Phil arrives but he doesn’t come in. He sits outside in his car and sounds his horn. I tell Colin to hurry up and get his shoes on
“You don’t have to do this,” says Maz, again. I don’t know why she is worried. I’m not, iI’s a fool-proof plan.
“I’ll be fine, I promise.” I tell her and then I kiss her and she puts her arms around me.
“You better come to mine when you get back so I know you’re okay.”
I swear I will, and I shout Colin one more time to get a move on. Phil isn’t one to be made to wait. I stand by the door and wait for Colin and he runs out passed me, to the car. Joanne comes too. Becci is sat in the back of the car. She doesn’t look at me or Joanne. Colin climbs in and over her. Joanne goes around the other side.
“Move up you stupid cow,” Phil says to Becci, and none of us look at her.
I feel her embarrassment inside. I don’t want to see it reflected on her face. I have already noticed the tears in her eyes as she tries not to look at any of us.
We get in and before I have a chance to put my seatbelt on, Phil puts his foot down, and the car slides as he wheel-spins it. He laughs at the look on Becci’s face as he glances in the rear view mirror.
“Cheer up you miserable git, or get out.”
She doesn’t smile, nor does she look at him. He slams his foot down and stops the car, and stares at her, waiting for her to make a decision.
She sits forward, and I open my door, and get out of my seat so that she can climb out of the back of his two-door car. She puts her hands on the back of the front seat to steady herself and Phil swings and lands his fist in her face.
“Sit down,” he says. He looks up at me, “I can’t believe you were going to let her get out of the car.”
I shrug; there isn’t much I can say to him, he’s in that kind of mood. It’s easier to be quiet. I get back in the car, put my seatbelt on, and we set off again. Phil, wheel-spins the car once more, but no one says nor does anything. He doesn’t stop, and we drive towards the main industrial estate where the store is with the television. All the time, my mind thinks about Maz’s words about the money and what I could do with it. It would be nothing for me to just sell sex that way. What did it actually matter? They were just strangers, and it was nothing. I wondered if Joanne would mind. I was pretty sure she wouldn’t if it got us some money.
We pull up outside the store, and the television we need is in the window. Phil gives me some paperwork and I read it.
“It has my name on it,” I say to him, “I thought I was using someone else’s details.”
“I couldn’t get them, but my uncle said we could do it this way, it’s all the same. Your credit’s clear right?”
I want to say no and get out of the car and go home. It doesn’t feel right now, but I can’t spend more days with no phet. I already feel the dread and darkness within. I know I won’t survive until Tuesday when my social security comes in. I don’t have a choice.
I get out of the car and we all go into the store. I stare at the television like it’s going to come out and bite me. I don’t know if I have it in me to ask and say that I like that one. I tell myself it’s five hundred pounds and think about what I can do with that.
A sales assistant notices us, comes over, and I smile at him.
“Can I help you?” He says. I stammer my words. My mind isn’t working, and I feel hot.
“We’re looking at this television,” says Phil to the assistant. “It says a year on credit.”
The assistant nods. “Yes,” he says.
“We’ll take it,” says Phil, without hesitation.
“Do you have an ID?”
My hands are shaking as I tell him yes and try to unfold the papers to give to him. Utility bills with my name on them.
“Do you have anything else? Passport?”
“Driving licence?” I offer.
He nods yes. I pull it from my wallet and give it to him. He tells us to wait a moment and then he’ll be back.
I try not to stare at him from across the store as he loads my details in his computer, and calls someone for a credit check. I know my credit is clean. I’ve never used it. It doesn’t take long for him to come back, but already Colin is growing bored.
“Take him outside,” says Phil to Becci.
“It’s freezing out there,” she says, but he doesn’t care.
He stares at her and waits. She sighs and takes Colin’s hand and leads him outside.
“Great news,” says the assistant. “I just need your bank details and we can arrange delivery.”
“Can’t we take it with us?” Asks Phil right away.
The assistant eyes us oddly as though he doesn’t get that often.
“Of course, if you want to,” he says. “This way.”
We follow him and Joanne is silent as she comes with us. Part of me wishes to hold her hand, not because she offers me comfort, but because I need something. My insides have done nothing but turn over, and I fear in a moment I could vomit from the nerves and the anticipation of my next fix. I wish Maz was with me.
It doesn’t take long to fill everything in. The assistant offers me a print out and tells me to read it. I stare at the words. None of them make any sense. They are nothing more than black marks on the paper. I sign anyway. It doesn’t matter. I pull my bank book from my pocket and pass it over him. He copies down the details and asks me to sign for payment.
It’s as easy as that, and I wonder why I was worried.
“If you want to bring your car around back,” he says to us, “then we can load the television, and you can be on your way.”
I thank him and shake his hand, then I follow Phil. He’s already stood up and left. I can’t keep from smiling at how easy it is. Soon the money will be mine, and then everything will be right again.
“What about paying it off?” I asked Phil when I catch him up. “He took my bank details.”
“Don’t worry,” Phil reassures me. My Uncle will write you a letter to show you lost your job; they have insurance to cover these things.”
I calm a little at his words. I never knew that. I have never taken anything out on credit before.
We drive around back and two warehouse workers bring the television, and load it into the boot of the car. It’s massive. I wonder how all of us, plus it, will fit inside, but I don’t say anything.
Once it’s in, one of them gives me more paperwork to sign to say I received it, and they go back inside, leaving us to squash up. We have to have the rear seats wedged forward, and Colin sits on my knee in the front of the car.
“I’ll drop you at a cafe around the corner,” Phil says. “Then I’ll take the television to my uncle and meet you back there.” He hands me a twenty pound note to buy some food.
It’s nice at the cafe. I feel happy as I order myself a decent dinner and tell Colin he can get what he wants. Joanne orders a burger, but Colin’s delight makes him loud, and he can’t choose. I order him a milkshake and burger too.
I watch the smile on his face. Maz is right; I’ll call Lorraine in the week. I’m sure nothing can break my mood as we sit and wait for Becci and Phil to come back with my money.