Following the relatively ‘happy’ ending of my recent serial, ‘Street Life’. I thought regular readers might like to know the two alternative endings I had in mind. If it wasn’t for so many of you pleading for a nice outcome, this is what you may well have read instead.
**If you haven’t read the serial, then this will be meaningless, so skip it.**
Tash decided to let them take the bus without getting on it. She would get one not that far behind, which was going in the same direction. She watched them get on, and both go upstairs. A minute later, another number twenty three arrived, and she paid the fare using the stolen Oyster Card. Their bus wasn’t that far ahead, stuck in the traffic, so she would be able to see if they got off. Once off the crowded bus and out in the street, she would have a much better chance of grabbing the bag that seemed to be so important to Candy.
Jack liked having her head on his shoulder, the spiky hair tickling the side of his jaw felt good. It felt right too, as if it had been a long time coming. Candy was staring vacantly at the centre aisle, her head rocking as the bus did the usual stop-start in London traffic. She wondered if she had spoken too soon, jumped at the chance to be with Jack so she didn’t have to travel alone. Give it a few days in Bristol, see how it worked out. She had enough cash to move on somewhere else, if it didn’t suit her.
Every time the bus in front stopped, Tash craned her neck to see if she could see the distinctive blonde hair appear on the street outside. She had stayed on the lower floor, and picked a good almost opposite the driver, giving her a clear view through the large windscreen of the bus. As they got closer to Paddington Station, she was sure they hadn’t got off yet, and finally decided that they might be on their way to catch a train somewhere. Maybe the guy lived in the suburbs? When the bus in front stopped close to the station, she saw them exit, and rang the bell to indicate she wanted to get off too. They walked together into the busy station, and Tash kept her distance. Despite the crowds, it was so easy to spot Candy’s hair. In the ticket hall, she watched from the door as he bought tickets from a machine at the end, then put his arm round Candy and walked off hurriedly.
The traffic had been bad, and Jack said they would have to hurry, or miss the train. Candy wanted to use the toilet, but Jack was insistent. “No time, love, you will have to go on the train”. He checked the platform on the huge indicator board, and pulled Candy along after him, picking up the pace. “Only a couple of minutes, come on, hurry up”.
Tash wasn’t used to running, and the flip flops didn’t help. As she increased speed, she let them fly off, gaining ground in her bare feet. She knocked into some commuters, swerved to avoid others, but made it to the gate of the platform just as Jack was showing the man their tickets. She barged into Candy at speed, grabbing the bag as they both fell onto the floor. Jack and the ticket inspector stood open-mouthed, wondering what the hell had happened, but when he saw the scruffy girl struggle to her feet clutching Candy’s holdall, he rushed forward and grabbed her, wrapping his arms around the scrawny body. The girl screamed obscenities at him, then finally resorting to her old days as a clip artist, she suddenly yelled, “HELP, RAPE!” at the top of her voice. Candy walked forward, showing no recognition of the girl she of course knew was Natasha. She pulled the bag from her hand, and looked up at Jack, as Tash continued to yell and swear.
Two British Transport Police officers were making their way across the concourse. They had been attracted by the yelling, and their bright yellow jackets and noisy radios announced their imminent arrival. Jack nodded at the tickets, still in the inspector’s hand. “Take your ticket and go, Candy, I’ve got her”. The two cops were picking up the pace now, running as fast as their bulky uniforms and stab vests would allow. Candy caught Jack’s gaze, just for a moment, and he nodded.
She took the ticket off the man, and ran onto the platform, opening the first door she came to. It started to close, and as the train jolted, signifying it was departing, she could still hear Tash. “RAAAPE!”. Finding a seat, she kept the bag on her lap as the train picked up speed.
Ending Two. (From, Tash wasn’t used to running…)
Tash wasn’t used to running, and the flip flops didn’t help. As she increased speed, she let them fly off, gaining ground in her bare feet. She knocked into some commuters, swerved to avoid others, but made it to the gate of the platform just as Jack was showing the man their tickets. She barged into Candy at speed, grabbing the bag as they both fell onto the floor. Jack and the ticket inspector stood open-mouthed, wondering what the hell had happened, but when he saw the scruffy girl struggle to her feet clutching Candy’s holdall, he rushed forward and grabbed her. Tash flew at him like some demented harpy; punching, kicking, lashing out. But she had no chance against the big man, and he pushed her over easily. Candy turned to him, “Leave it Jack, she’s just a bag-snatcher, let’s go.”
As they turned to walk through the gate, Tash fumbled in the shoulder bag that had fallen onto the ground. She jumped up, emitting a fierce growl as she ran forward again. Jack turned to protect Candy, and the girl punched him as hard as she could, in the groin. He knew they had to catch the train, and so even though he hated to hit a woman, he punched her in the face, knocking her flying onto her back. Hustling past the concerned inspector and ignoring his protestations, they ran along the platform, managing to get onto the train just as the doors closed and it started to leave the station. Candy found a free seat where they could sit together, and ushered Jack into the window seat, before heading off to find the toilet. Jack extended his hand, “Leave that here, love. I will make sure it’s safe.” She smiled, and patted the bag. “Things inside I need. You know, lady’s things”. He smiled and nodded, a little embarrassed.
When she got back to the seat he was asleep, his head against the window. A man had sat opposite, across the table separating the seats. But he had his head buried in a newspaper, and paid her no attention. About an hour later, the express passed through Swindon, without stopping. Candy nudged Jack. “Ever been to Swindon, Jack? What’s it like there?” He didn’t reply, so she reached up and patted his cheek. It was cold and white. She had seen a couple of dead people before, drug overdoses mainly. But Jack didn’t look like them. He was just very pale, and very cold. She kept her cool, though she was trembling. The bloke opposite had finished his paper, and was asleep too, his head thrown back against the seat, mouth open.
Nobody had seen the long nail file in Tash’s hand. It had been the only thing resembling a weapon she had felt in her bag, so she had used it instinctively. Jack had thought he had just been punched. He hadn’t even bothered to look down, or notice the small hole in his trousers at the top of his thigh. There wasn’t much blood, as it had mostly just bled out inside his leg. He had felt sleepy, and put his head against the window. Candy got up from her seat with the bag, and walked the length of the train until she found the last toilet, near the front.
Forty-six minutes later, she walked off into the evening light of an unfamiliar city.
So, if you hadn’t wanted the happy ending you got, which one of these would you have preferred?