Angel 60 (Bruno's confession)
The following weeks were the longest Angel could remember. The twins were fractious with the sudden heatwave and didn’t sleep very well. One night Angel heard the new admission next door crying to herself and she tried not to think about it, pulling the quilt over her ears. Not involving herself in other people’s worries. She hadn’t been sleeping either. Something inside her had curdled. Her eyes felt as flat and tired as an Egyptian mummy.
She’d drape the quilt over her shoulder and stand gawping at the fence and the prison, blinking in the daylight. ‘I don’t want to be here anymore,’ she hissed. ‘I did nothing wrong and I don’t deserve this. My babies deserve better.’
Jerking her head, her face in shadows, she checked nobody was listening. ‘Maybe I’m cracking up.’ The thought gave her a painful stab and she hurried to check on the twins.
Adam and Lisa gave her snuffled response and Angel lay down again and dreamed of sleeping.
Bruno was cock-o-hoop when he visited that night and hugged her when he flounced into the room. His damp face buried in her shoulder. Not noticing she didn’t hug him back.
‘Tony’s back. She’s dumped him again.’
It took Angel a few seconds to tune in to what he was saying. She though he was here to, kinda, apologise for Harold Cole’s behaviour and talk about her release. She yawned, loudly and pulled away. ‘That’s nice,’ she managed to say. ‘Do you remember when we were going to run away and he told us not to…’
‘No, I don’t remember that.’
‘Yes, you do,’ she insisted and gabbled on with a combination of exhaustion and determination, with increasing speed, as if afraid he’d stop her or tell her she was wrong. ‘We’d the bottle of rat poison and we said we were going to…I don’t know whit, but Tony said we could use it to poison Jaz…and save me…and he did.’
‘Angel!’ Bruno gazed at her with tenderness. ‘I haven’t a scooby whit you are talking about.’ He guided her like a mannequin on wheels to the couch and had her sit down. ‘I’ll make us a cup of tea and I’ve brought Jaffa Cakes. So we’re sorted.’
‘Guests aren’t allowed to use the kitchen,’ groaned Angel.
‘Fiddlesticks,’ he laughed, raising his eyebrows. ‘I’m a rule breaker. Always have been and always will be. Tell me the combination of the safe where they keep the t-bags in and I’ll steal a couple of cups.’
Angel glanced at the twins in the cot and cobbled together a smile and closed her eyes. ‘OK.’
She jumped like a frog off a lily pad out of sleep. Bruno was looming over her and had a cup of tea in his hand. She almost knocked it all over herself. ‘Sorry,’ she apologised.
He handed her the cup and picked up his own from the edge of the telly unit. His jacket flung careless into the chair, he eased his portly body into the couch beside her with a groan and supped on his tea. ‘You must have needed it,’ he muttered.
‘I haven’t been sleeping,’ she admitted.
‘Guilty conscience?’ he joked. ‘Here have a Jaffe Cake, or I’ll just eat them all.’ He fiddled with the box and had to use his teeth on the plastic wrapper. He handed her a few. ‘That’s your lot,’ he warned her.
She chewed on a Jaffa. ‘I’ve got nothing to feel guilty about. That’s whit worries me. Things just keep going round and round in my head. And I’m trying to work out if I did something wrong. Just the same as it wis with Jaz. But I was only a wee lassie then. And I know noo, I did nothing wrang, and that Harold Cole is just an old pervert.’
Bruno nodded and frowned, but couldn’t keep from grinning. ‘Yes, he is an old pervert.’
Angel felt irked. ‘It’s not funny!’ she said, sharply.
‘Och, he never really done you any harm, flashed you his little cock…I’ve had much worse. And he said to tell you he was sorry.’
Angel bristled. ‘Well, it’s not good enough. There’s that whole idea of I’m nothing and he can do what he wants to me and mine and there’ll be no consequences. And he’s right! That’s the most galling thing. You know how small that makes me feel?’
‘Suppose,’ Bruno conceded.
‘Whit he did was criminal. Pure and simple. He wouldn’t go and visit Princess Anne, for example, and pull out his penis and start wanking off and ask her to talk dirty.’
‘Now there’s an idea.’ Bruno’s face lightened. ‘She might like that. A pleasant change from horsey people constantly talking about horses.’
‘Bruno it’s not funny. He picks his victims. He’s not that far away from Jaz and the way he picked me out.’
Bruno ran his tongue around his mouth to dislodge a half-chewed biscuit. ‘He’s no that bad.’
‘He is…He’s of the same ilk. He’s a pervert.’
The murmur from the telly grew louder and then dimmer.
‘Well, I’m a pervert too,’ declared Bruno. ‘In some countries they want to kill people like me…in fact in most countries, including this one.’
She glared at him and shook her head. ‘Bruno, you’re doing yerself down and playing his game. You’re a million times better than he is. You think your nothing and deserve to get treated like that. But you don’t. Nobody does.’
‘Old habits die hard,’ he admitted. ‘And you’re right. It’s just,’ he bit his lip.
Angel gave a slight nod. ‘I’m sorry, I’ve been wittering on, nonstop. It’s not your fault.’
‘It is.’ He rubbed at the back of his neck and his shoulders dropped. ‘I brought him here. To show him off a bit. To show that I knew important people. But he just uses me as he uses you. He doesn’t really care about anybody.’
‘That’s why we’ve got to stick together. Me, you and the twins.’
‘And Tony,’ added Bruno, meeting the inquisitive gaze of her bright blue eyes.
‘And Tony,’ she smiled, wistfully. ‘I love Tony.’
‘We all love Tony.’ He straightened up and glanced at her. ‘But Tony doesn’t love us. Not in the way we hoped.’ He paused to gauge her reaction, before plunging on. Harold Cole might be a terrible human being, but he’s a good lawyer. He thinks he’s done enough to convince the Crown to cut a deal and spring you out of here.’
Angel paled. ‘Whit?’
Bruno repeated himself.
‘Say it again,’ she dived across the couch, hugging him. ‘Say it again.’