Nancy lunched at a communal table overlooking Stone Road. Burroughs’ porky aid with a penchant for silk shirts and Cuban heels complemented Nancy on her attire. Nancy had purchased two: a Marks & Spencer linen-blend navy blue jacket and matching skirt lined with silk. The neck opened out to a mandarin-collared blouse; white, lightly ruffed on the seams and fitted to the waist. Nancy thanked him in a starched manner she didn’t recognize and sipped her coffee.
Silk-shirted man, Just Call Me Stu didn’t seem to mind and bade her a good day. ‘And to you,’ Nancy returned with a small smile.
Nancy had left her cheap shoes at Weaver’s Street. Today she wore John Lewis black Oxfords with heels and leather uppers. She liked the way her nylon tights whispered against her skirt as she walked. She liked the way her bloused enfolded her every curve as an amour. Her mother would have given her pride a royal knocking. Bex would have told her the Jonas shoot had rendered her head too big for the average doorframe. Beneath the silk lining, Nancy would always be a slapper from Glebe Hollow. But here, no one can see, no one can judge.
Nancy picked up her black leather satchel-bag and took her Fiat Punto for a spin in the country.
You jumped-up bloody cow.
Nancy throttled up and switched on the radio. The Bee Gees’ Jive Talkin’ soulful arpeggio rendered her brain a-stutter. From the second bar on, she mumbled the lyrics before pulling up behind a hawthorn hedge, providing the perfect screen.
You can take the woman out of Glebe Hollow but you can never take the Glebe Hollow out of the woman.
Nancy killed the radio, got out. Since her previous visit, the lawns had been cleared of dead leaves. The turf now exhibited immaculate bands of two-tone chlorophyll. Before long, her index finger was depressing the buzzer on the intercom system. Somewhere above, a whirring grazed the air. Nancy didn’t look. The wrought iron bars slashed through the glamorized fort at the head of the shingled driveway. It remained so. The intercom system remained silent.
She didn’t depress again. The drone told her the security system had detected her presence. A breeze fondled the fine strands around her crown. She shifted between heels, but remained resolutely within shot of the overhead camera.
She could picture the visual feed to whomever within. An overhead view of a lone woman, starchly-dressed, satchel-bag in hand and arms clasped in front. Hardly surprising she hadn’t brought a reaction, really. Tomorrow, she would bring her ankle boots and a scarf to guard against the cold. Perhaps she might even bring a hot flask of coffee and a packet of digestive biscuits. Amy couldn’t accuse Nancy of trespassing or criminal damage and as for harassment, it was early days yet. Nancy reckoned such offences would inflict less fury upon the PA than the sight of a woman standing at the foot of her assigned gates, dunking digestive biscuits into the lid of her flask.
A black Porsche levelled up beside her. Tinted windows barred Nancy a view of the occupants inside. The gates emitted a click and a whir. The Porsche motioned indifference in the manner by which it edged forwards too close for comfort. With majestic grandeur, the gates accepted the Porsche, which slowly crunched up the driveway.
Nancy remained at her station. Amy wanted Nancy to stow herself in whilst the gates were open. Nancy knew better than that. Amy could legitimately enforce a charge of trespassing which would not do; Nancy would deprive Amy the satisfaction. Satchel-bag in the other hand now, Nancy remained at the foot of the gates once they had closed.
A second car, this time a green Lamborghini pulled up alongside Nancy. The occupant, Vince’s accountant, Nancy reckoned, kept his eyes firmly ahead. The gates clicked. The gates whirred. The Lamborghini banked forward.
Sunlight made its debut at around three o’clock. Nancy closed her eyes and allowed the October sun to bathe her face. The rumble of a perfectly-tuned engine stirred the stillness once more. Nancy didn’t open her eyes. The sound came from the grounds. Porsche or Lamborghini? Next time she would pay closer attention to the sound-profile of such engines that ferried Vince’s visitors. Porsche, definitely Porsche. The gates clicked, a mechanism whirred. Gates open. The clutch bit as the Porsche nosed forwards. Nancy peeped – one eye smudged by lashes. She’d been right. The gates closed behind her. The black aerodynamic shape slid from view.
Nancy took up her former position facing the gates. The sunlight faced-off the teeth of a cloud. The cloud skimmed past, spurring a cavorting of leaves around the gate posts. It seemed the raking of leaves was akin to a woman’s proverbial work, in that it is never done. Nancy’s arms goose-rashed and that’s when she noticed. Lodged between the central slats of wrought iron and an eagle crest, a mini Amy nestled – only far off at the building’s entrance. She wore black flared trousers and a red double-breasted jacket. Her face, a beige dot was hard to read.
A click, a whirr. Nancy watched the gates stir from its moorings. This activation was not on account of the Lamborghini of earlier, as it remained at the head of the driveway. The iron slats drifted slowly across one by one. Amy disappeared and reappeared behind each passing. The gates’ mighty hinges gave a judder at the arc’s terminus. Only when the gates were fully open did Nancy step over the threshold.
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