For Disclaimer, please see Chapter 1.
Misplaced People by Devize © 2004 (email@example.com)
* * * * *
Chapter 2: The first sight of the sea
"You don’t look too good."
"I don’t feel too good."
Striker was sitting on the bench on the strip of grass to the side of A&E. She lit her cigarette, then leant back, enjoying the sun on her face.
"What’s wrong?" Kishen sat next to her, gingerly; the bench still damp from the night’s passing shower.
"Nothin’, just tired. Haven’t been sleeping too well, that’s all."
"Are you taking anything?"
"No. They make me sleep, but pills screw me up when I’m awake. Put me off my work." Not that she hadn’t thought about it. Maybe she ought to get herself some, just so one night she could give into inclination and take the whole fucking bottle.
"I haven’t seen you around so much."
"Been doing a lot of nights."
"Since Parker left?"
"Since he got his sick ass dismissed, yeah."
The two of them sat in silence and watched the shift change. A few greeted the couple on the bench. Kishen acknowledged them with a nod of the head, Striker with a flick of cigarette ash. It was strange how those coming in for the nine-to-five looked more exhausted and more drawn than those who were now emerging from the hospital buildings, eyes-wide and wired in the June morning. Kishen looked at Striker.
"So, why aren’t you sleeping?"
Inside Striker something malicious let loose a hollow laugh.
Because every time I close my eyes I see her. Because every time I fall asleep I dream I’m with her. Because when I’m supposed to be sleeping off the night shift, I’m standing at the corner of her street waiting for a glimpse of her.
God help me, I feel like I’m drowning.
Striker hadn’t seen her face-to-face since that last day in the ICU, when her brother had come to claim her. She’d had a reason to be with the woman when she’d been alone and nameless. The woman could be what Striker wanted her to be. She could be the Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella and Artemis and Guinevere and Juliet and Branwen....
But watching her, watching and learning, the terrible truth dawned: Striker realised that Morien Llewelyn was the Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella and Artemis and Guinevere and Juliet and Branwen and she was so much more. In Striker’s eyes, she was perfect.
But Morien Llewelyn had family. A lot of family. When she had woken from her coma they were there to support her and comfort her and hold her hand, and it was as if the few nights Striker had spent with her had never existed.
Except in Striker’s mind. She remembered every detail: the way her skin had felt under her hand, the colour of her short hair against the bandages, those eyes suddenly opening.... And each time they opened, in Striker’s imagination, they held something different in the depths: gratitude, recognition, love, disinterest, outright rejection.
But even staring into that green rejection, Striker couldn’t bring herself to break the connection.
So despite her self-exile from the ICU, it had been easy to check on the basic details of Morien’s progress when she’d seen Kishen - it was a healthy interest in some one whom she’d looked after, Striker reasoned.
It had been easy to find out her home address from the hospital records - out of natural curiosity.
It had been easy to take the Tube to the area, stand a little way down the street as Morien was welcomed home with open arms - just to make sure she was safe and sound.
It had been easy to see her recovery (it had been a joy to see her recovery) watching the longer and longer trips into the outside world, accompanied by her brother, her father, the older couple Striker assumed were grandparents, others male and female - to ensure the wellbeing of a past patient.
It had been easy to follow her when she finally returned to her own apartment on Easthouses Terrace, to follow her when she went back to work. Just to see her.
Everything she did now was in reference to Morien. She saw Morien in the books she read, in the TV shows she watched. She heard Morien in the music that Danny played, in the snippets of sounds from passing car stereos, in the vacuous pop that seemed to saturate hospital radio. She would wander round shops, wondering what books she would choose, what food she would pick, what clothes she would wear - until she caught herself in the queue for the checkout, a pretty, flowered dress draped over her arm... in Morien’s size.
Only then Striker did acknowledge that this was obsession.
Easy obsession, as comfortable as an old pair of slippers. Poised before her inevitable drop into psycho.
Striker knew that it would have been easy just to walk up to her, introduce herself, ask her out for a coffee. Among the many people with whom Morien seemed to surround herself, Striker had seen no one special, no one as close to Morien as Striker wanted to be. There would be days when that thrill of courage would taunt her into taking the next step. Hi. My name is Striker West. I work at St Vincent’s. I’ve seen you around and I think you’re really beautiful. I was wondering if you’d like to go out with me some time? She’d repeated the words over and over in her head. But she never took that step. She was too terrified of that green-eyed rejection.
