From A Slippery Customer Part One https://patwoodblogging.wordpress.com/2012/09/24/a-slippery-customer-part-one/
…I can feel the mood change. We’ve gone from warm, loving, and affectionate, to thoughtful, suspicious and accusing in the space of five seconds.
“In fact, now I think about it, there’s some stuff missing. A picture, no two, and some of the silver and the little silk rug. That dreadful ormolu clock he bought the other day has gone too. I’m going to ring the police.”
I’ve never drunk sherry like water before, but I find I have a spot in need of hitting.
She’s picked up the phone and has dialled 999 almost before I can get the sherry down.
“Police please.” She presses the receiver close to her chest and glances over at me. “I know, it’s a shock, isn’t it, sweetie? Yes, I want to report a burglary. To think how low people can get. Yes, 22 Thatcher Mansions.” The receiver visits her boobs again. “Have another drink.”
Don’t mind if I do. This is medicinal.
She’s explaining all about the missing antiques and I’m stuck underneath her and the bin bag’s in the kitchen with my fingerprints all over it and the – what’s the word the gangsters on the films always use? Oh, yes, the booty. What the devil am I supposed to do now? Shove her onto the floor, produce a gun and shoot my way out? Sorry, no gun. Not my style. Unless you count that machine pistol inside my chest. She’s still jabbering into the ‘phone. Sorry, dog and bone. Must remember to practise the old Cockney. Don’t want to blow my cover.
“Yes, we’ll wait for the police.”
“No.” It comes out, all on its own.
“No, we won’t wait,” she says into the phone. “We won’t – why?”
Good question. I’m trying to ignore the fact that the bathrobe is falling open and her considerable charms are on display. Between the babe and alcohol, I’m having a surreal moment. Can I think of a good answer?
“Because,” breathe slowly, “Because he might still be here.”
Inspired or what?
Now she’s in a flat spin and in my lap and whispering into the mouthpiece.
“Because he’s still in the flat. Oh, my goodness. He’s in the bathroom.”
“I thought that was James,” I say, puzzled as to where she’s got the idea he’s a burglar.
“How do we know it’s James? It could be anyone. I’ve only seen him covered in shaving foam. I was in the shower when he arrived. I didn’t notice the stuff was missing before that.”
No, she’d been too busy noticing my jellied eels and my transplant bank face.
“I think you’re jumping to conclusions,” I say, not wanting to implicate an innocent man, and with inside knowledge that burglars are rarely in the habit of stealing hot water and bubble bath, but she’s not having any.
“Definitely, yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. I understand.”
“What do you understand?”
“Shh. Oh, my goodness,” she puts her hand over the mouthpiece. “They say he might have a gun.”
“Of course he hasn’t got a gun.”
“How do you know?”
I can hardly tell her why I’m best placed to know, so I shrug and shake my head, making non-committal and, increasingly, drunken noises. All right, so I can’t hold my liquor. Have you ever swallowed sherry by the pint?
“We’re to get out of the flat as quickly as possible. I understand. Right, yes, thank you. Goodbye.” She puts down the phone. “We have to leave. He could be armed and dangerous. I’ll just pop and slip something on. You get your stuff and we’ll go back to my place.”
She zips off to the bathroom. Now in my experience, it takes a woman an age to get ready for anything. She’s got to go through the hair and make up and does-my-bum-look-big-in-this routine. Even if she’s sick in bed, a woman’s got to have the hairdresser in to retouch her roots and get her nails done or whatever, before she can think of seeing a doctor.
Arabella is different.
I’ve hardly collected my case, retrieved the bin bag from the kitchen and stuffed the now empty tantalus into it, when, before I can sneak out the door, she’s back and clinging on to me. I slip the bin liner to the floor as unobtrusively as possible and distract her with a lingering kiss. I’d have lingered longer, but with Pentonville on your mind, passion takes a back seat.
We’re about to close the door, very quietly, so as not to disturb the burglar in the bathroom, when she sends me back inside.
“Darling – the eels. You can’t leave the eels. You can cook them for me. Then I’ll cook you my soufflé. I know now that Giles isn’t worth it. He was never worth it. I can see that this was Fate. We were meant to meet like this. You’re my knight in shining armour. I’m no good in the kitchen really, and you could do all the cooking, couldn’t you? I could keep my job on when we have children…”
Her mouth continues to move, but I’m no longer listening. I go and pick up the eels. Except they’re not eels, it’s Giles’s stuff and suddenly the Police seem like the more attractive proposition. I stand there in the doorway and hesitate – but only for a second. I shove Arabella outside, shut the door and rush into her recently vacated bathroom. It has a good stout lock.
I’m still in there twenty minutes later when the Police arrive. They come banging on the door, and so does she.
“Open up, it’s the Police.”
“Dan, darling, do come out. They’ve caught the burglar and taken him away, so you don’t have to worry.”
“I’ve got a gun,” I yell, “And I’m not afraid to use it. Go away.”
The door is stronger than it looks, but they manage to get in eventually, by which time I’ve filled the little room with smoke. I have been trying to give up, but this is an emergency. Arabella’s gone of course. Lovely girl, but our body clocks are out of sync.
There’s a policewoman here, Barbara her name is. She’s doing my dabs. First time ever. Instead of an ormolu clock, I’ll have a record, dammit.
But now Barbara’s getting that look. She’s holding my hand a little too long, smiling that flirty smile. I feel the smile undress me and decide I’m exhausted.
At least I’ll be safe in prison.