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Friday, 2 January 2009

The Rising - Chapter 80: Stakeout For One

Dave was staring out of a window again. Just as it had been all afternoon, the bar was empty and he sat in the corner watching the small volume of traffic go by.

He had breathed a sigh of relief when the concierge decided to go back to work and leave him alone in the bar. There was something about his over-energetic brand of wanting to please the customer at any cost that wound Dave up the wrong way. It was like the chain store owners that wanted to give their customers an ‘experience’ when all they should do is let their valued customers buy what they want and get the hell out of there.

Thankfully the barman was at the opposite end of the talkative spectrum and only ventured over to Dave’s table to bring the food he’d ordered and to refresh his glass once in a while. Dave had quickly switched from beer to soft drinks when he realised he may be waiting a long time for Tom and Skinner to go through Blackchapel.

For all he knew, they could have gone past already. For the second time in a day, Dave was doing the best he could as a stakeout force of one and he resigned himself to the fact that he didn’t have much choice. Jane and the doctor seemed to be getting everything they needed so he tried to convince himself that if anything came from his investigations, it would be a bonus.

It was his job to find out who attacked the police station. He’d managed that pretty quickly but that had led him to try and keep an eye on Tom as best he could. It was starting to get dark outside though and it would be more and more difficult to see the vehicles going past on the road, never mind the people inside them.

The noise of a lower league football game on the big screen was interrupted when the bar door was flung open and thirty or so men and women swarmed inside, chatting and laughing loudly. They spread around the bar like they were invading the building, dividing and conquering the free tables. Within seconds a crowd had gathered by the bar and the barman reacted as quickly as he could be bothered to.

Dave found it odd that most of the new arrivals were looking at him. Not just glancing in his direction like you might do a double take at a stranger, but every so often one of them gave him the once-over. Then without invitation two young dudes with long hair sat down opposite him.

Hey man, I’m Ali. This here’s Bill. We haven’t seen you here before.’

Dave extended his arm and they both shook hands with him.

My name’s Dave. I’ve just arrived here today. I’m waiting on a friend.’

I hope you’re not planning on going skiing, dude. After the heat wave and the rain, whatever snow’s left up on the mountains is gonna be some seriously slushy shit.’

No, I’m not sure what our plans are to be honest.’ Dave looked around the bar at the crowd that had just arrived and quickly changed the subject. ‘Do you know all these people? Where did they all come in from?’

Our bus just got back. You know the Morningside Mall?’

Oh right, you’re the guys that work at the mall? The concierge was telling me that you guys were staying in the hotel during the off season.’

Yeah man, pretty sweet deal, isn’t it? Bus into work every day, everyone’s got their own room in the hotel. Can’t wait for the snow to come back, then we can do so serious boarding. Ain’t that right, Bill?’

Bill had been silent up to this point but chose that moment to agree with Ali by making a noise that to Dave sounded like ‘Yaw’, and went back to looking at his bottle of beer.

Sounds pretty good,’ Dave said, ‘I’ve never heard of arrangements like this.’

Naw, I don’t think they tell many people about it. I don’t think they want everyone in the world to know about it.’

So this is the deal every night? Work all day, drink all night?’

Pretty much, man,’ he nudged Bill, who was still enthralled by his beer bottle, ‘Don’t know about you, dude, but tonight I’ve got to eat.’


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