‘How was the holiday, Rae?’
‘It was great, Jim, thanks. Fine. Y’know? Busy! Pretty non-stop, actually…’
Rae talks like someone who’s just stepped off a ride at the fair and has to take small steps for a while because the ground doesn’t feel right.
‘We all went camping. Well it seemed like a good idea at the time. Up the east coast. Stopped at mum’s. Then on to my aunt’s. Then crossed over to Liverpool to see the other aunt. Then back down through Wales for a cousin or two. It was like we were hunting relatives. But the weather was good. Then home. Two weeks. I need a holiday to get over it.’
‘Sounds good. It’s years since I’ve been camping.’
‘I tell you one thing that happened, though. It’s so strange. There’s no way you’ll believe it.’
She smiles at me.
‘Nah!’ she says. ‘You definitely won’t believe it.’
‘Now you’ve got to tell me.’
‘You’ll just think I’m crazy.’
I pull a face.
‘Nah!’ she says after a teasing pause. ‘I just can’t.’
‘This better be good, Rae.’
‘Alright – I’ll tell you. But I’ll probably regret it. You’ve just gotta promise not to tell anyone else.’
‘I can’t wait to hear this.’
She sighs, pushes her glasses up into her hair, and sits down heavily on the corner of the desk.
‘I lost my phone,’ she says, folding her arms. ‘I looked everywhere. Absolutely everywhere. Turned the house upside down. Nowhere. Couldn’t find it. Great, I thought. Fantastic. I haven’t got time for this. That’s all I need. But then my husband wandered in with a handful of receipts. And I said where’n hell d’you get them from? Because I keep my receipts in my phone case. With the phone. And he said he found them – blowing round the garden.’
‘So you lost it in the garden?’
‘Not exactly, no. A fox took it.’
‘There’s one been hanging about.’
‘A fox. Yeah. Foxy Loxy. They’re terrible quick, Jim. Sexy little, furry little thieves, Jim. Anything shiny – they’re in.’
‘Yeah but… a fox? How did he take it?’
‘He must’ve dipped in my bag when we were unpacking the car. I dunno. Grabbed it in his beak and run off.’
‘A fox? Are you sure?’
‘Totally sure, Jim. Because I saw him bring it back a couple of hours later.’
‘Yep. I was sitting by the window, thinking bloody hell I’m gonna have to get a new phone, now. Where’s the money for that coming from? And that’s when I saw him, strolling out the bushes onto the lawn with the phone in his mouth. He came skipping over, his nose in the air, proud as anything…’
‘Maybe he was just trying to get a better signal…’
‘Then he jumped up on the decking, saw me staring at him, gave me a wink, dropped the phone and ran off.’
‘Why’d you think he brought it back?’
‘I dunno,’ she says. ‘It’s a Samsung, though, so…anything else for me, or can I shove off?’
‘How was the holiday, Rae?’