Scrape: Chapter Six, Part One
Billy could not believe the day he’d had. It was 10:30 at night and he was only just dropping his troublesome passenger back at his Crouch End home. As John Edward Reynolds closed the door and Billy started the drive to his flat, neither of them noticed the grey folder that had slid under the back seat of the cab. In his minimalist hallway John was too busy defending the attacks of “where have you been” from his wife to realise he was missing something from his briefcase. Trying to juggle driving and texting, Billy was too busy sending the last ‘good night’ text to Mina to notice his well-paying customer had left something behind. It was only when he was finally left alone in his study to think over the day’s events that John Edward Reynolds, the man who never forgets anything, realised that he had indeed forgotten something and something profoundly important.
Billy was disappointed to see that this text was not from his new favourite girl,
‘Billy, its John. Why don’t you answer your god damn phone?! I left a grey folder in your car. Don’t look in it. Bring it to my office in the morning. 8.30.’
Billy found the folder and placed it on the arm of his sofa. He was not one of those people who find themselves unable to control the urge to do something once they have been told they shouldn’t. Billy wasn’t even nosey. He had become so used to ignoring the indiscretions of his passengers and the customers in his bar as they snuck girls into the bathroom, that he felt no urge at all to look in the folder. The fact that it was guaranteed to be full of girly magazine facts and figures only added to his disinterest. So instead of doing what a lesser man might he decided to tidy his flat, he might have company tomorrow.
As he finished pulling the hoover over his once white carpets, he look around and smiled, ‘almost perfect,’ he grinned. Out of the corner of his eye, something caught his attention: a ball of fluff on the sofa. ‘Oh well,’ Billy shrugged as he decided the easiest way to deal with it would be to suck it up and watch it swirl around in the see-through plastic of the Dyson. Something about attacking dust with the Dyson always made Billy smile, and he enjoyed disposing of this dust-bunny as much as he did every other. It might have been his triumphant excitement at destroying every piece of dirt in his small flat, it might have been the way he swung the nozzle of the vacuum cleaner around, but Billy knocked the grey folder from the arm of his sofa and onto the floor. The papers which had been hiding safely inside were now strewn across the newly cleaned carpet.
“Fuck,” Billy yelled, “I hope they’re numbered.”
He crouched down to pick up the papers and was relieved to see that the pages were both titled and numbered. As he looked more closely at the page he had in his hand, he was confused to see that it wasn’t about fashion or anything remotely girly. It was the last page of a set of company accounts, and not the accounts for Zing Magazine. Collecting more of the pages, Billy got the feeling he was seeing something he shouldn’t. There were more pages of accounts, but these weren’t just the accounts from one company, there were from 10 or 15 different companies and from all sectors. Confused, he reordered the pages and slid them back into the folder. He knew he shouldn’t have seen them, Mr Reynolds had told him not to open the file, but he also knew that John Edward Reynolds Head of Copywriting at Zing Magazine should not have all of this information. Underneath the last page that had fallen onto the floor, Billy found a CD; it wasn’t labelled. Knowing he had already seen more than he was allowed, he ignored the nagging voice telling him to see what was on it.
‘Can’t wait to see you tomorrow. I have the perfect dress in mind xx’ Mina’s text woke Billy from his confused thoughts. It dawned on him that he would see Mina tomorrow, and about 10 hours before she was expecting to see him. With more pressing issues, Billy drove thoughts about John Reynolds to the back of his mind. How on earth was he going to explain being in Mina’s office in the morning?
Billy was not the kind of guy to get nervous. Ever. In his short 28 years he had lived in more countries, had more job interviews, been on more adventures and not known what he should do more times than anyone else he had met, and still he had never been nervous. He was not unpopular with the opposite sex and never had any trouble meeting someone to entertain him for a week or two. In the past year alone he had been on more than 20 first dates and bedded at least six new women. And yet, as he took one last look around his now immaculate flat and headed to bed, he couldn’t get rid of the feeling of butterflies in his stomach.
It had been well over a year, and probably more than two, since he had been in anything resembling a relationship. When he was entirely honest with himself, Billy would admit that he had done everything he could to avoid being in a relationship. With his friends he would laugh and joke that there were too many hot women in London to tie himself down to just one, and the majority of the time he believed it; the evidence was all around. But sometimes, after a meaningless night with a meaningless girl, his mind would wonder back to his childhood home in Hampshire and his best friend from the age of five to 16, Serena. Even when they were both five at Primary School, he had been in love with her. She had always been daring, funny, cheeky and challenging. She had bought out the best and worst in him. The only regret he had about moving to London was leaving her. She had cried when he left. But five years later, at the age of 23, she had married his brother.
To say he had been heartbroken would have been an understatement. Billy fell into a dark pit that even his drunken Great Great Grandfather would have been proud of. For a year Billy attempted to drown his sorrows only to discover that they kept coming back, and each time more painful, every time he decided to take a break from the partying. It was only when an especially coked-up airhead suggested that he might have a problem that is dawned on him that he must have. That same night, and more than a little intoxicated, he packed a bag and jumped on a train to Dorset. He signed up for a photography course, which was run by a very old and very senile grey haired pensioner, and didn’t touch any alcohol for two years. By the time he returned to London, Billy had almost completely forgotten about his brother and his childhood sweetheart and had gained a new perspective. He was determined to make something of himself and to forget about women completely, and what better place to do it than the buzzing capital city.
And he had done a great job of forgetting about women, or at least of not falling in love with any. He made sure he only dated women who were a bit dim and apart from a small blip where he had been the boyfriend of the curator of an art gallery, his plan had been a success. His plan had been a perfect success until he had seen a beautiful woman with a sparkle in her eyes at the other end of his bar. Billy hoped he wasn’t getting carried away and too quickly, but he couldn’t help himself, he knew there was something special about this girl and he was excited and nervous to find out what it was.