This Is The Day:Chapter 16

16

Danny

 

With the letter in hand Danny started up the stairs, back to the door he had left propped open with an old brick.  He stared down at it, questioning whether it would be okay to open it and have a look, or whether that would interfere with the finger prints.  As he neared the top step he heard the sound of Michael being sick in the bathroom, and grimaced to himself.  Anthony had seemed strange, he thought then, strange and awkward.  He had seemed in a hurry to shepherd his kids out of there, but Danny couldn’t blame him for that.  Who would want their children knowing about all this shit?

He thought back to his telephone call to the police.  It still felt weird, asking for their help, when for so long he had thought better of trusting them. The policeman had sounded non-committal on the phone.  They would either come out today or they wouldn’t.  Maybe he should phone back and let them know there were now three letters.  He had just reached the top door when he remembered he had not checked the doormat, and turned around to go back down.  He had checked three times since the phone call from Anthony.  In his head, he had pictured the sender, whoever it was, posting to Anthony and then walking down the road to post to Michael.  It would make sense to do it in that order.  He hoped the police would at least sit and try to figure out what order the letters had been posted in, which would probably let them know if there was more than one person involved.

Danny saw the envelope when he was half way down the stairs.  He must have been stood on it when he was talking to Anthony.  He could already see the dusty footprint from his trainer on it.  He hurried down the last few steps and seized it in his hand. It was addressed to Mr. Michael Anderson, and just like all the others, it appeared to have been hand posted.  Danny lingered for a few moments in the hallway, holding both envelopes, looking from one to the other, and feeling the indignation, the anger rising slowly but steadily inside of him. I’ve paid for what I did, he felt like yelling at the top of his lungs, eight years in prison! I took it, so I’ve paid!  This just seemed unfair, he thought, shaking his head helplessly.  Creepy, and unfair. Please let the cops do something, he thought to himself as he opened the door up again, meaning to scan the outside area, in case there were any signs of anyone.

He pulled the door open, stepped out and blinked in the sunshine. November had started brisk and cold, and it was one of those mornings when the Autumn sun seemed huge and startling.  He rubbed his arms and gazed up and down the back alley.  There was a figure, he noticed suddenly, and held up a hand to shield his eyes from the sun.  A figure, close to Michael’s car, sort of bent over and fiddling with something.  Danny felt sudden rage wash through him and marched out from the hallway, waving the letters.  “Hey!” he shouted, and the figure stopped what they were doing and looked up in surprise.  It was a woman, he saw.  She had a shoulder bag on and had been rummaging around in it.  “What do you want?” Danny demanded, stopping on the other side of Mike’s car.  “Who are you?”

The woman smiled. It was one of those sleek automatic smiles, the smile of a salesman, or a politician, the smile of someone long practiced in the art of getting their own way.  She flicked back a shiny weave of golden hair, and came confidently around the car, with one hand stuck out.  Danny frowned at the hand.  He could see long neat nails, polished a deep purple.  “Daniel Bryans?” the woman asked him, her eyes bright and cheerful.  He stepped back.

“Who the hell are you and what are you doing out here?” He waved the letter at her.  “Are these anything to do with you?”

The woman came closer, her gaze fixed on the two envelopes, whilst deftly fishing a business card out from her pocket. She held the card out to him and he took it unsurely.  “Caroline Haskell,” she informed him, still eyeing the letters.  “Daily Echo.  I’m a reporter.  Michael must have told you I’ve been asking to meet with you?”

“Oh,” Danny said, glancing at the card before passing it back to her. “Yeah, he did.  I’m not interested, sorry.” He turned away and headed back to the door.  The woman hurried after him, catching him up and skipping along his side.  He looked down at her and saw her eyes travel intently from his, down to his feet, and then slowly back up again.  She was smiling, and she had perfect straight white teeth.

“Nobody told me you were so good looking,” she said then, stopping him in his tracks.  He stared at her as if she was mad.

