Standing for ages at the bus stop near the Minto Hotel desperate for a pee. Still no bloody bus. One had to come soon surely to God? She should have had Jerry pick her up but she’d been so involved with Joyce that she’d forgotten the time. By the time she’d spoken to Jerry, he was three beers in. She calls the taxi number again and then another. Engaged or no answer. She’ll try again in a minute. Another woman is already standing at the bus stop: small and slim with a tailored dog-tooth coat and high heels.
“I’ve only come out in the worst possible outfit haven’t I?” the woman says grinning and sounding a little pissed. “It’s okay though, my husband’s picking me up. He’ll be here any minute.”
“Would you by any chance like a lift?”
“No thanks, I my husband’s coming for me.”
Not true but there is something about this woman with the fluting, fake laugh. A white mini pulls up at the curb next to them and the woman totters to the back seat which seems strange to Michelle. The driver rolls down the window.
“Happy to give you a lift darling.”
“No, really it’s not necessary,”
“I insist,” says the man, leaning over to open the passenger door in front. “Always happy to give a lady a free ride,” he continues, winking broadly.
“No,” she says with more force than she’d meant. “My husband’s coming-”
“Don’t know why he’s not here already darling. I wouldn’t let my wife out alone at this time of night. Not with the perverts that go about nowadays.”
“I’ve told you-”
“Okay, okay,” the man laughs, raising his hands in mock surrender. “It’s your funeral, isn’t it Steph?” Giggling from the back seat is the only response. Why on earth had she got in the back?
“Tell you what though, could you do us a favour and shut the door. It’s bloody Baltic.”
There’s no harm in helping him out, is there? She approaches the car, almost slips on the ice and snow slimed pavement and reaches out to shut the door. The woman for some reason has gotten back out the car and is now behind her. Maybe she’s dropped something and is going to retrieve it. Before she can reach out for the door, she’s pushed from behind and falls against the car, hitting her head on the side of the roof. Strong arms bundle her inside and the car screeches off.