Home About Six: Part Eighteen

This is the eighteenth part of a fiction serial, in 985 words.

Jill didn’t ring that night, and Anita was pleased. Her sister was probably drinking heavily again, and she wasn’t in the mood to have a argument with her about Mum’s wedding. She checked her online banking on the i-pad, and was pleased to see that Mike’s money had been transferred as promised. After eating a decent meal, she was still hungry, so decided to have some rice pudding before bed.

As she was brushing her teeth the phone rang, and she answered it on the bedroom extension. It was Ian Hope. “Sorry it’s so late, Mrs Hollis. I have had some interesting communication about Shaily, the Indian reporter. And the same contact has found out something worth knowing about Mick Steeden too. But he needs five hundred dollars to pay an informant. Are you prepared to pay that? I cannot guarantee it will help find Mike, but it might expand a few leads”. Anita hesitated. Could Ian be trying to get money out of her? Did he know about the financial arrangements that were now in place?

“I was led to believe that Mike had paid you for your services in advance, Ian. How do I know that the money will go to your contact, let alone this mysterious informant?” He was honest with her. “You don’t know that, and neither do I. But if no real information is forthcoming, my contact knows me well enough to be aware that he will regret crossing me. As for the money Mike gave me in advance, that was for my time and expenses. I had no idea then that I might be having to pay for information as to his whereabouts”. That seemed reasonable.

“Very well, text me your account details, and I will transfer the money online tonight. It will be the British equivalent of the five hundred dollars though. I don’t want to mess around buying dollars to transfer”. Ian thanked her, and hung up.

It was the phone ringing that woke her up the next morning. Expecting it to be Jill, her hand hovered over the handset, reluctant to answer. When she did, it was Ian, sounding excited. “The time difference paid off, Mrs Hollis. I was able to speak to my contact a few times during the night, and have some really good stuff to tell you. But I am not going into details over the phone. I will come and see you later, same time as yesterday”. When she put the phone down, it suddenly occurred to Anita how her life had started to so heavily revolve around the time of six pm.

The next call was later. Jill was on her lunch break, and making apologies for not ringing last night. When she tried to get onto the subject of Mum’s wedding, Anita cut her dead. Jill tried another tactic. “Look, I will pick you up. Just come for the service, so it looks like she has some family there. Then you can say you don’t feel well, something with the baby or whatever. I will bring you back, and that way we both get out of having to wear fake smiles at the after-party”. There was no shifting Anita.

“Forget it, Jill. I’m not going, and that’s that”.

During the afternoon, Anita had to do some shopping, and also popped into the chemist to get some indigestion tablets. Eating so late at night wasn’t a good idea, it seemed. Even a short trip around town had made her back ache badly. Walking across to her car, she rubbed her back with her free hand, and smiled. It was such a cliché, a pregnant woman with backache. On the drive home, she was sure she spotted that silver Ford car. It was reassuring to think that Ian was watching out for her.

There was something inside, snagging as she tried to push the front door open. Anita was thinking that there must be a lot of post today. But it was just one large envelope, one of those long padded bags designed to just fit through a letter-box. After putting her shopping away, she sat on the sofa and looked at the package. Her name was written on the front, but there was no postage mark, and no address. It made her nervous, as it was so thick. Turning it over slowly, she was relieved to see a message on the back. ‘From Ian Hope’. She opened it by pulling the tab, and tipped the contents onto the coffee table.

As well as page after page of printouts, there were also photos. Most of it was taken from newspapers all around the world, but there were also some documents that looked very official. Anita went to get some fruit juice from the fridge, and then sat down to read. Forty-five minutes later she had some of the papers laid out in date order. The oldest one went back six years, and the latest was just over six months ago. She picked that one up again, then started to go back over the rest.

‘Tragic plane crash in India claims 240 lives’.
‘Three fatal airline crashes in 9 months cause concern in India’.
‘Emirates Airline grounds 43 aircraft after technical faults discovered’.
‘US Air Force denies fatal crash was pilot error’.
‘Second RAF air disaster in 3 months. MOD to investigate’.
‘Boeing denies responsibility after 8 fatal air crashes in one year’.
‘Kazakhstan air disaster blamed on technical fault. 108 killed’.
‘Air Canada crash. Survivors and relatives of victims to sue in class action’.

A creak from above made her drop the papers onto the sofa. Listening carefully, she heard it again. Anita grabbed her phone and walked hurriedly to the front door. Once outside, she walked away from the house, dialling Ian’s number on her mobile. He answered after three rings.

“Ian, can you come quickly please? There is someone in my house”.

35 thoughts on “Home About Six: Part Eighteen

    1. Ian was nearby, but once Anita was safely at home, he obviously relaxed. The intruder must have already been in her house when she got back. Mike had been following her earlier, so had not been there to see anyone enter her house.
      ‘On the drive home, she was sure she spotted that silver Ford car. It was reassuring to think that Ian was watching out for her.’
      I presume they had used some sort of professional lock-pick.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, those constant cliffhangers do get rather wearing, I agree.
      You should try writing them, that’s even worse. 🙂
      I have every confidence that Ian is a ‘stand up guy’, as you say in America. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. (1) Ian’s contact knows that Ian’s warnings are to be taken seriously. He knows that Ian has a very particular set of skills. Skills that Ian has acquired over a very long career, Skills that make him a nightmare for people who cross him. If the money is well spent, that will be the end of it. Ian will neither look for him nor pursue him. If the money is poorly spent, then Ian will look for him. He will find him. And he will kill him.
    (2) “I have had some interesting communication about Shaily, the Indian reporter.” Here in America, most Indian reporters communicate via smoke signals. Those who don’t are considered wet blankets.
    (3) “…it suddenly occurred to Anita how her life had started to so heavily revolve around the time of six pm.” It’s about time, Anita! Even my good friend, Joe Six-Pack, figured this out a long time ago!
    (4) This is Chapter 18. That’s 6+6+6. I didn’t actually want to write this comment. The devil made me do it. Otherwise, that red-skinned scoundrel threatened to scalp me! (Strange that he speaks with a slight Indian accent.)
    (5) David is disappointed that Anita won’t be jumping out of the wedding cake in her birthday suit. He was so looking forward to that. But maybe Ian will agree to do it. Hope springs eternal.
    (6) “…one of those long padded bags designed to just fit through a letter-box.” Here in America, we have letter-boxes large enough to accommodate a body bag.
    (7) “The oldest one went back six years, and the latest was just over six months ago.” I figured out why the number six pervades every aspect of Anita’s life. The number is an omen. Anita’s expecting sextuplets!
    (8) All these aircraft disasters are hard to ex-plane.

    Liked by 1 person

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