Chapter 51.

“Wake up!” D’arby shouted to John.

John felt cranky at being woken. He’d been having a nice dream but now that he was awake he couldn’t remember anything about it except that he’d been enjoying it.

“What do I have to wake up for?” asked John.

“We have to finish the Vincent job, remember?” answered D’arby.

…………………….

Rose had just put away her renovation plans and set the table for lunch when the doorbell rang. It was John and D’arby.

“We need you and Syafika to come with us” said John to Fanta.

“Why?” asked Syafika. “We were just about to have lunch”

“You can have lunch at the café” answered John

As they walked to the café that John was talking about D’arby and John gave Fanta and Syafika instructions, but refused to explain the full plan.

Syafika sat down and ordered some lunch. Her job was to sit in the window and keep eating until someone came and told her otherwise. “Easy peasy” thought Syafika.

Fanta’s job was more complicated.

…………….

Vincent was enjoying his last day of holidays. He was sitting at home and reading a book, while listening to some music and drinking coffee that he’d made with some complicated equipment his parents had given him for Christmas. Then he heard someone outside scream. He looked out the front window but couldn’t see anything unusual. Then he heard it again – a screech, followed by “Help!”. Vincent opened the front door and looked up the street. He saw someone disappear around the corner so he checked his keys were in his pocket and then followed. Vincent got around the corner just in time to see the figure dash into a narrow laneway. Vincent followed. He couldn’t see anyone, but at the other end there was a bearded man with a guitar. He had the guitar case open on the ground and was sitting on a milk crate. Vincent thought the busker might have seen the person he was following so he walked over. The busker looked up as Vincent approached and switched his tune mid-song. “I would have given you all of my heart” began the busker, strumming his guitar awkwardly.

Vincent’s face started to burn as blood rushed to his cheeks and tears to his eyes, but he pulled himself together enough to ask the busker if he’d seen anyone run down the alley.

“Yeah, there was a lady. She looked distressed but didn’t want to talk to me” answered the busker. “She went that way”

Vincent looked in the direction that the busker had pointed. It was along a street with some shops and cafes.

As Vincent walked past the hairdresser he could hear music playing “Morning has broken” sang Cat Stevens. Vincent stopped and was about to turn around and go home when he saw a woman run out of the newsagent and up the street. She was wailing.

Vincent ran after her but she was fast. She disappeared around the corner. When Vincent turned the corner a large woman on a bike was blocking his way. She was puffing. “Sorry, just having a rest dear” she said in a funny voice. She was wearing sunglasses and her hair was messy. Vincent squeezed past but couldn’t see the lady he’d been following. He turned back to the woman with the bike.

“Did you see where she went?” asked Vincent

“Did you make her cry? Why were you chasing her?” asked the woman on the bike.

Vincent was cross. He also wondered what he was doing, chasing that lady all over the place, but he didn’t want to give up so he ran to the end of the block and looked both ways along the intersecting street. He spotted her along the street to the left. She was leaning against a tree but when she saw Vincent she ran off again. He followed. He’d gotten so far into this chase that he was determined to get to the bottom of the mystery. The lady turned left and back towards the street with the shops. He followed her around the corner but his way was blocked by a moustached man in a yellow fluorescent vest who was pushing a trolley full of boxes into a cafe. Vincent stopped suddenly. He could hear Cat Stevens singing again “Sitting on my own not by myself, everybody’s here with me”. He turned his head to the right and looked into the café window. There was Syafika, sitting by herself and eating lunch. Vincent followed the moustached man as he took his trolley of boxes into the café. He walked up to Syafika’s table with his arms crossed and asked “What is going on!”

Syafika looked up in surprise and Vincent could tell immediately that Syafika didn’t know what he was talking about.

“Have a seat” said a moustached waiter man to Vincent, so Vincent sat down opposite Syafika. Then the waiter brought over a tray with a plate of French toast and a black coffee for Vincent and a pot of tea for Syafika.

Syafika realized that she and Vincent had been tricked by John and D’arby.

“This is the second time today that I’ve been tricked” Syafika said to Vincent.

“What do you mean?” asked Vincent

Before Syafika answered she took a sip of her tea, and in doing so she was falling for a third trick that day, because before D’arby (who was wearing a fake moustache) had discreetly left the café he’d added his special pills to Syafika’s tea and Vincent’s coffee.

…………………

An hour later, Syafika and Vincent left the café and went their separate ways. After a bit of an awkward start, they’d been able to amicably agree that their relationship would never be worth the effort.

Syafika was walking home when she heard what sounded like a cackle of hyenas approaching rapidly from behind. John, D’arby and Fanta soon caught up with her but they were still laughing too much to be able to talk.

“I was going to ask whether you were pleased with yourselves, but there’s no need to ask” said Syafika. She was trying to sound grumpy but was actually feeling pretty good. She felt free.

“Did you and Vincent make-up?” asked Fanta

“No, we decided to split” answered Syafika, “but that’s good”.

John slowed his walk upon hearing Syafika’s answer.

“So you mean that we did all that for nothing?” asked John

“No” answered Syafika. “It was good to have a final discussion and agree to not see each other anymore.”

D’arby was quiet. He had a frown on his face. He opened his mouth as if he was about to speak but then changed his mind and stayed quiet.

“I don’t suppose you’ll be able to get Vincent’s belt for me then?” asked John.

“Why would you want Vincent’s belt?” asked Syafika.

“It has a little transmitter in it” answered John.

“What?” asked Syafika.

Fanta covered her ears and said “Stop talking about Vincent’s belt. I don’t want to hear about you having done illegal stuff.”

“It wasn’t that bad” said John. “Tell her D’arby”

But D’arby didn’t feel like talking. He was too busy thinking.

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