The Future Homemakers of America
store cupboard.’
    They did that at Future Homemakers. Being Prepared for Hurricanes, Twisters and Enemy Invasion.
    I said, ‘You idiot. Why didn't you get a ride with me? You wanna go later, when Sherry's fixed up? There must be stuff you need.’
    She looked down at her feet. ‘He took my ID,’ she said, real quiet.
    DW don't have ID, she can't go anyplace. She may as well not exist. I said, ‘Betty, I never heard anything like it. How much more of this are you gonna take?’
    ‘He can't help it,’ she said. ‘It's just the way he is. He worries about his little family. You know? He's doing a tough job out there, and when he gets home he doesn't need more pressure. He needs to know where we are and what we're doing, otherwise he gets in a spin. That's all.’
    I said, ‘That's all ?’
    Sherry come out in a wheelchair, looking all pleased with herself, foot bound up and a candy bar from the medic for being so brave.
    Betty said, ‘He's a good man really, Peg.’
    Betty wheeled Sherry to the parking lot. I hung back a little, then me and Aud walked behind.
    I said, ‘Sonofabitch only grounded her. Left her with no car while he's gone. And no ID. It's her punishment for getting home late from the beach. She reckons a jock like Ed, he's under so much pressure when he's flying he can't help turning a little cranky when he gets home.’
    ‘Mm,’ Audrey said. ‘Course, there's some truth in that.’
    I was thinking, it was a pity Betty had spent so much time learning about store cupboards. It was a pity Future Homemakers didn't teach Being Prepared for Bristle-Headed Bullying Husbands.
    Then I thought out loud. I said, ‘Pity she didn't learn how to swing a bat and hit a moving target.’
    ‘My word!’ Audrey said. ‘Aren't you the avenging angel? I hope you don't have any ideas about reporting this? It wouldn't look good, you know. It wouldn't look good at all.’

26
    It was Lois's last day. She was all packed and ready for the transport, couldn't wait to get back to the city, even though it'd be like a hothouse. I was meant to be going over to Kath's, let her drive to Smeeth.
    Betty said, ‘Lois, honey, why don't you go along for the ride? Let me have a last little time with Sandie, I'm gonna miss her so.’
    I said, ‘Betty, this girl's got a long enough trip ahead of her. Why'd she want to come out driving with me?’
    But it was too late. Lo had already decided she liked the idea.
    When we got to Kath's, she got outta the car, rubbing her back, saying she couldn't get comfortable, didn't matter which way she sat.
    ‘I'll stay here, Peg,’ she said. ‘I'll wait here, till you and Kath get back. Maybe take a walk down to the eel reach. I think I just need a little exercise.’
    I didn't care to think what kinda exercise she might have in mind. I just said, ‘Lois!’ Tried to give it a warning tone. I couldn't say more in front of Kath.
    ‘Yes, Peggy?’ she said, so insolent.
    What was I supposed to do? She was a grown woman. I wasn't her keeper. Anyway, there was no sign of John Pharaoh anywhere about.
    I said, ‘Well, stay here. Bring a chair out in the sunshine. And don't go wandering off near that water. You fall in, I'll have Herb to answer to.’
    ‘Yes, Mommy,’ she said, in a stupid baby voice.
    Kath said, ‘Help yourself to a glass of pop, Lois, if you get dry. Make yourself at home.’
    Kath wanted to go to Dr Lowe's surgery.
    I said, ‘You feeling okay?’
    ‘Yes, thank you,’ she said.
    We got to Smeeth, she pulled up outside a public house there, called the Flying Dutchman.
    I said, ‘Where's the doctor's office?’
    ‘In the snug,’ she said. That was the deal in Smeeth. The doctor came once a week and hung his shingle outside the pub.
    I was planning on staying in the car, reading my murder mystery.
    ‘No, you'll have to come in with me,’ she said. ‘I'm not sitting in an ale house on my own.’
    There were three waiting ahead of Kath, two Jexes and a Gotobed, sitting in a

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