Rules

This is why you don’t ask for directions, I thought as I watched the woman approach me. It’s a big joke, right? Men don’t ask for directions. Haha! You are so funny, Mrs Comedienne, saying that up on your stage.

By the way, I didn’t win the sit-com writing competition. Setting it in a shop wasn’t original, apparently.

Not asking for directions though, that was stupid, was it? Well take a look at this unfolding disaster. I closed my eyes hoping it would stop the woman in her tracks. My stupidest kid thinks he goes invisible when his eyes are closed.

“Hello, scuse,” says the Italian woman holding a map. “Which way St Ouens Bay?”

“Go away!” I hissed.

“Go-a which-a-way?”

Brilliant. That’s just brilliant. I stood up from where I was crouched. I was crouched at the end of the coal bunkers that line the front of the shop. Who in their right mind would ask for directions from a crouching person? This idiot, that’s who. The only person that could possibly have seen me was somebody entering the car park from the side lane. What were the odds on that happening?

“St Ouens Bay?” I asked. “Go down there and turn…” I looked at my hands. Worked out which one I write with. I know that I’m right-handed and it was the other way. “Turn left.”

The Italian woman looked the way I had gestured and started to repeat my directions to me but it was too late. Paula was approaching. She’d left the shop when my cover had been blown.

“No Paula!” I shouted with a palm out like traffic cop but it didn’t slow her. “Yeah, yeah,” I said to the Italian woman, guessing she’d properly understood my very simple directions. I walked around the woman. Putting her between me and the approaching Paula.

“That’s not fair!” I shouted over the woman’s head. “I’m with a person, don’t!”

“You shouldn’t be outside,” said Paula.

“I was still in the shop! The coal is part of the shop.”

Paula was still approaching, slowly, relentlessly. She was running her hand along the top of the coal bunkers.

“Don’t!” I warned her.

The Italian woman started across the car park and I followed, making sure I was on the opposite side of her to Paula.

“You’re not in the shop now!” Said Paula menacingly.

“It’s your fault. I’m with a person. Stop!” Paula did stop. I was halfway across the car park. I let the Italian woman go. Paula was stood by the coal. She was looking at her hand which was now dirty. I was alone in the middle of the car park. Paula dragged two of her fingers across each cheek. I think she wanted her markings to look like army markings but they made her look like a cat with whiskers.

“It’s not me anyway,” said Paula, nonchalantly.

“Fuck off then!” I replied and Paula chuckled. Enrique exited the shop and damn, he’d done some of his drugs. He had his twitchy drug face on. “Are you It?” I asked him. “Tell me if you are!” I demanded. “You have to!” Enrique smiled and smoothed down his moustache.

“Maybe,” he said with a glint in his eye and then I realised Paula was approaching.

“Fuck off, Paula! I mean it,” I said heading further across the car park.

“He’s It!” She said.

“Fuck off over there then,” I said pointing to the entrance to the car park but Paula kept on coming. “Fine! I’ll go over there!” And I set off through the gap between Paula and Enrique. At first I made it look like I was running nearer to Paula and then with a body swerve I headed nearer to Enrique. To tempt them. But neither moved and I slowed down as I reached my original position near the end of the coal bunkers. A triangle of separation between us was best. Paula was now in the middle of the car park and Enrique was near the door.

The clicking.

I didn’t know what the clicking was. Sounded a bit like the studs on Enrique’s shoes but that would mean… “Fuck off Enrique!” I shouted, running first towards the entrance to the car park. That was no good. I definitely wasn’t allowed out there so I faked I was stopping and then accelerated hard for the top corner of the car park, I really thought I’d make it too. Just get there and take stock of the situation but I felt it. I did.

“Chor It!” Said Enrique.

“Nah, you missed!” I said in hope more than expectation. I’d felt something. He’d got my shirt. Just.

“Hey, chor eet!” He whined.

“Okay, take it fucking easy,” I said coming to a halt. I looked for Paula but she’d gone. I was sorry I’d insisted on no-returns.

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