On days like that she’d leave her vigil and go home, tear into her bedroom, wrap herself in the bedcovers and cigarette smoke, and will sleep to come.
But sleep would elude her in the never-ending passageways of green-eyed thought.
She’d get up, search the cupboards for alcohol, try and drink herself into slumber. But her dreams would pick at her sanity, like birds pulling at worms.
Jerked out of unconsciousness she’d want to lose herself in other worlds. So she’d read. And read and read and read, but see her in every page and every narrative and every word. She had never needed her mother as much as she did now.
Then she would pick up the latest phone book with a flutter of hope and dread, and find where she’d left off. "Hello, is that Mr Lawrence J. Bailey? Hello, Mr Bailey, I’m sorry to bother you, sir. I was wondering if you had any connection with...."
And when the negative responses, the apologies, the dial tone became too much, she’d stare at the ceiling until Danny came home.
She’d been doing that a lot lately, creeping into Danny’s bed just to feel a pair of arms around her. Sometimes they would just lie there, and Striker would find sleep simply by being held. Sometimes it would develop into something more, and there would be a different kind of release against Danny’s hard, smooth body. But afterwards Striker would slip out from under the covers to return to her own room and lie awake hating herself and the way her body tingled for someone other than Danny’s hands.
But at least with Danny there were no strings. He didn’t judge, he didn’t expect anything of her, just as much as she didn’t expect anything of him - except his share of the bills each month. She didn’t even expect him to offer his bed: there had been times when she’d thought to go to him and found someone else taking up ’her’ side. It didn’t bother her, in fact the sight was often a relief. Danny offered friendship and comfort, whether emotional, physical or occasionally ’medicinal’. And Danny knew not to ask awkward questions.
Striker was aware that Kishen was waiting for an answer. She shrugged. "Don’t know why I’m not sleeping," she said.
"Anything wrong at work?"
"No, work’s fine."
And it was. Her work had been the one aspect of her life that had given her some balance. She walked through the door of A&E and she could lose herself in her duties and in the lives of the patients and the staff, and in emotional detachment. Ironic that so many people found the Accident and Emergency department stressful. Right now, Striker was doting on its turmoil. She was clinging to it as if it was the only thing keeping her alive.
It was the outside that was so stressful. That’s why Striker was sitting here, putting off that evil moment when she had to launch herself back into reality. The bench had become a look-out point between the cognizable world of the hospital and the uncharted lands of life. She could sit on this bench and watch the traffic on the road, the people scurrying to and fro, the buildings dirty from pollution and age, the pigeons picking and worrying the gutters and flying into the unknown, and see the large copperplate letters that branded it all: Here Be Dragons.
Kishen watched her as Striker put her head back on the bench, her long dark hair escaping its braid and flowing out behind her. She blew out a stream of smoke, and stretched her endless, jean-encased legs in front of her. If he hadn’t been happily married... if he’d been into six foot women....
"Look," he said, "if you ever want to talk...."
"I know where you are," Striker replied, turning her sky blue gaze onto him and smiling. "You’re going to be late."
Kishen glanced at his watch and stood, wincing at the dampness of his trousers.
"Don’t worry, there’s some nice dry scrubs waiting for you indoors."
"You don’t have that option," he smiled.
"I haven’t got a wet ass." At which point, Kishen noticed that neatly folded under her was her leather jacket.
"Thanks for sharing."
"Oh, go home and get some sleep," said Kishen with a mock scowl and made his way into the building as comfortably as his pants would allow.
Go home and get some sleep. Unlikely.
Striker looked at the world in front of her. Two days. This was the first weekend she’d had off in weeks. This was the first forty-eight hour period she’d had off in weeks. This was why she was still sitting on the bench in front of A&E.
She didn’t want to do this anymore, it was tearing her apart. But the thought of not seeing her.... Striker let out a breath.
She flicked the remains of her cigarette at a pigeon and watched it toy with the stub until it quickly realised it wasn’t food.
Comes to something when I’m not as smart as a stupid pigeon.
She watched it fly away and made a decision. She got her feet, shook out her jacket and tossed it over her shoulder. She’d go to the nearest Underground station and, whether it was the gutter or the stars, she’d see which way her wings took her.
