Debbie turned, her face breaking into a huge smile as she recognised her best friend from Uni.
“Sarah, what are you doing here? I thought you were living in Brum”.
“I was, but my new boyfriend was working down here, so I moved to join him”.
“Me too” said Debbie, then her face crumpled. She took a deep breath, holding back tears. Sarah touched her arm comfortingly.
“I heard about Don. Cancer is a horrible death. I am so sorry”.
Debbie nodded, silently.
“Look, why don’t we go to the cafe in the park and we can talk about it”. Debbie gave her friend a weak smile and they headed down the street together towards the park.
“What a coincidence running into you” said Sarah brightly. “I knew you were in London, but nobody knew where”.
“Well, it’s been twenty years since we finished University. Everybody scattered.”
Sarah nodded. They walked in silence until they reached the small cafe in the park and chose an outdoor table. Usually the tables were filled with parents with children and dog owners. But it was quiet today. Sarah insisted on buying the cappuccinos and Debbie sat watching the ducks waddle into the pond, and the leaves drifting onto the water while she waited.
Sarah returned with the coffees and they sat sipping their drinks watching the ducks trying to cadge food from passers by.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about coincidences lately”, said Debbie.
“After Don’s death I remembered the night he nearly died, at Christmas, ten years ago”.
“Well, the first coincidence occurred before anything happened. As soon as I came to London, I kept having the same dream. I dreamt Don was walking close to an underground station. Two muggers would set on him with knives . He would attempt to fight back and they would kill him”.
“You’re not psychic, are you?”
“Indeed, I am not. Remember that night we all took that psychic test in the pub. You scored higher than me”.
Sarah laughed. “I remember. We both scored the lowest score possible. Only Andy had a significant score and –
” – he became a bookie” they chorused together, laughing.
“Anyway. Tell me about these coincidences”.
“About two days before the attack, Don told me he had seen two men standing near our flats, watching him”.
Sarah nodded politely. Debbie sighed. “You don’t know Don. Nobody scared him and he was the most intuitive person I have ever met”.
“Also he was a very heavy drinker but never got drunk. On the night he was mugged he phoned me about 7pm and he sounded really drunk. He had only been in the pub for an hour and a half, so he couldn’t have got drunk in that time”.
Sarah looked interested. “That is strange. What happened next?”
“I woke up early next morning and he hadn’t come home. I phoned the hospital and they told me he had been brought in the night before. He had been mugged and he had fallen and cracked his head on the pavement. A motorist had stopped, picked him up and brought him to the hospital”.
“Sounds like a fairly typical mugging”.
“The men who attacked him were the same ones who had been watching him earlier. They only took his money but left his keys and credit cards. The police seemed obsessed about whether the men had been carrying guns. Don told them no, but they had been carrying knives”.
Sarah looked puzzled. ” But what do you think was unusual?”
“All right. Go back to the start. Coincidence one. My dream Don gets killed by muggers in very similar circumstances. Coincidence two. Don sees the muggers two days before the attack. Coincidence three. Don felt worried about it, and Don never worried about other people. Coincidence four. Don, whom I’ve never known to get drunk, is drunk after only an hour and a half drinking. Coincidence five. When the muggers attack he is so drunk he cannot attempt to resist and falls over knocking himself unconscious. The muggers panic and run, just stopping long enough to take his money. Leaving keys and credit cards which could provide a link back to them. Coincidence six. This is London remember, not Good Samaratan-ville. A mysterious motorist just happens to be passing by who decides to stop and take Don, still unconscious and obviously drunk, to the hospital, then disappears into the night. Coincidence seven. The police are obsessed with the possibility of the muggers being armed and don’t even consider the possibility of a revenge attack. Which is more likely than a mugging. We had terrible neighbours and they probably didn’t like us standing up to them. Coincidence eight. I never have the dream again about Don being killed by muggers after that event. It was as if the dream was warning me what was going to happen, but when it didn’t the risk was past”.
Sarah looked thoughtful. Debbie looked at her. “Sorry, that was rather a lot to take in”.
“Well, yes. And I am not sure all of those are coincidences. But the events still don’t make any sense”.
“They do make sense when you look at subsequent events. In the ten years after the mugging, every acquaintance of Don, including family, friends and work associates, suffered huge financial losses. People close to him lost their homes, businesses, in some cases, everything they had.”
Sarah looked serious. “That is strange. But what has that to do with the night Don was mugged?”
“What if Don had died that night? Would his friends have lost their businesses?”
“I don’t see the connection”.
“What if Don was meant to die. But that event was prevented from happening because Don, unknown to him, was being used as bait, in a con artist scam? The scamsters had to keep Don alive until their scams were complete”.
“You have completely lost me. How? How could he have been used as bait? Are you suggesting organised crime, like the Mafia? And how could anyone know that Don was ‘supposed’ to die that night? I can see how spiking his drink would have been easy and that would ensure he couldn’t fight back. But your scamsters would need a pre-cog, like in ‘Minority Report’ to tell them what was going to happen. Your alternative to coincidence is more unlikely than the coincidence. Have you gone to the police?”
Debbie nodded no. “What with? There is no evidence”.
Sarah took a deep breath. “Feel better for talking?”
Debbie nodded yes.
“That’s the main thing” said Sarah comfortingly. “Don has just died and your brain is working overtime”.
“Thanks for listening. It is just thinking back, the way things happened seemed odd”.
“You will work it out”.
Debbie looked at her watch. “I’ve talked for too long. I should be back at work”.
“Off you go. How about we meet again, same place this time next week?”
“Good idea”. Debbie looked at her friend and smiled. “It is good to see you again. Like old times”.
Sarah smiled as Debbie turned and hurried from the park.
Her phone rang. A cold, male voice asked a question. “She has just left” said Sarah flatly.
“Stay there. Don’t go until you hear the sirens, then leave, slowly, by the other exit”.
Sarah sat at the table waiting, her smile frozen on her face. Tears formed in the corners of her eyes.
Debbie left the park and was just watching the traffic to cross the road when a mad London cyclist on the pavement sped at full tilt towards her. Instinctively she leapt out of his way straight into the traffic.
When the sirens sounded a few minutes later Sarah left the table and walked slowly towards the other exit.
Copyright 2014 Prayerwarriorpsychicnot