“You what?”

The woman giggled and shook her hair back again.  “Just a compliment,” she said, lifting one hand to her mouth in a quick and secretive gesture, as if no one else was meant to hear.  “How are you doing?  You’ve been out of prison for about five weeks now, is that right?”

“I’m not doing an interview with you,” he told her shaking his head slowly.

“Look!” she laughed, patting at her clothes. “I’m not recording you or anything! Just saying hello.  You’re a hard man to track down.”

“Well that ought to tell you something then.” Danny walked the last few steps to the door and went in.  She followed quickly, even placing one manicured hand against the door, should he go to close it.

“What are those letters?” she asked, nodding at them.

“Nothing.”

“You said that too quickly,” she grinned, and winked. “And you accused me of having something to do with them, so I am guessing they are something important, and potentially not very pleasant.”

“Thought you were a reporter?” he snarled. “Not a bloody detective.”

“Well,” Caroline Haskell smiled confidently and shrugged her slim shoulders at him.  “One and the same at times, I can tell you.  And plus there is the less than friendly graffiti someone has sprayed on your door.  Are you being harassed by someone Mr. Bryans?  Or can I call you Daniel?”

“You can go away, that’s what you can do.  I didn’t talk to you lot back then, and I’m not about to now.” Danny moved to close the door, but the reporter blocked it quickly with her small, neat body.  He stared at her in frustration.  She was wearing wide legged black trousers, a lacy cream blouse, and a tight fitting denim jacket.  He looked her over then, as she had done him.  She was still smiling.

“Why was that, by the way?” she questioned.  “Why didn’t you want to talk to us back then?”

“Just go away,” he said.  “Please just go away.”

“You could have told your side of the story.  People only know what was reported at the trial Daniel.  People want to know the truth.”

“It’s none of their business.  And it’s none of yours.”

“Someone seems to think it’s their business,” she replied, nodding at the letters he held.  His face darkened and scowled down at her.

“The police are on their way here,” he told her. “If you don’t get out the way of the door, I’ll tell them you’re harassing me.  Just go away.  I’m not talking to you, get it?”

“But I can help you,” she insisted, finally moving back.  She dragged her card back out and pushed it into his hand.  Was it his imagination or did she splay her fingers out briefly, just over his hand, before pulling back?  “I can help find out who is behind all this.  You know the police, too much other stuff to do, they won’t pay much attention to this.  Not unless something really bad happens.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well you know, something physical.  They won’t do anything about graffiti and poison pen letters, assuming that’s what those are? “

Danny breathed out through his nostrils.  He could feel this situation slipping away from him and he did not like it.  He pushed her card into his pocket.  “I can help you…” she started to say again, and he closed the door quickly.

He bounded up the stairs, kicked the brick out of the way and slammed the other door.  Michael was in the hallway, holding a damp towel to his face, and squinting as if it hurt him to open his eyes. “What’s the matter?” he asked Danny instantly. “What’s wrong?”

“These,” Danny shoved the letters at him and stormed into the lounge.  He ignored Kurt trying to jump up at his legs, and went to the window, planting his hands on the wide sill and glaring down at the street below.  Michael came up behind him, sat on the windowsill and opened the letter addressed to him.  His eyes grew wide and he turned his head quickly to Danny.

“Fuckinghell!”

Danny nodded grimly and folded his arms, eyes still on the street.  He didn’t know what, or whom he was looking for, but he had the distinct feeling that whoever had sent the letters, whoever had sprayed the graffiti, was out there somewhere, watching him.  Maybe it was time he did some watching of his own. Michael checked the second letter, Anthony’s one. “This is a fucking sick joke,” he muttered, shaking his head, looking appalled. “I can’t believe this.”

“I’ve called the cops,” Danny told him. “Anthony called this morning to talk to you but I answered your phone.  They’ve been sent to Lucy and Billy today as well, all by hand, how the hell is that possible?”

