The hunger came over him again. He couldn’t remember missing a tablet but he had to have a Lucy. He had tried returning to his last one, but she hadn’t answered the door, nor leant out of her window. Number seventeen seemed dead. No light, no sound of her daughter Jasmine crying.
Lucy had been as good as gold - after he had tamed her.
He fastened the steering wheel lock - no need to make his Cortina an easy joy-ride target - and walked back into the town centre. He frowned. It was only a two minute short-cut through the churchyard but the exercise had made him a little dizzy; maybe a touch of flu? He peered in through the doors of the Lord John, his breath steaming against the glass. It was warmer inside; maybe a Lucy would be sheltering from the bitter cold. Good idea, one whisky to chase away the virus.
He smelt her as he entered the pub, the smell that slappers always have; cheap musky perfume. She was feeding coins into the fruit machine. She wasn’t black, but he wasn’t that fussy. Not that night. He ordered a large Grouse and sidled along the bar to take a better look. Nice legs that disappeared under a short leather coat.
He joined her at the machine, gave her more coins and asked her to join him at an empty table. Her name wasn’t Lucy. Candice, instead - but on the game. ‘Nice,’ he had said. Not that she would care what he thought of her name; as long as he had money.
She softened him up by getting him hard. She brushed her fingers along his thigh under the table and encouraged him to roam his eyes over her DDs. She pushed her chair back, and opened her legs. He could smell the aroma of hidden pleasures underneath her short skirt. Her painted lips parted. ‘Thirty for a quickie in the back of your motor.’
He didn’t argue. He felt his erection stiffen, his mouth was salivating; he was ready.
‘Won’t be long, sweetie; freshen up in the ladies, okay?’
He nodded somewhat reluctantly. Another five minutes of pressure building up behind his eyes. His brain felt like a dam about to burst.
By the time he had parked his Cortina in a dark, sheltered spot under a spreading oak tree in Bridleton common, he was itching. Itching to rip her panties off and screw her brains out; on her front, on her back, or any which way. But she didn’t seem to sense his urgency - or didn’t care - she wanted money up-front.
‘Business first, darling. Then you can play.’ She arched her back and showed him what was on offer - as if he needed encouragement.
He stuffed a hand in his pocket, and wrenched out a wad of tenners; peeled off three, and slapped them in her lap. He fidgeted as she carefully folded the notes and zipped them into a side-pocket of her red bag. Then she pulled out a pack of condoms, turned, and gave him a smile.
‘Safe sex, okay?’
No, it wasn’t okay.
She shouldn’t have protested when he grabbed her; shouldn’t have bad-mouthed him, shouldn’t have made him angry, shouldn’t have switched his light off. He showed her why it was a bad move. He picked up the steering wheel lock. She opened her mouth.
The dam burst.
He hit her. Several times.
Hard. Maybe too hard.
He stifled the scream; it was just a gurgling noise in the back of her throat. She was compliant after that and, afterwards, when the light came back on in his head, she wasn’t breathing.
By then the hunger had dissipated; he was coldly rational. But the flu was getting worse. No one around, he checked for people walking dogs. No one. He dumped her under some dense bushes near the oak tree. It would have to do.
Inside the Cloud Nine massage parlour, Marty swore.
Shit. Why tonight?
The interrogation of a twenty year old, gypsy-style Romanian waif had been exhilarating. That’s if Sylvia was really twenty, or even if that was her right name. He hadn’t got around to her passport visa or work permit; Sylvia had distracted him in the shower cubicle built for two. Probably deliberate. Management would shrug. By the time he came back with a warrant she would have disappeared, a transient migrant.
Now, he had missed the call from Candice. Sent twenty-three minutes ago. He looked at his watch. Bristol to Bridleton was a good thirty minutes. Her haunt was the Lord John, maybe she was still there with a punter. He tried calling her back. No response.
By the time he had burned the mini-van back up the M5, and burst through into the Lord John, she was gone. Only a few cider-heads with rheumy eyes, gazing vacantly into space.
The cocaine high was wearing off. The trip back from Bristol had used up all his adrenaline. He felt listless, just needed sleep. And in his state it wasn’t the time to blow cover. He called Candice’s number, again. No reply.
Where was she?