Debbie Sundae had elected to catch an airship back to Winchester. She only had a fortnight’s leave and she wanted to spend it with her brother, Miles. It would also give her the opportunity she needed to catch up with Adam Lazarus. Although they had parted amicably the feeling of a relationship having failed haunted her. The trouble between them was that they were both so alike. They both craved success and were highly competitive in the search for it.
Debbie didn’t mind working on the island even though she found it all so slow when compared to Winchester. Inspector Drip though was another matter entirely. She had no idea how he had gained promotion. Some had suggested it came after the dismissal of his superior, the legendary Simian Simpering who had been caught frequenting disreputable night clubs and hounding young fat females. Drip was a plodding sort of policeman who caught the criminal largely by default. He was nothing like Adam Lazarus.
Adam had verve and ambition. His drive was formidable. He was only in his mid-thirties but had already reached Chief Inspector, largely due to the successful arrest of the armed robbers known as the ‘Four Santa’s’ whom he had caught earlier in the year. It was generally thought he would become a Superintendent before he was forty and probably Commissioner before fifty.
The flight from Shanklin to Winchester had been pretty unremarkable. Modern day airships, having resolved the issues with Hydrogen, were an effective way to travel short flights. For long haul an aeroplane was preferable but for journeys across Albion, and even to France, airships were best.
She hadn’t realised how much she had missed Winchester until she landed. Going through customs, a pointless exercise in her opinion considering this was an internal flight, had made her remember the lifetime spent living in the Wessex capital. Seeing again the city she loved made her feel like a lover who has been parted from the one of her dreams. This, in turn, made her think of him, of Adam.
Once through the horrid nonsense of border control which struck her as odd as there were no borders between the Isle of Wight and mainland Albion, she hailed a cab which took her directly to her brother’s home. It had been a school house once but Miles had purchased it for a nominal sum then converted it to the home he shared with her and Adam Lazarus.
Miles had been an athlete, one who had been training for the 2004 Olympic Games but the car accident had put paid to that. His back broken, Miles was condemned to spend the rest of his days as a paraplegic. He took it all in good part, never complaining once, but Debbie knew how much sport had ruled his life. It was more than a love for running; it had been part of him as much as his lungs, eyes or, ironically, his legs.
When she entered the front door he came out to greet her. He was a sandy-haired man who was slightly receding. His hairline now was forming into the classic widow’s peak. His features were sharp and clearly defined even though his chin was rather weak. His brown eyes sparkled when they caught sight of his sister.
“Well, look who the cat dragged in. How are you, stranger? Had your hair trimmed I see, very nice too!”
Debbie dashed over to give him a hug which he received with grateful thanks.
“I have missed you,” said Debbie.
“No you haven’t,” he laughed as he spun the wheelchair around so that it was pointing in the direction of the kitchen. “You’ve been too busy catching hardened criminals and shagging your way to the top of the police force.”
Debbie giggled as she hauled her suitcase with her.
“If there are any hardened gangsters on the island then I have yet to meet them; as for shagging my way to the top I take it you haven’t met my boss, Arnold Drip.”
“No sign of promotion from him then? Coffee?”
“Normal three sugars as if I need to ask?
“Mum would turn in her grave.”
“I had a sweet tooth even as a child.”
“Must have cost them a packet in dentist bills. So then, how is life on the Isle of Wight?”
“So, so, okay I guess. How’s Adam?”
“Working on a couple of weird cases as I understand it but you know Adam. If he isn’t up to his eyes in work he isn’t happy.”
“He hasn’t found anyone else then?”
Miles opened the fridge door to get out a pint of milk.
“If he has then he hasn’t told me, sis. I take it you still have feelings for him?”
“I suppose, maybe, I dunno. Where shall I put this suitcase?”
Miles filled the kettle and then plugged it in.
“Unless you want me to be rude, I suggest you put your luggage where you always do when you come home – in your room.”
Being home was a joy to Debbie. She had never realised before quite how much she loved the place. Miles had taken what was an old school and turned it into something swish and contemporary Gone were the heavy, Edwardian light fittings replaced by pencil spotlights. The walls had been painted in pastel shades and the décor was modernist. All sharp lines and elegant, minimal space.
She clambered up the stairs like a schoolgirl home for the holidays, passing where Miles had his suite of rooms before going past Adam’s then onto her own. The upstairs had once been school rooms but again Miles had redesigned them so that twelve rooms had been forged into three suites each with its own living, sleeping and bathing areas. The only thing missing was either a kitchen or dining room as Miles believed those functions should be shared. Debbie had previously suggested that her brother should present his redesigned home to some form of a body who had interests in such things and who would award him with an accolade. Miles had scoffed at the idea, saying his days of winning things were behind him. It was the only time Debbie had heard him sound at all bitter.
She dragged her suitcase in her room, emptied its contents onto her bed, then, as Miles called up that her coffee was ready, she left her room and went into Adam’s. It was exactly as she remembered it but then she had only been away for a few months. She looked again at his bed of which she felt she knew intimately.
“Did you hear me say your coffee was ready?” called out Miles.
“Coming!” cried Debbie.
She was home. It was fabulous to see her brother again but the thought of seeing Adam after such a break was more than she could bear. Tonight they would all eat together. She wondered what that would be like again after the break. Would it be fun, as it used to be, or would there be an uncomfortable silence? She would have to wait and see..
Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.