This is the fifth part of a fiction serial, in 1760 words.
It was the longest drive Jenny had taken in years. She stopped at a roadside restaurant halfway, and sat staring out of the window at the crowded car park.
Tanya liked to be called Tanny, for some reason. Though not conventionally attractive, there was something about her that oozed sexuality, even from the age of twelve. Other girls noticed her, and boys looked back at her as they walked past. By the time she was fifteen, rumours were going around that she had already done it, and from her supremely confident manner, Jenny suspected that they were correct.
There was every chance that she would never have been accepted into the group. For one thing, she wasn’t any good at netball, and she was also very clever. Always top in most subjects, academic prowess seemed to come easy for her. No fear of exams, and not much need to study either. ‘Naturally bright’ was what most teachers called her. For other girls, this would leave them isolated and alone, derided for being a swot. But Tanny was sought after, with that elusive appeal that nobody could quite put their finger on.
At the time, Jenny was also obsessed with her. More than a crush, an unspoken desire. Of course, she didn’t have a hope in Hell of even talking to her, let alone hanging out with her. Once she became part of the netball gang, Jenny was never going to feature on her radar.
But despite this, Tanny was responsible for an awful cruelty. One of the worst.
The rest of the drive was dull. Boring scenery sweeping past the window, and too many big trucks to have to keep overtaking. By the time she got to the pub called The Blue Boar where she had booked a room, it was dark and chilly. A room above a pub seemed like a good idea. The owners too busy to pay her much attention, and a crowded bar keeping them distracted. A false name, and the blonde wig. Good enough to go unnoticed for now. Cash paid over in advance, and just handed a key by the harassed barmaid. No breakfast included, so easy to slip out through a side entrance the next morning. And it was almost forty miles from her destination too, so nothing too close to where Tanny was to be found.
There was no bath in the room, so Jenny stood in the shower letting the hot water soothe her aches and pains. That pulling feeling under her left breast was getting worse. She rubbed at the spot, but that didn’t help. How she hated her boobs. They had blighted her life, and now it appeared they were going to end it too soon as well. Having a large chest at the age of thirteen might have been something some girls yearned for. But for her, the prominent bulges had only served to attract unwanted attention. When you had the biggest pair in the school by the age of fourteen, even bigger than any of the female teachers, they could make your life a waking nightmare.
First came the nicknames. ‘Headlamps’, ‘Boobylicious’, ‘Jenny Jugs’, and so many more. Then came the other jibes. “Are they real?” “Have you stuffed your bra?” “Are you pregnant?” “Don’t be late for milking time, the farmer’s calling”. Outside school she had to run the gauntlet of stares. Boys stared, old men stared, even old ladies stared. People serving in shops stared, bus drivers stared, and there was no chance she would ever go to a swimming pool, fearful of becoming the main attraction. It would have been nice to have been able to talk to mum about it, but as she also had huge boobs, Jenny was afraid to bring up the subject.
Then Tanya started to pay attention to her. Slinking away from the rest of the group, she found reasons to chat to her. Asking about a difficult Maths problem, or mentioning that there were some good school shoes on offer at the local shoe shop. Jenny instinctively knew it was all fake. Why would the girl suddenly appear to befriend her, after all this time? But her need for friendship and her attraction to Tanny overcame her inner worries. She took her eye off the ball, with terrible consequences.
One afternoon when school was turning out for the day, Tanny found her. Grabbing her hand she smiled, and whispered “Come on, I want to tell you something”. She led her behind some storage sheds away from the main building, and pushed her back against the wall. “Do you like me? I mean, really like me?” Jenny nodded enthusiastically. With that, Tanny started to kiss her, and began to unbutton her blouse at the same time. Overwhelmed, face flushed, Jenny returned the passion, throwing caution to the winds. Moments later, Tanny stepped back, a horrible grin across her face. Shrieks of laughter were suddenly heard all around, and the netball gang appeared, shouting and hooting, bent double with hilarity.
