I run for the taxi I can see in the distance. My legs skim across Leicester Square like never before, and a few steps behind me I can hear him screaming my name."
"Ella!" He yells for my attention, "Where are you going?"
Away. I'm going away. Because if I'm right about this (and I probably am), I need to be as far away from this man as I can possibly get.
I reach the taxi to be greeted by a perplexed driver turning his double chin towards me. I almost expect him to tell me to get out and drive off with wheels spinning, and me left behind splattered with mud.
"Er...where to?" He asks, before lifting his double chin to the guy running after the taxi. "Should I wait for your friend?”
"No!" I shout, turning my head to see my dear date catching up. "Go! Please drive!” I yell.
"WHERE TO?" he says, exhasperated.
Well, there’s no need for that attitude. Honestly, some people are so impatient."Waterloo," and off we go.
As we drive away, I look behind me at my abandoned date and breathe a sigh of relief. I see him finally stop to catch his breath, hands above his hips, looking at me like I’ve gone insane. People need to stop looking at me like that. It’s doing nothing for my self confidence.
"I won't be associated with some sort of crime, will I?" The driver speaks through the rear view mirror. All I see is his double chin, which unfortunately has the same height as the rest of his face.
"Umm, no," I responded rapidly reaching for my phone.
"Because if I am, I'll be very angry," chin wiggles in the mirror.
Why does he keep talking to me? Can't he see I'm clearly in distress and, oh no, where's my phone? Please tell me I didn't leave it at the restaurant. Please please, oh here it is just past my hair spray and left over pre-date Subway.
I fumble around with my phone, forgetting which apps lead to which programme, until I finally click on the right one where a list of names pop up. Mikey – where on earth is Mikey? And who are all these strange people on my contacts list? Who’s Elspeth?
As I realise that my phone needs more of a detox than Peaches Geldolf in her good ol’ days, I finally click on Mikey and wait impatiently as the phone rings.
Meanwhile, taxi driver is muttering something under his breath. Oh dear! I hope I haven’t run from one mad man only to be throwing myself into another one.
“Seriously, are you in some sort of trouble?” he turns towards me, ignoring the road ahead.
“Of course not,”
“Then what the bleedin’ ‘ell were you doing running like that? Nineteen years of cab driving and I’ve never seen anything like that before,” I’m about to stop him, but he continues, “and I’ve seen all sorts. Oh, the stories I could tell…”
Oh please, don’t tell! I have much more important things to do right now.
Mikey doesn’t pick up, so I try again. I’m about to give up all hope and reach his house without warning, but try one last time.
Hurrah! Success at last! The lazy bugger has picked up the phone.
“Hello,” he sings in a sleepy voice. “You’ve just woken me up,”
“Woken you up? Mikey, it’s nine o’ clock!”
“Oh, is it?” he says after a pause. I can hear a yawn before he speaks again. “I must have napped,”
“Mikey, I think I’m in trouble,”
“I knew it!” explodes the driver,to which I quickly roll my eyes.
“You know the guy I was set up with tonight?”
“Yeah. Why? What have you done?” Mikey bursts suddenly with an aggressive tone. I think he’s fully awake now.
“No, it’s nothing like that,” I stare out of the window as I ignore the rants of the driver, and recollect my memories of the evening. “I’m pretty sure he’s the wanted murderer!” I whisper down the phone.
“Er, the what?”
“You know! The guy on Crimewatch last night. The mass serial killer who I said was too attractive to be a madman,”
He laughs, which makes me want to cry.
“I’m not making this up. I promise you. It’s him!”
Mikey huffs down the phone. “Ok, Ella,” I can hear him sit down with exhaustion. “Just because he looks like him, doesn’t mean it’s him. Do you honestly think that killer on Crimewatch, who by the way, looked illiterate, would be moonlighting as an accountant?”
Oh, he just doesn’t get it. Mikey is so naïve sometimes. It’s like he doesn’t switch on the news at all and lives in some sort of lala land with pixies and sunshine.
“Mikey! Maybe he is a trained accountant. And maybe he really does work in London. And maybe he really did go to Thailand for his gap year. And maybe he secretly loves musicals. But none of these mean that he’s not a murderer!”
