picture from brighton pier

Revenge is Best Served Cold. Chapter 7. Long Read

Entities in life help me

Many souls unseen

I realize now, there is no end

Mortality lies ahead.

It stretches, like light

Bright upon the horizon

A journey of infinite dimension

Allowing me to be free

But only I, and I alone, see.

SPYING AT CHURCH

It was the end of a busy week and Sarah finally attended the community outreach project she’d found online. The old stone church was flint and cut from the caves dotted around the ancient pagan settlements in Pinner and Stanmore.

Majestically it stood, both proud and pretty, in the gravel carpark and at over eight hundred years old, was relic of an older historically religious time. Most of the area in Hertfordshire, was being modernized as London sprawled out on to the green belt, grey buildings and red brick flats eating into the green fields and replacing the forest smell with traffic.

York Chapel Church had been an important find for Sarah. Mainly because it was at the end of York Road. Kevin’s road and her diary had reminded her it was time to get closer to her target.

Tomas drove into the carpark, waited as she got out and then started to turn the car around. Sarah watched him, thinking how handsome his tall frame looked sitting in his car. As he prepared to turn out of the tiny carpark, she walked back up, bent in through the window and kissed him.

Today was the first day of her volunteering to help with the choir. He shouted out over the noise of the car,

“Easy babe, the church wives will see you…” Before adding, “It’s a great church. I bet this place has seen some history;” and quickly raising and dropping his eyebrows several times. He often did this ‘Groucho’ facial expressing in mocking of her love of old things.

Sarah pulled her bag from the back of the car, saying,
“It probably has seen some history. If walls could talk eh?!”

Seductively blowing him kisses, she smiled and stood to wave him goodbye.

An evening helping elderly women with singing and breathing exercises was not Tomas’ idea of fun, but Sarah still didn’t drive. Several conversations had been had around the topic of her learning but with travelling into London it seemed a pointless expense.

He always was seen to be kind (giving her a lift) but as he loved spending time with Sarah, it wasn’t a chore. They’d spent the last few weeks together getting closer and he relished more time with her in the future.

Sarah had presence and Tomas couldn’t believe he’d found someone so intelligent; so incredibly sexy, who wanted and found time for him. Tomas looked in his rear-view mirror at the strikingly good-looking woman, standing outside the church, getting smaller as he drove away and the distance widened between them.

Entering the old church, the wooden door creaked open and shut. The stone floor tapped under her shoes as followed the signs pointing to the side room where the choir practiced.

She introduced herself to the women there;

“I’m Dr Sarah Cacroft, a doctor working and researching in Thrombosis with a connection to Respiratory medicine. I’m part of a program of interest in cataloguing the benefits of singing, especially in the elderly and infirm.”

Then Sarah politely listened as the group introduced themselves to her. They were a group of women the same age as her mother had been when she died. She explained she’d be giving out a questionnaire after each choir session and collecting the data back for the hospital. The group were interested and well informed. They’d been together for decades, singing together at many different events in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.

Her talk regarding posture and breathing was well received, listening intently for thirty minutes as she showed them the gentle ‘sounding’ and ‘expelling’ exercises. But the women were pleased when Sarah eventually allowed them a break. Excusing herself, so the group could get their breath back and practice their usual songs, she promised to be back for the forms .

Leaving the hall, to the sound of the women’s voices practicing and walking out to the tiny stone room that housed a toilet she went in the wooden door and lifted the old-style metal latch on the cubicle as quietly as possible.

Locking the door behind her she took out a black hooded top from her bag and slipped it over her blouse. She put black, loose jogging bottoms on, pulling them up over her skirt and tights. Putting wire cutters in one side pocket and pliers in another, she picked up her bag and crept back outside. Resting the bag in the bushes at the back of the church Sarah pulled her hood up over her head and headed down the overgrown pathway at the back of the church which led along the back of the street’s gardens.

The choir were very enthusiastic, Sarah listened to their voices rise and fall as she crept along the back of the church hall. Picking herself free from the many brambles which kept tangling her, she moved slowly up the overgrown track.

She passed scene and scene of English home life. Families sat in front of their televisions or sitting around tables. One couple were sat in their conservatory discussing something over a glass of wine. No one noticed her creep by.

Ten minutes after starting, she arrived, hot and sweating, at the garden of number thirteen York Ave. Kevin was sitting in his lounge, remote control in hand, facing the patio doors. Sarah looked at him from behind the bushes. She’d have to remember to bring her burner phone on these missions in future. It would have been something to see his face when he was receiving nuisance calls. Not dwelling on this small oversight Sarah surveyed the back of the house and outhouses.

The garden was a large size. It was overgrown in places, but at the left side of the patio doors there were signs of life with children’s clothes on a rotary washing line. Between the back fence and the patio sat a colourful red and yellow plastic slide. Just to the right of that was a faded blue children’s car and a sand box with a pink swing.

In front of her, at the end of the garden, was a concrete floor slab with a new wooden shed and picnic bench. The seating area, with two large, blue planters looked like it had come straight off the page of B & Q magazine.

She crawled, sniper-like, along the path, moving along the fence and finding cover behind a large hedge, and stopped to look properly around the garden. The shed had power and internet cable running out to it, extended from the house. The garden was decking and concrete with a little sand. What tools could be kept in the shed?

