Songs of Bliss
He can imagine Davina clocking off at the end of another twelve hour weekend shift
and climbing into something electrically purple with lowered suspension and bright blue
diodes fixed to fake air scoops on the bonnet. The boy will be called Craig. Dave feels bad
about the clichés, but as the saying goes, at least Dave's version of it, if the past is another
country then the present is Southend on a wet bank holiday. Dave is comfortable, fortyish,
and twenty years away from his Ford Cortina days and his Wolfrace addiction.
A few more plastic keys are pressed. "That's fine, Sir, ground floor, non-smoking.
How will you be paying?" Dave fishes his wallet out of his jeans and selects a credit card.
While the transaction is processed Davina wonders why they are staying here. If it is a
family thing shouldn't they be stopping with relatives or with their kids or something.
Receipts. Instructions. "Through the door, turn left and follow the corridor. You?re
in number eight, at the end on the right."
Dave stuffs the paperwork into a compartment in his overnight bag and returns the
credit card and wallet to his jeans. He nods once to Davina and says, "Thanks". Turning to
Carol he asks, "Got what you want?"
She takes a handful of leaflets with her as they push their wa y through the fire doors
and turn left. N umbers on doors. Spy glass. Identical prints on the wall. Everything seems
hushed, as if the place is breathing out slowly, preparing for the Sunday night influx of
workers. Dave opens the door to their room and Carol, stooping to pick up one of the bags,
looks over her shoulder at the door opposite. Number nine. She hopes the occupant is quiet.
The last thing she wants right now is a snorer or someone who insists on sitting up late into
the night watching television. She shudders. Do they have soft porn channels in places like
Dave throws the bags on the double bed and checks out the bathroom. It has been
cleaned and everything is in order. "Come on, love, you can have a shower and some
sleep.” He checks himself slightly. Carol is unlikely to find peace at the moment. “Well, a
lie down. It'll do you good."
He pulls the curtains closed and wraps his arms around Carol. The shaking starts.
She stifles the tears for a moment, but she can't hold them back for long. Somewhere along
the corridor the sound of a vacuum cleaner resumes its low drone and Carol's defensive
brusqueness breaks as Dave's shirt absorbs the moisture that spills from her eyes and onto
On The Street Where You Live
The glare of flashbulbs is the last thing Billy expects as he heads down the walkway
from the car park towards the main hospital entrance, and he takes a few seconds to realise
that his name is being called. The quiet of the early morning, when a local news reporter
and the television crews from Exeter were fumbling in the dark, has now been replaced by
a small but determined pack of news hounds. The local press have been joined by agents