Day 1 Severn
She woke up late the next morning, cautiously opening her eyes to make sure she was still safe in bed, inside her flat.
Rising she stretched, a strap of her long sating negligee falling over one shoulder. She pulled back her long hair and re-adjusted the strap as she waited for the cobwebs in her brain to finally clear out.
Last night had not been a dream she finally convinced herself as she rose, putting on her nightgowns’ matching satin robe, and still a wee bit groggy, made her way into the kitchen to keep a date with her toaster, teapot, and to rehash the events from the night before!
A Little later, dressed in jeans, a gold silk Cammie, and loafers, she headed out of her flat.
Going down two floors and exiting out through a side doorway form her building. This exit led onto the middle of an old dustbin alleyway.
She headed down the three blocks to the end of the alley and came out onto a small park located across the narrow lane that served as a modern street for motorcars.
Looking around, letting her figure soak in the late morning sun, she finally strolled across the park towards a small restaurant, The Victoria, on the same block as her usual hangout.
Which was a corner located, 2 level pub called the Queens Knight.
After a big breakfast of sausage, corned beef hash and brown fresh eggs (for she had no idea when she would eat again) she left the premises, nodding to Jethroe, the owner and manager’s brother.
As she went out onto the sidewalk, she spotted an empty cab parked across the street.
Walking up to the corner, she went over and down the stairs leading into the Queens Knight cellar level.
After a bit of looking around, she found Toby, sitting in a corner booth, nursing his usual breakfast of a house pint, whilst reading newsprint.
Toby was a short piker wearing old tweeds and a grungy brown flat cap. Stubbly shaved and thinning red hair with crow-like sharp brown eyes he blended in quite well with the usual morning drinkers, er patrons. His rumpled clothes looked like they had been slept in, though they smelled freshly laundered.
She sat down across from him.
“Whot’s up,” he asked, putting down the horse racing forms he had been studying.
“Feel like a fare Toby?” She asked, smiling like she was with him in a conspiracy.
He smiled back, winking like he knew what she was up to…
The truth was though, Toby, as well as all others in her circle, had no real clue as to how she made her living.
Nor did anyone around her ever ask, figuring her answers would be a load of codswallop anyway!
And those, like her uncle and father, who did ask, got the generic answer. ‘Private Financial Advisor’!
“Certainly, Mi’Lady he answered in his rough, half mumbled, guttural Yorkshire accent
“Where is her majesty off to today?”
Toby was her go-to cab driver whenever she needed to be somewhere without the possible compromise of having her car.
Since Steven’s flat was located in an upper-end part of a Cardiff Suburb, off the River Severn, cabs wouldn’t be out of place, strange cars might be a different tale!
She told him the location, and he smiled, showing a smile with several missing teeth,( some forcibly lost)!
For it was a long ride and would be well worth his time.
She instructed him to meet at her apartment in one hour, and he nodded, tipping his ratty peaked cap to her as she rose.
She winked to him, and then turning, headed out.
She took a brisk walk around the park, before heading back.
At her apartment, she threw a few things into a case, made sure her clutch was packed with the items of her trade.
Sans her masked hood and several other rather telling items that she had secured in a false bottom of her case.
Keeping dressed the way she was, she looked out the window and saw Toby’s cab pulling up along the alleyway, stopping at her buildings’ side exit.
This was a habit she couldn’t break Toby from doing.
He liked to think he was being clandestine, though she had never given him a clue as to her profession.
It was a force of habit from a cabbie used to dealings with a lot of the underworld punks!
She went back downstairs, placing her luggage next to her on the back seat, then settled in for the ride.
“Ready then Miss?”
He asked as she buckled in.
“Onward Toby!” She answered with a happy sigh.
After last night’s uniquely exasperating escapade, it felt good to be out quickly on another adventure!
She wasn’t used to doing jobs for someone else, and it was, strangely, mildly satisfying to be doing so!
He pulled away and discreetly went up the remaining three blocks of the brick building lined alley, exiting onto the street opposite of the park at the other end.
