White Christmas Part 2
By Laurie Avadis, author of Ex
Yuill looked at the woman and wondered how much they’d paid to cross half of Africa and all of Europe – and if she had known she was pregnant.
Her fingernails, older than time, pirouetted nervously through the rat-tails of hair which flayed her forehead. Her eyes reached out to him and spoke to a man he no longer knew, a man which he had abandoned when his heart became as cold as the pavements which had become his home. As she shuffle-staggered towards him, the man receded into the night, like the fading visualisation of a dream.
“We need…” groaned the woman as she folded in on herself. Yuill’s arms flew out instinctively but he was not prepared for her heft. They fell together onto the tarmac in a desperate waltz.
“Errr?” Asked Robin’s shoes (which had been following Yuill hoping for a place to stay for the night), with their usual cogency as they cautiously approached the comatose pair. Yuill and Robin levered the woman back up on to her feet and over to an anti pedestrian bench, designed for optimum discomfort for any arse no matter what its provenience.
The woman’s hunger addled hands gripped her bounteous girth as if it might explode if she removed them.
“Tonight,” she said. “He arrives tonight.”
“We better get you to a hospital then,” said Robin, “just 10 minutes down the…”
“No,” gasped the woman, gripping Robin’s arm with expected ferocity. “No hospital, we are…illegal. We cannot go back. We cannot.”
Yuill’s mind flailed desperately. He tried to remember the way it felt 30 years before when decisions dropped into his brain like coins from a slot machine. His thinking was addled, his memory recumbent. He looked to Robin, a man who had not had a bath for more than 6 weeks and whose clothes were at least 5 sizes too big for his coat-hanger frame, for guidance.
“We could try the Easmon,” suggested Robin. “Sarah used to be a nurse, she’s there most nights.”
“After she was a nurse she was a heroin addicted prostitute for 15 years.”
“Got any better ideas Yuill? Because I need a drink so badly at this moment in time I can hear the blood screaming in my ears but right now I need, we both need, to help this woman. Unless you have a prior social engagement?”
“Ahhhgh.” The woman grasped her stomach and writhed, her pupils shooting up into her head like a pair of rogue sputniks. “Baby coming.”
The street around Easmon House was cordoned off but Yuill could see light and movement oozing out from the cracks in the curtained windows. He approached a policeman who was speaking on his radio whilst Robin did his best to hide a tremulously pregnant West African woman wearing a bright green and yellow Kente robe, behind his stunted frame.
“Can we get into the Easmon office only we…”
“Piss off sunshine before I lamp you” growled the policeman, rumbling forwards menacingly before the thousand or so camera phones that were immediately focused onto him slapped him back to the sad realisation that society no longer accepted savage random beatings as a legitimate tool of the modern crime fighter.
A suited man who had been prevented from returning home by the police cordon sidled up to Yuill.
“Can’t go down Trinity Road or anywhere around Tooting Bec station. They said on the news that they think this will be the impact zone.”
“Don’t have a TV,” said Yuill.
The man regarded Yuill as if he was from another planet, which he may as well have been.
“The impact zone for the meteorite.”
“A shooting star is going to hit Tooting Bec? Tonight?”
The man sighed, speaking to Yuill who obviously had no access to the web, to the world – it was like trying to communicate with a fish.
“It’s supposed to land there” said the man pointing at the homeless hostel. “I suppose they could evacuate it but is it really worth the effort?”
Yuill returned to the sign for Magdalene Road which Robin and the woman were perched on. The woman was sweating profusely, clutching at her belly and seemed to be falling in and out of consciousness. Her waters had broken onto Robin’s trainers which had, if anything, improved their appearance. Yuill did not know what the signs were for someone going into labour but suspected that these might be all of them.
“I have to try to get into the hostel and find Sarah. If I can just get past that pig I could…”
But he had to stop talking; everyone had to stop talking, because the sky was on fire.
Part 3 will be released next week
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