To the rest of the world, the leafy nursing home Sunset Oaks was a picture of calm repose. At 3.26 am even the night staff were asleep, and but for the occasional thrum of the boiler room all was silent. Even the keenest of ears would have missed the jazz music escaping from the soundproofed mahogany door of the maintenance corridor in the Georgian building, set in its immaculately kept grounds. If anybody had peered in to the room however, they would have struggled to see the three figures within. Ensconced in red leather wingback chairs, they were a curious assemblage, wreathed as they were by blue cigar smoke. At 96, Nevil sat with a beatific smile on his face, tapping his feet to the dulcet tones of George Melly emanating from the record player. At 83, Alf stared straight ahead, sipping at his brandy and lost in the folds of his woolen dressing gown. Sayid, a spry 56 year old, was leaning against the gigantic immersion tank, rotating a magazine and trying to make sense of the voluptuous tangle of limbs on the centre spread before him.
They were a curious assembly, but bound by a fierce bond of frendship that had spanned over a decade. They had each put the Fridays of the last twelve years to great use, and transformed the dingy room in to a den of iniquity worthy of the most indulgent of libertines. Bottomless oil barrels concealed well-stocked decanters of whiskey and brandy, and empty tins of emulsion contained countless cigars and cartons of cigarettes. In a particularly clever feat of camouflage, a long redundant water tank had been turned in to a productive growing room for marijuana; complete with strip lighting and timed sprinklers. On this particular evening, or rather morning, all of the facilities had been well and truly imbibed.
As the brassy strains of Waiting for a Train trumpeted out, Nevil thumped the arm of his chair, declaring “I call this gathering to order”. Alf put down his tumbler, and Sayid tore his eyes from the lithe pages that so engrossed him. ” Is everything prepared for VE Day”? Nev could barely contain the mischief that coursed through his wiry frame. Sayid rolled his eyes. “You know it is, Nev”. Alf chuckled, despite himself. “She’ll lose her sodding mind, you reprobate”. No longer hiding it, Neville erupted in to guffaws, wheezing ” Oh I hope so, Alf. That bitch deserves it, you know she does”. They were all temporarily lost in the wonder of their plan. Taking a drag on his cigar that lit up his glinting eyes, Nev cleared his throat with gusto. “Tell me again”.
Sayid’s wide eyes revolved once again. ” Next Friday is my day off. I will drive the Daimler to the bins at midnight, get you settled and seatbelted, then we’re off”. Alf stirred. “Good lad. And the bitch?”. Sayid shook his head. ” She’ll be smashed with all the Diazepam I’ll slip in to her wine. She’d better be unconscious before she jumps me though”. His eyes widened in horror with the thought of what might happen if she wasn’t. Nevil grinned. “Oh what I’d pay to see that. You know she wants you. How you gonna persuade her to drink with you, though”? Moving away from the tank Sayid shuddered. ” She’s been hoping for it for years, you bugger. You know she has. In a rare interjection, Alf clicked his fingers, racked with giggles. “It could be beautiful, you know. All that longing. She’d be magnificent”. Again, they were all lost in imaginings.
” Enough, old timers. Just make sure you’re ready, dressed, and you’ve had a piss”. Despite himself, Sayid’s eyes moistened. He turned away. Neville stubbed out his cigar. “Hey you, turn off the waterworks. I’m going out with a bang. Faculties intact. You’ll get your dues”. Batting at his eyes, Sayid retorted. ” Its never been about that, and you bloody well know it. “I do”, Alf whispered, staring at him intently. ” What’s the number”? “161153 Alf”. A rare moment of silence spread between them. ” Then we’re set, Alf said, with gritted teeth. One week. Now, let’s go to bed. Its up time in four hours, and I’m cream-crackered”. They moved as one, stowing paraphernalia expertly, and removing any trace that they had been there.
© Tom Tide 2016