Home     Excerpt from Beneath - the catch                  Home


The drizzle slowed them down, that and the heavy traffic crawling over the Chiswick flyover. The wipers rattled and smeared their uneven journey across the windscreen. The low frequency throb from the ancient diesel engine meant they had to shout to make themselves heard. The man did this a lot anyway, high as the highest kite, he wouldn’t shut up.

‘Do you think we’ll get lucky?’

‘I don’t know.’ the woman was able to contain her excitement, but not her exasperation. Sometimes he just wouldn’t stop talking. She thought about the random nature of their venture. It could take weeks, sometimes months, once it took the best part of nine months. Despite this, the adrenalin pumped through both of them, like a high pressured impeller. She tried to calm him down, ‘Relax, you know we’re more likely to get home empty-handed. That’s the way it goes most of the time. You know that.’

‘Don’t talk like that.’ He glanced across at the woman, who just stared at the slow moving traffic and said nothing. He recognised the signs, but kept talking all the same. The glance of poorly concealed anger, a natural sarcasm in her voice. The man shook his head; it seemed that all of his misdemeanours were archived in her razor-sharp memory.

‘North Circular or South?’


‘South it is, I fancy black anyway. What about you?’ The woman shrugged. ‘Black for you as well?’

She sighed, ‘I’ll be grateful for whatever.’

They both knew that going south of the river meant a longer chase. First Barnes and then Richmond, Putney was no good either. Too well off, too middle class. Get past Wandsworth and you were beginning to get into the happy hunting grounds of Streatham, Tooting, Norbury, Croydon, Lewisham, Peckham and Greenwich. Twisting through the estates. Cruising past the tower blocks. Two hours of tortuous driving.

Whenever he was driving and gripped by anxiety. He leant forwards over the steering wheel. His face illuminated by the dashboard lights. The shadows highlighted every contour. Exaggerated their depth and his expression took on that of someone crudely made for a bit part in a horror film. The woman smiled in amongst the tenseness of it all. He might be as thick as thickest plank, but he had a good memory. An awareness that bordered on the magical. It didn’t help tonight though; they even went out as far as Dartford before turning back and heading west.

He started to retrace the route back.

‘No, South Circular, I’m too tired. Let’s go home.’ The woman said this more for effect than anything else. Well aware that the predictable outcome from the driver would come bouncing straight back her way.

‘But it’s only just after nine. The night is still young.’

Pity you’re not, the woman thought.

Twenty minutes later, instead of going up onto the A4 at Kew, he swung left towards Hounslow.

The woman, unused to any act of rebellion, shouted, ‘where… What are you doing? We agreed…’

‘Just ten more minutes.’ The man frowned as if he’d just confused himself with this small act of mutiny. He swung up through Hounslow trying to change the subject. A woman stood on the street corner staring at the passing van. ‘Look at her.’

The simple observation came back from the woman, ‘she’s on the game.’

‘She’s got a good arse.’ He nodded, ‘young enough though, but I want one that needs phasing in.’

You want this, you want that. She said nothing, but silently fumed. Bloody big kid she thought, worse than a bloody big kid. He pulled up alongside a fish and chip shop. Opened the door and glanced back.

‘I need food, what do you want? The usual.’

She nodded and watched his ape-like meander towards the shop. The woman smiled when she saw colour of the small man serving. He hated Asians, ‘fucking schwartzers’ was all he’d say. Often to their faces. She watched as the slow realisation gripped him. He straightened, pulled his corduroy jacket together, turned and left the shop empty handed.

He climbed into the van, swearing as he slammed the door. ‘Fucking Schwartzer. Why can’t I get a piece of fish without it smelling of fucking curry? Fuc…’

‘Change the record.’

His mouth hung open, ‘Oh it’s all right for you. You love fucking them though don’t you?’

‘They’re generous.’ Small cocks though, bit like you she thought.

‘What are you laughing at?’

But the woman’s laughter stopped as quickly as it began. She opened the car door and jumped down. He watched as she approached a young girl. Wandering along with her mobile phone clamped to her ear. He found the special bottle of coke. Strong enough to drop a racehorse, he thought. He smiled and watched the woman in action. She was so good at this, talking to the girl like a concerned agony aunt. The girl was attractive enough. Nice cheekbones, a little on the plump side. She looked about the same age as when he had first met the woman. He smiled at that fond memory; he’d taken her cherry when she was thirteen. She loved it and hadn’t even started her periods.

No, he wasn’t the first. He was the first that she really enjoyed though. He started to feel his erection, especially now that they were walking towards the van. Dark haired, just like his wife. Long, thick and wavy, just like her. He wondered if she smelt and tasted like her as well. He groaned as the girl climbed up and sat. She shuffled over, close to the gear stick to allow the woman in.

The temptation to accidentally touch the thigh as he changed gear overwhelmed him. Her skirt had ridden up as if inviting him to do just that. The hole in her heavy tights had exposed the white skin. He turned the ignition key and pushed the clutch in.

The woman made a joke of it, ‘Keep those dirty, oily hands away from her when you change gear.’

The girl said, ‘I’m soaking wet.’

I’m soaking wet – he loved a woman saying that, Caleb smiled, glanced down at the girl’s legs and licked his lips. ‘Are you thirsty?’

She nodded, ‘Yes and cold.’

Her voice betrayed her age, fourteen? Caleb passed her the bottle of coke. ‘Have a drink lover, where are we taking you?’

‘Westmacott Drive, just behind the primary school.’

The woman said, ‘Is that Feltham?’  The girl nodded, ‘You’re a long way from Home.’

‘Didn’t have enough money. Bus driver wouldn’t let me on.’

The woman snapped, ‘bloody bus companies are a disgrace.’

The girl nodded again and glanced at the woman. They both smiled. The girl stared at the bottle of coke for a second or two. Brought it up to her lips and took a long drink.

The woman said, ‘turn the heater on, the girl needs warming up.’         

Oh yes he thought, she’s going to get warmed up all right.