Chapter 9 Monopoly money

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Chapter 9 Monopoly money

The rest of the evening was in its own way just as unbelievable as the day leading to it had been. Amaryllis joined in Monopoly with gusto, taking huge risks and plunging recklessly into property development, going bankrupt twice and apparently enjoying herself hugely. Faisal, who almost never spoke to strangers, came right out of his shell and had a long conversation with her about an obscure computer game which Christopher had banned him from having in the house on the grounds of extreme violence but which Caroline had nevertheless insisted on buying him for Christmas, and on which Amaryllis claimed to be an expert. She certainly knew a lot about weapons and their effects. More than a well-brought-up girl should know, said Christopher's inner old lady firmly.

As an uncle he felt he was just starting to make up for lost time. For just a few moments he looked at the world through rose-coloured spectacles and imagined the three of them as a proper family. He had to come down to earth when the phone rang.

'Mr Wilson?' said the anonymous voice on the other end. 'Mr Christopher Wilson?'

'Yes, speaking.'

'It's Kirkcaldy Memorial Hospital here. About your sister, Mrs Caroline Hussein.'


'I'm afraid we're having to keep her in overnight. She's quite distraught.'

So what else is new? thought Christopher. 'Oh, dear,' he responded automatically.

'Yes, it has been very distressing for her daughter. Marina shouldn't really have had to witness this. We need somebody to take her home.'

'I'm sorry,' said Christopher, feeling useless again as he spoke. 'I'm looking after Caroline's son Faisal. I can't leave him on his own.'

'We need you to come in and collect Marina. She can't stay here.'

'Well, there isn't anybody else to - '

'You'll have to collect her before the end of evening visiting. There's nowhere for her to stay here.'

'But - '

'We're considering a psychiatric referral for Mrs Hussein. Your sister obviously needs help.'

The voice was reproachful. Christopher wanted to say, yes, I told the GP there were serious problems ages ago, and he didn't do anything then, so why is the NHS suddenly springing into action now, but he didn't. Instead he replied weakly, 'Thanks for letting me know. I'll be there as soon as I can but I don't have any transport....'

'I'll take you in the car,' said Amaryllis, suddenly appearing at his side. 'Faisal can come too - he might enjoy the ride.'

'Thanks,' he said, wondering if she would still be this keen to help once she had encountered the sullen Marina. He said to the hospital spokesperson, 'We'll be there in half an hour or so,' and rang off while the voice was still complaining about visiting times, people who were inconsiderate enough to live twenty miles from the nearest hospital and doubtless about other injustices he didn't have time to listen to.

So the three of them drove through the starry night over to Kirkcaldy to pick up Marina. Amaryllis was rather a scary person to be driven by - she seemed to think she was being followed everywhere, and would dive down side streets randomly as if in a chase scene from the movies. From the relative safety of the back seat, Faisal just laughed with excitement, while Christopher surreptitiously clung on to the passenger door pocket and hoped he wouldn't humiliate himself by being sick with fear.

Waiting on her own on a bench outside the main entrance, Marina didn't want to come with them; she did a very good impression of a child who was being molested by sinister strangers. Fortunately for Christopher, who had had enough drama for one day, all the passing health professionals studiously ignored her. He guessed that they had had enough of her and probably wouldn't have been too bothered if the Wyrd Sisters from Macbeth had arrived to take her away, as long as somebody did.

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