* * * * *
"I’m sorry, Morien," he said. "It’s orders from on high," he said, "we’ve got to concentrate on our most immediate concerns," he said. "There isn’t the budget," he said. "There isn’t the manpower."
Go womanpower, she thought
"Keith, I’ve done a lot of work on this," she said in one last valiant attempt to keep the project, "I don’t want to just drop it."
"I know," Keith said, his messy hair quivering slightly with his earnestness, "I do understand, really. But I need you on the Woodhall Estate project. This is a huge project for us and we’ve got a tight deadline on that and I need as many people as possible."
And she knew she couldn’t compare the regeneration of an entire estate with a single, forgotten street. He’d taken her proposal and dropped it into his pending tray.
Keith’s Pending Tray, the black hole of paperwork.
She couldn’t let him lose it.
She’d almost given her life for it.
She’d lost three and a half months of work, her car, most of her hair, her peace of mind, her memory of four days... and something else... something that also tapped at the corner of her mind. Something strangely reassuring that made her sleep soundly at night, that made her smile without realising it. Something small amidst all the towering fears and pain of the last few months. Something small that was at risk of being... not lost, but... misplaced.
Which is why she was now heading through the doors of the empty council building.
"It’s Saturday, you’re not supposed to be here," a voice said in her ear. And she jumped at the heavy breath at her ear and turned round. For a glaring second she left the light, airy foyer and was back on a darkened Tumblety Street.
Her heart was pounding. "Wayne, you gave me such a fright," she said to the grinning security guard. His teeth were crooked and there was sweat on his top lip. "I’ve just got to nip up to the office. I left my mobile there last night. I’ll only be a couple of minutes."
"Go on then, gorgeous. I’ll be waiting for you." Wayne winked.
Morien smiled sweetly. Lecherous yob.
She made her way up to the Regeneration Unit and thanked God that no one was diligent enough to be working this weekend. It was easy to spot Keith’s desk. It was the one that couldn’t be seen for paper. Somewhere, buried beneath the paperwork for the Woodhall Estate project, and the Larkhall Street project, and the Paradise Towers project, and more for the Woodhall Estate project, were three treasured photos of his family. His wife, affectionately known as Councillor Mrs Keith, his two little girls - whose names always escaped Morien - and a dog called Buttons. Keith was a good boss, he was a nice man, he was harried man, and Morien often wondered how he functioned in this mountain, how he ever kept track of anything, including his family. Today she hoped to goodness that he didn’t, and managed to extract the easily-recognisable blue folder of the Tumblety Street proposal from the pending tray without causing an avalanche.
She checked through the few sheets inside, ensuring that nothing was missing, and found herself stopping at the sight of a large photograph. A single building, achingly familiar. Morien had felt drawn to the little building that seemed so incongruous secreted between the giant walls of the disused warehouses on Tumblety Street. The chapel reminded her of home.
So, she’d done a little research, found out as much about the building’s history, and the street’s history, as she could, even discovered a list of possible councillors they could approach for go-ahead, and started to put together a proposal for its restoration.
And one afternoon in February she’d wandered down Tumblety Street - its row of tumbling houses, its towering warehouses - again to gaze at the old Salem Chapel; again to open the creaking, rusty gate into the little yard, weeds peering out from between the paving stones; and again to rattle the front door in the vain hope that maybe, this time, it would open. The building was owned by the council, but over the dark, dank pool of time, someone had lost the key. This didn’t surprise her.
Morien had meant to leave: the afternoon was fading fast to evening, and the shadows around the chapel were darkening. But she had thought to walk up the little path between the chapel and its neighbouring warehouse to try and spot another way in. She had checked around her, she had made certain that no one lurked in those shadows. She had reminded herself that the Whitechapel horrors were miles south and a century ago.
And then she’d woken up in hospital.
Morien brushed her hand over the scarf that covered her head and closed the folder. Strange how she didn’t feel scared at seeing the chapel again. If anything, she felt more determined: she was not going to let the last few months be for nothing.
She’d work on the Woodhall Estate project, continue her research into Tumblety Street, and bide her time.
Resolved, she slipped the folder into her bag and locked the office door behind her.
Downstairs, Wayne was sitting with his feet up on the security desk, watching the sports news on television. Morien fished her mobile phone out of her bag and waved it at him. "Gimme your number and I’ll give you a call tonight, all right, darlin’?" he shouted.
