This is the fifth part of a fiction serial, in 1415 words.
Lilian put her face on while she was waiting for the bloke to arrive. Not that she wasn’t already wearing make-up of course, but the full slap wouldn’t hurt. She wasn’t scared of these Moroccans. In her day, she had dealt with many shady characters, and she wasn’t about to take any shit from anyone. She had fifteen tenners hidden in her stocking drawer, wrapped up in an old pair of woolly tights. He would have to settle for one-fifty and the keys, she would make that clear.
Benny left the flat in Plender Street for the short walk south to Crowndale Road. He would go and see if Big Linda was in. She wouldn’t mind him hanging around there until Hamza had cleared off. He would give it a few hours, then ring Nan to see if the coast was clear. When he arrived, he could see her through the kitchen window of the ground floor flat, doing something at the sink. Not bothering to ring the bell, he caught her attention, and waved. Moments later, the door opened, and Linda stood back to let him in. “Well, if it’s not the gorgeous young Benny. What brings you here?” He grinned, knowing full well he was far from gorgeous. But it was nice of her to greet him like that. He went with the truth. “Some guy I owe money to is coming looking for me. I need to be away from the flat for a few hours, if that’s alright”. She headed back into the kitchen. “Fine with me, it’s nice to have the company. Go through and sit down, I’ll put the kettle on. I have to be at work by six though”.
He knew Big Linda from the market. She helped out in the central cafe for a few hours each day, one of a few cash in hand jobs she had. The woman was a grafter. As well as getting up early to help prepare a flower stall, she did the cafe job during the lunch rush, then worked in the evenings, cleaning offices up the Euston Road. Despite her familiar name, Linda wasn’t that big. But her boobs were. It could have been argued with conviction that they entered a room a full three seconds before the rest of her, and when he had met her the first time, he couldn’t take his eyes off them. Someone should surely have asked the Guinness Book Of Records to investigate, as she was a potential record-breaker. She even introduced herself that way, thrusting her chest out, and adding, “I’m sure you can tell why I’m called that”. It had taken him a good while to get used to them, but he was relaxed about the gargantuan jugs by now, and able to chat normally.
Linda hadn’t had it easy, but she rarely complained. She had a one-night stand with Edgar from the record shop when she was seventeen, and a year later, she was stuck with his baby, who he wanted to be called Cedric, after some relative in Jamaica. Mum had chucked her out over it, and Edgar was too stoned to ever take any responsibility, let alone part with any cash for the child. So she had done her best as a single Mum, got a flat off the Council, and worked around childcare, nursery, then school. But Cedric turned out to be a wayward son. For one thing, he didn’t like his name, and started to refer to himself just as ‘C’, as soon as he was old enough. Then he started skipping school, and got in with some right tearaways all the way over on the Packington Estate, in Islington. She couldn’t manage him, and he was soon in and out of Young Offender Units, with the cops at the flat all the time. Edgar came up with the idea to send him off to live with his distant uncle in Jamaica, and he had jumped at the chance. She hadn’t heard from him in years.
As she asked him various questions about what had happened to cause his current situation, Benny gave Linda a good visual examination, the first time he had really looked at her. He reckoned she was around twice his age, but her round face and fleshy body made her skin look good, and took a good few years off. Her hair was the same as it always was, drawn up tightly around her head, then sticking up on top, tied with some elastic contraption. The end result was something like the top of a pineapple, if a pineapple had its roots showing through a yellow-blonde dye job. Her eyebrows were plucked within a hair of existence, and arched so severely, she looked permanently surprised. Her hips and thighs appeared to be trying to escape from the three-quarter length jeans, and an ill-advised low-cut short top failed to conceal the roll of belly that bulged between its hem, and the waistband of her jeans.
On her left tit, he could clearly see a well-rendered tattoo of the cartoon character, Bugs Bunny. She had seen him clock it, and looked down. “You spotted my Bugs? I was gonna get a carrot on the right one, but never got around to it”. Benny smiled, and said nothing, so Linda grabbed her chest, and pushed it together, creating a cleavage resembling a crevasse in a glacier. “See? It would have been on this side, and when they were squeezed together, it would have looked like he was eating it. You know, What’s up, Doc? Chomp Chomp”. Benny didn’t really know, but he enjoyed the demonstration.
Lilian let the Arabic bloke in. He was wearing a white tracksuit, and jingling keys on a Mercedes key ring. “Benny had to go to the doctor’s, he’s not been at all well. But he left your money, and the keys to the shop”. Her tone was flat, not friendly, and not rude either. Hamza looked at the old woman with undisguised distaste. She was dressed in just a black nylon full slip, and he could see her underwear through it. Her dark tights were laddered and holed, and she had no shoes or slippers on her podgy feet. He had never seen a woman wearing so much make up, and her perfume made him want to sneeze. He stepped back, reluctant to be too close to her.
When she handed over the money and keys, Hamza glanced down at the small bundle of notes. “Who are you lady, his mother? This is not enough, I want twice this”. Lilian kept her cool. “Better than his Mum, I’m his grandmother. And I’m saying there is no more. As he told, you, it’s been quiet. That’s all there is, so take it, and piss off”. Hamza didn’t like to hear a woman swear, and even less so when they were swearing at him. “Look you’re an old lady, and my people respect old ladies. So don’t make me turn nasty, I’ll just wait until Benny comes home”. He sat down heavily on the sofa, and stretched out his legs. Lilian had expected that, and was ready.
She stepped back, lifted her left leg, and tore a huge hole in the ladder already there. Then she reached below her left arm, and pulled at the seam of the ancient slip. It came apart easily, exposing the lacy bra cup underneath. “So it goes like this mate. I start screaming, and my neighbours call the police. I tell them you forced your way into my flat, pulled me down on the sofa, and tried to sexually assault me. You ripped my slip, tore at my tights, and only stopped when I started screaming. You car is a Mercedes, and I’m sure the number plate will be on CCTV. Besides, you will be on the camera covering the entrance to the flats. The fabric from your clothes and shoes is on my sofa and carpets, and once I start screaming, the neighbours are going to see you running away”. She folded her arms.
He sneered. “Yeah, like who is going to think I tried to have sex with an old witch like you? Scream if you want, I don’t care”. She shook her head slowly. “Think about it. Do you really want to chance it in court? Take the money and keys, and forget you ever heard of Benny. You know it makes sense”. He thought about it for a few seconds, snatched up the money and keys, then stormed out the flat without a word.
To be continued…