You decide to call Ben. You’re not up to another fight with Kathryn. Ben will know what to do.
It takes about twenty minutes for Ben to get to the house. You give him a cup of coffee and tell him what happened.
After you’ve finished Ben asks, “And you definitely didn’t recognise the voice?”
“No. It was a man though. His voice was quiet. It sounded like he was whispering.”
“Can I look at the phone?”
You hand the phone over to Ben. “The number’s unknown,” you say, “I’m not sure what else I can do.”
“I’ll contact the phone company to see if they can trace the number,” Ben says. Before you can reply he’s put the phone in his pocket.
He looks at you. “I guess this is day one then.”
“Day one. He said in three days …,” he hesitates then continues. “It’s like he wants to play a game.”
“Ben! It doesn’t feel like a game to me. He said in three days I’ll be dead.”
“I know. I know. I’m not making light of it Laura. I just wonder if the fact he said three days … well does that tell us something. I don’t know….” He sees the look on your face. “Don’t worry. We’ll get to the bottom of this. Nothing’s going to happen. It’s just some nut that’s all.”
He looks at his watch. “I have to go. And you need to get some rest. You’ve got work later today haven’t you?”
“I’ll go and have a shower. Not worth trying to sleep now.” You don’t add that you have a pounding headache and that you’re hungover from last night. He doesn’t need to know that. Though it occurs to you he can probably tell.
Ben stands up and reaches down to rub his left leg.
“It it sore today?” you ask.
“Just an ache,” he says. From the look on his face it’s a bit more than that.
When he was five Ben was in a car accident. Your father had too many beers and decided it would be a good idea to take Ben out in the car. The accident had badly messed up Ben’s leg. After too many operations and hours upon hours of painful rehab Ben was finally able to walk, but the leg would never be right. On good days it hurt. On bad days he couldn’t get out of bed.
As you watch him try to get some circulation going something else catches your eye. The bottom of his trousers are dusty. What’s he been up to you wonder? You’d be surprised if he’s doing any renovation back at his flat. That would be very unlike your brother. But then you notice his hands too. There’s dirt under his fingernails.
He stops rubbing his leg and straightens up.“Can I have a quick look upstairs before I go?” he asks.
His request surprises you. “Why?”
“I just want to check the bedroom. You said that’s where you were when you had the call.”
“Why does it matter where I was?” you ask, confused. But then it dawns on you. He hasn’t asked you about earlier last night but he’s already wondering if you had someone here, if something went wrong. You feel yourself go red. “There’s no one here,” you say.
“I just want to check everything’s okay.” He looks awkward.
You could just say yes but something stops you. You look at Ben. The two of you used be be so close but now you hardly see each other. But he’s always been there for you when you’ve needed him. And he did come here to help. But it seems you can’t be straight with each other either. Why doesn’t he say exactly what’s on his mind? You look at the bottom of his trousers again. Then his hands. What’s he been up to? For some reason you feel uneasy and you don’t know what to do.
A: Say yes to Ben looking upstairs.
B: Say no and ask Ben what he’s been up to recently.
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