Saturday 21 October 2023

Saturday Sample:Face to Face with the Führer by Gill James , black coffee


London 1976

She looked at the young man curled up in the doorway. He seemed to be sleeping peacefully, at least. She would try her best not to wake him. She must get inside though. This meeting was really important.

It was getting worse. It showed up more at this time of day anyway. They got lost in the crowds as the day wore on. Somebody should do something.

This one looked about the same age as she was then. Goodness, something like this –  or worse – could have so easily happened to her.

It wasn’t as bad, now, as it had been then. Not yet. It was similar enough though. It was as if it was all starting over again. Nobody had really believed it was going to happen back then either.

Could she do this? Well, she’d have to try. Gingerly she stepped over him. This sort of thing wasn’t so easy any more. She cursed. Why did people have to get old?

He stirred slightly. The smell was awful. Then, to add to the bad body odour, he farted. It was a bad one and suggested an upset stomach.

No wonder with the sort of food he probably has to eat.

She fumbled in her handbag and found her purse. She slipped out a large note, looked over her shoulder to see that no one was watching and posted it into his begging tin. He nodded and grunted.

Don’t you dare spend it on drugs or alcohol, young man.

She knew she shouldn’t do it, really. There were systems in place to deal with these people but they just weren’t working fast enough. She’d always preferred a more direct method. Wait for the authorities and you’d wait forever. Sometimes you needed to stop them anyway. The authorities aren’t always right.

She pushed open the door. In seconds the world of the young man was left behind. Now she was in the plush foyer of the five-star hotel where she was to meet the reporter. She recognised the soft notes of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons – wasn’t that Spring playing? Nice.

She sat down on one of the overstuffed armchairs. Goodness, the carpet was so thick here and the parquet area round the reception desk so polished.

She watched some of the guests going up to the desk. All furs and smart shoes. Not her scene really. Not anymore. She smiled to herself. Actually, though, no less than she deserved after all of that.

A waiter, all in black and white, made his way over to her. “May I help you, madam?”

“Can you bring me a pot of black coffee, please?”

“Certainly, madam.”

She was getting into her stride now. Yes, she would be able to tackle that reporter, she was sure.

The coffee arrived. She took a sip. It was very good. This was the life most certainly. Now then, what should she tell him when he arrived?

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