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by Paul D. Brazill

The early morning train was cramped and when Jacqui King stretched her long, stocking-clad legs she felt a twinge in her lower spine. She immediately knew for sure that it was sciatica or, if it wasn’t, it was some sort of freak reaction caused by a brain tumour. Or maybe that old standby cancer.

“Just because you’re a hypochondriac it doesn’t mean life’s not out to get you,” she said aloud.

She ignored the giggling French teens cluttering the aisle and focused on the man that sat across from her. He was the archetypal bit of rough. Broken nose, scar running down the side of his face. Just her type. The train journey to London was going to be a long and tedious drag but maybe this brute could liven things up. She tapped her shiny red Jimmy Choo shoes together to get his attention. When he didn’t respond, she kicked his shin.

He turned and glared at her.

“Co?” he said.

Oh, goody, thought Jacqui. A foreigner.

“Your zip is undone,” she said, looking at his crotch.

“Co?” said the brute again.

He looked into his lap and sighed. Looked back at Jacqui.

“It is not,” he said.

“Well, it will be if you’re a good boy,” she said. “Or especially if you’re a bad boy.”

She winked, got up from her seat and headed off down the aisle, stopping in front of the toilet door. She turned to the brute and blew him a kiss. Waited for him to get up from his seat and went into the toilets.

***

Izzy Chapman thought that she would never, ever be able to stop pissing. She was almost nodding off as she sat on the toilet seat. The jazz music from the bar had been drifting in while she sat there, and to be honest, she was happy to have her time away from the kids whenever and wherever she could. She was jolted from here reverie by the sound of a television being turned up.

She wiped, pulled up her M&S jeans and stepped out of the cubicle. She leaned against the cold toilet wall. Counted to ten. Washed her hands. After the first couple of kids she’d had no real complications but Ella, the third one, had been like pulling mussels from a shell. And the incontinence still didn’t seem to be going away.

She glanced in the mirror and went back into the bar.

The sun was streaming through the fake stained glass window, bathing her sister Jacqui in a golden glow. She almost looked angelic.

“How’s tricks?” said Izzy.

“Not so tricky,” said Jacqui.

She walked over to the bar and flicked through the brute’s wallet, pleased to find a wad of twenty pound notes amongst the Polish currency.

“You been hunting again?” said Izzy, leaning against the bar.

“Well, how else can I afford these bloody London prices,” said Jacqui, scraping dried blood from the wallet. “It’s criminal, it really bloody is.”


Paul D. Brazill is the author of The Last Laugh, Guns of Brixton, Cold London Blues, and Kill Me Quick! He was born in England and lives in Poland. He is an International Thriller Writers Inc. member whose writing has been translated into Italian, German, Polish, and Slovene. He has had writing published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime. His blog is at pauldbrazill.com.

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