Chapter Nine

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I spent that night, cold and largely sleepless, in the farmhouse. Ty had given me a large khaki sleeping bag that barely ironed out the unevenness of the bare floorboards and certainly provided little warmth. The material smelt musty and old and reminded me of interminable evenings at scout camp. I slept so lightly that I woke when rolling from side to side. By the time I woke from the most fitful of sleeps my back felt like a group of Geordie panel beaters had been given free reign on it the Monday after a defeat by Sunderland.

I was cold and shivering when I awoke. Watery sunlight fell across the room from the small leaded window, but its touch couldn't even begin to put the warmth back in my blood. Edge's sleeping bag was not only empty, but had also been meticulously rolled and replaced into the small toggled compression sack. I glanced at my watch and groaned; it was 6:05 am. These early mornings in the employ of Ty were becoming an alarming trend.

I was not exactly what would call a morning person; more often than not, it took an act of either God or bladder to rouse me from the comfort of my bed. That morning, as on most, it was the latter. A thought flitted briefly across my mind that I could solve both my bladder and cold problems without leaving the sleeping bag, but I didn't think Ty would appreciate the terminal damage that it would do to his property.

I struggled out of the sleeping bag and stumbled down the stairs, Ty was nowhere to be seen. I urgently needed my wake-up piss but found only a note biro-ed onto a piece of cardboard that was propped up on the toilet lid, it read; DON'T USE ME.

That message was not well received.

Still wearing only my boxers I padded through the hall, swaying from side to side with the recently awoken confusion of a drunk. Nervously I stuck my nose out of the front door. Ty seemed to be rummaging in the back of the Land Rover, there was a great clanking and crashing. Occasionally an object in a khaki bag or a tool would arc out of the back and land in a growing pile on the drive.

"Ahem..." I gave a gentle cough. I didn't want to confront Ty in my boxers again, he might think that I was manufacturing such occasions.

"Just piss out here Satchmo," he called from the back of the car. There was no 'hello', no 'good morning'. How rude, I thought to myself. Then again, he wasn't the one standing about in his pants.

"It's quite liberating," Ty enlightened me.

"I'm sure," I replied despite being far from sure. I had been brought up to think that such things were akin to shoplifting or holding hands with girls, but needs must and the Devil was not so much driving as poking my bladder with his pitchfork.

Seeing nothing obvious to piss against I settled for just pointing downwind with my back to Edge.

"What's the plan for today Satchmo?" Edge asked over both of our shoulders.

It was cold and grey, and just beginning to drizzle. Feeling suddenly even more awkward due to my near nakedness and downwind micturating I quickly assessed my immediate priorities.

"I thought I'd get dressed, have a shower, little breakfast then off into the village to make some enquiries."

"Jonah will be around later so you can talk to him then." Whoopee! I thought "And there's no such thing as a shower here... yet." Edge added the last word with intent before dumping a bag of tools on the ground and walking back into the house.

He left me gazing after him despondently, the early morning breeze ruffling my boxer shorts.

*

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