Tanny pointed at her, extending a long manicured finger. “Told you, girls. The Pug is a lezza, look at the state of her”. More raucous laughter as the group pointed at her unbuttoned blouse, and the heavy breasts straining the straps of the cheap bra. Jenny grabbed her school bag and started running. She ran across the playing fields to the back gate, pausing to catch her breath and do up some buttons. Then she started running again, and didn’t stop until she got home.
That night, she took her first overdose. But there was only aspirin in the house, and just seven tablets. All it did was to make her feel a bit sick.
And now Tanny was running a Spiritualist Church. Not a formal affair, just one of those places where people went to try to contact their long-lost loved ones, and no doubt pay for the privilege. Her sloppy website promised contact from beyond, and also offered personal one-to-one sittings. Perfect. Jenny had booked one online, using a mobile broadband dongle and a false name and email address. The so-called church was easy to find. Looking like a converted car repair garage, at the end of a lane in a remote country district. Jenny had rarely seen anything that looked less like a church, despite the badly-painted signs promising ‘Spiritual Help Ahead’.
There were no cars in the car park, and no sign of any CCTV cameras either. She parked away from the door, turning the car to face out of the entrance before getting out. Dark glasses with the blonde wig, and a cheap puffa jacket over some grey leggings. She looked like what she was pretending to be. She had something in her shoulder bag, all she would need.
Tanny was barely recognisable as she answered the door. Long grey hair extended almost to her elbows, and a heavily lined face made her look older than her years. She might have survived all that sex and addictions, but her body was advertising the effects of it. The voice was the same though. Slightly superior. No, condescending. That was better. She showed her through the small room with its rows of chairs in front of a small lectern. A tiny stuffy room at the back seemed to serve as both consulting room, and bedsit. It was tidy, but felt airless, and smelled musty.
There was not a hint of recognition in her tone, or on her face. “I think we agreed forty pounds?” Jenny handed over the two twenties, and Tanny slipped them inside a mystical-looking box on the table. Adopting a serene pose, she looked up from the box. “Now, how can I help you?” Jenny spoke with a slightly gruff voice, as if she had a sore throat. “I am trying to contact an old friend, someone I was at school with. I haven’t seen her for twenty-five years, and I was worried that she might have died. Can you tell me if she is in the spirit world?”
Tanny reached across, taking her left hand. She rolled her eyes upward before closing the lids over them. Jenny had to stifle a snort of laughter at the theatricals. “What is her name, my dear?” Wrapping her right hand around the handle of the kitchen knife in her bag, she replied. “Jenny Pettifer. A troubled girl, badly bullied. I fear that she may have taken her own life”. A definite flicker of the closed eyelids showed that Tanny had recognsised the name. That was something. With her eyes still closed, she spoke with great solemnity. “You can rest easy my dear. Your good friend is alive, and no longer troubled”. Jenny was impressed, maybe Tanny knew her stuff after all.
As the other woman’s eyes opened and she began to smile, Jenny brought her hand out of the bag and stabbed Tanny once in the neck. She jumped up, pushing the small table to one side, then walked back a few paces, clutching her neck with both hands. Using her left hand, Jenny removed the sunglasses, and pulled off the wig. “Hi Tanny. It’s been a long time”. With that, she rushed forward and plunged the six-inch blade between the clasped hands, straight into Tanny’s throat.
There was a lot of blood, more than she had expected.
It didn’t take long for Tanny to bleed out. Whether it was the wounds, the shock, or just the surprise, she had made no attempt to get around Jenny and make for the door, or to defend herself.
A quick rummage was all it took to find an ancient laptop. That and a mobile phone were placed in the shoulder bag, which would hopefully remove any record of the appointment. In the mystical box she found just the two twenties, but took the box anyway. Robbery. A decent enough motive.
The puffa jacket had taken most of the blood, but the wig had some splashes on it, and would need to be washed. Wrapping the knife in the jacket, she hefted the bag onto her shoulder, and walked out to her car.
Some baby wipes in the back cleaned the blood off of her hands, and they were placed in a rubbish bag with the jacket, knife, and box.
As she turned on the engine, Jenny was buzzing, hyped up. It was better when they knew, that was for sure. She decided to do the three hundred mile drive home in one hit.
It wouldn’t matter if she felt tired later.