“Where the hell was this photo taken?” Michael asked, wrinkling his nose up at the photo of Danny on the letter. Danny snatched it and looked for the first time.

“Isn’t that out there?” he said. “The high street?”

“Yeah,” Michael agreed instantly. “Look, you can see the ice cream sign there in the background, that’s outside the little newsagents, you know next to the pizza place?”

“Yeah,” Danny nodded. “When do you reckon it was taken then?”

“Look, what are you wearing?” They both peered down at the photo.  It was mostly a good headshot, but they could just make out some dark green material, close to Danny’s neck.  “That’s your green hoody.  You do wear it a lot though.  It could have been taken any time Dan.  I might even have been with you, who can tell?”

“You don’t remember seeing anyone with a camera any time?  Anyone snapping away?”

Michael shook his head slowly, his eyes solemn. “No, I don’t.  You wouldn’t pay attention to it if you did, would you?”

“Until now,” Danny sighed, and turned back to the window.  Michael put the letter away and placed them both down on the sill.

“Police coming?” he asked. “They must be.  They must take this seriously now.  Some bastard knows where we all live, even fucking Billy! Sneaks around posting these?”

“More than one person,” said Danny, knowing this was true. “They couldn’t do Billy and Lucy and us that quickly.”

“What about your mum?”

“Hey?”

“Text her.  See if she has one.”

Danny sighed again, pulled out his phone and began to type in the message.  Michael joined him in scanning the street. “Someone out there,” he murmured, “some sneaky little bastard out there.  What the hell is it supposed to mean anyway?  Stay away?”

“Assume it’s some sort of threat,” Danny shrugged, finishing the message and tucking his phone back into his pocket.  His fingers met the card then, the card from Caroline Haskell.  He showed it to Michael. “Look who finally caught up with me.”

Michael grinned. “What, just now?  So what did you think?  Hot, right?”

Danny made a face. “Not to me, no.  She was very pushy and smiley.  I told her to go away.”

“She’ll be back,” Michael snorted. “She’s like a dog with a bone.”

“Nosy bitch,” Danny growled.

“Anyway,” Michael said, glancing wearily back at the two envelopes. “They don’t know us very well if they think they can warn us away from you.  Bastards.  You still thinking Howard’s dad could be behind it?”

Danny shivered at both the thought of the old man, and the mention of his old enemy’s name.  Last night’s dream came to him then, in a sudden bolt, like being smacked around the head.  He swallowed hard, as the old shaking dread quivered to life inside his belly.  How well he remembered that feeling.  That heavy, sick feeling he had lived with almost every day back then.  How his body had become so expertly attuned to knowing when trouble was on the way.  His stomach would tighten and clench, soon becoming a hard ball of pain.  His hairs would stand on end, and he would go cold all over.  His heart would feel like contained thunder inside his chest, threatening to rip him in two.  It was always almost a relief when the trouble finally came, when the first punch collided with his body, because the pain of that was different.  He could handle that.  It was the fear that almost drove him crazy.

“I don’t know,” he said, honestly.  “From what mum said, he has good reason.  He never bought what we said about his son.  As far as he was concerned I was a drug crazed kid who stabbed his son to death.  End of.  That’s all he was prepared to believe.”

“Fucking bastard,” Michael sneered.  “You said he had a brother?  Howard?”

“Yeah mum  say’s that’s true, but whoever he is they’d been estranged for years.”

“Maybe he made it up with the old man?”

“Maybe.”

“Maybe it’s them.  Howard’s dad and brother. Face it, anyone related to him would have to be just as evil and twisted as him, wouldn’t they?”

Danny felt it again, that sick twisting in his guts.  He felt close to vomiting.  He looked away from Michael and rested his head against the cold thin windowpane, staring down at the street below. “What am I supposed to do Mike?” he asked softly, his breath clouding against the glass. He heard Michael sigh, and felt his hand drop momentarily onto his shoulder.

