38 - The Party and the Cleaner
“Come on, let’s go.” She said standing up.
Her warm soft hand small in his great big mitt, the slight squeeze encouraging, the sudden determined tug betraying her overpowering need. Kissing, proper kissing. They had been kissing and fondling in the dark corner. Behind the door. Chaos all around. Hectic. The noise. The beat.
Rick is knocked back surprised how sharp the edge of a door could be as it slammed against his head. That was Jimbo coming in, with exuberance, the usual flamboyant entrance. The big “I’ve arrived” and late as usual.
Suzie, impatient, pulled again “Come on Rick...nowww Rick.”
Into the hall passing Jimbo, Rick says “Hi Jimbo thanks for the lump.”
Jimbo replies “Nice to see you Rick... Suzie.” Watches them staggering into the dining room and the food table.
Huge and white but covered in debris. Three types of cheese ground into the pale blue carpet looking impressionistic. Probably wool. Definitely ruined. With crackers and French bread and other stuff. The sheet almost touching the ground, tent like. The makeshift table cloth soiled beyond redemption.
“Here, under here.” Tugging now urgent “Come on will you.”
Fumbling hands, frantic, belt, zipper.
Mickey Mouse and blue leather. Only Charlie wears Mickey Mouse shoes. Standing next to the giggling red high heels.
“Hey Rick.” This is Charlie lifting the sheet. Grinning. “Suzie. You look…. well dishevelled.”
“Piss off Charlie.” And he leaves them to it.
May is standing in her red heels pulling at Charlie’s arm.
“I want a drink Charlie.” But Charlie sits down next to Bobby and in a blink they are immersed in conversation drinking Vodka and coke from a plastic bottle so she drifts off following the red drip, drip trail with Jimbo on the end clutching Merlot from Argentina in a box. He is swaying in the sitting room left hand on the shoulder of a girl he does not know. Slowly moving to fast music. Michelle, her mother is French, loving the association with his reputation.
Vodka shots at Jack’s and Jimbo was well on the way when he arrived at the Farmhouse at eleven thirty. Jack’s place is a second floor flat he shares with two others, both out, both in love. He took the Vodka. Jack opened the door. Empty milk bottles lined up like parade soldiers along the balcony walkway and to the stairs. An ongoing dispute resulting in the milkman delivering but not collecting.
“Hey Jimbo come in the girls are out.”
“The Old Farmhouse tonight. You coming? Should be good.” Jimbo said.
“Will do but later. Things to do, people to see first.”
“Do the people have blond hair by chance?”
Lisa in a frilly yellow dressing gown, soft and smooth and still bath pink opens the door, Jack leaning against the porch post smiling wrapped up in a thick coat and long loose knit scarf, breath in white puffs and with that Vodka glow.
“Hey Lisa you coming out tonight? There’s a party on.”
“Not tonight, staying in. You want to stay?”
“For a bit, then I’m off to the do.”
Rick and Suzie have emerged and are in the kitchen, a large space and awash, Rick with a beer bottle needing the nowhere to be found opener. He tries clipping the top off with a sharp bash on the edge of the back door step. Then the fridge door latch which snaps, so wanders off in the direction of the rapidly deteriorating scene in the sitting room where a Tamala session is in progress. The room is dark, kaleidoscope patterns on the wall from the oil wheel in the 1960’s projector. A relic from a parent’s past. Jimbo is still swaying with Michelle now mostly propping him up.
Rick is side-tracked to the stairs. Up the top and the bedrooms are sealed off, signs outside the master and the two kids rooms. “Keep out”. The master door is slightly open, the bed occupied.
“Hey, can’t you read. Up and out. Now. This is a no go area. Out please. You know the rules.”
They scuttle past stepping into clothes as they go. “Sorry Rick.” And down the stairs.
Rick checks the other rooms then back to the dancing. He sees Bobby who has wandered from the sofa and hands him the bottle. Bobby snaps the cap between his teeth. He nods a thanks and back to Suzie who is giving Charlie a verbal beating concerning inappropriate sheet lifting.
Charlie had met May in the pub, The Fox, about a thirty minute brisk walk from The Old Farmhouse. He was with Bobby stopping on route to fill their tanks so to speak and standing near the bar. The pile of plates smashed on the flag stone floor, shards erupting in a fountain like spray. May mouthing “Shit” and both of them grinning as they stoop to help. Old Fred appears with the long handled brush and pan. “Lucky it’s the end of your shift. Are those the last?”
“Yes. And sorry. Just the tables to wipe.”
“Hi, I’m Charlie we’re off to a party. Want to come?”
“Sure, just give me five minutes and I’ll be with you. Nice shoes.”
Ten minutes, a bit of slap and she appears in red high heels. Charlie picked up a carry out.
They arrive and see Rick and Suzie disappear under the table. Bobby sits on the sofa in the dining room while Charlie inspects the table for anything edible and of course other things. May is amused but drifts off leaving Charlie and Bobby and grabs the Merlot box from Jimbo before he crashes to be helped up by Michelle. May changes the music to Tamala, her favourite dance music, and moves rhythmically to the beat.
A bit later Jack leaves Lisa and is walking down the lane towards the farmhouse the police car with lights flashing comes up behind and whizzes past.
Speed dials. “Hey Rick it’s Jack, there’s a Police car on route. Might be coming to you.”
“Thanks Jack. How long?”
“Maybe ten minutes but could be less.”
“Ok we’ll clear out, it’s getting on anyway.”
Rick grabs Suzie, Bobby and Charlie and picks up his projector and music. The word is passed and the house empties and within five minutes about sixty people are heading in all directions. No vehicles and no running just casually strolling away too many and too spread out for the police to do anything.
Rick is the organiser. Paula works in the Travel Agents and had fed her brother the information when the holiday had been booked three weeks before. Mr and Mrs Taylor, The Old Farmhouse away for five nights in Paris the note had said then was ripped up and chucked in the bin by the off-licence. Then the word went out.
A distraught Mrs Taylor is in the hallway talking to the police the next day. In one hand she has a flyer that had been circulated to all the surrounding houses a week ago. It read “Suzie’s Specialist Cleaning Service. All Types of Cleaning Undertaken. Fast, Efficient and Reliable Service.” In the other hand she held her phone ready to dial and knowing the cost would be huge.