A short story by
The girl was tired. She had been traveling for nineteen hours and it was catching up on her. It was a long journey from the beach hut on Koh Kood island in Thailand. She was at the end of her tether and just wanted to be home. The coach journey from Heathrow to Sheffield was just the final straw, and she was drifting in and out of consciousness as the motorway slid by the window. Outside the weather was atrocious. The fine rain was falling in that relentlessly misty way it does in early November and she wished she had decided to stay there for another three months. If her sister had not been getting married she would have done. As it was the whole family expected her at the wedding in just two days time and she had to be there, or else her mother would never let her hear the end of it. She wanted to be there really but this journey was just too much and right now all she wanted was a hot bath and a sleep in her own bed.
The coach arrived in Sheffield amazingly on time. She packed up her I-pod and headphones, put on her leather jacket, got off and waited under the bus shelter for the driver to drag her silver case out from the bowels of the coach. He did so quite quickly and she was the fifth person away to the taxi rank. She got into a black cab, and told the driver to take her to two hundred and forty Cemetery Road. Twelve minutes later she was inside her ground floor flat. On the telephone table in the hall there were three neat piles of post that she knew her mum had tidied up for her. She had been away for fifteen months and there was a lot of catching up to do, but not now. She put her case in the cupboard at the top of the cellar stairs, before going straight to the bathroom and running the hot tap for a long soak.
After her bath she got into a pair of old pyjamas, made herself a cup of camomile tea and sat on her bed looking through the first pile of post. Most of it was junk but there were a couple of letters from Australia. She opened them and was happy to see that they were from the young guy she had met in New Zealand. She liked him a lot and when they had parted company in Christchurch and he had asked for her address she never thought for a minute that he would actually write to her. Here they were though, two letters written in that sing song way that had made him so attractive in the first place.
He was from Cork in Ireland and had a way about him that she fell for. As she read the letters she could hear his voice in just the same lilting way that she remembered from that night at the Bar Crocodile when he said that after he finished traveling he was coming to England for her. She had told him that she thought this was a load of old blarney and they both laughed. She had given him the address anyway and now was very happy that he had written. In the latest letter, dated only two weeks previously he said that he was going to be in England and would come to Sheffield to look her up. It turned out he would be arriving just two days after her sister’s wedding. She felt a warm glow inside her as she finished the tea and climbed under her duvet. Donal, who she had playfully nicknamed Donut, was coming. She fell asleep quickly, thinking about how much she had liked him during the two weeks they spent together in hobbit land.
She slept deeply for twelve hours. When she awoke the girl took a shower, made herself some porridge and a cup of Earl Grey tea. After breakfast she called her mother and arranged to meet up with her at lunchtime in the cafe at John Lewis. She knew her mother had her bridesmaids outfit waiting for to try on. She threw a few bits of clothing into a shoulder bag and set off for the centre of Sheffield, carefully locking her flat behind her.
The wedding was a spectacular event and the girl had admitted to herself that she had enjoyed it. Every one of her relations had been nice to her and were very impressed that she had been just about everywhere there was to go since she set off traveling twenty seven months earlier. She was the first one to hit the trail in the family and she could sense that quite a lot of them secretly envied her. The reception had been awesome and she had danced until 3.00 am and drunk quite a lot of Sailor Jerry’s rum. Her mum had driven her back home after breakfast at the Hotel and she was about all familied out by the following day when she arrived back at her flat.
She checked the answerphone to see whether there was a message from Donut. She was surprised to find that there were ten messages, one from Donut saying he was coming around at 11.00 am that morning, the rest of them were all blank. She decided that she would do her laundry and fetched her case from the cellar head. She set it on the kitchen table and took the key from her purse to open it with. She put the in the lock, it was a bit stiff and when she tried to turn it the key wouldn’t budge. She twisted the key a bit harder and it snapped off in the lock. The girl was a bit annoyed but decided to wait until Donut got there.
She put the kettle on to make herself a cup of tea and as she was putting the tea bag into a mug the house phone rang. She went into the hall, picked up the receiver and said “Hello?” . There was no reply and she heard the telephone being put down at the other end of the line. She was slightly perplexed but she finished making her tea and sat there waiting for Donut to arrive.
Ten minutes later there was a ring at the door and she went and opened it. There was Donut looking just the same as the last time she had seen him.
“Hello Girl,” he said.
“Donut, it’s so nice to see you again.” And with that she put her arms around his neck and pulled him down for a welcoming kiss.
They stood at the doorstep locked in an embrace for 20 seconds before she said “Come on in, I’ll make you some tea. Are you hungry? We can go down town if you like for lunch, it’s not too far to walk.”
“Just a cup of tea will do fine,” he said “This is a grand place you have here.” He said looking around the place.
“I know, my auntie left me hundred thousand pounds when she died and I bought this place with most of it before I set off on the round the world jaunt. I’ve only actually lived her for about three months all told. My mum has been keeping her eye on it for me whilst I’ve been away.”
“Lucky you, I wish I had a pad of my own to go back to when I finish traveling.”
“Are you going off again?” asked the girl
“Yes, I thought I would go to Canada in autumn and get a job working on the ski slopes over there.”
“That sounds great, maybe I could meet up with you over there?”
Donut looked at her and she looked back at him. They both started grinning together and she knew that this was the start of her next traveling adventure. They hugged and he kissed her full on the lips.
“Drink your tea,” said the girl
“OK. Let’s talk about Canada over lunch.”
“Great idea. Oh before we go out can you take a look at my case, I snapped the key off in the lock and I want to put my clothes in the washing machine whilst we are out.”
He looked at the aluminium case and the broken key in the lock. “Do you have any tools here?”
“Sure, my dad gave a full tool kit as present when I first moved in. I’ll get it.”
She came back with plastic toolbox, and Donut opened it. He took out a small cold chisel and a club hammer. “I’m going to have to break the lock here,” he said
“Go ahead, I need a new case anyway.”
He put the chisel into the gap above the key hole and gave it a big whack with the club hammer. The lock gave way instantly and he said “There you go Girl, nothing to it.”
“Aw thanks, now I can get on with the laundry.” And she opened the lid of the case.
She looked in expecting to see all her summer dresses from Thailand, but instead there was a whole shed-load of money in neat bundles, and a vacuum packed clear polythene bag containing a severed human hand. She let out a scream and Donut had to steady her as she stepped back in alarm.
“This is not my case,” she said “I must have picked up the wrong one from the coach driver. Look at all this money, look at this horrible thing,” and she pointed to the hand in the bag.
Donut stood there open mouthed looking at the money. There were about thirty bundles of fifty pound notes, each bundle containing two thousand pounds.
“There’s about sixty grand there. That’s an awful lot of money. The hand means this is a dangerous situation. Is there anything in your case that can tell the owner of this case where you live?”
“Yes, there are some letters that my mum forwarded to me about my student loan stuff that have my address on them. Why?”
“Has anybody tried to contact you since you got back here?”
“Well there have been a load of blank messages on the answer phone.”
“Shit, we have to get out of here.”
They moved quickly down the hallway to the front door and as they opened it there was a large shape blocking the doorway. The last thing they heard was the pfft pfft pfft pfft of the 9mm Glock 18 machine pistol with silencer as it despatched both of them before they could utter a word. Donut fell to the floor and the girl landed on top of him, both dead. The shape stepped over them, went into the kitchen, picked up the case and left the flat, carefully closing the front door.