George and Spider Part Ten - The Momentum cont'd
By Jane Hyphen
The following evening George returned to the area, this time disguised as a jogger. Dressed in some old tracksuit bottoms, trainers and a cap, he ran up and down the length of the main road.
His turbo-charged exercise sessions which he carried out most days inside his shed had paid off, he had the appearance of somebody in the armed forces and didn't look remotely out of place running. He so wanted to see something, just a hint of the occupants of the doily house. As he passed by for the third time he had a feeling that something was going to happen so he crouched down and made of play of tying his shoelace. The front door opened slowly and the lady of the house came out with a bag of rubbish for bins. She was young and rather glamorous with angular features, perhaps Eastern European and she was clutching a phone between her shoulder and chin and chattering as she dealt with the rubbish. At her heels was the dog, a huge fluffy thing which listed from side to side as it walked. George wrote it off as a simple ball of hair, confused and over-bred, insignificant to his intentions.
Over the course of the next couple of days George returned to the area in various guises; sometimes on foot, sometimes on the local bus, sitting on the upper-deck, riding the circuit. For George this was one of life's great pleasures and something he'd done often with Spider, during their school days. There was so much to see from up there and he was able to note down observations in his little notepad regarding how the back gardens were connected and the presence of cut-throughs and back-alleys. The doily house was too set back from the road to be able to observe any of its rear garden. The windows were complicated and clad internally with blinds, half drawn, it was frustratingly difficult to see within the property.
There'd been no sign of the man of the house but the young lady was in, very often and always in lycra. What did this mean? It was clear to George that Spider would have to be prepared to enter the house while she was there. This was unlikely to cause a problem for Spider since the house was large enough for several people to hide in and he would get a secret thrill from it. Something would have to be given to the dog, to buffer its senses, if it had any, and Spider would have to max out his invisibility. George recalled what Francis had told him about the cellars of neighbouring properties being inter-connected. Was it possible that the dentists next door was somehow connected with the doily house via the cellar? The idea excited George and he was sure that it would excite Spider too.
More than anything else George worried about the location of the prize. A tiny cigarette box inside a Victorian mansion house, how could it be found? Spider wouldn't leave without it, he could be in there for hours, days even, without food or clean underpants. The key to this robbery was surely knowing the location of the prize but there seemed no way of finding out.
In an attempt to discover this information George went into his 'inner-chamber' during his dreams, to try and picture the cigarette box and where it might be held. The object had been on his mind sufficiently long for him to be able to conjure it within his imagination with ease. He saw it standing in a glass cabinet alongside many other similar boxes. He saw the rich glow of its gold casing and the beauty of the inlaid gems on the front. It seemed to glow with light. With the image safe in his head George began his waking up routine; this involved walking along a sandy beach until he gently reached earthly consciousness. But this time the beach was out of bounds, reels of razor wire prevented him from entering onto the sand.
Occasionally this happened, George became trapped within his dream, unable to return to the waking world. Slightly frustrated and desperate to retain the image of the cigarette box in his head, George took a few deep breaths and prepared to ride it out, wait until he could somehow re-enter the sands. He walked quietly within his dream, away from the beach and across the dunes; they were steep in places and coarse grasses irritated his bare feet. The box kept appearing and disappearing, he saw it inside a drawer among his grandmother's things, he saw it in a wheelie bin, in a kitchen cupboard among cereal boxes. Afraid of losing it, he reached out and grabbed it but it was difficult to hold and the patterns on the box began to morph and dance. So free-flowing was the juice of George's creative imagination that he designed his own cigarette boxes, each one more beautiful and intricate than the last. The box changed before his eyes, this time it had Keen Spooner's dreadful crab tattoo engraved upon it. George's heart lurched, he opened the box and saw twelve Marlboroughs inside it. He became overwhelmed with a sudden urge to smoke so he took one out and it lit, quite automatically. He started to smoke. The tobacco was intoxicating, he felt himself floating above the sand dunes. He dropped the box and sort of strange apparition came out of it and appeared next him, a sort of golden genie which morphed in an instant into Kathleen, his grandmother.
She waved her gnarled index finger at him and opened her tiny, cat's anus mouth; thick smoke swirled out of it as she said, 'You'll end up in jail George, quite in jail. I knew it from the moment you were born, that you'd end up quite in jail! You should never have left the womb, you're not fit for the outside world. You're destined for the clink, it's safer for you and safer for us George."
'George! George wake up! Wake up George!'
George woke up gasping for air.
'What's going on? I've been trying to wake you for ages. Christ! I was about to call an ambulance George!'
'An - ambulance?' George lay back and wiped his brow with the back of his hand. 'No,' he said, 'no need for that Max. It was just a dream, that's all, a terrible, terrible dream.'
