Parables of Clippety (15) - The Overworld
By Jane Hyphen
There was a tense silence with both women wondering why the receptionist looked so concerned. A very short man with a hooked nose walked over very purposefully, his head and shoulders came just above the desk. He gave them a warm smile. ‘Ladies, ladies,’ he said laughing, ‘Good morning! I’m pleased to see that you’re both feeling alright now.’
Clare shrugged defensively, she was feeling worried that somehow the staff knew that they’d had drugs in their room. ‘We are alright, I think. Do you have my car keys then?’
‘Yes,’ said Richard and he handed them over but pulled his claw-like hand back just as Clare was about to take them. ‘We have a duty of care,’ he began sternly, ‘both to our guests and the wider public, and when Wayne, our porter spotted you on CCTV staggering around in the car park, then trying to get into your car, he radioed me and I’m afraid I did take your keys.’
‘Oh,’ said Marni, ‘but we had tickets to the match.’
‘I know you did,’ he said, placing the keys in her hand now and flashing a fake smile, ‘we did consider putting you on one of the free buses that go to the stadium but we thought it best we keep an eye on you, plus the match was on our big screen over in the hotel bar so you watched it there.’
‘Gosh,’ said Clare blushing slightly, ‘I had no idea we’d had that much to drink.’
‘Well I was worried someone might have spiked your drinks,’ said the receptionist, ‘it does happen, you were behaving quite odd and it’s more common than you might think, it can happen to anyone.’
Richard nodded in agreement. ‘You weren't that bad, just dancing and things. You enjoyed the match though, you’re big fans of Jurgen, you two aren’t you?’
‘We love him!’ said Marni in a very serious tone.
Richard coughed awkwardly. ‘Good. I made sure you drank plenty of water and then you went off to the toilet but I’m afraid one of you tripped and bumped your head. It was you,’ he said, pointing at Marni. ‘We got you checked out by a first aider. I think she put a plaster on it.’
‘Oh yes, I pulled that off,’ said Marni.
‘Yes and then we escorted you to your room. We thought it best.’
‘Oh…well thank you,’ said Clare.
Richard laughed, ‘You know it was a bit like a sleepover party but for mature ladies, you two eating your Love Hearts and talking about Jurgen Klopp. Not to worry, you had a good time and there’ll be other matches, it’s early in the season yet and I recommend catching one of the buses to the ground, they don’t cost anything and it’s a great atmosphere with all the fans.’
‘Yes, I’m sure we’ll be back,’ said Clare as she walked towards the lift, clutching the keys and pulling her suitcase along with Marni scurrying behind.
‘He’s the man I saw in the bushes Clare,’ said Marni, ‘I think he’s a demon.’
‘He’s the manager Marni, his name’s Richard, you don’t get demons called Richard. He was looking out for us. We created a demon!’
‘I’m so hungry Clare, I don’t have the strength to keep up with you.’
Clare stopped, ‘Okay,’ she huffed and punched something into her phone. ‘There’s a croissant shop just near here in the docks, we can get some breakfast and sit in the sun for a bit and conduct a post mortem.’
‘A post mortem?’
‘Yes, an emotional one at the very least.’
They found a bench just next to the water. Marni sipped her coffee and nibbled on her chocolate and hazelnut croissant, looking more like a mouse than a ferret. Clare consumed hers in three great bites. ‘They’re just air aren’t they,’ she said, ‘we can get something decent on the train.’
‘Can we?...Maybe we went too far Clare.’
‘You know, some people say, you should never try to meet your heroes. Plus, when you put someone so high up on a pedestal, you have to expect that there’s a chance they’ll jump off it and flatten you on the way down. That’s just how I feel, Marni, flat.’
‘Mmmmm. I still think he’s a lovely guy though, Jurgen, and very gorgeous.’
‘He’s a happily married man. What were we thinking? God, I feel so empty.’
‘Emptiness is a blank canvas on which we can start again, enter a new phase of our lives.’
‘Maybe I don’t want to enter a new phase, I don’t want to become a boring middle-aged lady, after all, each new phase is an older phase. ’
‘Of course it is, twas ever thus. Perhaps we set our sights too high. Have you heard of Fabio Capello or Harry Redknapp?’
Clare shook her head, ‘No, for god’s sake, don’t be ridiculous!’
‘Then perhaps we should just be happy as we are.'
From where they were seated they could see the jellyfish bobbing about just below the surface of the water. ‘I wonder if they’re trapped here,‘ said Clare, ‘Or whether they can get back to the sea if they want to.’
Marni sighed. ‘I think it’s all connected,’ she said, ‘but it could be that they feel safer in the dock or… perhaps they’re trapped and slowly starving or dying from pollution. Maybe we should feed them Clare?’
Clare glanced across at her friend. She was starting to feel irritated with her again. ‘Do you have any of the pure, unadulterated Love Heart sweets left, I don’t mean the drugged ones, I’m talking about sweets, sugar not drugs.’
‘We ate the drugged ones.’
‘Do you reckon we did?’
‘Yes,’ Marni nodded, ‘Richard the manager, not the demon, implied it and they were gone from my bag. I do have a few rolls of completely untampered ones in my rucksack. Why? Do you want to feed them to the jellyfish?’
‘No! I thought we could drop them off at Jurgen’s Bar, it’s just across the road from here. Maybe they’ll give them to the man himself.’
‘Just so they’re not wasted. You said they were expensive.’
‘They were but you know, they don’t have the umlaut above the u and you said he might be insulted by that.’
‘Oh yes,’ Clare laughed, ‘and you said that nothing gets past his PA anyway.’
‘Come on,’ Clare patted Marni’s thigh, ‘let’s take the car back before we get into any more trouble.’
They strolled back to the hotel car park in silence. Clare took the false number plates off the car and disposed of them in a nearby bin, and with heavy hearts, they got in.
The car hire place was intrigued as to why the ladies had clocked up less than two miles but Clare made up a story about being too ill to drive, except it wasn’t really a story, she had been ill, both in body and spirit.
It was a short walk back through the city, to Liverpool Lime Street. They passed by a sign which read, “Ghost Tour 3pm. Come inside the underground tunnels and meet the spirits of Liverpool.” Clare stopped and pointed at it, she said, ‘We could do that before we leave.’
‘No,’ Marni shook her head firmly, ‘I don’t know why but the idea of it makes me feel all churned up inside. I think I had a very bad trip and now I just want to draw a line under it and catch our train home.’
‘Our train,’ laughed Clare, ‘what were we thinking, that he'd come back down to Birmingham with us on the train, and then what?’
‘I think we knew it wasn’t going to happen, we found a way to sabotage ourselves. It was just a bit of escapism but we escaped too far, we went into a black hole.’
‘If there’s one thing I’ll take away from this it’s….well actually two things Marni, one is don’t do drugs, the other is Liverpool is a bloody fantastic city, it feels like the centre of the universe and I will be coming back.’
Marni drifted off into her thoughts. ‘It’s a shame about the cat,’ she said quietly, ‘poor Minke, I never got to say goodbye. I might get myself a dog. Fudge’s dog’s having puppies.’
‘I don’t think you should get anything from that man!’
‘Oh he’s alright. I just asked for the latest thing and that’s what he gave me.’
‘What sort of dog has he got?’
‘I don’t know, a big lurchery thing. I might call it Jurgen.’
‘Remember how scared Christopher was of dogs. My old next door neighbour’s dog once had him cornered on the drive and he dropped his Bonsai Tree and broke a branch…..’ Both women collapsed into fits of laughter.