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Burning Lance looked down at the man dressed exactly like him, his side patched up, slumped in a puddle of drying blood. “What happened Alex?”
“Milord, tis nothing.”
Burning Lance looked at him intently. “A bullet wound is not nothing. You didn’t do this dressing, who did?”
“A nurse milord.”
Burning Lance shook his head. “Please don’t talk like that Alex, you sound like a twat! We act like knights; we don’t speak Chris Hemsworth trying to be Shakespeare.”
“You need proper medical attention, in a hospital.” Burning Lance took a phone out of his belt. “Nigel? I need transport to Dover for Alex…. the website can wait Nigel…thank you.” He turned his attention to Alex. “Now tell me about this nurse.”
“You bought a lottery ticket?” Nancy said quizzically. “Why?”
“I felt lucky! And boom!” Dion pulled back the towel on the dining table to reveal several stacks of money. “Three thousand pounds! Money money money money!”
Nancy burst into tears and hugged him tightly around the neck.
“Hey? It’s okay. Ssh. It’s okay. I thought you’d be happy.”
“I am!” Nancy said as she mentally checked off the list what three thousand would pay off. Catch the rent up, some of the credit card. “I’m…overwhelmed is all.”
“Big night at the hospital?’
“Yeah…” She hugged him again. “I…”
“Hang on babe, game update!” Dion rushed to the couch.
“You love that game more than me,” Nancy whispered taking up a stack of notes. “I’m going to take this and put it in the bank tomorrow.”
Dion grunted and gave a thumbs up as he scrolled through some screen. Nancy rolled her eyes and went off to the bedroom.
“Dion?” Nancy came out of the bedroom looking for her husband. “Dion?”
She shuffled to the kitchen to make some tea wondering where he could be. It was six am and he was rarely, if ever up this early. She sighed and slumped onto the bench. She didn’t really feel like pretending to go to work today. She wanted to tell Dion about the vigilante guy.
“I might go to the movies today,” she said fanning through the stack of notes. “After the bank.”
Dion sat on the bench across the street from the betting shop, one of the few things that thrived in Arch City. That and pubs, strip joints and pizza delivery. Everything else never got off the ground, or if it did it was never far.
Dion had received a tip about a known scum bucket who liked to touch kids from the game site. A dirty little so and so known as Ryan Thomas Clothey, forty-two, former school teacher. Dion was tracking him since he’d made the list on the site and it was only two blocks from home so he could say he was jogging if Nancy asked where he was. Clothey left the shop looking around like a curious bird before heading off.
“Scum,” Dion muttered as he got up. “You’ll never see me coming.”
Lars Bergqvist, Olaf Holmgren, Sven Sjöberg and Otto Jarlsson sat a table in Coffee Annan.
*“…och sedan den lille mannen skriker ‘Vänligen inte döda mig!’” Lars recalled. “Sven försökte inte att le, eftersom döda honom är dåligt för företagen, men han behöver inte veta att.”
The other three burst into raucous laughter as an elderly Italian man in black approached their table. “Buongiorno gentlemen, may I have a word?”
The four Swedes look at him, Lars smiled broadly. “Where are my manners, please Mr Alfonso Galluzzi have a seat. Coffee?”
“Short black,” He said as he sat. “As you can see this is just a friendly chat.”
“And as you can see Alfonso, we are also just having a friendly chat.” Lars nodded which made Sven and Otto leave the table. “What can I do for you?”
“Someone put my nephew in the hospital,” Alfonso said.
“A terrible, terrible thing,” Lars said. “And it was not from us.”
Alfonso stared at Lars. “I believe you.”
“I don’t care if you don’t,” Lars responded. “But it is true. We had nothing to do with what happened to your nephew. May I be honest with you Alfonso? Your nephew had spent too much time watching American movies and wanting to be a tough guy. I’m surprised he isn’t dead.”
“I will accept that because we are having a friendly chat,” Alfonso paused as the Australian barista but the coffee in front of him. “Grazie! But if you again speak of my family I will take it as a personal attack.”
“Understood,” Lars said. “I’d go check with those Irish monkeys, seems more their style.”
“I have just come from a casual chat with them,” Alfonso replied. “They also said they had nothing to do with it.”
“Well maybe those dirty Cossacks,” Lars shrugged. “To be fair, he didn’t have many friends.”
Alfonso finished his coffee and stood. “Grazie. I must be going.”
“Always nice to see you,” Lars stood and extended a hand. The old man waved it away.
“Scusi, I have the arthritis,” he said. Lars nodded in acceptance and watched him exit. He then turned to Olaf. **“Följ honom!”
Nancy left the Royal Savings Bank Of Wales slightly relieved. With the money Dion had won she’d paid the rental arrears plus a week in advance, her phone bill and opened a savings account with fifty pounds to attempt to get back on track. It was a nice feeling to be getting back on top of things.
“Spare change luv?”
Nancy stepped around the beggar. “No, sorry.”
“Bloody sand ^!%%@!”
Nancy spun on her heels and yelled at the man. “How dare you? You rude little $#!+! How about you get a job?! Huh?”
The beggar stepped back at the furious tirade spouting from Nancy. He grunted and walked off muttering leaving Nancy on the edge of exploding.
Dion followed Clothey all morning until he stopped at a motel ironically called The Paradise. Dion waited a little while and went in. The Paradise was anything but. The Sri Lankan dwarf man behind the grimy glass of reception greeted him.
Dion edged up to the glass. “Um, til tomorrow?”
The little man rubbed his eye. “Forty seven for day, fifty pound deposit for key. Out by eight or we get cops!”
Dion fished his wallet out. “Sure.”
“No drugs, no music, no dogs, no smoking. Okay?”
“Sure,” Dion replied as he put the money near the slot and as quick as a snake it was snatched away by short stubby fingers.
“Sign here!” The dwarf shoved the register through the slot. Dion wrote Mr Blonde in the space, to break the monotony of Mr’s Smith, Brown and Jones. He noticed the last sign in was Mr Smith in 3B. “Key!”
Dion looked at it, 4C. He was about to protest but thought better of it. He turned and headed for the door.
“HEY! Where you going?” snapped the dwarf.
“To get my stuff.”
Nancy nestled into her set to watch the latest offering from Hollywood. She didn’t care she needed two hours of escapism and this remake-homage was the vehicle to do that. She had her popcorn, her drink and she exhaled.
“It’ll get better,” she said as she filled her mouth with popcorn only to pause in disbelief as someone sat down next to her.
-Whole &^%$# theatre and you sit next to me!-
She wriggled and adjusted herself, making sure she took command of the communal armrest as the lights dimmed.
“Nancy? You home?” Dion called as he came in. He ducked around and quickly packed his bag of gear before writing her a note.
To be continued…
Want to know what the Swedes said? Well thanks to English to Swedish google translate it's in the spoiler box below
* and then the little man squeals "please don't kill me!" Sven was trying not to smile because killing him is bad for business, but he doesn't need to know that
** Follow him