The Primrose Line – Episode 43

Illustration by Ged Fay

Nicola’s mouth dropped open as she recognised the intruder.

“Phil Herridge! I don’t believe I’m seeing this!”

“Miss Renton, I know this looks bad, but it’s not what you think, believe me!”

“I’ve just come from your father. A customer found him on the floor after your visit. He had fainted.

“He would probably do the same thing again if he could see what his son was up to at the moment!”

“Is he all right? He was OK when I left, apart from shouting a bit.” His eyes showed genuine alarm.

“Yes, Ken’s home now. He’ll monitor the situation and do what’s necessary.”

The face relaxed.

“Good old reliable Ken.”

“Not a good moment for sibling jealousy, Phil.”

“Indeed not!” a voice came from behind Nicola as the door opened.


“You all right, Nicola?” Jim asked, not taking his eyes off the man in front of them.

“Yes, I’m OK. Had a bit of a shock, that’s all. What are you doing here?”

“Laura told me what had happened. I had one of those old hunches telling me to check things out for myself. Maybe they’ll never go away, which is just as well in this case.

“I’ll get the police.” Jim reached for his phone.

“Wait. I want to hear what he has to say for himself.”

“Nicola, this is not the moment to hear about deprived childhood or some other excuse to justify anti-social behaviour.

“Wait a minute, I’ve seen you before! You’re the guy from the wood where my grandson found the railway model. I see you’ve brought a sack this time. Stocking up again, are we?”

“No, I was returning stuff; as much as I could find, anyway. See for yourself.”

“Let’s stop wasting time.”

“Jim, let’s at least look.”

Jim shrugged and followed them inside. Nicola switched on the light and let out her second gasp of the evening. A considerable amount of the stolen merchandise was back in its place.

“It’s not all of it, I know; there may be some more hidden away somewhere. Some of it had already been sold before I knew what was happening.”

“What exactly has been happening?” Jim asked.

“Picked up some bad ’uns in the commune. Didn’t see it soon enough. Damage is done now – we’ll all be tarred with the same brush.

“All those years for nothing, and my old man will laugh and say how right he was all along. You’re sure he’s OK?” Phil looked at Nicola again.

“He was when I left. He’s seeing the GP tomorrow.”

She turned to Jim.

“Jim, I know this is a strange introduction but this is Phil Herridge, Sam’s younger – some say ‘errant’ – son.”

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.