Chapter Forty-Three

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Zeke watched as Tucker went inside, then raised his head, closed his eyes and puffed out the breath he felt he'd been holding onto since Brigg's office. He was used to containing his emotions at work, but now work was encroaching on his personal life and he felt impotent.

"Damn!" He said, hitting the steering wheel with the palm of his hand and pulled off. As he drove, every set of traffic lights seemed to conspire against him, turning red and slowing his progress. A mile from home, a black saloon car pulled out in front of him, causing him to break sharply and swerve to avoid hitting it in the rear. His front left wheel hit the curb and the jolt shook more than just his person. As the black car continued, oblivious to the near miss, Zeke slammed the gear lever into first and floored the car. The torque of the engine pushed him back into the chair and the engine noise increased to a whine before he changed gear. Very soon he was up behind the car. Checking the road ahead was clear of oncoming traffic, he pulled out, accelerated past the car and then slammed on the brakes. This time it was the turn of the black car's driver to avoid a collision and the car came to a stop mere millimetres away.

"Hey, you bloody idiot," shouted a short man in a tuxedo, with a receding hair and a puce-coloured face. "You nearly caused an accident. Damn drunk-drivers!" he said as he approached Zeke's window. The man looked in at Zeke, who sat staring out of the windscreen. "Hey, I'm talking to you." To further his point, he tapped on the side window several times. Zeke turned to face the man and the look in his eyes, caused the man to take several steps back.

Zeke opened the door and silently climbed out. Now both men stood a few feet apart with Zeke towering over the man, who seemed to be shrinking by the second.

"Now, you could have..., you need to drive more, c..., "his temporary rage and bravado long gone, it was now obvious the man was desperate to return to his car and forget the whole event had ever happened.

Zeke looked at the man, took several steps forward and without any warning, punched him in the middle of his face. Blood erupted from the man's nose as he fell backwards, landing in a heap, out cold. Zeke wiped his scarlet knuckles on his trouser leg, ignoring the stinging, got back in the car and drove off, not once looking back.

Zeke turned the car onto the ramp and down into the underground car park. He pulled into one of his parking spaces, got out and walked over to the stairwell. He pressed the button to summon the lift.

"Good evening, Mr Matheson."

Zeke turned to see Mrs Harrison-Pugh. His grey-haired neighbour looked up at him through her half-moon spectacles which balanced on the end of her pinched nose. Cradled in the crook of her right arm was a small, ratty-looking dog, that he often heard yapping away in the middle of the night, breaking his hard-won sleep.

Zeke nodded politely and turned back to see what floor the lift was on.

"Mr Matheson, will you be coming to the residents meeting this month?"

Zeke rolled his eyes, clenched his fists and replied. "Probably not."

"Are you aware that you haven't attended a single meeting this year, Mr Matheson?"

"Yes, I've been incredibly busy this year."

The lift was currently on floor six, having stopped at floors seven, eight and nine. Never had it taken so long for the lift to arrive. Zeke wondered if the old woman had orchestrated the whole thing, just to get the time to bend his ear.

"Well, you should know that it is within the terms and conditions of your lease that you attend at least two meetings a year. This next meeting is very important. We shall be discussing the suitability of our current service staff. Many of our residents are feeling increasingly concerned that the standard of staff has dropped considerably. Did you know that our new gardener has an SPR of sixty-two! Sixty-two, Mr Matheson, totally unacceptable, do you not think? You mark my words, Mr Matheson, one minute he'll be hacking into the garden, the next he will be hacking into one of us with his axe, just you wait."

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