“We’ll sort it,” Michael told him, and he sounded surer than Danny felt, and he wished that he could believe him.  He also sort of wished he didn’t have to lean on his friends for help, all over again.  “You’re doing all the right things anyway,” Michael dropped his hand and shrugged. “You know, letting the cops deal with it.”

“Do you ever think that’s what we should have done back when we were kids?” Danny asked him, still staring down at the street.  It was busy out there, as usual.  There was a market on.  Traders yelled and bellowed to attract the shoppers attention.  Mothers pushed buggies along, weaving in and out of the crowd. Men walked and smoked, with tough looking dogs on leads.  There were always old people, scruffy people, people who did not seem quite there, wandering around, shuffling away aimlessly. Some sat hunched in doorways, or snuggled on benches, bottles in hands. 

“Why do you say that?” Michael asked him. “We were just kids, for God’s sake. Don’t forget what happened to Anthony, mate.  One minute he’s out of prison, he’s gonna’ be a good boy for a change, then he’s straight back in again, fucking set up by good old Howard and Freeman.  Remember that?”

“Course I do.”

“Well why didn’t you call the cops then?  Have you forgotten?”

“I didn’t call them because Howard said he was friends with them.  He was friends with them.  And Freeman…he was…” Danny did not finish his sentence.  In some ways speaking of Jack Freeman was even harder, even more distasteful than speaking of his stepfather.  His part in it all was still so cloudy, still so shrouded in mystery, and what he could remember, or what he thought he could remember, did not bear thinking about.  He closed his eyes and breathed slowly against the glass.  He could feel Michael beginning to bristle with anger beside him.

“You didn’t call them because you had no reason to trust them Danny.  You have to remember one thing, we were just kids, and it’s all very easy to look back now and say we should have done this, or we should have done that.  You knew what Howard was capable of.  You saw how he got rid of Anthony when he tried to stand up for you.  You thought he’d do the same to us, and you were right.  He would have, one way or another.”

“I can’t help thinking it sometimes,” Danny said, finally pulling back from the window and pressing his palms against his eyes.  “If I’d been smarter, or braver.  You know?  If I’d told them the truth when you sent them around that time.”

“You were fourteen years old!” Michael told him angrily then.  He searched the flat for cigarettes, found an unopened pack on the coffee table and brought them back to the window.  He lit one for himself, handed one to Danny, and held out the lighter for him.  “I can still see you now mate,” he said bitterly, sliding one hand into his pocket, and leaning back against the window.  “You were just a kid.  You were fucking tiny.  That guy was a fucking gorilla, a fucking bully! I would have done just the same as you mate.  I’ve told you that before.  At some time in your life you’ve got to stop blaming yourself for all this shit, you know? You did the best you could, okay?  You tried to keep him away from us.  You even avoided us most the time, so he wouldn’t do anything.  Then you got away when you had the chance.” Michael looked at him, his eyes blazing.  He puffed smoke upwards. “He was the one who came after you.  He could have left you alone, but no.”

“All right Mike,” Danny touched his arm briefly. “All right, calm down.  I was just thinking aloud that’s all.  Thinking what to do.”

“We have two choices,” Michael said. “We stand back and let the police deal with it and see how far that gets us, or we try to find out who is behind it ourselves.”

“Yeah and then what?  If we did find out, then what?”

“Fucking warn them off!” Michael cried. “Fucking give them what for!”

“Anthony said he would come over tonight,” Danny remembered then. “He had his kids with him a minute ago.”

“Good.  We need him.  Maybe we should call Billy and Lucy too.”

“No, just us and Anthony.  But let’s see what the police say first.” Danny turned and leant back on the windowsill, smoking his cigarette, feeling himself calm slowly down again. The sensible voice was back in his head, holding him in place.  See what the police say, see what they want to do, listen to them, do whatever they say…then see what Anthony thinks…let your friends calm you down, keep hold of yourself..and then?  See what else is thrown at you.

