Sunday Serial LXXVI

Anna ended the call and looked at Patsy, who raised a cheeky smile although she was starting to look cold and a bit shocky.
“Did I hear you dobbing me in to Jimbo?”
“You most certainly did.”
Patsy gave her a thumbs-up.
Valentina smiled at them. “You two are such good friends. Are you really sisters?”
“Only in our hearts.”
A rather frightened looking nun poked her head into the room.
“There are some very large men at the front door. They say they are called Cracksman, and can they please come in.”
Yuri nodded and the woman scampered off.
A minute or so later, Rod ambled into the rapidly cooling room.
“Blimey,” he said with some feeling, “that effing boomer was excessive.”
He bowed courteously to Valentina.
“Shouldn’t you be somewhere warmer ma’am. You seem to be shivering.”
Which brought the atmosphere back to the everyday, and got some pretty impressive results.
They were very soon in a room without broken glass, with hot chocolate to drink and an efficient young nun picking bits of metal out of Rod’s face with a pair of tweezers.
“You weren’t joking about picking Range Rover out of your teeth were you? How come nobody else is wearing metal make-up?”
A man somewhere between Rod and Jim in build, who to Anna’s certain knowledge hadn’t uttered a syllable since the car had collected him that morning, snorted out a laugh.
“Metal make-up. I like it,” the man spoke fluent English albeit with a Marseillais accent. His grin, however, was all Cracksman. Then he sobered abruptly. “My baby cousin got a face full of flying shrapnel because he was on watch. Even so he was better off than some innocent bystanders. At least one dead.” He spat. “I’d truly like to get you hands on whoever was responsible for that clusterfuck out there.”
“Pats shot one of them. Both arms. Now Gospodin Stephanovitz’s boys are asking him some searching questions.”
Patsy was in low-voiced conversation with Valentina Stephanovitz, and Anna felt a peculiar reluctance to go and join in. Instead she sat beside Rod and held his big hand in both of hers.
He squeezed her fingers, but was prevented from talking by the young nun.
“Be still.”
When his face had been de-shrapnelled and stitched here and there, and he was smelling strongly of antiseptic, Rod put a big arm around Anna.
“You holding, mate?”
“By the skin on my teeth. I badly want to go home. But I’m guessing it will be a while.”
Rod shrugged massively. “I’ll try what I can do, though it rather depends on how many powerful friends your new chum has.”
“He ain’t my chum. Although he does have a soft spot for Patsy.”
“It’ll be the big blue eyes.”
“Or the gun. Speaking of which.”
Anna dragged the small pistol out of her pocket and handed it to Rod, grateful to be rid of the thing.
He took it from her and tutted.
“Don’t tell me you’ve been toting that thing around in your pocket without even putting the safety catch on.”
“What safety catch?”
“Jeez Anna, you could’ve shot your own foot off. And how would I have explained that to Sam.”
But he smiled reassurance and she felt warmed.
Patsy beckoned, and Anna went over to where Valentina sat. The Russian woman smiled tiredly.
“I am being sent to bed, but I wanted to say goodbye to you first.”
Because it felt right, Anna bent and kissed the thin cheek.
“Sleep gently.”
“Thank you.”

Jane Jago

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