Copyright Stevie Turner 2019. You can find Chapter 8 here.
There’s no sign of Mike as I sit down in my favourite seat. I pour out some coffee then scrape off a layer of thick cream on the scone. I spy a newspaper on the next table, and pick it up for something to do but cannot really concentrate on reading any of the articles. I’m halfway down my first cup when a familiar voice sounds behind me.
“How was he yesterday?”
My heart gives an extra thump and I smile at Mike as I fold up the newspaper and put it to one side.
“Just the same, but you made a big difference at the time. Thanks so much.”
“Then he needs some more.”
“If you could just get him generally calmer it would be awesome. However, I’ll have to wait until my son-in-law can help with lifting him in and out of the car. I’m waiting for Social Services to provide another more adaptable car, but in the meantime I’ll have to use Finn.”
Mike plonks his tray on the table and slaps the palm of his hand to his forehead as he sits down.
“Oh, of course. Sorry. I completely forgot about that part of it. I can come to your house if you like, and treat him there.”
“Really?” I look over at him. “Will that cost extra?”
He shakes his head.
“Not at all, as you obviously live locally to me. It’ll be no trouble at all.”
I take a bite of my scone and in-between mouthfuls give Mike my address. We exchange mobile phone numbers, and I discover he only lives about a ten minute drive away.
“My daughter would like to watch you at work. She’s self-employed, so can take time off whenever it’s convenient to you.”
I’d feel safer with Katie there, as I’m not usually in the habit of giving strange men my address. However, something tells me that this man is not out for what he can get.
“Fine. I look forward to meeting her.”
I take a quick glance at Mike’s profile as he demolishes his breakfast. He’s not what anybody would call handsome, but although he’s middle-aged, his face is relatively unlined. I decide his lips are rather sensuous when they’re not processing rashers of bacon. I quickly bring my mind back to the present.
“She works from home and runs an office cleaning business with fifteen employees. She’s doing well, and building up the business slowly.”
“Good for her.” He nods. “It took several years before my reputation arrived in community halls before I did. Now it’s got to the point where I could work every day if I wanted to, including weekends. It suits me, otherwise I’d just be sitting at home twiddling my thumbs. I’d rather be out helping folks ease their pain.”
I chuckle as I finish my tea.
“If you eat too many of those fried breakfasts, it might be you who needs the help.”
He shovels in a whole fried egg and shrugs.
“We’ve all got to go sometime. The bran my ex-wife used to serve up doesn’t quite do it for me. Well, it does, but in a rather more unpleasant way that is also sometimes rather inconvenient.”
“I’m with you on the bran.” I laugh out loud. “Have you ever tried porridge?”
“Sure.” He nods. “But by the time I’ve pissed about trying to make it, it’s more suitable for filling cracks in the walls.”
For somebody whose job it is to be other-worldly and spiritual, Mike is pleasingly without affectation, and I look forward to hearing more of what I suspect might be a wickedly dry sense of humor.
When we finish our food I’m reluctant to take my leave, but I have shopping to do. To my surprise, Mike grabs a trolley too and walks around the supermarket with me. His choices are microwave meals, cakes and fizzy pop. I veer more towards vegetables, fruit, lean meat and salads. I take some wholemeal bread, while he grabs two white loaves. He looks at me and rolls his eyes.
“Yeah, I know there’s more goodness in the wrapper, but hey…”
At the checkout I load my purchases into two carrier bags. Mike follows me out of the supermarket. I jettison my trolley next to a line of others and pick up the bags.
“How are you getting home with those?”
“Oh, there’s a bus stop just outside.”
He hesitates briefly.
“If…If you like I can give you a lift home? I’ll then know where to come to see Kieran.”
This man is not threatening. My instinct tells me to trust him. I nod.
“Thanks. That’ll be great. It’s not far.”
He takes my bags and puts them in his trolley, and we walk to the other end of the car park. He presses his key fob and there is a click as the central locking is taken off a shiny white Audi.
“Nice car.” I say approvingly. “
“Thanks.” He smiles at me. “At your service.”
It’s a smooth ride back, which is over too soon. I reluctantly make a decision not to ask him in. I haven’t yet had a chance to tidy up, and Kieran’s soiled clothes are still in a pile by the washing machine. Besides, this is all in aid of Kieran, not myself. I open the passenger door.
“Thanks for the lift. Call me when you’re free to see Kieran.”
“Will do.” Mike gives me a quick wave from the driver’s seat. “See you soon, Connie.”
Half an hour later when I switch the washing machine on I realise that Mike has driven off with my two bags of groceries. Hoping he doesn’t view this oversight on my part as a modern day version of the Victorian lady and her handkerchief, I pick up my phone and dial his number.
“Yeah, I’ve just recoiled at seeing the broccoli and cauliflower.”
“If you’re free to see Kieran this evening, then perhaps you can bring them back?”
“Sure.” Mike replies. “Seven o’clock?”
“Okay. I’ll see if Katie wants to come too.”
“The more the merrier.”
I end the call and cannot help but think about what I’m going to wear.
Chapter 10 on Saturday…