Jeff paused before he plugged in his shaver into the socket beside the basin in his hotel. His hand trembled as the memory ambushed him; maybe the smell of the Lily of the Valley soap had triggered this vivid tumble into childhood.
He had been staying with his grandmother. Steering his toy truck in rapid turns around the sitting room carpet to avoid her brisk thrusts with the soft bagged, hard edged upright vacuum cleaner. She had been wrapped in a thick apron and had a Players cigarette firmly lodged in the corner of her mouth. The musty dusty monster had roared as it chased him around the old Kidderminster carpet sucking at his fingers and the laces of his shoes. Finally the din ceased and Jeff watched as she levered the two-pin plug out of the wall with a nail file which fell out of her pinny pocket as she escorted the cleaning machine back to its cupboard.
Jeff had appropriated that file in a flash. It was made of a tough thin metal and the hook at the end was ideal for tinkering with wheels of his truck. He imagined his tin truck into a tram which travelled for a while on the tracks created by the carpet design until the whole scenario led him to the electric socket and the file became the electric connector.
Jeff had been thrown across the room. His grandmother had thumped and shaken him back to life, lathered the burn on his hand with honey and wrapped it in strips of cloth. His head had throbbed for days.
Jeff shook himself into the present like a wet dog. He pressed the fingers on one hand onto the dark scar in the palm of the other. He rubbed the stubble on his face several times and carefully put the shaver back in its case.
Cara fumbled the change into the mean-mouthed cslot of the parking meter. One coin dropped onto the paving stones and her nails rasped on the rough surface as she scrabbled for it. Once the ticket was on the dash and with her briefcase in hand she walked briskly to the Town Map positioned near the entrance. The angle of the sunlight blurred symbols and the names of streets and she spent fretful moments bobbing or craning her head until she was able to elicit how to proceed to her destination.
Cara headed uphill on a narrow pedestrian path almost touching closed doors and rough sandstone walls. She was unpleasantly aware of the constant rush of cars and gusts of exhaust fumes. She hurried and held to such a fast pace by the time she reached the brow of the hill and the Town Square she was panting. She stopped and rested her hot hand on the cool black twist of a lamppost until her breathing eased. A few steps further and, screwed onto an old tudor building, the name of the street she was seeking glared at her. Just a bit further down the street she could see the elaborate lettering which spelled the name of the shop in which she had a vital appointment. Cara straightened her back and walked forward. Halfway there she had to give way to a large splay-footed man in a duffle coat as most of the footpath was occupied by an enormous flower filled urn. She brushed her fingers through a small bush of lavender and she could still smell its sweet sharp scent when she pushed open the door.