“Hey, Noni, it’s Ellie,”
“Yeah, you came up on my caller ID.”
“Oh, of course, look can we catch up for a coffee this afternoon, say 3pm?”
“Um, yeah sure,” Noni replied.
Ellie could hear the flick of pages, “great, thanks. I had some things I wanted to catch up with you about.”
“Is it about Kate and that D.I Thompson?” Noni asked.
“Mmm, yeah, has he been in touch?”
“Yeah, I’ve got to go to the station after work this evening.” Noni replied.
“Ok, well I’ll see you at 3pm,” Ellie said, hanging up.
* * *
The day went to plan, just as the previous two days had, three author talks, one meeting with the owner of an independent book store and a lunch with the publicist.
Ellie managed to get away, early during the lunch with the publicist to catch up with Noni.
She sat at what had become their regular coffee table, waiting for Noni, sipping on her long black.
Noni bustled in past the counter and some waiting customers to where Ellie was sitting.
“Did you order a coffee?” Ellie asked, knowing full well she hadn’t.
“Ah, no I forgot, I was running late and I didn’t want to keep you waiting.”
“Go and order a coffee,” Ellie told her.
Noni got up and went back to the counter, a few minutes later she returned with something milky and frothy.
Ellie smiled at her, “so how’s it going, have you settled in yet?”
“Mmm, yeah. The people in the art department are really nice.” Noni took a sip of her coffee, “and there’s a really nice guy, Billy. We went out a couple of times,” Noni blushed.
“What did you get physical with him?” Ellie asked.
“Mmm, yeah. But I’m not ready for a steady relationship at the moment, so I’ve cooled it off for a little while, he seems to understand.”
“Ok, look I wanted to catch up with you as D.I. Thompson said something about you and Kate.” Ellie looked at Noni for some sign of recognition, Noni responded by looking away. “Apparently you met Kate at Grazing Magazine, when she did that photo shoot a few weeks back.” Ellie gave Noni an accusatory look. “And when I left that day we had our first coffee, you asked me to say hi to her, like you hadn’t seen her for ages!”
“No, that’s not what I meant, I mean you blurted out that Kate was in hospital and then you were gone, I didn’t have time to tell you that I had run into her at my last job.”
“Why did you leave Grazing, anyway?” Ellie questioned.
“I was on sick leave, they replaced me with someone and as I had to have a few weeks off, they ended up giving her the job!” Noni hung her head.
“Why, what did you have?”
“The doctor put it down to stress, but I’m better at dealing with it now!” Noni looked at Ellie, “I did see Kate, I went up to her to say hi, and see if she remembered me. She began having a go at me, like I was stalking her or something, she started to get really abusive, I just left and later my supervisor ask me not to talk to the models again. Not long after that, I had an incident at home and I went off sick.”
“Why would she say you were stalking her?”
“I don’t know, I’m sure I hadn’t seen her since school,” Noni’s voice drifted off.
“You’re sure? You must know if you have seen her since school? If you’re stalking her, you would know for sure!”
“Look, sometimes I have these, these moments or maybe hours where I can’t remember what’s happened. That’s why I’m not sure if I had seen Kate since school. If she saw me during one of those moments when I was blacked out, then she would think I was lying!” Noni tried to explain.
“What do you mean, you have black outs? How long have you had them for, surely you have seen a doctor about it?”
“Yeah, well that’s why I went to the doctor’s when I was at Grazing, he said it was stress and a one of!”
“Did you tell him you’ve had them before?” Ellie asked, concerned.
“Well, I’m not sure I’ve had them before..” Noni began, she quickly glanced at her watch, “oh, my. I’ve got to get back. I need to finish at five today so I can get across to Scotland Yard!”
“What are you going to tell them?” Ellie questioned.
“What I’ve told you. Look, Billy, the nice guy in my department, he’s really worried about these black outs, he says I had one the other night, when he had to leave the pub early and one of his mates was going to escort me home! I can’t remember, I just remember waking up in my bed the next morning!” Noni explained. “He suggests I go back to the doctor and tell him I’ve had these before and I’m still getting them, get a specialist to check me out!”
“So that’s what you’re going to tell the D.I.? You could have stabbed Kate and don’t remember it! They are going charge you with the stabbing!” Ellie’s voice began to rise.
“Look, I wasn’t there at the time of the stabbing, I was at work and then with you, remember?”
“I don’t know what time it happened, “ Ellie said, “just be careful with what you say, ok?”
Noni got up to leave, “thank’s Ellie, I’ll tell them the truth, why would I stab Kate?”
“Well if she was being a bitch, perhaps you had a black out and went back for revenge?”
“Don’t worry, Ellie, I’ll be ok,” and with that she turned and left Ellie sitting alone.
Ellie looked out of the window of the cafe, people were either scurrying past, or strolling enjoying the late sunshine. How could someone have black outs and still have a normal life? Perhaps Noni was a heavy drinker and she had been drinking? Ellie decided she had more questions now she had met Noni than before.
* * *