Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Chapter 97

By the time Harry had got back to Alan’s flat he was feeling choked - like when he was a young boy, and his mother sprayed hairspray just a little too wildly, so that for a moment or two he couldn’t breathe. He’d jogged the whole way, knowing he’d be unlikely to see a cab so early on a Sunday morning. The streets were quiet, and all along the route he checked the pavement – just for the chance that he’d maybe see a document lying there, worth rather a lot of money. But, of course, he didn’t.

He rang the bell for the flat, and caught his breath back. In a moment or two, Yolanda answered, and buzzed him in.

When he got up the stairs, the door to the flat was open. Yolanda was waiting in the hallway wearing, he saw, the identical dressing gown to her sister’s.
“You dirty stop-out, Harry McFry,” she said, teasingly. “I don’t suppose I need to ask where you’ve been?” She smiled at him, even as she noticed he looked anxious, agitated. Harry sensed the flat was empty apart from the two of them.

“Where’s Danny?” he asked, surprising Yolanda by pushing past her and going straight to his room.
“He’s out with Alan. They went to the market at El Rastro. You could have gone, too – if you’d been home, of course,” she called after him.
He looked quickly about the room, but there was no sign of Lillian’s bond. His mind was racing, now: where the hell could it be?

“Oh, Harry…” Yolanda said, at the door to the room now, “Danny said to give you this.” And she handed him an envelope. Pre-occupied with his continued search, which now extended to underneath the bed, Harry stuffed the envelope in his shirt pocket, folded over.

“When are they back?” he asked, now scattering the sheets from his made-up bed, in case what he was looking for might have (somehow, quite improbably) have hidden itself away there.
“Not until later. What’s the matter Harry – you look like you might have lost something.”
Yolanda’s voice was more clipped than Ana’s, less tainted with an American drawl. But it was harder, too – she was the cynical one of the pair, always ready with a barbed comment, and her thin smile told him she was enjoying the spectacle of Harry McFry looking flustered.

“I could do with a drink, Yolanda. Anything going?” Harry asked, hoping for something alcoholic to calm himself a little, and maybe just wishing she’d take her sarcasm elsewhere. Yolanda turned to go to the lounge to sort out something for him.

Briefly, Harry wondered if he might have done her a disservice. “Have you seen a piece of paper?” he shouted after her. “I had it here last night, and then took it out when I went to see Ana. I may have dropped it here when I came back before I took Danny out.”
“Try the envelope, Harry – Danny said it was important!” she shouted back.
Harry sat on the edge of the mess of a bed and pulled the envelope out of his pocket.

Inside it, he found the bond. Slowly, his heart beat started to slow again. Then, he saw a note Danny had written, and skimmed it to learn that he’d found the bond on the bathroom floor when he’d got back to the flat. He knew Harry would need it. He wouldn’t be around for the rest of the day – had a ‘few things to do’. He hoped Harry would understand. Harry’s sense of relief was so palpable that he called out to Yolanda, euphorically: “This is it – it’s what I was looking for!”

By now, she had returned with a scotch for them both. She sat on the bed beside him, and handed him his drink.
“I am so glad for you, Harry,” she said, wanly. “I hate to see you frustrated.”
Her sarcasm wasn’t wasted on Harry. He took a swig of the whisky and soon his brain was back on an even keel again. World of Harry was starting to return to something like normality.

He checked his watch. He had more than an hour to kill before he’d be meeting Yolanda’s sister, and the meeting at the Ministry. Maybe it would be a chance to make amends with Yolanda – he knew, already, that she seemed to hate him. If his brother and her were really going to be a long-term item, he owed it to them all too try to get along with her, at least.

His mood was lighter. “Fancy some breakfast?” he asked. Yolanda saw the olive branch in the question. She seemed to consider the idea for a moment, before replying: “Sure – let’s do it.”

4 comments:

the domestic minx said...

Ahhh...the olive branch.
Good thinking Harry.

Christine said...

I love the hairspray simile.

Thomas Hamburger Jnr said...

Let's see if it's accepted, domestic minx!

Yes, christine - once experienced, never forgotten!

Theresa111 said...

I've choked myself on the hairspray a few times. Hardly ever tough the stuff nowadays!