Songs of Bliss
“No idea. Never thought to ask. Good point, though. But we still need a name,
something for the kids. What did the doc say? Kitty Litter?”
Ken smiles, checking the rear view, full of his employer?s ugly mug. “I think he
called it Kitty Flip. But it?s not. Similar, but better. No, what about what he said, about the
girl, you know, blissful?”
“Fuck off. That?s the seven dwarves. Sneezy, Snorty, Dopey.” Jock is silent for a
moment, thinking, cogs whirring. “Mind, it?s not that bad an idea. What about Bliss? Am I
right or am I fucking right? Bliss. That?s it.”
“Aye”, in stereo.
The car slows as it enters the narrow village lanes of Westleigh, passing the Exeter
Arms and on, up the hill to Jock and Maggie?s house. Sitting behind the wheel, Ken feels
crowded in by the jumble of painted terraced cottages. He finds the chocolate box
congestion of renovated Devon villages claustrophobic.
Once they are through the village, Jock makes Ken stop at the kerbside so that he
can walk up the drive and not wake Maggie. He knows she?ll be asleep. Nothing disturbs
her once she?s off. He believes sincerely, though, that small kindnesses like this are what
make the difference. He?ll sleep on the sofa just to make sure that nothing disturbs her
sleep. Business is one thing, but you don?t have to live like that all of the time.
Lille is nothing more than a vague memory of sidings and dirty buildings running
along the edge of a railway track. The Pas de Calais is being rolled up by the minute as
Alex Berisa yawns and reaches out for a cup of coffee. He is being lulled into a sleepy haze
of half remembered truths and personal, unreliable interpretations. The Eurostar seats are
large and comfortable. The gentle hum and click of high speed rail travel seems
incongruous. He drains the last of a double shot Americano, shuddering slightly as the
bitter grounds in the bottom of the cup strain onto his tongue. He needs to sleep, if only for
an hour or two.
Alex closes his eyes and tries to let the lullaby smother him. Just as the orange glow
beyond his closed eyelids starts to fade to black he hears a familiar ring tone. He fumbles in
his jacket pocket and pulls the phone out, back to front, and struggles to find the green
connect button. Contact. Caller identification. Xhev. Alex clears his throat before speaking
"Xhev, how are you? Where are you?"
The voice in Alex's ear is thin and digital but unmistakably that of his brother.
"I'm good, Alex, good. In London, staying with Pjeter. Got in late last night."
"That's good. How is the old man?" Alex can feel the warmth of his brother's grin
across the digital divide.
"Never changes. He's still a randy old goat, but always a ge ntleman. He's been very
helpful so far."