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  • Writer's pictureSL Eastwood

Short - Funerals Now Included

Updated: Nov 7, 2020

Arianne thumbed the edges of the morning newspaper delighted by her discovery. One she’d made half-way down page 4 of the Midlands Gazette. It had surprised her as today was one of the few days that she hadn’t even been looking. A headline that read: Confidence man swindles Christian Society in Loughborough. Arianne skimmed the rest of the article before marking its location on an acetate sheet laid over a north England map she’d bookmarked from the AA guide.

Apart from a few anomalies, Frank seemed to be travelling back south. It had taken him long enough. Arianne thought she’d almost caught up with him in Birmingham last year but had had to give up when she ran out of holiday days at work. It seemed he was unwittingly giving her another opportunity. She’d catch up to him this time, she was determined. No work commitments would be able to stop her after taking out that loan. To hell with the payments, it’ll be worth it!

She swilled the dregs of her coffee around her mug before downing it. It had gone cold but Arianne didn’t mind. Time to set off she thought; she’d gotten all she really could from the Tibshelf Services. She had been headed to Sheffield to question the victims of what she assumed was Frank’s most recent scam but it would be just as easy to head back towards Loughborough on this route. She’d want to stay in the right direction if she was going to catch up to him.

First on the agenda when she got back to the car was to deal with the stink she was cultivating about her person.  Ever since that creepy receptionist had put her off a stay at Bryan’s Budget Inn she’d had to sleep rough in the back seat, making personal maintenance problematic. Taking the bottle of dry shampoo she’d bought at W.H.Smith’s she fought with her wild strawberry curls trying to part them enough to access her scalp. After a few overzealous blasts of the spray her car was filled with a cloud of tropical scent making it difficult to breathe.

Next on the morning’s bathing agenda was the cold wet caress of a baby wipe against an offensive smelling armpit.

Then there was the breath situation. The night before Arianne had managed to get hold of a chewable toothbrush but unfortunately she was so tired she had almost choked on it. She decided the old-school method would be safer in future; however she would have to settle for gum today.

Awkwardly laying the AA Road Atlas against her steering wheel she grabbed the year previous’ travel route and laid it over the acetate sheet that she was currently working on. Balancing the book on a raised knee she ran her finger down the M1 following the patterns.

He was stopping off in similar places this year as he had the year previous, which seemed a little predictable for a con man. A horrible feeling filled her when it occurred to her that it was too predictable. Maybe she had been following two entirely different people this whole time.

Deciding to throw caution to the wind Arianne launched the Atlas into the passenger’s seat and grabbed the newspaper she had borrowed from Costa to re-read the suspect’s description. Around 50 years of age, 5ft 11”, stocky build. That sounded right.

The Frank she’d known had strawberry hair like she did though she’d gotten the curls from mum. The memory from her 12-year-old mind recalled every barely-there freckle across his nose and his sharp emerald eyes that she too saw every time she looked in the mirror.

Arianne folded the paper with a melancholic sigh before firing up the engine. Her red Ka hadn’t been fairing well with the cold mornings and often took its time warming up. She knew it was on its last legs but it had served her well for many years and it crushed her to have to trade it in. She’d made a deal with herself though, if it broke down again she’d start looking for a replacement; she’d been extra careful driving it ever since.

She placed a kiss onto the picture of mother that she’d hung off of the rear-view mirror before pulling out of the parking space. Arianne wasn’t looking forward to more motor way driving but at least she’d missed the rush-hour...

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