Petrified

The second time I met Paul Trollope, I was a completely different person. He’d obviously exhausted his luck up north so was trying his hand at the Home Counties, my Home Territory. Unfamiliar to him so for once I had the upper hand. And I made the most of it.

Having Tyler with me helped. It kept me level headed although he didn’t take to him. Tyler to Paul. Dogs aren’t stupid. Well, I did meet a stupid greyhound once, dull as a ten-watt bulb. But Tyler’s a full 100w. Low energy but full power when it’s needed. And I found Paul’s weakness. Dogs. Had always been scared of them. Petrified in fact and although Tyler is not much more than ankle height, he packs a mean punch, a hearty bite when given the right word. Trollope. Not, just a coincidence. As I said, he’s a clever dog.

Turns out Paul’s car had broken down on the way to meet a woman in one of the villages just this side of AylingDV IMAGE and he’d got lost – followed the Sat Nav. I’ve been there before; not doing a u-turn in Uxbridge, but that’s another story. So there he was walking along the country lane in the middle of nowhere, the (stolen) VW flashing its little heart out a few yards down the road and what does he come across but a converted windmill. My windmill. It’s the only building around and there’s a light on, so he clicks the gate and walks up the needs-some-attention driveway before knocking on the door. Tyler barks and whilst he normally barks at anything that catches his attention, it’s not often that it’s followed by him running to the front door. We don’t get many visitors – most people don’t bother. It’s either too far or they take one look at the shabby exterior and figure I don’t have the money to want to buy whatever it is they’re selling.

I was only in the kitchen so it didn’t take me long to get to the door but long enough, I saw when I looked out the spy hole, for him to start walking away. He was smartly dressed, expensive suit, not the average salesman, besides it was nearly eight o’clock, not the sort of hour for door-to-door knocking; they use the phone for that these days.

I opened the door and said “Hello?” loudly enough for him to hear, holding Tyler’s collar.

He turned round and looked at the dog.

At this point, the normal thing would be for me to have said “It’s alright, he’s harmless” but Tyler wasn’t acting right so I hung fire. I didn’t recognise my visitor straight away but as he walked towards me, it didn’t take long for that familiar feeling to return. Not hatred but anger. Anger that he’d taken advantage of me at my lowest.

He’d got a cut on his chin and I was looking at it as he reached the front door.

He put his hand up to the cut and rubbed it. “Shaving this morning, stupid really,” he said, but I suspected a more dubious reason.

I smiled, despite it dawning on me who was standing there. “Can I help you?”

“Erm.” He hesitated as Tyler gave a growl.

I just smiled again and nodded as he looked up at me.

“I’m sorry to disturb you,” he continued, his charm having not lost its touch. “My car broke down just down the lane and I was wondering if I could borrow your landline – my mobile isn’t picking up any signal.”

“We are rather in the middle of nowhere. Please, come in.” It felt like inviting in a vampire.

Tyler gave another growl as Paul stepped forward so I picked the dog up and stepped back letting the blast from the past into my house.

He smiled as he walked and I smiled back but my smile was a different smile to his. I knew neither was genuine – we both had agendas, but at least I knew that I had the upper hand. I knew him from old and up to then, he’d not recognised me. Even when we got inside and I shut the door (I’ll tell you about the door in a minute) and started speaking, he didn’t twig. It took quite a while… in fact he didn’t realise until I started reminding him about those years ago in a certain house in Northampstead, a pub near Wellingford, the refusal of entry, the hospital (cleverly disguised as a police cell) and so on. His face really was a picture – captured on my CCTV for posterity.

*

The door, yes, it’s a clever piece of work. The internet is a wonderful place for information. You can do anything; build bombs, research books, change innocent-looking everyday objects into whatever you want them to be. Like a simple plastic, uPVC door, into a fortress. It had to be plastic, couldn’t be wood, holds the current better. More metal in it, more locking mechanisms and so on. Clever people on the world wide web.

So, there he was at my mercy for once. With only one exit in the building and that a one-way door unless you know the trick, I could take my time. He was already late for his date, he’d told me that pretty early on in our conversation, so I was doing her a favour by keeping him here.

I let him make the call in the end but it didn’t go anywhere – the outgoing line’s programmed to ring itself so he gave up after getting the continuous engaged tone after a few attempts. “No hurry,” he said. I think he fancied his chances, well, I am female.

So I poured him a drink; strongest thing in the house – he was that kind of stupid too. Maybe he thought he’d be staying over. I did give him that impression. “I’d just made dinner,” I said, “and there’s plenty for two”. So he jumped at the offer, probably thought it would lead to another. We were having fun; the more he drank, the more relaxed he became. I didn’t need to relax and he was miles ahead of me on that score.

He seemed to tire quickly too; strange that. He looked at the clock on the wall with hazy eyes; asked if that was the right time (it was) and if he should ring the breakdown company again (he could have tried but it wouldn’t have got him very far). I reminded him what they’d said (which was nothing but he didn’t twig and couldn’t remember) and he soon forgot what he was waiting for.

Waiting for most people is a horrible feeling. I have nothing I need to wait for anymore but it doesn’t bother me. The British are famous for our queues and I use the time to people watch; it’s amazing what information you can gather without anyone opening their mouths. It’s like that programme ‘The Mentalist’. He can tell more about someone in the first five seconds than most people can after an evening’s conversation. Patrick Jane, that was the guy.

I like making up words and ideas. I imagine the ideas fighting with each other in my brain; dip into the filing cabinet and duel with the folders containing all the other information that’s in there. Some dustier than others – life part (a) and life part (b).

As I watched him fall asleep I set my plan into action.

***

Picture above courtesy of morguefile.com.

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