Maxene placed her hand upon his chest and said, 'I thought you was, you know. I thought you were having a-'
'No - no - no!'
'Okay, sorry, I was just worried. So - what was the dream?'
George was silent for a few seconds. He rubbed his face and grimmaced. 'There are no words for it Max. I've just been thinking a lot - about this job that's coming up-'
'The erm, what'd you call it, the doily house?'
'Mmmmm, I'm trying to get a grip on it Max. I want to do it well, it needs planning, it needs more - momentum.'
'You don't have to do it George! I'm working, we can manage! If it's giving you nightmares then-'
'We're doing it. It'll do Spider good. Anyway it was just a dream. It started well, I saw what I wanted to see but then - well things got out of my control. Kathleen appeared, Grandma Kathleen, like a genie-'
'Oh dear God George!'
George turned over, away from her and lifted his t-shirt up over the top of his nose. 'What was I doing Max? When you woke me, what was I saying?'
'You weren't saying anything, you were just sort of going, Mmmmmmmmm mmmmmmmmmm mmmmmmmmmm. Like you were trapped or something. And your body was all like, stiff, that's why I was, you know, worried.'
George sat up on the edge of the bed and removed his t-shirt. He fumbled around in the dark, opening drawers so that he could change his underwear.
'What you doing George? Come back to bed!'
He returned to the bed but didn't sleep again that night. Instead he lay on his back with his eyes open and attempted to decipher his dream, attaching an unwarranted amount of importance to it. It occurred to him that his mother might be trying to warn him off the forthcoming robbery. Although this wouldn't have been due to any moral sentiments regarding thieving because she had had her own little dalliance in that particular art form, the memory of which kept George's mind occupied until morning.
Cynthia had been a very loving mother but she was rather like George, inherently rogue and never an honest and upstanding member of the community, and neither did she want to be. She had despised rules and regulations, she had no regard for the law and she couldn't abide meddling middle-class people, the sort who organise church fetes and force their wayward sons to do Duke of Edinburgh awards. She got a secret kick out of parking on double-yellow lines, she drove the wrong way in supermarket car parks and she brought shop-bought cakes to the school fetes and squished the icing and applied a sugary ball bearing to make them look home-made.
George had never discussed this subject with anyone but he had a couple of childhood memories of his mother shoplifting. The memories were not exactly clear but they were enduring, strong enough to stay permanently illuminated within his consciousness. See, he wasn't sure whether his brothers had witnessed it too. Francis would never have admitted to having such a memory. Tony's brain had limited capacity and it seemed only able to store pleasurable events. It was possible that Arthur had absolutely no knowledge of his wife's strange habit, in which case it would be far too big a subject to ever broach over a Sunday lunch, or indeed a deathbed.
It was strange because Cynthia always had money in her purse and plenty of it. Arthur liked to deal more in cash and less in the tax system. George could never remember his mother saying that she was short of money. There was something else driving the thefts. Perhaps a desire for something extraordinary to happen; the very same drive which caused George himself to steal and fight and daydream in his shed and just rage against the outside world and the mundane.
George recalled his mother's shoplifting operations as calm, silent acts, they played out in his memory rather like a mime. She didn't speak, she didn't even seem to look around to make sure no-one was looking, she simply removed the desired item off the shelf and slipped it swiftly but casually into her canvas shopping bag. The whole affair appeared so that the object seemed almost to float into her possession of its own free will. Any observer could almost have dismissed what they had seen altogether. There was a part of George which dismissed it too, he didn't dwell on it much at the time.
He recalled one occasion when she got caught. She had stolen a pair of tights from the chemists and a member of staff, possibly the manager, gently but firmly pulled her arm as she left the store. Her response had seemed rehearsed and was rather brutal; she instantly burst into tears, shutting her eyes and pulling madly at her dark hair, all the while shouting something about how exhausted she was, how sick her son was and how unfair everything was until the poor man, overwhelmed by the drama of it all, simply released her arm and she calmly left with the tights still in her bag. Oddly, George couldn't recall the presence of his brothers at this event, perhaps they were at school and he was visiting the hospital with his mother that day. The family didn't shop there ever again. George did remember Fran asking why they had to walk farther across town to the other chemist. Cynthia had made an excuse that she "didn't like the man in there."
The one thing that was clear from these distant memories, was that Cynthia had trusted George implicitly. She felt perfectly confident that her youngest son would never tell, and he knew this and felt quietly privileged by it. This sense of privilege far exceeding the potential thrill of telling. If he told anyone now, two things would happen; the first would be that none of his family would believe him, even if they did have some vague memory of something similar occurring, they wouldn't want to face up to it now. The other thing would be that George would lose some of that special bond he still had with his mother, because it endured, as strong, perhaps stronger than when she was alive.