She laughed politely and got the hell out.
The Underground station was close to the council offices and she dived down into its entrance, determined to spend the rest of the day at her leisure: a little window shopping, a little browsing, maybe a trip to Charing Cross Road. A feeling like sunrise inside her made her revel in the freedom. For the first time in four months she could do what she wanted. Her brother wasn’t pushing her to a family get-together. There was no kindly, avuncular invitation. No hurried, better-include-Morien calls from cousins. There was no one there to fuss, no one there to check up on her, no one reminding her for the tenth time that day that she had to take those damn pills.
Yes, thank you. I know. I’ve damn well taken them. I’ll take the whole damn lot if it’ll make you happy.
Bless them. Her family were wonderful, and she wouldn’t be without them, but sometimes she felt like she couldn’t breathe.
It had been glorious moving back to the flat - despite the provisos. It had been glorious having nothing but herself and her books for company. It had been glorious hearing nothing but her own breathing - until the phone would ring and it would be her brother asking the inexorable question. "Yes, Drake, I’ve taken my pills, thanks." I love you, bach. She never thought she’d get frustrated at the sound of the telephone. She’d never appreciated being alone before - almost felt guilty in the enjoyment. Was that why she hadn’t opened her letter from Peru? It was still in her bag, hidden somewhere under the blue folder.
But despite her solitude, she’d never felt lonely, as if someone was watching over her. And sometimes there would be that strange, uneasy feeling of being followed.
It had been growing of late.
She glanced down the carriage of the train as she sat down. It wasn’t too busy for this time on a Saturday morning, at the beginning of the line. A couple of men who looked as if they were going to a business meeting had just stepped on. Morien wanted to remind them it was Saturday. They stood at the end of the carriage: obviously too virile to sit down. A scratching beat, as annoying as a mosquito in the dark, came from a young man too cool to wear his cap the right way round and too cool to notice the two teenage girls opposite flirting with him. Further down, there was a woman with big boots and a black leather jacket. She had shockingly pink hair.
Morien reached for her bag, bypassed the folder and the letter, pulled out a book and began to read.
Our first sight of the sea
is the nearest we ever get
to discovering a marvel.
Like voice, a temple of the head,
she stands, to divide heaven
and earth, welkin and waters. [i]
A voice. Just a voice.
She could hear it in her head, above the clatter of the train and the insect rhythm of the young man’s personal stereo. But she couldn’t catch the words; couldn’t quite catch the tone, the accent even. But the voice was calming and gentle and kind and reminded her of her childhood and her mother reading to her. Over the last few months Morien had often caught herself listening out for the voice when she needed reassurance or to know she was not alone. When she thought she was being followed.... There’d be a movement in the corner of her eye, in the shadow of her mind; or the rhythmic beats of footsteps that would stop as she stopped, leaving only the sound of her heart pounding. She would turn, convinced she would see an attacker, hand raised ready to strike and frozen in time. And she would be confronted by nothing: a frightening, echoing void of not-knowing and confusion.
And she’d find herself running, not knowing what she was running from.
And underneath the hammering of her own footsteps and her heartbeat, she’d hear the voice and she wouldn’t feel scared any more.
Morien became aware that she’d been staring at the same stanza of poetry for the last three stops, while people came and went around her. She had to change trains at the next station, but unwilling to lose the poem she searched for a bookmark. Nothing.
Strangely hesitant to touch the letter, she reached again for the folder and drew a random piece of notepaper from the back of it, folding it carefully, and placing it in the book.
The train squeaked to a halt.
* * * * *
Take your partners for the Saturday Lunchtime Crush. People flocked from the suburbs and beyond to enjoy the experience. Morien found herself waltzing with a tall, dark-haired woman wearing a daisy-covered dress. She was tempted to ask where the woman had bought it, but the tide through the ticket hall swept her on.
She had had enough of the multitude and now just needed to change trains to get home.
Morien made her way down the platform, snaking through the clusters of people who had placed themselves in such strategically awkward positions that she wondered if this was some new reality game. She could see it now. The host with the cheesy grin and expensive suit: Morien Llewelyn, let’s see how long it takes you to get from one end of the platform to the other, but remember (twinkle, twinkle) you can’t move anybody’s luggage, ask anybody to move (because they won’t understand English or they’ll simply ignore you) or invade anybody’s personal space. Although, of course, they can invade yours. Starting from....