            His phone beeped then, making him jump.  He laughed at himself, pulled it out and read the message.  It was from Kay; at work. Will check when I go home for lunch. Tell me what police say. Don’t do anything silly!  He read it out to Michael, who looked at him quizzically.

            “Silly?  Like what?”

            “I don’t know, like go to Howard’s grave and shit on it?” Danny smiled, and Michael returned it easily.

            “Shit on it,” he said, “piss on it, vomit on it, fuck on it!” he laughed out loud, and moved away from the window, walking slowly around the lounge, smoking his cigarette and puffing careful rings of smoke into the air.  “I can’t believe that bastard is still fucking up your life mate, from the fucking grave no less! Unbelievable. It’s not like you can kill him twice is it?”

            Danny could only laugh.  Michael had not changed at all, he thought. He still said exactly what he thought, whether it shocked people or not.  It was good to have someone like that to rely on, someone always on your side.  It had been good back then, and it was good now too, but in a lot of ways it made him feel sad too. Michael should have changed, he realised.  Just like Anthony had.  Married, with kids.  Herding them away from trouble, even though it made him feel bad.  Making the right decisions for his family, but still trying to be a good friend. Danny sighed and gazed around at Michael’s chaotic life, which he had slipped so effortlessly back into.  It was almost as if time had stood still.  They were back together and doing what they knew best.  Drinking, smoking, swearing and getting into trouble.  It would have been funny if it were not so tragic, he thought miserably. We’re too old for all this…We shouldn’t still be living like this.

 

            The feeling grew stronger that evening, when Anthony came to the flat with beers in hand, smiling awkwardly at the two of them, looking like he had gone a few rounds with the wife in order to get out.  “Don’t worry about it,” he told them, when they asked, shrugging off his coat and snapping open a beer. “She’ll have to understand, won’t she?  I’ve done the dad bit all day.”

            “Now you’re doing the join forces against evil bit, once again?” Michael joked, as the three of them settled in the lounge with the beers. Anthony rolled his eyes.

            “What did the police say?” he asked Danny. “Let me guess. It’s not against the law to send photos to people?”

            Danny smirked at him, put his feet up on the coffee table and drank his beer, with Kurt curled up on his lap.  “Something like that,” he answered. “They took all the letters.  Said they’d keep it all on file.  If anything else happens to let them know, blah blah blah.”

            “Fuck all basically,” Michael said, teeth gritted. “No laws broken.  Well except for the graffiti, but that hardly stands out as crime of the century round here.  The letters don’t threaten anyone with anything.  They agreed it was sinister, and they said we should be very vigilant, but at the moment no, still not a lot they can really do.”

            “Have you worked out what order they were posted in?” Anthony asked.

            “Funny you should ask,” replied Michaels, his eyes lighting up. “We did exactly that, didn’t we Dan?  We even told the cops.  Did they write that bit down?  I’m not even sure they did.”

            “We reckon it was two people,” Danny went on. “Because they all definitely got posted this morning. No one remembers seeing anything on the mat last night.  We’re just not sure how early the first one was posted, but we’re pretty sure all five were posted before twelve o’clock.  Mum found hers last,” Danny explained to Anthony’s confused expression. “She went home to check at lunch after I text her.  She had one waiting.  Same one.”  He remained sat back on the sofa, head back, beer in one hand and Kurt curled around the other.  He raised his eyebrows at Anthony. “So it depends.  If the person was on foot, no way they could do all five letters themselves in that time span.  If they were in car, maybe.  But tricky.”

            “How long does it take to drive from here to your mums?” Anthony asked, crossing one leg over the other at the knee.

            “About half an hour, depending on traffic.  So it’s possible.”

            “Am I the only one who knows pretty much what time mine came?  I heard the post drop.  I assumed they were all from the postman.”

