SHEILA had been right about Aunt Millie but not in the way Nancy had expected. Millie didn’t seem to know the difference between rhetoric and an actual question. If Nancy moaned, ‘why is this road so busy?’ Millie would explain that the lights at the bottom of Leopold Road couldn’t filter the volume of rush hour traffic properly. If Nancy remarked that school holidays were too short, Mille would explain that school holidays amount to fifteen weeks a year which is quite a lot actually. Nancy is lucky not to be born in North Korea or Ghana. Millie spent half her waking hours picking up bits from the carpet despite vacuuming every morning. She kept to her word and provided a solid meal per day. Nancy didn’t meet Mark as arranged on account of the rain, but didn’t do so even when the sun filtered through her curtains. In a sneaky way, Nancy liked it. She liked the routine, the square meals the warmth, Millie’s squareness, Millie’s morality etched into her wind chimes and her kitsch wall prints. But this would not stop Nancy from spurning Millie’s squareness if Bex or Alexis asked about her stay in Leighton Buzzard. Nancy would agree that Sheila’s holiday in Magaluf had sounded miles more stirring and wished she were there. Millie had a fetish for board games and cards and quiz shows; she still monitors paperclips for her beloved crown court. Yawn, yawn.
On returning to Sheila’s at the end of the Easter holidays to find Sheila’s new boyfriend Graham had moved in complete with heart-shaped balloons, ribbons, roses and silk cushions, Nancy ran away. She spent two days making up for lost time being outside before the police picked her up at the West Orchards shopping centre in Coventry. Nancy didn’t see Millie again until she got sacked from her job at the Weston Hill Care Centre.
‘Hello, I’m Mr. Jonas’ nurse.’
Nancy eyed the woman on the top left of the screen standing next to an Audi convertible. Nancy had been wrong about the cars nurses drive. Nancy cleared her throat. ‘I think you might be mistaken, I am Mr. Jonas’ nurse.’
The woman towered over the speaker system. She petted her silk scarf atop a blue and white striped coat, sixties retro. She breathed a deep contralto. ‘I do not understand. You say you are Mr. Jonas’ nurse?’
‘There must be some mistake. I am Nurse Geraldine Wilson-Clark. I am here to administer Mr. Jonas’ treatment before he takes his flight to Cannes this evening.’
Nancy had forgotten about that. ‘I think you are mistaken. I am Nurse Nora Clements. I have been contracted here to oversee Mr. Jonas’ care.’
The woman’s hair cascaded in saffron waves attainable only from a top salon. ‘I am sorry, Ms. Clements, Mr. Jonas never said anything about another nurse in his care.’
‘Oh, no,’ Nancy asserted. ‘Mr. Jonas will only require one nurse.’ Nancy’s eyes hooded over. ‘If you don’t mind my saying, you don’t look like a nurse.’
‘You are wearing falsies.’
‘False fingernails. Isn’t that counterproductive in light of what you do?’
Double-Barreled Nurse appeared to freeze on screen. ‘Look I am Mr. Jonas’ nurse simply wishing to administer his treatment for today.’
‘No,’ Nancy asserted. ‘I am Mr. Jonas’ nurse and I suggest that you get those falsies removed.’
‘But, I am Mr. Jonas’ nurse.’
‘No. I am Mr. Jonas’ nurse.’
Nurse Geraldine Wilson-Clark drew back from the speaker. She betrayed a small wobble as though torn between two options. Finally, she stepped away from the gates. She got back into her Audi convertible and started up.
‘Truman Davenport, I’ve just told you.’
Nancy swivelled her seat sidelong to the speaker and reclined. ‘I’m sorry, what was your business?’
Davenport’s stocky form filled the right quadrant of the screen. ‘It’s a private matter between Mr. Jonas and myself.’
Nancy picked her fingernail. ‘Tell me, does everybody address him as Mr. Jonas?’
The sun rebounded against Davenport’s pink scalp clashing against his mulberry plaid jacket. ‘What is the meaning of this question?’
‘It’s just that if it’s a private matter, I would have expected you to address him as Vince or Vincent.’
Davenport’s head froze in place. ‘Is there a communication fault here?’
‘A communication fault?’
‘It’s just when I say something, little sense seems to come back.’
Mr. Davenport had a point. Nancy would action this as soon as the call ended. ‘I’m sorry, Mr. Davenport. It’s just been a very long day and Mr. Jonas has filled my schedule to bursting point before he leaves for Cannes this evening.’
‘He’s going to Cannes?’
‘Yes. Didn’t you know?’ I have to oversee his care before he takes his flight.’
The sun faded, darkening Davenport’s dome from pink to cerise. ‘I have been trying to call him all day but his phone is switched off.’
‘Well, I don’t know what to say. You could send him a text.’
Davenport shifted from the speakerphone before Nancy had the chance to bid him farewell. The door of his yellow Ferrari could not be discerned from the bodywork until Davenport opened it and let himself in.