Monday, 30 April 2007

Chapter 83

“You’ll be sleeping in here,” Alan McFry said to Danny, as they passed a small study off the long corridor in his flat. “You might as well drop your bag in there now, if you like. You’re in the spare room, Harry.”

Danny followed the instruction and found himself in a tiny box room only just big enough to hold a single bed, a desk and a wall of books. He dropped his bag on the bed and unzipped his coat while he walked to the window to survey the scene outside. They were on the third floor of an old apartment block just around the corner from what Alan had said was the Plaza Dos de Mayo.

To get there, they’d left Madrid’s main thoroughfare, the Gran Via, and zig-zagged down roads and alleyways before Alan found a parking space not too far from the flat. From the window, Danny could see groups of youths starting to gather: they all looked amiable, relaxed – not at all like teenagers preparing for a Saturday night out in a city. Harry had mentioned that during their flight. “You’ll like it, Danny – I promise you. The Spanish know how to enjoy themselves without getting drunk – it’s amazing to see!” Danny remembered wondering what was so amazing about people enjoying themselves without being drunk.

He heard Harry and Alan talking in the corridor. Harry was asking where Yolanda, Alan’s girlfriend, was. “She’s out seeing a friend. She’ll be back any minute, though,” Alan had replied.

Danny wondered whether he should stay in the room for a while, let Alan and Harry have some time together, maybe. Then he thought it might seem weird if he didn’t join them. He threw his jacket on the bed and walked out and up the corridor, towards a lounge where Alan and Harry were sat.

“Drink, Harry?” Alan was asking, holding a whisky bottle and a glass, in readiness.

“Why not?” Harry replied, unbuttoning his coat and taking his hat off.

Alan turned as Danny entered the room. “Sit down, kid – what can I get you?” he asked. Seemed like it was a McFry trait to patronize people, Danny thought, even if Harry’s brother seemed very different from his new work colleague. “Just a coke, please,” he said, sitting in an armchair close by a window, and opposite Harry.

No-one here seemed relaxed, Danny was thinking, even if he had his own excuse, since he was in a strange city in a stranger’s house.

“So, Harry … you never did tell me exactly why you’re here. Anything you can share with me?” Alan asked, with what might have been a slight wink.

Harry shifted in his seat, leaning forward as he took a drink from his whisky.

“We’re working on a case at the moment. Here…” he said, reaching into his inside pocket and pulling out a cigarette packet.

Alan looked alarmed. “Not in here, Harry. Sorry – Yolanda doesn’t like it,” he said, quickly, with a shake of his head.

Harry rolled his eyes, but proceeded to open the pack and pull out a folded piece of paper. “Have a look at this,” he said, handing it to his brother.

Alan unfolded it and grimaced. “Legal speak, by the looks of it, Harry. Too technical for me, I’m afraid. Maybe you should ask Ana to have a look at it for you?” His smile looked wry, at least to Danny.

“That’s the plan,” Harry said. It was the first Danny had heard of Ana, or any plan, and he wondered who she might be.

Alan and Harry could have had a long discussion about Ana, and Yolanda, and their respective relationships with the two sisters. For their own (separate) reasons, they most probably would have enjoyed it and, if truth be known, were both wishing Danny Longhurst wasn’t just a bit too old to be packed off with a pocketful of money and asked to make himself scarce for a while.

As it was, Danny was left sensing he was in the way.

“When are you seeing her?” Alan asked, refilling both of their drinks.

“Tonight,” Harry said, perhaps a little sharply. His tone softened, though, as he went on: “In fact, I was wondering if you might spend a couple of hours showing Danny round the area, and we could maybe meet up for a meal around eight or so?”

‘So that’s your plan, is it, Harry?’ Alan thought. ‘Dump your friend on me while you go out and try to rekindle something that died five years ago.’ He pretended he was thinking about the proposition, but finally replied: “Sure, we can do that, can’t we, Danny?”

“I guess so,” Danny said, trying to suppress the thought that he might be excess baggage for Harry’s trip.

Harry’s mood seemed to lift, though. He’d been worrying how he could carve some time away from Danny, be on his own, and had hoped his brother would agree. “Good – that’s settled then,” he said, smiling at Alan. “Now – where did you say your gorgeous girlfriend was?”


the domestic minx said...

If there is anything to be rekindled, it will be in Spain... such a magnificent place, filled with passion and fierce beauty.

Alternately, there are some awkward gooseberry moments here aren't it!

Thomas Hamburger Jnr said...

One would like to think so - but Harry's in a mess, so who knows if he'll be able to light that fire?
I think you already have the measure of the man, domestic minx!