Saturday 11th August 2012
A doctor is summoned
“PINT of lager for Craig, cider for Steve. Take this.”
Brendan hands me an inked paper.
“I must buy the prize drinks?”
“Yes. I need a wee.”
He heads for the door in the far corner. Craig smiles in my direction, while Steve arranges the balls for another game. But, as I’m walking towards the bar, rehearsing what to say to the seller of drinks:
“Skews me, miss. Got to talk to you.”
He is thin, young, short of stature. And standing directly in my way.
“You’re a doctor, ent you? Your boyfriend told me.”
Suddenly up close, he talks quickly, quietly:
“Friend of mine, outside, see. Needs help. Can you take a look at him, please, doc?”
I hesitate. He’s nervous; must be anxious for his friend.
“Don’t worry. I’ll come back, tell Brendan where you are. Come on en. Quick.”
Should I wait for Brendan? But I am a doctor and someone needs my help. I look across to the pool table. The players have their backs to me. The young man obviously knows Brendan. I nod, push the inked paper into a pocket, and follow him outside.
We walk to the back of the building, where a black van is parked.
“Round the back. Come on.”
He slaps his hand twice against the side of the van.
“Jace! You still alive? Got you the doctor.”
A groan from inside. We reach the rear door. He opens it. A man lies on the floor, panting, pinched of face, clenched of fist. I enter the van and kneel by the writhing figure.
“Hello. I am a doctor. Say to me, please, where is the pain.”
I can hear the door being closed behind me. He opens his eyes, relaxing the facial muscles, managing a smile.
“Know what? It’s gone. Amazing, eh!”
And suddenly he is a snake, ready to strike; a burst of flame, licking lips.
“Scream and we take your tongue out as well. Got me?”
He holds a knife close to my face.
“Get down! Now! Flat on the floor! Let’s go, guys!”
I hear the grumble of the van’s engine. Harsh claws seize my shoulders and I am forced lie down, with my face pushed against the cold, metal ridges of the floor.
The van sets off.