Chapter 10

Jack waved as Robert and Joan's car pulled away from the house. Alex smiled happily and waved back from the rear window. He closed the front door and went to use the office phone, again. He'd expected Ziggy to come and say goodbye to Alex and was very surprised when she hadn't showed. No reply from Ziggy's house, for the third time. Maybe she just wanted left alone if she wasn't feeling well.

“Hello!” Mrs Wilson trilled from the hallway. “He get off OK?”

“He was biting at the bit.” Jack smiled. “I should have done this ages ago, Mrs Wilson. I wish I had.”

“Ah well it's all sorted now. Tea?” Mrs Wilson bustled off to the kitchen. “You'll be at a loose end now.”

“I am, yes. Ziggy's not feeling too good either just now. I'm abandoned.” Jack laughed and sat at the kitchen table.

“Oh! Nothing to serious I hope?”

“Stomach ache.” Jack said awkwardly. “A ... and that sort of thing.”

“Oh she'll be among the ginger and honey.” Mrs Wilson smiled and Jack coughed uncomfortably. “They get worse once you've had kids, you know.”

“Er ... well not for me they didn't.” Jack said quickly. “I've phoned her three times. Do you think she's OK? I'm being an old washerwoman, aren't I?”

“She'll be fine.” Mrs Wilson handed Jack his tea. “I used to have to take myself to bed for hours when I was that way.”

“Yes. OK, yes. I'm pleased Alex is a boy.” Jack muttered. “You should see the clutter he's taken with him. Both wellies and sunscreen, just to cover all weather options.” He laughed. Alex had calmly repacked his bag after Jack had pruned it.

“Aww he's enjoying himself. You should too while you have a break.”

“My breaks consist of ploughing through computer systems for bugs.” Jack got to his feet. “I'll phone Ziggy after lunch.”

Jack did phone Ziggy after lunch, then again at 3PM and again at 5.30.

“Mrs Wilson! Mrs Wilson how do I get to Hallow Break? I know she's not well but she isn't deaf. Missing the phone once I understand, but six times?” Jack pulled on his jacket and opened the front door.
Ziggy knocked on his chest.
“Ziggy! Where the hell have you been? I've been ringing you all day!” Jack shouted in relief.

“Jail. Hiya Mrs Wilson.” Ziggy walked past Jack.

“Jail? Jail as in ... jail?” Jack blurted.

“Sort of. Police cells for breaking in through the scrubber's window. Jack I need to talk to you.”

“Are you OK? Jail?” Jack sad in shock.

“I'm fine-ish.” Ziggy wandered off into the sitting room. Jack followed her in a daze.

“You missed Alex. He made you a get well card.” He handed Ziggy a folded piece of card with Mr Crawley drawn on the front. Ziggy burst into tears and Jack nearly fainted. “It's fine! Ziggy it's OK, he knew you weren't feeling well. Please don't cry. I hate tears.” He went over and put his arms round Ziggy. “What happened? She had you locked up?”

“Oh that's nothing. I was harassing her, as I do.” Ziggy snivelled. “Jack, about the scar on Alex's chest.” She swallowed hard.

“The one he got accidentally, yes.” Jack said warily.

“Jack it's a marker, just like mine. Mine was burned in, Alex's was cut in.”

“I've had enough of this.” Jack said flatly. “OK, stop it Ziggy, I've just about had my fill of that crap.”

“Oh it gets worse. It's a marker given by parents to their kids as a sign that they're up for sacrifice when they're seven. The plan being to do that every eighteen years, as per ritual. I sodded the first one up because I'm a pest. Alex is eighteen years younger than me.” That all came out in a long, hysterical string and Jack was just staring at her.

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