the widow insisted.
“Oh, well, if it makes you feel better to believe that God’s in his heaven and all’s right with the world…”
“You know Browning?” the widow was visibly taken aback.
“Not only are we old friends, he was the subject of my dissertation at university. I’m a transsexual, May, not a Philistine.” The widow Finn had the grace to blush. “Now, where was I?” Jackie continued, “Oh, yes, dear Ginny, bless her nasty, scheming little slut socks. You’re right, May, one mustn’t malign the afflicted. First thing tomorrow, I shall go and offer the hand of friendship and when she sinks her crooked little teeth into it I shall make the bitch tell me what she knows if it costs me a whole bloody arm.”
“Must you swear?” the widow grumbled.
Jackie stayed at the widow’s that night and slept on the sofa. When I came down to breakfast, she had already left. Nor was there any sign of the widow.  I checked my watch. It read 8.30 am, a perfectly reasonable time to have breakfast surely?  Then I looked again and realized it had stopped. I glanced at the clock on the wall and saw that it was nearly mid-day. “Damn!”
After several mugs of instant coffee, I went to see Ryan. Jackie might be ages and the widow likewise. I had no desire to sit around worrying about Danny or my stalker and…anything, for that matter. I needed to see Ryan, have him hold me close, smell his aftershave and drown in a sensual sea of sex. “Preferably with no chance of survival,” I confessed to a fellow passenger on the London Underground who merely snorted into his newspaper and edged slightly away from me.
But Ryan was out.  In my lethargic state, following a rough night, I hadn’t thought to call him on the mobile. Besides, I wanted to surprise him. Now I called but he wasn’t picking up so I left a message, “Call me Ryan, please.”
Moodily, I wandered around for a bit on the off chance he might return. After an hour, I gave up and went to a cheap and cheerful café nearby to grab something to eat. By this time, I was ravenous. After a hearty meal of sausages, chips and beans, I called Ryan again. Again, there was no reply, just an irritating voicemail request to leave a message after the tone. .Then I called Jackie but she wasn’t picking up either. “What is it with everyone today?” I demanded of a guide dog sitting placidly next to its owner at the next table.  I stared at the phone in my hand for several minutes before keying in Danny’s number. Not even a voicemail message. It was dead. 
And Danny, I wondered, was he dead too? At the same time, I doubted it, certain I would know if anything terrible had happened to Danny.  Mind you, I had been wrong once before.  Not so many years ago I had cried at his funeral, for goodness sake.
The phone rang, and I nearly jumped out of my chair.
“It’s Phillip. Be on the steps of the National Gallery in half an hour. I’ll be there as soon as I can but wait as long as it takes.”
“What the hell is going on?” I fumed, but into a dead phone. His voice had sounded faint and stressed.  “What now?” I wondered
I made my way to Trafalgar Square and waited on the steps of the National for a good two hours. There was no sign of Philip.  In the meantime, I called both Jackie and Ryan several times. No one was answering. By now it was mid-evening and I knew I should head back to the widow’s house. May Finn didn’t possess a mobile phone but I had called her on the land line and left messages since…yes, you’ve guessed it, she wasn’t answering either.
“Is it me, or what?” I asked a pigeon flapping about at my feet but it took no more notice of me than anyone else.
I was hungry, thirsty and feeling very sorry for myself when the phone in my pocket rang, sending me into such a flat spin that I almost missed the call. I soon wished I had as my stalker’s voice, muffled but no less menacing for that, snaked into my ear.
“Hello Mister Dead Man Walking, how are you today?  I must say you look tired, Laurence, and cold. Why don’t you go and join your friends at Halfway to Heaven. An appropriately named pub, don’t you think? Oh, and don’t bother asking your policeman fuck buddy to put a trace on me. I only ever use public phones for business calls.”
My mystery caller hung up.
I shivered despite the warmth of the evening. The thought that he had been observing me all this time was a chilling one.
Halfway to Heaven is one of my favourite gay bars and barely a ten minute walk from where I was standing.  I entered, saw no one I recognized so ordered a pint of bitter and two packets of crisps then took them downstairs. I looked idly around and froze in disbelief. At a corner table I spotted a familiar figure, identifying it at once for all that it was in deep shadow. “Philip!” I blurted. But his attention was elsewhere and if he heard he did not look up. Then I saw why. Someone had emerged from a toilet and was plainly heading for the same table.
It was Danny.
I threw caution to the wind and stormed across to where they had begun chatting as if they hadn’t a care in the world. “What the hell is going on?” I demanded. “The pair of you had better have a bloody good excuse for keeping me in the dark,” I raged, “or I’ll be damned if I’ll be held responsible for my actions.”
Philip leapt to his feet. “Laurie, what are you doing here?”
“I think that’s my question don’t you?” I fumed. “Two hours I waited for you on those steps, two bloody hours!”
“Oh?  So where were you waiting, exactly, and why?”
“What do you mean, why? Because you told me to, that’s why.”
“I did no such thing.”
“But you did,” I insisted, “You called me and told me to wait for you on the steps of the National Gallery for as long as it takes. Frankly, I thought two hours was quite long enough.”
“Whoever called you, it wasn’t me,” said Philip in a low, strained voice.
 “But…”  I spluttered. “If it wasn’t you, who was it then?  He said it was you so naturally I assumed… Oh, God, I can’t bear it!”
“Don’t be such a drama queen, Laurence. Shut up and sit down.” said Philip so wearily that I felt compelled to peer closer and was shocked by what I saw. He looked exhausted.
“Yeah, dad, don’t be such a drama queen,” echoed Danny but with a cheeky grin on his face.
“As for you young man,” I told him as I sat down, “I’m all ears and this had better be good.”
Simultaneously, we all three reached for our glasses and drank.

To be continued on Monday

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