            “So you don’t know exactly what time then,” Michael corrected him. “It could have been there already, and the real post just drew your attention to it.”

            “Hmm,” Anthony scratched his chin and nodded. “That’s true. I hadn’t thought of that.  I even went out to check if the postman was still close by.  Thought he might have seen someone.”

            “We need to find a few things out,” Michael said, dragging the conversation back on course.  Danny looked at him, waiting.  His friends seemed calm, he thought, looking at them both.  Calm and intrigued.  “Like exactly where does Jerry Howard live these days?  And Dennis, the brother?  Where does he live?  And the other one.  The slug.  Freeman.”

            “How do we find out?” Danny asked, his lips dry. 

            “Probably not that hard these days,” Anthony shrugged, and then grinned at Danny’s bemused expression. “The Internet,” he explained. “Good old Google. .  Friends United.  We’ll try them all.  See what comes up.”

            “Kind of makes me shudder,” Danny said then. “Thinking about finding any of them.” He swallowed and found his throat was like sandpaper. “You know.”

            “We’ll put Lucy on the case,” shrugged Anthony. “She knows her way around the Internet better than we do.  Shall I text her now?”

            “Yeah, go on,” Danny nodded and drank more beer. Anthony pulled out his phone and started to text.  “But what do we do with what we find out?” Danny asked.  “Give the information to the police?”

            “Depends what we find out I suppose,” Anthony replied, still texting. “Main thing is we find out if there’s any chance it’s any of them.  It’s more a case of working out who the suspects are, you know?  So we can be prepared, for one thing, so we know what we’re dealing with, and so we can tell the cops.”

            “Okay,” Danny nodded, feeling braver.  “Okay then.  It’s a plan.”

            “And in the meantime,” Anthony went on. “Keep the doors locked, look over your goddamn shoulders, and trust no one.  Yeah?”

            “Already doing that,” Michael grinned, but shifted nervously in his chair.  He pushed his dark hair back away from his eyes. “But at least we’re not little kids this time, right Dan?” he looked his way and nodded. “We’re men!  We’re not that easily scared.  Whoever is behind this is a complete and utter fucking loser.  We’ll expose them to the paper, or something!  You can get that hot reporter involved!  She’d bloody love that!”

“Don’t let Lucy catch you saying that,” warned Anthony, pulling his phone back out when it vibrated. He glanced down at it.  “She said her Internet is playing up but she’ll ask her neighbour, bless her. Are you two okay at the moment?”

Danny drained his beer, sat forward and placed the empty can on the coffee table.  “Yeah I think so.  Why?”

“I don’t know,” shrugged Anthony.  “Tell me to mind my own business if you like, but I kind of thought you might have ditched this loser here by now, and moved in with her, that’s all.”

“Loser?” Michael spluttered over his beer, but Danny could see he was taking it as a joke.  He looked shyly back at Anthony.

“I wouldn’t want to rush her,” he said, almost apologetically, “or cramp her style.  Besides, I sort of like living with your misfit brother.”

“Misfit?” Michael roared, and they all laughed.

“Seriously though,” said Anthony, looking back at Danny. “You guys are okay?  You’re together and everything?”

“Well I am,” said Danny, “I mean, as far as I know, we are.  Don’t get to see her that much, with her job and everything.”  He caught a second beer when Anthony threw him one.

“You need a job,” Anthony told him, before looking more seriously at Michael.  “You both do.  You can’t spend the rest of your lives sitting in this shithole getting drunk.”

“Oh God, here we go,” Michael rolled his eyes and got up from the sofa. “I was wondering how long it would take.”

“Okay, okay,” Anthony held up his hands. “I won’t say another word.  It’s your lives, and all that.  Do whatever makes you happy.”  He didn’t have to say another word, Danny thought, watching him.  Do whatever makes you happy. An interesting piece of advice, and obviously Anthony’s indirect way of pointing out that this was not.