Now, Toby’s cab always seemed to manage to have the slight odor of yesterday’s fried fish and chips, but he was discreet, loyal to a fault, and could talk the head off anyone, so it was a good trade-off!
All one had to do was mention a topic, like weather or the queen, and he would start off telling all the troubles of the country, and how they should be fixed.
Meanwhile, she could nestle back and enjoy the ride, and her silently held thoughts…
The reached the suburb in good time, and she had Toby drop her off at a hotel she had stayed at before during previous ‘visits’.
Nothing fancy, but, like Toby, discreet.
Paying Toby in fresh 10£ notes without asking the fare, telling him to pick her up in two days at 10 am sharp, she dismissed him before heading inside.
He nodded, tipping his well-worn cap, and headed off, probably to the nearest Cardiff betting office, she imagined.
Taking her luggage, she went inside and acquired a room, of which there were always plenty.
There were still a couple of hours before supper, so she dropped off her luggage, and was back out the door, and on the street in a few minutes.
She was familiar with the area and quickly found Steven’s apartment building, some ten blocks out.
It was an ancient blacken stone building with gables along its roofline.
She walked around the building, spying an iron wrought iron fire escape that descended the side of the structure that was located along an alleyway. The ladders first landing was easily reached from ground level by a large trash bin that had been conveniently left just underneath the first folded rung.
So far so good,
All she had to do was go for a jog late at night, hide behind the dumpster till the coast was clear, and head up.
She went around the front, ringing the lobby bell, and was buzzed inside.
Under the pretense of inquiring about openings, and who the realtor was that handles them, she quite easily found out from the young male desk clerk, how the rooms were situated, and where number 6 was located.
Room 6 was a suite of rooms, located at the top rear. And no, it was occupied, with the owner out of town a few days. She discreetly tried to talk him into seeing one of the rooms, hoping that she could coerce him into showing her number 6 since the owner was away.
That did not pan out.
But before she took leave, he was willing to explain the layouts of the rooms that made up the complex, so she did glean some view of what to expect.
So far it seemed like clockwork.
With a happy gait to her step, she headed back to her room and laid down for a short kip before heading out to a local pub she had frequented before, to have her Supp.
And relax a bit.
The riverside pub she went to that evening was called the Poet and Peasant. The poet bit being the actual yellowed skull of a long-dead poet!
His grinning skull sits high up in a shelf along a balustrade, usually with a cigar clamped in his jaws.
She liked this working man’s pub for that reason, it had a bit of a story about it, an aire of mystery mixed in with good fare and drink, and interesting patrons!
She wore a quite pretty outfit consisting of a brown velour jumper dress over a silver sparkly sweater, her long hair bobbed, and was wearing no jewelry.
Her meal, taken in a corner booth with a view overlooking the Severn River, was a simple bangers and mash with soda bread and a glass of red wine.
She preferred her pints of beer, which she usually drank at home, or the Queens Knight, but away, especially on a job, it was wine she drank. For some reason, it was seen as more acceptable a lady’s drink than beer, which also meant she did not stand out as much in a crowd!
Finishing, she headed to the bar and made small talk with the female barkeep, Maggie, over the second glass of wine. She learned that the neighborhoods still had a surprisingly low cop presence and that the area was dead usually till the weekend. Just as she remembered it.
She stayed till closing, then, exchanging cheers with several newly met mates, she headed out into the coolness of the evening.
Heading back to her room, she changed into a black, one-piece jogging outfit, and went out for a late-night run.
Her course took her around Steven’s building, where she cut in behind the dumpsters. She watched the upper floor rooms for about an hour, but no lights came one to indicate that the owner had come home.
She slipped back out into the alley, and keeping to the shadows, went back out onto the sidewalk in back, then started jogging the long way round to her rooms, to catch some sleep.
She would burgle the flat the next night, and seeing that no one appeared to be home, was not planning on any major obstacles….
But, as they say, the best-laid plans…