This is the seventh part of a fiction serial, in 1510 words.
Something needed to be done before disposing of the things she had brought back from Tanya’s church. She wanted to delete the mobile phone contact number she had provided, and was sure it would be on Tanny’s phone which was stashed in the car. Even though the phone Jenny was using was a cheap pay and go phone with no contract reference, it would be useful to be able to hang onto it, and not have to worry if it was traced later. As she went through the call list and contacts on the phone menu, something she saw made her stop scrolling.
Katie and her twin sister Karen had been the muscle, as far as the gang of bullies was concerned. Once they tired of the name-calling and general teasing on a daily basis, they decided to make Jenny’s life even more miserable by setting the twins on her. It started with pushes, made to look accidental. Tripping her up as she walked along the school corridors came next, usually with the addition of tipping out her school bag, and kicking the books around.
They were the two names that Jenny hadn’t been able to find any trace of.
Then one day, they pushed her hard from behind as she was walking down stairs, and she fell and broke two fingers on her left hand. As bad luck would have it, this was spotted by a classroom assistant, and she reported it. But the twins would only believe that Jenny had done it to get them in trouble, and set out to exact real revenge. They waited for her on the way home, and ambushed her close to a walk-through alley near the house. Karen held her tight, as Katie waved a disposable lighter around in her face. She singed off some hair, and chuckled as Jenny screamed for help.
Before letting her go, Karen pulled up the sleeve of her coat, and the sisters laughed as Katie used the lighter to burn Jenny’s arm. It was a large burn, and very painful, and she had to tell her Mum that it was done at school, in the science lab. Then she had to stop Mum rushing off down to the school to complain about negligence, swearing it was her own fault. Although they never waited for her again after that, Katie took every opportunity to wave the lighter at her, flicking on the flame when nobody was watching.
Under the name was a mobile phone number, and a postcode. No address, but that was good enough for now. Scrolling up and down the address book on a hunch, she found the name Karen Tobias. It was a good chance that might be the twin sister, with a married name. Under that name was the same postcode, pretty much confirming it was her. Jenny opened her laptop and entered the postcode. It came back to an industrial estate in a town over eighty miles north. Perhaps they worked there?
That would be her next destination.
Waking up the next morning, Jenny felt as if she had been hit by a car while she was asleep. Her shoulders ached terribly, and she could feel acute pain as she tried to lift her left arm. The pulling sensation had got so bad, she actually looked at the side of her breast to try to see if she could see something. As she started to brush her teeth, nausea overwhelmed her, and she vomited into the sink. There was no time to wonder though. Things to do, and a drive to make. She carried on getting ready, this time using the short black wig bought as a spare. When everything was done, she felt as if she was shivering, despite a pleasant temperature that day. Not that she was cold as such, but the trembling was visible.
After fifty miles, she stopped for a coffee, parking behind the service station. Unable to face eating anything at the time, she sat and finished the hot drink before continuing. The satnav in her car took her to the industrial estate about fifty minutes later, and she slowed down, wondering what to do next. Numerous companies had premises there, everything from a tyre fitting firm, to a plumbing supply warehouse. But now she was there, Jenny felt stupid. She couldn’t just park there all day, hoping to recognise one of the twins. They might not even be at work that day. Away from all the businesses, at the end of the street, she spotted a large mobile cafe, situated in what looked like a permanent spot. That made her feel hungry, so she left the car where it was, and walked down to buy something to eat.
There were some small metal tables and chairs dotted around outside, and one of them had a table umbrella open above it. Jenny stopped dead when she read the name on it, printed in pink letters. ‘Katie’s Kafe’. A few steps later, and she could see two women working in the large drop-down opening. One of them was unmistakably Karen, but the other one was a lot heavier than Katie had ever been. Huge in fact. Maybe Katie had been eating all the profits? So that was why Tanya had the postcode as a contact for the twins. They were running a tea and sandwich business.
Up close, it was definitely them. The dark hair and deep brown eyes, thin lips on small mouths. Jenny opened her handbag, and took our her purse. “Can I have a tea please, milk no sugar? And I will have a bacon sandwich too”. They hadn’t developed any better temperaments in their forties, that was obvious. Karen extended a hand. “That will be three-forty luv”. Katie had already turned to begin frying some bacon in an old blackened pan. Jenny sat at the table nearest the serving counter and smiled at Karen. She didn’t smile back, and started to rub down the counter with a grungy-looking cloth. Moments later, she slapped a plate holding the sandwich onto the counter, followed by a big white mug of tea. “Tea and bacon sandwich!” She bellowed as if trying to be heard over a crowd, though Jenny was the only other person there. Standing up to collect her order, she smiled at Karen again. Still no trace of recognition.
After eating most of the sandwich, and drinking all of the tea, Jenny went back to the hatch. “What time do you close please? I might come back for something else later”. This time it was Katie who turned and spoke, hesitating slightly as she looked at Jenny’s eyes. “Normally around four, luv. Depends how busy we are”. With a nod, Jenny walked away, hoping that she had jogged Katie’s memory. Even a little bit.
By six that night, the area was deserted. The businesses were closed up for the day, and so was the snack bar. It had been a very long and dull wait for Jenny, parked in a nearby playing fields car park, trying not to succumb to sleep. Luckily, hardly anyone had been around those playing fields during the afternoon, and she had even been able to crouch behind her car to have a pee.
She parked right behind the shuttered snack bar, the overhang covering up her car completely. Under the steps at the side that led the twins up to their place of work there was a large gas bottle. Rubber tubing ran from the valve at the top into a hole in the floor of the mobile building, then presumably into the cooking range at the back. Jenny pulled on it, delighted to find a lot of slack on the pipe. When she was sure she had pulled enough through, she cut a small hole in the tubing with some nail scissors she kept in her handbag, then fed it all back in carefully. With a quick glance to make sure it looked exactly the same as it had before, she turned the wheel around the valve, which had a small window indicating that the bottle was three-quarters full.
Now for a tiresome drive home, in rush-hour traffic. One stop required, to dump the stuff from Tanya’s place, then home for a rest.
Sleep was reluctant to come that night, and Jenny tossed and turned, despite the painkillers. So she woke late the next morning, and it was almost eleven before she checked the website of the local paper where the twins had their cafe. There was a photo of some firemen spraying water from their hoses over what was left of the burned-out mobile building. A small headline below said everything Jenny had been hoping to hear. ‘Tragic accident claims the lives of local sisters’. That was followed by ‘Gas leak believed to have caused fatal fire. Women died from burns’.
She closed the laptop without bothering to read any more.