“Maybe we like sitting in this shithole,” Michael was saying, as he crossed the room to put another CD on.  “Maybe we don’t care about having aspirations and all that shit.”

“I should have raised you better,” Anthony said with a sigh, and a shake of his head.  He grinned at Danny playfully. “I was hoping you would be a good influence on him, you know.  Kick his arse into action.  Drag him down the job centre with you.”

“No we’re just thinking of ways we can spend all his money,” Michael said, as an old Stone Roses album started to play behind him.  He grabbed his cigarettes from the table and slumped back onto the sofa beside Danny.

“Any thoughts?” Anthony questioned, just as his phone began to vibrate loudly again in his pocket.

“Lots of thoughts,” Danny shrugged, though in truth spending any of the money still felt disgusting to him.  He was sharing the rent with Michael, and chipping in for food and bills, which seemed only fair.  His mother however kept phoning him, telling him about houses for sale, houses he could afford.  Then you’ll be settled, she kept insisting, as if somehow staying with Mike was akin to being homeless, you’ll have a decent life, you can start a career, you can do something with your writing.  It all sounded enticing of course.  His own house. He could let Lucy and Michael move in.  He would have the time and money to decide what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.  But he couldn’t get rid of the feeling that it was Howard’s money, that Howard had earned it and sweated for it in that nightclub, night after night.  He had been a grafter, no one could take that away from him.  He had turned that place around and made it a huge success.  Danny thought about his own part in it all, how he had gone along to wash and collect glasses. How he had spent most of his time there high on speed, and trying to avoid getting on his stepfathers nerves.  He shook himself out of the memories.  Anthony’s phone was going off again, and he groaned at it.

“It’s Chrissie!”

“Don’t answer it!” Michael said instantly. “You never come out! You’ve hardly seen Danny at all.”

“It’s all right,” Danny nudged him, as Anthony got up to answer his phone, pacing impatiently out into the hallway. “Don’t be so hard on him Mike.  He can’t help it.  He has to put them first.”

Michael just stared back at him. He drank more beer and glared at his brothers back in the hallway. “Well she never leaves him alone,” he muttered. “Even if he does come out, she’ll call or text the whole time.”

“What?” Anthony was shouting now, holding one hand over his other ear, as if he could not hear his wife well. “You’re joking?  Fuck! Are you alright?  Are you all alright?”

Danny and Michael sat forward, now concerned by the tone of Anthony’s voice.  They swapped glances.  Anthony had turned to face them, phone still clamped to his ear.  His eyes were wide with disbelief. “I’m coming, I’m coming,” he was saying loudly, “all right, all right, calm down, just calm down, I’ll be ten minutes!”

He closed the phone, and lunged into the lounge to snatch his jacket from the back of his chair.  “They’ve had a brick through the window!” he exclaimed to Danny and Michael’s waiting faces. He shrugged the jacket on quickly.  Danny leapt to his feet.

“Oh my God!”

“Are they okay?” Michael asked, looking dazed.

“Got to go, I’ve got to go,” Anthony was shaking his head as he headed for the door.  Michael and Danny followed him.

“Has she called the cops?” Michael called.

“Not yet, she’s just about to.  I’ve got to go guys. Fuck!” Anthony looked at them briefly, before shaking his head and wrenching open the door.  Michael leaned out, watching him go down the stairs.

“Jesus Christ,” Danny covered his mouth with both hands. He felt the urge to go to the window, and when he did, he saw the figure of Anthony, tearing past the flat and down the high street towards home.  Michael arrived quietly beside him. “They’ll all get bricks!” Danny realised in horror, looking at him. “I have to warn them!”

“This is bullshit,” Michael said. “The cops have got to do something now.”

“You see?” Danny exclaimed, feeling utterly helpless as the information and what it meant slowly sank in.  “How can I move on?  How the fuck can I start a life, with all this going on?  What am I going to do Mike?  What the fuck am I going to do?”

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