How to Score (On and Off the Pitch)

By Andrew Playle All Rights Reserved ©

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Chapter 51

Brian and Lucy had settled into life in LA very easily. The constant sunshine and relaxed way of life was definitely a plus, and he was doing a good job in his new role. He wondered why he hadn’t done this sooner in his career instead of trudging through the miserably damp world of IT Sales in London and Edinburgh. The only downside was that he didn’t get to see his boys and contact with them was reduced to a weekly call on Face Time where they would talk about the same subjects: how Martine was, how Sam was doing teaching and football. He hadn’t spoken to Martine in weeks and although they had now divorced, he still cared enough about her to be concerned by some of the stories he was hearing about her lifestyle. It hadn’t bothered him that she and Stuart were now a couple, he hoped he would look after her, but it did bother him that she was knocking back too much wine. Not something that was acceptable in California and Brian had developed a healthier way of life for himself. The thought of him eating quinoa and houmous regularly would never have crossed his mind a year ago when his preferred diet was pints of London Pride and a chicken vindaloo.

Lucy was happy staying at home and looking after Brian. She had lost touch with all her friends back in London and the new friends she had made in LA were a bit weird at times, so she kept herself to herself most of the time, choosing instead to sun herself by their communal pool and taking the bus around LA to explore her new home.

It was on one such day as this that she discovered the less pleasant side of LA. She had been walking around the shopping mall near their home when she heard a couple of loud bangs coming from one of the shops. Before she had time to turn around, two young hoods ran out the shop and collided with her, knocking her to the ground before aiming a gun at her head. She screamed as two more shots rang out, one of them hitting her in the shoulder before the robbers ran off.

Suddenly, she was surrounded by fellow shoppers who fussed over her and made her comfortable while somebody phoned for an ambulance and the police. Lucy saw the amount of blood that was pouring from her wound and passed out, just as she heard the approaching sound of sirens.

When she woke up, she was lying in a hospital bed with her wound dressed and being attended to by a large black nurse who introduced herself as Priscilla and told her that she would be looking after her.

‘Wh-what happened to me? Where am I?’ Lucy whispered.

‘Hey, Honey, you’re in Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica. You been shot, but doctors got the bullet out and you’re going to be fine. Would you like some water?’ Priscilla asked.

‘Yes please. Has anyone told my boyfriend where I am? He’ll be worried about me.’

‘Don’t you go panicking now, the doctor has phoned him and he’s on his way over right now. Found his details in your bag. You sure don’t have a lot of friends’ numbers on your phone, do you Hon?’

Lucy explained how they had just moved there from London and hadn’t made many friends yet. She was relieved that Brian was on his way though. Ten minutes later, Brian came running into the room looking anxious. He saw the strapping on Lucy’s shoulder and thought better of giving her a squeeze.

‘What happened? Are you okay?’ Brian fretted.

‘I’m not sure. All I remember is being knocked over in the shopping mall then something hit my shoulder and I passed out. When I woke up, I was here.’

Priscilla filled Brian in on the full details of how she was shot in the shoulder during an armed robbery. The police had caught the two perpetrators already and they were keen to speak to Lucy when she felt up to it. She explained it all in a matter-of-fact way which unnerved Brian. It was as if this was an everyday occurrence. Not something they had been exposed to in all the years of living in Britain and it crossed his mind whether they had made the right decision to move to LA.

After a few minutes, the doctor joined them in her room and explained to them both what he had done. Luckily, the bullet had missed vital organs and Lucy would be fine in a few days. Brian broke into a sweat. If the bullet had been a few centimetres either way then Lucy might have been killed. He broke down and sobbed uncontrollably. What had he done? Why had he brought her here to be exposed to these kinds of dangers? No job in the world was worth this. London might have been boring and wet, but at least there was a good chance you would never see a gun, let alone get shot with it.

Eventually, the doctor and Priscilla left them alone holding hands. Lucy insisted she didn’t want to quit and go back to London, she loved it here and promised she would be more careful in the future. Brian decided that he too ought to be more careful from now on as well. Some of the areas of LA where he had to visit were less than friendly, but it had never crossed his mind that they could be dangerous as well.

When Brian told his bosses what had happened they were sympathetic and said not to worry about the hospital bills as they would take care of them. This was just as well because Brian and Lucy hadn’t had the chance to get any insurance meaning that Lucy’s stay in hospital was going to cost someone thousands of dollars. Something else that hadn’t crossed Brian’s mind. So far, they had been treating this new lifestyle as some kind of a holiday, not the new challenge it was. There was much work to do if they were going to stay here.

At least his weekend Face Time calls this weekend would allow him to talk about something other than football. When Sam and Bradley found out, they were genuinely concerned for Lucy. Sam had only met her once when he popped down to London for one of Bradley’s games and he thought she was nice enough. Bradley had met her several times and had a similar affection for her as she made dad happy. He had looked drained when he called his boys, not surprisingly. Bradley said he would have flown out there but he had an important game coming up. Brian understood and told him there was no need, the club were looking after every aspect for them so he promised he would keep them up to date on Lucy’s progress and wished Bradley luck for the Wales game.

It was at times like this that Brian missed the UK. He should be sitting in a cramped stadium watching his son play for his country in the drizzly rain. Instead, he was thousands of miles away in the sunshine watching baseball with a cup of peppermint tea. When Lucy came home, the club gave Brian a couple of days off to look after her, which was nice. That was another thing living in the US; holidays were frowned upon and most people were lucky to get ten days off in a year. Not like the UK where 25 days off was the minimum in most places. Apparently, there were a number of ‘sick days’ that you could take in a year which made up for it a bit. He was looking forward to looking after Lucy, she deserved a bit of pampering after her ordeal.

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