Here is an excerpt from my novel ‘The Double Act’ – its subtitle is ‘Don’t think ‘The Double Act’ is a romance, this may be a love story… but the other side of love is dark love.’ In this episode, Genet who owns a hotel with her husband Lance has gone to the bank – she needs cash for a family party Lance has organised. She’s not particularly looking forward to it – it will cost them a lot of money they can’t afford, and also she doesn’t get on very well with Lance’s family… and to cap it all, he has invited their tenants from a house they own, a very strange couple, Dr and Mrs Herrick…
Genet checked the balance at the ATM outside the main branch of the Strand Penny Bank in the new piazza. They couldn’t afford it but she had to have money to buy what she couldn’t get at the cash and carry. Lance had told her his brother and sisters would share the cost; Genet said nothing, oh yes, that will be the day. And who will compensate us for closing the hotel?
The guest list had started at sixty including children, but at the rate Gawain and Lance kept extending the invitation it was likely to be nearer a hundred.
The screen changed and Genet looked in disbelief at the green numbers on the display. They should have more money than that! She had mentally put their balance about five hundred pounds more than what was displayed. Whatever the balance, she needed cash so she keyed in another transaction.
She glanced round at the sound of someone’s step. A gangly youth with a hat pulled down his forehead and his track suit zipped to his nose stood behind her. She smiled and he wiggled his pierced eyebrows. She turned back to the dispenser and took her cash and card then stumbled as she was shoved roughly. She fell against another boy, shorter, slighter, stinking of weed and tobacco. He grabbed her bank card and pushed her violently to the ground and then someone was kneeling on her, forcing her down, and her hand still clutching the money was grabbed and her arm twisted back.
Her cries and screams were muffled by the smelly boy crushing her against the pavement, yelling abuse as he tried to open her hand… And then relief as her arm was released, but an excruciating pain shot up her wrist as one of them stamped on her clenched fist.
As suddenly as it had arrived, the weight on her head and shoulders disappeared and she rolled over, clutching her hand in agony.
Herrick was wrestling with one of her attackers while the other was pounding him with his fists. Several people stood watching, open-mouthed, but no-one interfered.
“Get the police!” Genet screamed, staggering to her feet. “Call the police!” she yelled again, staggering towards the melee. She snatched up an umbrella rolling across the pavement, and swung it down on the boy’s head. He reeled away as the man’s fist connected, his mouth spouting blood.
Herrick stood panting and swaying, his face marked from the tussle as the two attackers tumbled over each other.
A policeman was running up, talking animatedly into his radio and pulling his stick from his belt, flicked it open. People in the crowd found the courage to surge forward and surround the participants and Genet sank to the ground, trembling, and in agony.
There was the blessed sound of siren and moments later a policeman was crouching beside her.
“You OK, Gen?” It was Heath, a friend from her schooldays; he’d had long hair then, now it was short and spiky. He asked about her rescuer, a neighbour she said through quivering lips.
There was a blur of events, voices, radios cackling, sirens… then she was sitting in an ambulance.
“You’re being very brave!” The paramedic was an older woman, stout in her green uniform, but kind and reassuring. “I don’t think anything’s broken except some little bones might be fractured. Nothing serious!”
Nothing serious? She only had a hotel to run and a party to organise for goodness knows how many people! She was shivering with shock, despite the blanket wrapped round her. Herrick sat opposite, flexing his hands and touching a tooth as if it might be loose.
Genet subsided into a dreamlike state as the ambulance raced through the streets, siren blaring. She was unloaded from the vehicle like a sack of potatoes onto a trolley, and wheeled into the hospital and into a cubicle with cheerful sunflowers on the curtain. A triage nurse appeared and began to take her details. Time passed strangely and she was suddenly on the move again for an x-ray and then to have her hand bandaged, strapped and pinned into a sling.
It was bruised and sprained, she’d dislocated her wrist and there were fractures in several tiny bones. She was returned to the reception area and to her surprise, Herrick was waiting.
One of his hands was bandaged and his face was red and puffy; he looked severe and disapproving but he was merely anxious.
“I’ve tried to ring Lance; he’s not at the hotel and no-one knows where he is,” he said. “I’ll drive you home, my car’s outside.”
If you want to find out more about Genet and Dr Herrick, and what happened at the party, then here is a link to my book: