Domestic DisturbanceJanuary 18, 2017
The stale stench of weed should have been enough of a warning when Gail had first looked around the flat. She’d always hated that smell, it reminded her of the dried in urine on her drunken father’s trousers when he’d occasionally return from the pub to get money or sleep before heading back out. She hadn’t liked living with that smell then and she wouldn’t like living with this one either. She should have listened to her gut, and not rented the place. But it was so cheap and she wasn’t exactly flush with cash – so she took it.
What she’d saved in rent, she probably spent in scented candles, joss sticks and plug in air fresheners. She’d got the landlord’s permission to paint the place. It wasn’t just the smell she couldn’t live with – she couldn’t bare the nicotine yellow ceilings and skirting boards either. She’d made what she could of a very basic studio apartment, kept fresh flowers and put up curtains with a floral pattern and tie backs. Throw cushions printed with affirmations made her hand-me-down sofa look a little more girly.
She was happy here – or she had been until now.
The knock at the door had been heavy. Urgent. She’d ignored it at first. But they’d knocked again, for longer and heavier still. Gail didn’t know anyone in town and didn’t want to answer the door, but then what if one of the neighbours was in trouble? She didn’t know them but Gail held a kind heart. She’d passed a young girl with a baby in the corridors a few times on her way home from work – what if the baby was ill and they needed to get to the hospital? And there was an old man who she was sure lived alone on the ground floor, maybe he had some emergency that needed attention.
Before Gail had the door fully open it was pushed from outside and two men burst in. Their clothes were made of cheap materials and bore the labels of designer brands in large print. She caught sight of gold watches and chains as they rushed at her and started yelling.
“Where is he? Where the fuck is he?” Yelled one of the intruders.
The other grabbed Gail by the hair and dragged her back into the flat before she’d had a chance to respond.
The first man continued to yell his accent an affected cockney learnt from low budget movies. He kept repeating his initial question.
“Where’s who?” Gail managed to sob through pained tears. Her head throbbed from being dragged across the floor.
“You’re boyfriend. He’s had a grand’s worth of gear off of us and we haven’t seen him in over a month. So were the fuck is the prick hiding.”
“I… I live alone,” Gail sobbed, “I only moved in two weeks ago.”
The man that had pulled Gail by the hair slapped her across the face. She felt her cheek welt from the blow.
“Don’t give us that shit, you know where he is.” He yelled.
Gail sobbed. She had no idea who it was they were looking for, but whoever had rented this place before her had clearly screwed over some very nasty people – and now she was going to pay for it.
She flinched as she saw him raise his hand again. Braced for the blow she looked away. But it never came. She looked back to see the first man holding the other’s hand back.
“Hang on a minute mate, she might be telling the truth. Have a look around, there’s no way that scrote lives here, it’s too nice now. Looks like the fucker’s done a bunk.”
As they looked around and the realisation sunk in to both men Gail sobbed, it wasn’t quite relief, more shock at the world she’d stumbled into.
“Sorry about that, love.” The man that had struck Gail said. He leaned down to try to help her up. She lashed his hand away wildly.
“Just get out!” she screamed.
“Alright love, chill out, it was an honest mistake.” The first man said, as if he’d taken the wrong trolley in the supermarket. He reached into his pocket and dropped a bunch of crumpled fifty-pound notes on the floor next to her. “For your trouble.”
The next day Gail didn’t go to work. She got straight onto the estate agent, she didn’t care how much more she’d have to pay, she wasn’t staying here.