Once Bitten

Once Bitten by Stephen Leather

Book: Once Bitten by Stephen Leather Read Free Book Online
Authors: Stephen Leather
Then she put her left hand at chest height,
    palm down and moved it in an arc over the right hand. The two movements together signified tonight. Noisy tonight.
    He nodded, pointed with his right finger and rotated it clockwise. Around the clock. Always.
    He pointed at her and then pointed his index finger directly up, palm in front of his face and then rotated it anti-clockwise. You alone?
    She waved her open right hand with the fingers together and the palm towards him made an S shape in the air. Never.
    He laughed soundlessly.
    She made two fists and brought the knuckles together, thumbs on top. With. She opened her fists and linked her hands together at the index fingers, separated them, switched positions and linked again. Friend. With friend. She meant me.
    He laughed again, placing his two fists together, knuckles meeting, and waggled his thumbs towards each other. The sign for lovers.
    She shook her head and repeated the sign for friend. My heart fell.
    He pointed to his own chest, patted his forehead, and pointed at her. I know you.
    She pointed at her own head with her right index finger and moved it clockwise. Crazy.
    He looked past her, scanning the crowds, and caught me looking at him. He smiled and then looked back at her. He made a sign at his forehead, as if gripping the brim of an imaginary hat, and then pointed. The sign for he. He made a V sign with the first two fingers of his right hand and pointed at his eyes, then swung the fingertips out and away from his body. Watch. He watches.
    Terry turned from the bar and saw me. She frowned and tilted her head on one side. The barman was laughing and began to serve a girl with platinum hair who was well over six foot tall and who had a tattoo of a fire-breathing dragon on one shoulder. Terry's hands began to fly in front of her body, she pointed to me, then put her hand against her head and flicked up her index finger,
    then pointed the index fingers of both hands up and made rising circling motions in front of her face, then pressed her thumbs and first fingers together and joined her hands and then moved them apart in a wavy motion. She had asked if I knew sign language. She did the movements quickly, as if testing me, and I had half a mind to pretend not to know what she was up to, but another part of me wanted to show off, to demonstrate that we had something in common.
    Of course, I signed back. You sign well.
    She grinned. You too. How come you can do it?
    My sister is deaf, I signed.
    Is she older or younger?
    I put my fingertips on my chest then moved them up to just above my shoulders, then repeated the action several times, the sign of spirits bubbling up. Young. Deaf from birth, I signed. I learnt with her.
    What's her name?
    I signed her name letter by letter. Patricia. Terry frowned and signed back that she didn't understand. I realised my mistake, I'd used the British alphabet system which was different from the American version. I knew both because Patricia had had some deaf friends from the States and I'd met them several times. I spelt the name out again, this time using the American system.
    Unlike the UK system it could be done with just the right hand.
    This time Terry nodded and smiled.
    I pointed to her, and then wiggled the fingertips of my right hand against my chin. You're cute.
    She grinned and pointed her right index finger parallel to her lips, moving it from right to left.
    Liar. Then she turned her back on me and caught the barman's eye again and ordered our drinks.
    She brought them over, weaving her way through the throngs of crazies without spilling a drop. I was impressed. She was still wearing her sunglasses which I thought made her look kind of cute.
    She clinked her glass against mine and said something in what sounded like Russian.
    “What did you say?”
    “It's a Russian toast.”
    “Cheers then.”
    “You want to dance?”
    I surveyed the heaving crowds and shuddered. “I don't think so. They look as if they'd eat me

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