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What Happened That Night


She remembered the first part of the evening well enough: the after-work crowd spilling onto the pavement outside the pub, the hum of voices, the smell of beer. They had sat by the open door where it was cool.

They were joined by the usual gang in ones and twos and by the time Fergus turned up there were no seats left. “Move up,” he said, squeezing onto the end of the bench next to Lisa. “Give a man some space.” As he sat down she caught a whiff of whisky mingled with a strange, earthy smell she couldn’t identify. Sweat glistened on his forehead.

“How’s it going, then, Lisa?” he said.

“Yeah, good, thanks,” she said, shifting her leg away from his, trying not to be too obvious. There were now four of them on a bench meant for two and she was hemmed in, uncomfortable and hot.

She was glad when someone found him a chair.

She and Ali left soon after to walk the short distance to the flat. There were plenty of people around; the corner shop still open, catering for late workers on their way home. Ali stopped for some milk.

As Lisa waited outside, someone tapped her on the shoulder. The old trick, tapping on one shoulder, but standing at the other, so you turn the wrong way. It was Fergus.

“Going home already?” she said.

He grinned at her. “Yeah. Not much happening, I’m moving on. What’re you doing?”

“Waiting for Ali to get some milk.”

He was standing a little too close. She could feel his breath on her hair, smell the alcohol. There were tiny trails of red in the whites of his eyes. He swayed slightly as he spoke. “Having your bedtime Ovaltine tonight, then?”

“Very funny. I actually hate the stuff.”

Ali reappeared with the milk. They said their goodbyes and headed home.

For a while, that was all she remembered. By the time the rest came back, it was too late to tell the police; the verdict had been handed down and the sentence passed.

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