Johnny’s high-pitched wail rang out in the confined space of the car. Maria turned round and reached over to the back seat, picked up the dummy and popped it back into Tommy’s mouth, who immediately stopped crying.
‘Remind me again why that man is coming with us?’ Richard asked as he flicked on the indicator to turn left, then swung round the corner.
Maria wound down the window letting cool, fresh air bathe her face, ‘I wish you wouldn’t drive like that’, she said, breathing in deeply – ‘I told you, he’s lonely and it’s a nice thing to do.’
The car approached a crossroad and Richard gently dabbed the breaks to bring it to a stop ‘But he’s just so weird, I don’t like him. I’m a pretty good judge of character you know. Everyone says so’
Maria’s phone beeped and she looked down at it, as Richard slowly pulled away from the junction, ‘He says he’s waiting outside for us. I’ll let him know we’ll be there in a few minutes.’
They drove in silence as they covered the last half a mile to Keith’s house and stopped outside – he stood there, clutching a duffel bag. As he approached the car he took off a red cap with Rover emblazoned on the front, and stuffed it into the side pocket of the bag.
He opened the rear car door and went to throw his bag into the passenger seat, then saw Johnny sitting in the child seat, ‘Ah yes. The brat, I’d forgotten about him.’. Richard opened his mouth to reply, but Maria cut him a look and he stopped.
‘Hi Keith, you’ll have to put the bag on your lap. The boot is full of our things.’ She smiled at him as he got in and jammed the bag onto the floor between his legs.
Keith shut the door and Richard accelerated off, forcing Keith into the back of his chair. ‘I’ve got something for you, as a thank you’ Keith said, rummaging around in the bag between his legs.
‘That’s so kind, but you shouldn’t have’ Maria said turning to look at him. He handed her a photographic edition of the Karma Sutra. ‘It’s for the both of you of course, something to enjoy on our holiday’
Maria blushed and quickly put it in the glove box before Richard could see what it was. ‘That’s so, um sweet of you Keith. Thank you’
He grinned and then turned to look at Johnny and frowned. Johnny was staring at him, twiddling the dummy in his mouth and then took the dummy out and threw it at Keith. It hit him straight in the eye and bounced off onto the seat next to him. Keith picked it up and stuffed it into the bag.
Johnny immediately started crying, so Maria blindly reached back to find the dummy. Keith touched her hand and she immediately pulled it back like she’d been burnt.
She turned to look at Keith, clutching her hand, then reached down into the the door pocket and took out another dummy. She handed it to Johnny and turned round to face the front. Keith carefully reached over and unclipped the seat belt that secured the child seat.