Fox Lane

…some work in progress from the Cazique of Poyais story…

They wandered a very short way before reaching 11 Fox Lane. Noemi had seen the original lease and remembered that much about the property now seemingly in their possession. The building was not impressive by any description. It was built of some stone whose colour was long forgotten in favour of a dirty London grime. It resembled a greyish sort of black which made the black door that much harder to fully make out. There it was though. It was not adorned with a number plate, but the fact that it was surrounded by 9, 10, 12 and 13 gave it away.

“This is it?” Queried Emma sceptically, “is it a flat in this building.”

“That is a good question, to which my brother will have the answer.”

“Do you think he’s ok?”

“Well, he’s being spoken about while he’s standing right there, so I’m not too hopeful. Let’s see if this will help him though.”

Noemi patted her brother gently on his back before giving him a proper smack and shouting, “Snap out of it Jose. Show us the deed.”

He wasn’t nearly as quick to react as Noemi had hoped. After a few more moments of blank staring he refocused slightly on the building in front of him and gave a small hint of a smile. He thought that maybe a place so awful really could be handed over. He reached into his sack and pulled out the leather bound deeds, shuffling them like a sparse deck of cards before picking the correct one.

Unfurling it, they all began examining it together. Legal documents were hard even for lawyers to read so they stood there for a time all pondering it in silence.

“I don’t think it’s the whole house,” Jose said in flat tone.

That much was obvious by the denotation “11c” in the name of the property, but Emma and Noemi let him have that particular tiny victory. It wasn’t any real victory. You might call it a step in the right direction. There was not much else they could discern from the deeds. There was a start date, some terms, obligations of the lessor and the lessee. Nothing that made much of any sense.

“Let’s just walk up and see if anyone is in the other flats. Maybe the landowner lives in one of the other flats of at least their caretaker,” Emma ventured.

“Can we just walk in?”

“There will certainly be a bell or some such which we’ll have to pull on. There may not even be anyone in.”

The three walked up the steps looking less than fresh faced and carrying a musk that could have easily mistaken them for vagrants if it wasn’t for the tidiness of their dress. Having been amongst it for a time, they were all quite unawares of this fact.

Emma saw a bell but not marks to suggest whether it was for 11a, 11b or 11c, so she pulled it anyway, “hopefully someone answers and can give us more information.”

As they waited for a short moment at the door, Noemi wondered how her brother had originally pictured this all going. Or how she even had.


…some work in progress from the Cazique of Poyais story…

Jose had remained stunned for a while after Thomas Clink’s revelation. He wasn’t sure he believed him. Why would he, Thomas was just a stranger. It showed the seeds of doubt in the whole affair though and gave him a lump in his stomach. The idea that life in London might not turn out exactly as he had pictured it was fine. This was something else entirely. Had he really been so foolish?

“Fool,” his sister muttered to absolutely no response.

She shrugged. This was life now and she didn’t mind it as much as she thought she would. They had nothing to lose, so what was the big idea with losing an imaginary property. It made the next few steps difficult for sure. Noemi wasn’t still in that hospital with people that disliked her though. Her brother would snap out of it eventually.

“Do you think he’s a fool?” Noemi asked Emma

“Most certainly. I don’t think he was lying though.”

“Not Thomas! My brother here.”

“I couldn’t possibly say. I don’t think my husband was a fool for falling for the Poyais trick. He was just preyed upon and hopeful. It should be the same for Jose.”

“Well, we’re not far from our exit point from this miserable ship, so I hope you have an idea of where to go Emma.”

“Not really. I’m not from London, me. Not to matter though. Directions are easy enough to find and follow. Just need to ask some friendly faces.”

“Now, if only we can get my brother to think that way.”

The two women looked at Jose and Noemi prodded him. No reaction.

“They’re gliding into the dock Jose and we’ll have to disembark. Come let’s gather our things.”

He followed Noemi still in his daze and Emma did the same. They descended into the bowels of the ship and then were promptly coughed up with their meagre set of belongings. At least they would not need to lug much about in this crowded city. Jose spoke not a word.

Fewer disembarked than had come aboard in Belize Town and even fewer than had left England and Scotland many months ago. There was no fanfare or welcome much to describe, just a somber procession of the survivors of the Poyais scandal and then Noemi and Jose marching their own somber walk down the gangway.

A sole reporter looked out for some faces who might be able to give him a good story. Seeing Jose’s young and stricken face, the reporter sensed something great brewing beneath the surface. The approach was much like most reporters, stabbing at the truth rather than gently coaxing it out. He asked Jose, “tell me about Poyais, Sir. What was actually there when you arrived? How much did you lose? Are you out for blood?”

Jose stared blankly back at the reporter who said, “shocked into submission, is that it?”

Still no response, so Noemi jumped in, “He wasn’t at Poyais and neither was I, we were just on the same ship. We’re from Belize Town.”

There was potentially a story here, but the reporter judged that it wasn’t of more interest than the Poyais one, so he politely said thank you and went further in search of his story from a more suitable individual. Jose was left still stunned, but showing improvements, asking, “who was that sister?”

“No one to mind brother, let’s find someone to point us in the direction of Fox Lane.”

He nodded, walking away from the ship, The Ocean, which his brain was trying hard to erase from his memory. Noemi knew that Fox Lane was supposed to be close to the docks, though that hardly helped in this city, which seemed a denser jungle than the wilderness near home. The first several people they asked were sailors who only really knew were the nearest drinking holes and brothels were. One could have been of use from Jose’s memory wiping project, but Noemi and Emma couldn’t fathom it at this juncture, not least because cash was something they had precious little of.

Wandering onwards and away from the stinking docks, if only just, they asked some friendly faces for directions. The first was a kindly older gentleman who gave completely incorrect directions. He was polite at least. The second was a young woman, who less politely told them what she thought of people asking for directions. The third young woman kindly sent them to the right place. A turn down a road here and a lane there and before they knew it, they were standing at the end of Fox Lane.