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Ethelbert's Sunday Afternoon


He ended the call and threw the phone onto the bed. He ran his hand through his hair trying to gather his thoughts.
After a few minutes of pacing around the bed he picked up the phone and put it into his shirt pocket. Standing up, he
opened the bedroom door and returned to the living room. Julia was stretched out on the sofa with a glass of wine and
a half empty bottle on the floor beside her.
"You'd better not have too much of that."
"Piss off, I'll do what I like."
"Clearly. Okay, just tell me why you had me followed and what this Prenderghast man found, if anything."
"You can't even be bothered to look guilty, can you?"
"I've nothing on my conscience. Look, Julia, I'm not fucking about, this is potentially deadly serious. Please just tell
me what happened."
"I thought you were seeing someone else."
"Why...? Okay it doesn't matter, I'm not and I never have. What did the dick tell you?"
She got up from the sofa and went over to the sideboard. Opening a drawer she removed a manila envelope, threw
it at him and slumped back onto the sofa, slurping at her wine. Matt opened the folder and leafed through the contents.
"Is that it? Five photos of me going in and out of various shops?"
"Yes, but that's enough. Doesn't Ghent look just like Basingstoke high street?"
"If you could crawl out of that bottle for a moment and answer one very important question – is all you know that I
wasn't in Ghent when I said I was?"
"You lied to me."
"Okay, we'll deal with that, but first I have to make another call."
He took out his phone and pressed a few buttons.
"No it's fine, all she knows is that I wasn't in Ghent. Ghent, it's in Belgium. That's not important, it's all fine because
there are only a few photos of me in Basingstoke. No, nobody else, just me going in some shops in the high street...
Nobody could possibly work out anything from that.... No, it's fine, I'll deal with it." He paused in disbelief. "What do
you mean you've already sent out a team – surely you're joking?"
He glanced at Julia who was half dozing on the sofa, a nearly empty wine bottle cradled in her lap, seemingly
oblivious to his conversation.
"Look, she's half pissed, she won't remember a thing. I'll come up with a convincing story, that's my fucking job,
remember?"
The sounds of running feet and shouting could be heard on the stairs.
"I'll get you for this you arsehole!" he hissed, dropping the phone on the sofa and reaching into his jacket pocket.
"Don't do the door..." he shouted just as the front door flew off its hinges and five men with machine guns ran in and
immediately begin searching the kitchen.
"We're in here, you fuckwits, there's nobody else in the flat."
He held up the ID. in his wallet and the lead gunman screamed into a headset mic.
"Abort search!"
"Thank you, Tony. You can all fuck off now, there is no situation here."
"Pardon me, sir, but what about the woman?"
Matt looked around to see Julia, now very much awake and with an expression that suggested she was quite keen
on receiving an explanation of why five armed men have just kicked her door down.
"Ah. Shit. Okay, there wasn't a situation until you clowns turned up. Five of you? For one primary school teacher?"
"Just following orders, sir," said Tony.
"I know; I'll strangle Donaldson when I see him."
"Would you like me to do that for you, sir? I've been on a course in strangling."
"I'm sure you have, but that won't be necessary, tempted though I am.
"Excuse me," said Julia in a menacingly quiet tone.
Matt nervously turned his attention back to her.
"I can explain."
She sat up and fixed him with an expectant glance. He looked at Tony and the other four, who were all either staring
fixedly at the ground or suddenly finding something of interest in another part of the room. He looked over at the
splintered remains of the front door. He looked back at Julia.
"Give me a few minutes."
Ten minutes later he sat on the sofa beside her and took a deep breath.
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