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Chink of Light

It was Wednesday afternoon and it was with a very different heart that Elsee looked out of the large plane window and watched the Gulf of Mexico slipping by below them. Jack was sitting in a different section of the plane accompanied by two FBI agents. Elsee hadn't spoken to him today.

She'd spent the journey in one of the adult seats in the crèche upstairs. She found the sight of the children playing video games, playing in the pretend castle, drawing, writing, laughing and crying uplifting and distracting.

The children had been writing on the fairy tale castle, which was a slide. Every time the minder's head was turned they wrote something new, silly and ‘naughty’.

Elsee had always wanted children.

She'd been crying sometimes during the journey and the children kept offering her sweets to cheer her up. She didn't know whether to laugh or cry anymore.

“Would you like a drink, mama?”

“No thanks. I'm fine at the moment.”

She was sure she was being watched. Maybe she too had become important as someone who could testify to Jack's good personality, or otherwise. She didn't know, didn't care and didn’t understand anything anymore. Life was unfair, morbid, sick, twisted, immoral and bereft of any justice.

Elsee felt moisture swelling in her eyes, as if an underground stream were waiting to burst.

“Would you like another sweet, Miss. Elsee?” a little girl said.

“Why thank you. That would be very nice. Why don't you come up and sit up here with me?”

“Why are you crying, Miss. Elsee?”

“Oh I don't know’ I'm so happy I suppose.”

“That's silly. You cry when you're sad, not when you are happy”

“Sometimes grown-ups cry when they're happy, you know.”

“But you aren't happy are you Miss. Elsee?”"

Elsee smiled. “Let's see your drawings. Hey, what are they?”

“I've been drawing the fairy castle and the enchanted land,” the little girl said, “I've done it for you.”

“Thank you,” Elsee said holding back her tears. “It’s a lovely, lovely picture, I love all the colours you've used and the chink of light coming down from behind the clouds.”

“What's a chink Miss. Elsee?”

“Oh, it's like a little hole that allows some light through.”

“What like a keyhole or something?”

“Yes, just like a keyhole.”

“Here have my tissue, Miss. Elsee.”

When the plane came to a halt there was a car waiting on the tarmac. Jack was taken offthe plane first and put into the back of the car. The drive from Sioux City did not take too long. The car was a prototype.

“Got one of them weird fusion engines in,” they told him,” Goes fast but it's broken down twice and we've only had it a month.”

When they arrived in Hertferd station he was escorted into a small interview room where Martin Shaw sat with a cup of coffee steaming in front of him. The FBI agents showed him in and stood on either side of the door outside. “I'm not going to piss about here, you're in the shit. Running off like that was not smart. We told you not to go out of Hertferd. Makes you look guilty.”

Jack didn't reply.

“You could make life a lot easier for yourself if you were to comply with us. All you have to do is tell the TV people about what you saw the Mayor up to that night, that's all we ask. You will find your sentence reduced favourably. If you don't you might as well kiss goodbye for a few decades.”

Jack didn't say anything.

“I need to talk to someone.”


“It's personal. Do you mind?”

“Nothing you do is personal anymore. You are public property.”

“What happens if I don't want to ‘Comply’?”

“It's your choice,” Shaw said with a smile. “If you want to see the little lady again, I'd help us.”'

Jack sighed and shook his head.

“You really don't get it, do you?”

“I need to talk to Elsee before I decide what to do, that's my offer. I'll give you an answer. Just let me talk to Elsee alone.”

“Who is the woman?”

“Didn't you know?” Jack said with genuine relish. “She is Duncan and Chrissy Anderton's maid.”

Shaw tried not to look surprised.

“I see,” he said finally, “Well you'd better talk to her. We’ll get her for you, but we can't do it straight away.”

Martin Shaw went outside into the corridor, leant against the wall and shook his head.

“Fuck, just when I thought it was sorted,” he said under his breath.

“What’s wrong?” one of the FBI men asked.

“Never take a job in a small town, that's my advice.”
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