What the hell was that?
Morien had just reached a clearing in the human jungle when she stopped in her tracks. She was being watched again. But it was more than that; it was like something was summoning her, like the pull of a log fire on a winter’s day. Yes, that was it. It was like a fire bursting into life behind her.
She turned round, almost scared of what she would find.
And no one was watching.
People were talking, reading their papers, rifling through their bags, staring at the advertisements covering the walls, gazing down the tunnel, willing the train to come. A small flurry of suits moving further down the platform, behind them one woman, looking intently down at her feet.
What was it about her...?
She was taller than average, with long, dark hair. Something about her...?
She was dressed as so many other people on the crowded platform: jeans, a long, faded t-shirt, what looked like a leather jacket thrown over one shoulder, and apparently fascinating old, black boots.
There was something....
The woman nibbled a full bottom lip and glanced up, and Morien’s breath caught as she was lost in the bluest gaze she’d ever seen.
For her part, Striker felt like she was a squid staring down a tidal wave.
Last time I ever leave anything to fucking Fate. She’d sensed rather than seen Morien weaving her way down the platform, and had come very, very close to running away screaming. Until she realised that would draw attention to herself. What was the likelihood that Morien would see her, much less recognise her?
"Do I know you?" Morien asked. Her voice was soft,
Striker was at a loss for words. How was she going to explain herself to this woman? This woman, who had featured in her dreams from the first moment she’d stared into those helpless eyes. This woman, whom she’d cared for and watched over and followed for long hours like some stalker. Exactly like a stalker. This woman, for whom she’d created a whole fantasy life, and who was now standing in front of her in all her solid reality waiting for her to say something. What in the hell could she say?
"Um... yeah... hi." Oooh, Ms Eloquence.
Morien waited, wondering if anything else was coming, but all the woman did was break into an almost sheepish grin. The woman was beautiful. Very beautiful. Though she looked as if she didn’t know it, or didn’t care. Her hair was carelessly tied back into a loose braid. She looked as if she’d had bangs once, but they’d grown out and feathered, become wispy tresses escaping from the plait. Her face look sculptured: high cheekbones, determined chin... those eyes. She would not have forgotten this woman. Ever.
"Where do I know you from?" she pressed.
"Um...." I’m the woman who fell in love with the colour of your eyes, whispered sweet nothings to you for hours and now wants to lick chocolate cookie dough ice cream out of your belly button. She said, "I work at Vinnie’s - St Vincent’s Hospital."
"Oh," Morien said, and paused. There was more, she knew that, but she went for the obvious. "You’re American."
Suddenly, it felt like safer ground. "And that’s not a London accent."
Morien found the woman’s grin infectious. "Well, I’m Welsh. God...," she said as Striker launched herself at her.
"Fucking assholes!" Striker exclaimed at the group of asking-for-it young men who’d pushed past her. They ignored her, save for a few sniggers. "Sorry," she said extracting herself from Morien’s grip as quickly as possible, hoping that she couldn’t feel her heart jack-hammering against her chest. She resisted the urge to dust the Welsh woman down; she wanted her heart to stay in her body. "You okay? I didn’t hurt you, did I?"
"No, I’m fine."
"And since you left Vinnie’s?"
Morien smiled at the genuine concern in the woman’s eyes. "Yes, I’ve been fine." She unconsciously touched a hand to the scarf that covered her head. "Really."
"You look fantastic," Striker said; then bit her tongue, knowing it was too much to say. But fantastic, she knew, was an understatement. Morien looked beautiful to her. She wore a loose-fitting white blouse, the laces at the neck were teasingly unfastened. Tiny flowers were embossed around the collar. Her blue jeans clung to her slim legs, embroidered pink daisies blossoming around the denim ankle. And tiny vines of multi-coloured petals entwined themselves around the blue headscarf.
She even carried a bag covered in blue, tapestry flowers.
Blodeuwedd, maiden of flowers [ii] twined itself round Striker’s mind, but this Blodeuwedd had her heart shining from her beautiful, green eyes.
"Have the police...?"
"No, nothing. But then, I’m not being particularly helpful. I can’t remember anything...." They were pushed forward as a crush of people struggled to see the approaching train.