Suddenly Kevin stood up, seeing him made her freeze like an ice statue. She watched him pick his nose and stare absentmindedly at the TV. Then he gathered up dirty mugs from the coffee table and walked out. Letting out a sigh of relief Sarah concentrated in the dim light, keeping her breathing as calm as possible, on putting on her gloves.

Cutting through the fence she paused, checking the patio window, before dashing across the garden. At the washing line, she carefully unpegged some of clothing, putting it inside her hoody and made her way back across the garden, keeping an eye for any activity from the house.

Making it back through the fence she turned to see Kevin returning and sitting down on the sofa. He picked up the remote and stared at the television and she stayed perfectly still until he sat back away from sight. Sweat dribbled down between her shoulders as she climbed back through the fence and used her pliers to pull it back into shape, securing it well and covering any gaps over with brambles.

She turned to walk back to the church and fell, stumbling on something stuck in the ground. She stifled a groan of pain as she reached down under her knee to see what she had fallen on. It was a pair of woman’s shoes. They were three-inch, black patent leather Mary Jane heels with no damage. Damn shame, Sarah thought as she made her way back through the brambles, why throw away a good pair of shoes?

For next six weeks, after work, Sarah attended the singing class. Work was impressed with the data collected via the feedback forms. Singing was good for the respiratory system. Her peers thought it would be worth doing a clinical study and asked her help to obtain funding for the research.

The funding application meant Sarah spent time, doing paperwork, in the hospital’s administration office. Here she could check that correspondence going out to Simon Hargreaves would be sent in his own name, not via his father.

His TB vaccination was due soon, and it was important that Simon knew how it was happening. Remembering costs for her private patient, Sarah added a Tetanus shot to one of the elderly patient’s bill to cover the one she’d asked Ted to deliver to Alexa along with some sterile wipes, clean dressings and instructions for Stephan to administer.

The last choir class was difficult for Sarah for two reasons. One she’d had to make her way there using public transport and two, she’d miss them. As she collected up the women’s details for any follow up, she experienced some sadness. Over the weeks they had become friendly, the women had shared other aspects of their lives, along with their medical data.

Sarah would not be seeing these women again, she hung back and spoke to them, finding it hard to break away. Eventually though, the hour late, the choir drifted off to their homes, some promising to stay in contact with the study.

This was her last genuine opportunity to be in York Road. She changed into her track gear and slipped behind the church. The branches were hard and sharp against her as she, again, stealthily moved along the overgrown pathway at the back of the Hargreaves’ garden.

In the front pocket of her hoody was the small piece of clothing she’d taken previously along with the condom from her freezer. This time when she got to the garden there were no signs of life. No lights were on and no one could be seen moving around inside the house. Sarah pulled the fence apart where she’d cut it previously and sneaked in.

At the shed door she pulled the bundle from her pocket, snipped the condom with her wire cutters and poured the contents out onto it. Sarah then pushed the little bundle until it disappeared completely under the door. Thinking it less likely to be discovered she did it on the hinge side so it would be pushed further behind the door if anyone entered. She crept back across the garden.

Keeping her eyes on the patio doors for any movement inside the house, Sarah closed the fence as before and made her way back along the back of the gardens to the church. Drenched with sweat, she changed back into her work clothes, packing her wet ones into a carrier bag.

On her way home she sat smiling on the train.

That night she shadow boxed on her balcony as the sun set. She cleaned the fridge and played Ground Rush, sending supplies to Simon before speaking with Tomas by Skype. Her conversation was much more animated than usual. A sense of satisfaction was starting to creep over her. Glowing from it, Tomas remarked,

“You look rather smug. What have you been up to?”

Thinking quickly, Sarah replied,
“I’ve been boxing and am still flush and looking hot, I expect. But, it’s not just that, I applied for my driving license. It’s about time I stopped begging lifts.”

“Oh”, Declared Tomas, brushing his brown hair from his blue eyes. “Has the research money had come through?”

“No, not yet. I’m still ‘hand to mouth’ but I can scrape towards the odd driving lesson.” Said Sarah.

Their conversation continued, with Tomas insisting that he pay for a course of driving lessons at a live-in driving school. This could mean she’d be driving sooner. Sarah teased Tomas that the only real reason he wanted her to learn to drive was because he hated to run her about. However, nothing, Tomas insisted, could be further from the truth.

Tomas loved having Sarah in the car with him. He loved driving her about. Who wouldn’t? She was drop dead gorgeous. However, he was genuinely concerned for her safety.

Dr Sarah Cacroft was a bad ass beauty. She was his girlfriend and he’d never say anything disrespectful to her, but he’d heard something. The awful rumour on the gossip mill, if true, led him to think his beloved was going through more than she let on.

He’d heard that she’d had a violent ex-boyfriend. This went some way to explain her dogged determination to gain financial independence and security. Tomas hoped, in time, that Sarah would grow to love and trust him.

Remembering her bruising, he wasn’t sure he really wanted to know the truth. But he’d be ready and armed, more than most, to help with any psychological damage she may have incurred. In the meantime, he enjoyed her warm ways and distant company.

*******

copyright sam J harris 2022

All characters and interactions are fictional.

Chapter 7 of Revenge is Best Served Cold is from Book 1 from The Snap trilogy being published every Monday on unextraordinarybint.net and contains thirteen chapters in total.

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