"Well, that's her out of the way," Patrick sighed. "Come here."
He turned, and (not for the last time that day) gasped. Van Slooten had begun to expand, eyes bulging out of their sockets, veins standing out on his face.
"Heesshhhkkkkllll," Van Slooten gurgled.
"Hey, that's not fair -- that didn't happen to me. Got anymore I can bang up?"
"Heeeshhhhkklllllbee arrrghhhyour!!!!!" gargled Van Slooten.
"Must be good." Patrick opened the basement door and climbed the seven steel stairs to the lounge room, humming 'Would I Lie To You'. "One thing you can say for the Sloots, he's got good taste . . . where's he keep his stash?" Patrick wondered aloud.
Sitting down on the curvy blue Starck lounge, he reached under the Porsche Design coffee table and pulled out a Glad bag chock full with powder.
"Now would I say something that wasn't true … I'm asking you sugar would I lie-i-i to you-ooo!" Singing wasn't one of Pat's strong points, and his carefully laid plan had gone awry, but he didn't care. "My friends / know what's in store / I won't be here / anymore." Patrick tied his arm, drove the spike in, gasped, and collapsed back onto the leather. "I've packed my bags / I've cleaned the floor . . . " he mumbled, and sat, looking at the Koi swimming in the glass wall.
Meanwhile, Erica, who had dumped herself rather unceremoniously on the pavement outside Chez Slooten, got up, hailed a cab and jumped in the back.
"Where to, luv?"
Erica glanced at the face in the rear vision mirror and was about to tell the driver to take her to Queen Street, Woollahra, when her head snapped back. "Bob?" she said incredulously. "Who's looking after the shop?"
"Ahh, the missus is keeping her eye on the snags while I give her a break behind the wheel. We tried swapping every so often to liven things up a bit. Seems to have worked, too. She's a playful as a puppy these days."
Erica considered getting straight back out of the cab again, but Bob had already drawn off from the kerb and was dicing with the traffic up Broadway.
Mentally shrugging her shoulders, Erica told him where she wanted to go and settled into the back seat of the Falcon. A tear slipped down her face, her lower lip quivering. Hoping for a peek at her bountiful assets, Bob surreptitiously looked at her in the rear vision and noticed Erica was upset. "You OK, luv?"
"Ohh, you wouldn't understand."
"Well, its just that every time I get in a cab, it reminds me of my old job, leaving the office at midday, the whole lot of us, except for Patrice, the editorial assistant, but she was an ugly cow anyway, and going up to Chiquitas for drinks. Expense account drinks. And cab charges." She burst into tears, and Bob handed her a tissue. "You know there's a $25 charge for soiling the cab, don't you?"