"It’s a damn train... big mettle thing... you can’t miss it, specially if you’re on the fucking track." Morien grinned at Striker’s muttering, and at the protective hand that clutched her shoulder.
"You coming my way?" she asked.
"I’m not sure I have a choice," Striker replied as they were carried through the doors.
The carriage was packed. Sardine room only. All the contestants in the reality game show now forced together for a mobile endurance test. By virtue of her height, Striker was able to reach the metal pole attached to the ceiling. Morien wasn’t so lucky, and clutched the nearest object for support as the train lurched forward. It happened to be Striker. Morien glanced up with an apologetic half-smile, that made Striker look away for fear of betraying herself.
This was hell.
The woman she had idolised from afar was now pressed up against her in a way that, had they been horizontal, would have had Striker flushed, panting and galloping towards orgasm. Their current situation might not, normally, have stopped Striker. She didn’t give a shit what people thought. She certainly wouldn’t have given a shit about any potential grop˙e.
But this was Morien Llewelyn, and she couldn’t have endured the pain of distrust and disgust in those green eyes - she’d seen it enough in her nightmares. So she suffered Morien’s steadying touch on her arm, to stop her from falling in the swaying carriage, and wondered what the fuck happened now.
They caught each other’s glance again. A nervous smile, then lost in the embarrassing silence of the newly-acquainted, looking anywhere but at each other.
Striker stared in fascination at the tube map over the door. Not taking in the slightest detail of the coloured lines that snaked across the surface and London.
Morien looked down. And something caught her eye. Something between her feet.
Striker couldn’t help but tremble as her companion suddenly shimmied down, her small, lithe body seeming to find gaps where there were none, and Striker’s temperature rose several degrees at the brush of the small woman against her. Morien wiggled back up again with something in her hand. A wallet. Shiny black leather with gold initialling in one corner: N. C. T.
She glanced at Striker. "Is this yours?"
Striker shook her head. Damn, it would have been easy to say yes and pocket what was inside. Another time, another place, and definitely not with Morien.
She’s too good for me.
Morien looked round for a possible owner.
They were surrounded by the sniggering young men from the platform: jeaned, t-shirted, and baseball capped. Somehow, Striker sensed that Morien felt intimidated by the boys. She seemed to shrink from them, as far as she was able, edging back against Striker. Dark thoughts taunted, for a moment. Was Morien any safer with her?
But the Welsh woman had guessed at the wallet’s owner.
"Excuse me, sir...."
A large, suited businessman peeled his attention back from the fleeting shadows in the black and speeding tunnel outside. They could barely see him for the press of bodies around them. Nothing but the suit and a shock of blond hair. He didn’t speak, but glanced at Morien as if the small woman scared him. "I’m sorry, is this yours? I think you might’ve dropped it."
He glanced down at her hand, pushed between two of the youths, the wallet offered as an oblation to honesty. "Thank you," he said, barely acknowledging her, his voice hardly lifting above the rattle of the train. He took the wallet and his image disappeared behind the broad shoulders and unwashed odours of male youth.
Bastard, Striker thought, wondering why Morien had bothered, but her thoughts were interrupted as the train tilted her forward and she found herself trying to avoid squashing Morien altogether. "Sorry," she said.
"It’s okay," Morien said. "I’ve spent too much of the morning with my face pressed into someone’s armpit. At least you smell nice." Striker felt her stomach somersault at the compliment, and thanked whoever was listening for hospital showers. "I’m Morien Llewelyn, by the way."
Oh dear God. Striker had been reciting that name over and over and over until her blood was singing it, but the way it had resonated inside her sounded nothing like the words from Morien’s own mouth. It was a honeyed siren call. It was a voice from all the stories and all the myths and all the histories she’d ever read. She knew that this was the voice that would call her for the rest of her life, and she had no choice but to follow.
And then she realised that her mouth was hanging open.
"I just thought you’d like to know who’d taken up residence in your armpit," Morien said.
That brought Striker out of her reverie and she grinned. "I’m Striker."
"Striker?" Oh yeah, roll those ’r’s, baby!
"Yeah, Striker... Striker West."
"Long story." And then, at last, the thrill of courage pushed her over the edge. "Look... are you in a hurry? I was just wondering, once we get off this cattle truck, we could go for a coffee or something?"