Cass was in the flat on her own. She knew Matt was at a university lecture and she neither knew nor cared where Maxine was. She had grown to dislike her attitude and presence more and more since the dog business and she was under no illusions that she was either jealous or annoyed by her relationship with Matt. Matt had confided to Cass that Maxine had acted like a bully to him at times and he admitted that he was embarrassed more by his own weakness than frightened of Maxine’s strength of character. Cass looked at Maxine’s wall of dog posters and pictures and felt like ripping them all to shreds. But she turned to her own “LIKES, CONCERNS, SUGGESTIONS” wall and decided to clear off all the old stuff and start afresh. She dumped the old notes in the bin and pinned up two full sized flip chart pages, side by side. On one sheet, she drew a huge heart and wrote inside it: “Cass Loves Matt & Matt Loves Cass”. She stood back to admire her artwork and knew that it would make Matt blush and Maxine blanche but what the hell, it was her wall, her feelings and her business. She divided the other sheet into three sections and wrote a big L in one part, a big C in another and a big S in the third part. Again, she stood back to admire and to think. In the L for Likes section she wrote: “I would like Matt and I to share this flat on our own.” In the C for Concerns section she wrote: “My concern is that Maxine will be stubborn about moving out.” Finally, in the S for Suggestions section she wrote: “I suggest I tell Maxine straight that she is no longer liked or wanted in this flat.” Cass stepped back and re-read the words.
“Mmmmm, a bit harsh maybe but honest. Perhaps it’s a bit too soon to be putting this stuff on display.” She started to remove the pins from the flip chart sheet when Maxine came into the flat.
“Oh, hi. Having a tidy up are we? Not before time, if you ask me but you didn’t so what’s it to do with anybody?” Maxine appeared to be a little bouncier and upbeat than normal. Cass looked at her.
“You’re perky today.” Maxine did a little dance.
“Well, love tends to do that to a girl, as you would know, I’m sure.” Maxine flashed a wide smile.
“Oh, sounds like a gossipy tale in there somewhere,” said Cass, a little perplexed by Maxine’s jauntiness.
“If we were true friends, I might tell you but you’ve been a bit offhand with me lately and I’m not sure if I can trust you to keep a few secrets.”
“Secrets! Not one, mind you, but a few. Wow, sounds intriguing.” Cass turned back to her wall.
“What’s that you’ve written?” Maxine moved closer.
“Oh, nothing very interesting. I’m just freshening things up a bit.” Maxine read the top line, the L for Likes section, over Cass’s shoulder.
“You cow,” spat Maxine, “you bloody, bloody, bloody selfish cow. What else have you written?”
“Max,” Cass started, “I………..” Maxine brushed past and read the rest of the flip chart. She turned to face Cass with the most furious face she could muster, said nothing, and calmly walked to the kitchen.
Cass heard the kettle being filled. “Do you want me to make the tea?” she called to Maxine.
“Get stuffed,” answered Maxine. “I don’t want anything from you.” Cass stood at the kitchen door.
“Max, it’s just the way I am. I have to be honest with people and sometimes I go about it like a bull in a China shop. I should have discussed it with you properly. But I’m just so impulsive when it comes to decisions. I didn’t mean you to see it. I was about to take it down when you came in. I’m sorry.”
“It doesn’t change anything,” said Maxine, “because I know where you stand with me and where I stand with you. Matt will take your side for obvious reasons, so it puts me in a difficult position. I realized some time ago that it was becoming more and more fraught between us and that it was only a matter of time before things came to a head. But to see it written on a wall, well that takes the biscuit.”
“I’m sorry,” said Cass. Maxine looked at her with disdain.
“Stop saying that, okay? You can keep saying sorry forever but it means nothing unless I accept it as a proper apology and, do you know Cass, I can’t at the moment. I can’t trust you, so please leave me alone.”
“I’m sorry. I really am,” whispered Cass as she left the kitchen. Maxine walked to the window and looked out across the roofs of a lot of not very interesting buildings. She caught the faint reflection of her face in the glass and saw that she looked glum. She reset her mind to the wonderful few hours she had with Chico and smiled. She had moved on. She was determined that Chico was not going to be a permanent lover, more a bit of fun to re-energise her life. She had a few bits of unfinished business to attend to. She had to find Billy Bob. She had to find a way of punishing Matt for betraying her. She wanted to make life hell for Cass and she had not forgotten her resolve to seek revenge on Sophie’s father for his blatant cruelty to her beloved dog. She liked being busy and she also liked the thought of an occasional bedroom romp with Chico as a reward for a job or jobs well done.
As she was about to turn from the window, out of the corner of her eye, she caught sight out of a familiar dog. She couldn’t be sure at that distance but it looked a lot like Billy Bob. Excitedly, she grabbed a fleece, rushed from the flat and ran as fast as she could to the street corner where he had been relieving himself on a lamppost. She was oblivious to the BMW until it hit her with enough force to throw her six feet in the air.