This is the seventeenth part of a fiction serial, in 1120 words.
After two days in Phil’s flat, Marjorie still couldn’t work him out. Despite flaunting herself at every opportunity, including walking around naked under a short towel after having a bath, he hadn’t tried anything. He certainly noticed. She could see him looking, and feel his eyes following her. But he had said very little, and left her to do most of the talking. At least she had been right about the flat. It was much cleaner, and he had given her the bedroom, choosing to sleep on an inflatable camping mattress that he put behind the sofa. She had travelled there in the back of his van, which was full of cleaning chemicals, buckets, cloths, and long poles. It had ladders on the roof, and she had easily spotted the name of the company on the side too. Like Rodney, he had left her alone in the flat when he went to work, and she had got his name from his post that came through the door. At least he brought plenty of food home, and even cooked some decent meals.
Tom Calder was home, and still asking the same questions. Marta couldn’t help but get the feeling he blamed her for the girl going missing, and he had been in a bad mood since he got back. She had heard him shouting at the Chief Constable on the phone, acting as if he ran the police force. Marjorie’s case had dropped off the news reports, and Mr Calder made some calls to his press contacts to urge them to keep the story going. He had shouted at George too, and really upset the elderly gardener. Marta had made George some tea after the encounter, and he was visibly shaking. “I don’t need this, I can tell you. I’m old enough to retire, and for two pins I would just go. It’s only looking after Prince that keeps me here”. Marta had given him a slice of cake, and told him to take no notice.
Work at the Zoo was going on as normal for Rodney. He was pleased to have the girl out of his place, but a little miffed that he had hardly heard from Phil since. Just one text, the night he had taken her home. ‘Home safe’. That was it. He was reluctant to go round there, or to ring Phil. If things were going to start to happen in a few days once she was sixteen, he wanted to be sure to keep contact to a minimum. Just in case.
One good thing was that Phil had Netflix. Marjorie had to watch it on his laptop, but she was able to catch up with all her favourites, and it made the time pass. She had sent him off that morning with a shopping list, first asking if he had enough money to get what she needed. He had argued about buying girl’s clothes, especially in her size, in case that attracted attention. But she told him to go to a big superstore branch of a supermarket. “They have clothes there, I’m sure. Probably crap clothes, but they will do. I can’t sit around in these man’s briefs and joggers forever you know. Just buy them with food and stuff, and no checkout lady will take any notice”. He had looked at the list, noting that she had even drawn outlines of the sort of dresses he should buy.
After eating two ham rolls and a bag of crisps for lunch, Marjorie plugged the dongle device into the laptop, and clicked through the screens to activate it. Once she had the mobile broadband confirmed, and wasn’t using his wi-fi, she logged into the Trust Account set up by her mother. On a new tab, she created a new online bank account for Rodney, making up a date of birth, then did the same for Phil. She knew both addresses, and also that Phil’s surname was Hollister. She had got that from his post. Feeling frivolous, she used Tom Calder’s name and date of birth for the password on one of the accounts, and Marta’s name and a made up number for the other. She then transferred one million pounds into each account from her Trust Fund. Allowing herself a huge grin, she spoke out loud. “Let’s see how long it takes them to notice that these two sad guys have suddenly come into a million each”.
Phil had got back with the shopping, and also brought back some takeaway pizza, to save cooking. After wolfing down the food, the girl disappeared into the bedroom with the bags. He was tidying up the pizza boxes when she appeared in the kitchen. Her perfume was so strong, he could smell her before he turned to look at her. The short black dress was tight on her, but definitely showed her curves. She twirled around, lifting one leg clad in the striped black tights, smiling at him over her shoulder. Pausing for effect, she murmured, “Well, what do you think?” He didn’t know what to say, so she did the talking. “I feel so much better wearing girly underwear, Phil. Thanks so much for getting me all the stuff. I was worried that this dress might make me look fat, but I’m pleased with it. Do I look alright?” She put her leg down and pointed her foot, watching his eyes follow the movement. “It’s not too short, is it?” He shook his head. “You look nice. Classy.” She smiled. “Classy. I like classy. Why don’t you go and sit down with a drink, and I will show you the other outfit?”
He watched the curves of her body as she turned and headed back to the bedroom, and called after her. “OK, I’ll be waiting”.
When she came back, Phil stopped in mid-sip from the can. The crimson dress had a low v-shaped cutout at the front, leaving little to the imagination. And it was even shorter than the black one. Marjorie spotted his reaction, and was very pleased with herself. “I’m surprised how well they fit, considering how cheap they were. I might buy more clothes from supermarkets in future. So as it’s my birthday next week, I was hoping we might have a small celebration. Perhaps you could buy a bottle of champagne? Something cheap will do. Then we could have dinner here, and I will dress up. It’s not everyday a girl turns sixteen. Which one shall I wear?”
He cleared his throat, and put down the beer. Raising a hand and extending the index finger, he pointed at the girl.