Sometimes they don’t quite get there in time. Sometimes they get there in time but they are still too late….she’s already forgiven the bastard and will be back in his arms before she’s discharged from the hospital. It’s nice to meet the girls who know they’re done, who don’t ever want to see the guy again but it doesn’t happen as often as they’d like. You can’t win every time, Grace has learned this one pretty quickly, butyou can win more and better if they can keep emotion out of it. It’s Grace, in fact, who insists that they refer to the women as punters. This is what we do – we go in, we sort out the arsehole, pull out the punter. Then we leave. Nothing more, nothing less. Except always make sure you collect payment upon delivery. We don’t do any fucking credit, girls.
They do a ‘job’ for Shelly Jackson, ambitious legal secretary with a big heart and an even bigger mouth. She’s around Grace’s age, has two kids and loves synchronised swimming which is totally random but so calming and such good exercise too, you’d never think it would you? It keeps me good and fit but my hair constantly smells like chlorine which is a bit shit, but anyway, it’s a pain because I have to go to a pool in North London because I don’t fucking think Hackney council even knows what synchronised swimming even is, djanowharramean? Shelly is Leeds born and bred and is constantly asking if people know what she means. Her ex, Lenny ‘Loco’ James runs a fairly sophisticated drug ring in East London with almost every medium to large estate covered with a representative. He’s a simple guy, into his booze, footy and beating his girls. I thought he were a right lovely bloke and then he smacked me once and me, like a fuckin’ mug goes right back to him after a fucking bunch of flowers and a chinese take-away My mate Trudy, she’s a lawyer at the firm I work at, she says that I was mad for going back to him but I just wanted a father figure for my kids, y’know, but after the second and third time, I thought, shame on me if that’s the example I want to set for my girls, y’know. Do you have any kids, Grace? They’re a right handful, but I love ’em to bits, me. Boyfriend? No, I don’t think y’would, not with what you do. Maybe a girlfriend?
Shelly doesn’t believe in less being more. More is always more, and more than that is even better. She doesn’t seem to stop talking the whole time, except to let Grace confirm that they can take care of Lenny for them but when Grace stoically doesn’t answer the last question, she suddenly goes quiet, a look on her face so young and cheeky that Grace can’t help but smile back. No girlfriend, then, not at the moment. Maybe I can fix that.
Grace is so shocked, she can barely say anything, except to clarify that Shelly is paying them to sort out her abusive ex boyfriend, not for anything else. Shelly backs off almost immediately but not without letting her sly smile turn a little predatory and promising that she will wait until Grace has delivered the services rendered, so as not to confuse things.
Lenny Loco is a real piece of work, that much is clear from the week’s worth of recon Grace does. Shelly opts to just rough him up a bit which Grace thinks is a shame – she catches him visiting no fewer than three brothels, two well known weed dens and an alarming number of fried chicken establishments. Absolute filth. She tends not to get involved in the motives behind her clients’ wishes – this is her job after all and she is nothing if not fucking professional, but between Shelly’s increasingly charming motor mouth, Grace’s weakening defences, she really takes pleasure in thoroughly assaulting this man and dropping him off outside his favourite massage parlour with some ice bags and a message promising that the next time he smacked around his girl, he would lose the other ball as well.
That night, Grace goes straight to Shelly’s for a late night ‘thank you’ dinner and they manage who maintain the farce of eating the food for about five minutes….three quarters of a dizzying hour later, the fire alarm goes off because Shelly’s left the fucking shepherd’s pie in the oven and she’s shrieking, hopping away naked and ridiculous to open the windows and fan ineffectually at the device on the ceiling, screaming at her two kids to stay in bed, mummy just got a bit carried away chatting to her friend and forgot about the dinner!
Grace can’t stop laughing, not as the pie falls into the bin in one charred lump, or even when Shelly burns her backside on the open door of the oven, or when the eggs which Grace offers to cook instead burn as well because she’s kissing it better. All she can keep thinking is I’m so happy, I could die.