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Fiction Rally – Part Three

26 July, 2014

At last, the third instalment of this new(ish) Fiction project.

Soon there will be a homepage  and a summary but for now if you want to catch up on the previous two chapters, click here for part one which I wrote and here for Joanne’s part two.

 

And now, part three…

 

The hiss of the carriage door’s pneumatics and the glide of the mechanism which slid it open were engineered to be quiet, unobtrusive, as silent as the technology of the day would allow. But to Daniel, standing over Jennifer and carefully reaching for her bag, they were deafening. With a practised calm, he withdrew his hand, stepped away from her seat and as the train conductor walked through the newly opened door, Daniel was casually seated on the opposite side of the carriage, his eyes and his attention on the blackness of the tunnel.

“Tickets please,” the conductor announced. Jennifer snapped back awake with a snuffling grunt, and quickly coughed to cover her embarrassment at the unladylike sound. She pulled her bag to her across the seat and dipped her hand in the side pocket, smiling apologetically as she searched for her purse. “It’s in here somewhere,” she said, digging further. “No rush,” the conductor said. He turned to Daniel, recognised that he had checked his ticket two stops earlier – but hadn’t he moved seats since then? – and tapped his pen against his “Simon” namebadge, waiting patiently.

Jennifer’s rummaging became more frantic as her hand failed to locate the small leather purse. The purse with her credit cards, her business cards, the address of the hotel she had booked, the £500 cash she had withdrawn from the joint account – and in the flap on the front, where she always kept tickets, her ticket.

“Sorry,” she said, bringing her bag close enough that she could see inside its pocket, and checked again, this time more frantically. She took out her phone, her camera, the heavy paperback she had intended to read during the journey, and placed them all on her lap. The pocket was empty. Her purse wasn’t there.

“I don’t understand this,” she said, a panic beginning to enter her voice, I always keep my ticket in my purse, in THIS pocket, and it isn’t there.” She pulled the pocket fully open for the conductor to see. “Look,” she said, hoping this explained her predicament.

Simon leant forward, peered uncertainly into the bag where Jennifer’s hand was scrabbling again. There was nothing there. “Maybe it’s in another part of the bag?” he offered, helpfully. “No, it won’t be,” Jennifer snapped, her impatience aimed at her lost purse rather than his unhelpful suggestion, “it was in here. This is where I keep my purse. I put it here as soon as I’d paid at the counter.”

“I see,” Simon said, and watched. Jennifer was becoming distressed as she looked in the same pocket again, with the same fruitless results. Her eyes had the worry of one who had genuinely lost her purse. Or maybe of one who had just been caught fare-dodging.

 

Daniel had heard all of this and, as the black of the tunnel wall allowed the scene to be clearly reflected in his window, he also watched. It seemed impossible that a woman as organised and methodical as Jennifer would deliberately not buy a ticket, she must have genuinely lost it. But either way, without one her train journey would be over, and Daniel’s plane ticket would leave with her.

“Excuse me.”

In the reflection, Daniel saw that Jennifer was calling across to him. After weeks of seeing her, observing her from a distance, he turned now and looked at her directly for the first time. “Hmmmm?” he answered, innocently.

“I wonder if you’ve seen my purse anywhere,” she asked hopefully, “a black one, with a popper on one side, a silvery clasp…” She pulled open the zip of her bag’s main compartment and began searching. It was futile she knew, but it had to be somewhere.

 

“I don’t think so,” Daniel said. Now that they had spoken, did this make it easier or harder for him to deliver the envelope? Maybe he could offer to look in her bag, drop it in there while he was searching… don’t be daft, that would never work.

“It had my ticket in it, my cards, my money, my fucking life…” she was desperate now, angrily emptying clothes, toiletries, books, shoes, underwear onto the seat beside her. “Or my future life anyway.”

“If you don’t have a valid ticket for travel,” Simon explained carefully, “I’ll have to charge you the penalty fare.”

“I did have a valid ticket,” Jennifer pleaded, “But I’ve lost my purse, you can see that.”

“If you aren’t able to pay the penalty fare, I’m afraid I will have to call the police. Fare evasion is a crime.”

“I didn’t evade the fare, I paid it. Can you help me look? It must be here somewhere.”

 

Daniel had done everything right, the last four weeks had led up to this drop, he had been seconds away, inches away, but now it was all slipping from him. They wouldn’t accept excuses, they wouldn’t give him another chance.

“Perhaps I can help,” Daniel said, rising from his seat.Jennifer reached the bottom of her now empty bag. No purse. No ticket.

“Let me pay your fine.”

“Really?” Jennifer gasped. Normally she wouldn’t accept money from a complete stranger but if it meant a way out of this, a way to avoid having to go back…

“Your purse has obviously been lost somewhere and I’d hate to see you getting into trouble with the police.”

“That would be… fantastic.”

“No problem. You can send me the money when you get your new cards.”

Simon, happy that a solution had been reached that didn’t require hours of paperwork, tapped a few buttons on his handheld ticket machine. “Where are you headed?” he asked.

“Waterloo,” Jennifer blurted, her heart racing.

“Okay,” tap tap tap, “Full fare from the beginning of the line,” tap tap tap, “to Waterloo. Plus penalty charge,” Tap tap tap, “comes to £327.96.” He looked from Daniel to Jennifer, back to Daniel. Daniel pulled a brown paper bag from his rucksack, and crouched over it, hiding its contents. He emerged with £340 in purple twenties and handed them to the conductor. “Keep the change,” Daniel smiled, “buy yourself a pint.”

Simon nodded his thanks, printed a ticket for Jennifer and pocketed the money. “Thank you sir,” he said to Daniel, and then to Jennifer, “I hope your purse turns up.” With a courteous nod, he turned and opened the carriage door.

 

 

 

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4 Comments
  1. I’m loving this! My mind is awhirl with many different paths and once again, you’ve managed to pull me out of my slump and get my writing juices flowing- umm, you know what I mean 😉
    Perfect timing too, my internet has been playing hide and seek with me all week long and just now it finally decided to stay on for longer than 2 minutes in a row, just when I need it most, here on Team FR!
    I can’t wait to see what happens next! Oh wait, that’s up to me 😀
    Oh Danny-boy, what are you up to??? lol
    xox ❤

    • Well if your part 4 is anything like my part 3, any ideas you had about what will happen will get thrown away when the characters have their own ideas!
      Glad to hear the internet is interBACK!
      xx

  2. Reblogged this on joannebest and commented:
    Part 3 of Fiction Rally courtesy of the most wonderful Reclining Gentleman! Read, (catch up on the first 2 parts if you haven’t already),enjoy, and Part 4 will follow soon.

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  1. Fiction Rally Part 4 | joannebest

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