The car comes to a sudden stop as we hit a stand still. The driver has gone awfully quiet and I’m not sure if it’s a good or bad thing.
“Traffic, eh!” I try to joke, but he just nods his head. No chin wobble or anything.
As I put the phone back to my ear, Mikey is saying something.
“Sorry, didn’t get a word of that,”
“Tell me more about what happened tonight. How soon after meeting him did you realise he was an escaped prisoner?”
“Not escaped, Mikey. He hasn’t yet been caught,”
“It’s all a bit strange. I thought he looked familiar immediately, but it’s the things he started doing that really drove it home. For one, he kept saying he’s had a lot of business in Wiltshire,”
What is the point of watching TV if he’s never going to listen to a word of it! Especially something like Crimewatch. His life could be in danger and he’d be oblivious. Lucky he has me to warn him of all these dangers.
“That’s where the crimes took place, Mikey,”
“Right. Er, so what else?”
“When we sat down at the restaurant, he clutched at the knife,” I whisper, still frightened at the thought of it.
“Was he about to enjoy a nice, juicy steak?” a laugh escapes him. He needs to be told that laughing at your own jokes negates any funnyness.
“Mikey, you’re not listening. It was the way he was holding it – like he wanted to jab it into something,”
“Well, if you were annoying him half as much as you annoy me, I wouldn’t blame him,” another giggle.
Oh, charming! I really want to hang up now. I’ve just experienced a traumatic event, have escaped from a wanted criminal by the skin of my teeth, and all my best friend wants to do is laugh at me?
“He had madmen eyes!” I almost shout making the driver clear his throat uncomfortably.
“Traffic still bad?” I ask the chin at the rear view mirror.
“Been like this all week,”
I turn back to my conversation, annoyed that Mikey can’t understand the severity of the situation.
“So you got out alive,” he continues. “What exactly is the problem?”
Now, this is when I’m too scared to even admit it to myself. I play around with the zip of my jacket as I look out at traffic London before responding. “Mikey, before it hit me that he was this wanted murderer, I told him where I lived. He’s probably at my house already. Waiting.”
“Ella, you do understand the likelihood of all this, don’t you?”
“But – “
“Just think about all this for a second, just really stop and think. Would someone who is nationally well known as a murderer, someone who is being hunted by police as we speak, be out in London on a busy evening on a date?”
“If you think about it, it’s probably the perfect disguise,” I'm losing faith in my own words.
“Wouldn’t he be planning his escape out of the country? Wouldn’t he be hiding in some grotty bunker?"
“Even criminals need some time out,”
“Do you honestly think he has the time to be out dilly dallying with dating?”
“Well, I am adorable!”
I can hear the fridge door being opened, bottles clinking and wrappers crinkling on the other end. I instantly realise I’m hungry, so dig out the remains of the three hour old Subway.
“So how exactly did you leave it? I’m guessing you didn’t give him a kiss goodbye,” Mikey speaks before swigging on what can only be chocolate milk. Other than his cat, this is his one and only weakness.
The sound of chocolate milk being spat out.
“I’m sorry, what?”
“…I ran,” I say, less confident.
“What? You just legged it out of the restaurant?”
I tut, “No of course not. I waited until we were out of the door. And then I ran,”
“Where to? And what did you do?”
I take a bite out of the Subway. “Well, luckily he stopped to open the restaurant door for someone as we were leaving, so I seized my opportunity. If I haven’t, you’d most likely be seeing my face on the news right now!” I chew as quickly as I can. “I was a bit disorientated and headed the wrong way at first, which didn’t help, but I luckily found a taxi and got on. I’m still on it now,”
“What did he do?”
“He was resistant to drive me at first, but I think he’s warmed up to me now,” I smile cheekily at the driver but am only ignored.
“I meant your date. What did he do?”
“Oh. He chased after me,”
“I think I’m going to stop being your friend. Goodnight,”
No one of the other end. Typical! Traffic is moving now, and within seconds I’m at Waterloo. I pay the driver very generously and he drives off - this time wheels spinning, me almost splattered in mud. As it turns out, my date wasn’t the wanted killer. Oops. Well, these are mistakes we all make.