The Nurse Diaries – Part 41

Ivermectin buy cheap Welcome to part 41 of my black comedy novel, The Nurse Diaries – The Life and Times of a Brighton Serial Killer. It is packed full of juicy swearing, so click away if rude words offend you. In this chapter The Nurse finally embarks on her long swim across the Channel from Dieppe, back to Brighton and a whole world of trouble. The Big Day

The Nurse rises early, enjoys a hearty breakfast – the final French breakfast she’ll have for a while, perhaps even a lifetime – and checks her Action List one last time. She picks up the smart vintage picnic basket containing her swimming costume, a tin of fresh goose grease, a rubber swimming cap, and the all-important suicide note. Then she grabs a light cardigan to pull over her flowery summer dress and leaves her little terraced house, clicking the door shut behind her and tapping smartly down the road in her floral tapestry winkle-pickers.

Katrine smiles and waves as she passes the locals, blowing a kiss here and there, which surprises them. They smile fondly, shrug and walk on. She’s a nice enough woman, a phenomenal baker and an uncannily talented whorehouse madame, but at the end of the day she is batty like all the English.

What a beautiful morning. She raises a salute to the Beach Bum, who is sunning himself on top of a distant sand dune, and he waves back, a friendly pink dot. Then she makes her way to the rowing boat she has hired for the day, tugs it to the water’s edge and hops in gracefully, placing her picnic basket on the boards at her feet and rotating her wrists to loosen them up.

Here we go.

The Nurse has immense arm and shoulder muscles. They begin to thrum pleasurably as she rows straight out into the Channel. She grins happily as the waves scud past with increasing speed and the deepening water turns from summery blue to oily grey then dark brown. Resting momentarily she glances back and sees the Beach Bum standing in the far distance on his dune, still waving. She raises an arm high in his direction then ploughs onwards.

As soon as France is out of sight The Nurse stops rowing, stashes the oars in their rowlocks and reaches into her picnic basket. Stripping briskly while the boat rocks on the waves she greases up then pulls on her swimming gear, folding her clothes carefully and placing them one on top of the other. Then she pins the suicide note to the pile of clothing.

Throwing the picnic basket overboard, she observes as it spins down, streaming silver bubbles, tumbling eerily through the cold, heavy water. The Nurse watches it go then dives neatly after it and paddles carefully back to the boat. Hanging onto the edge, she rocks it until ten centimetres of water slop in. That’s about right. Then she pushes the little craft away and surges towards the Sussex coast, head down, arms powering through the foamy waves.

When the water-filled rowing boat washes up on the shore back in Dieppe two days later, complete with Katrine’s suicide note and the pile of clothes, the Beach Bum is distraught. Then he thinks again and gradually calms down. The woman he saw rowing out to sea didn’t look unhappy, in despair, or at her wits’ end. She looked like a lady with a plan, a female on a mission, someone in complete charge of her innermost self. She looked strong and fulfilled, excited and purposeful. He wipes his eyes with a ragged sleeve and grins in a watery sort of way. No, he cannot believe his Katrine has drowned herself.

Dieppe is rocked by the tragedy, but only for a short time. Because Katrine had sold her patisserie business to Marianne, they don’t even have the sad loss of the magical cake shop to mourn. They sigh and give a collective Gallic shrug. The lovely yet excentrique Katrine has taken her secrets to a watery grave and that appears to be that. At least they still have the Warehouse Ho-House to enjoy, with the handsome-ugly Johnny Dieppe in charge. The swim from hell

You can practice until the cows come home, but actually swimming the eighty or so miles of choppy, greasy water between Dieppe and Newhaven is never going to be easy. It’s summer. The weather isn’t bad. The water is what it is. But the sea traffic is making the journey a lot harder than she’d imagined.

Picture this. You’re paddling along, just about keeping your head above the gritty waves.  In the distance there’s a massive white blocky thing, making its way towards you with scary speed. Oh fuck, it’s a ship. In no time it is alongside you, and here comes another. Now you’re sandwiched in between two great tankers, battered to and fro as the sea gets squished, rising up between the two vast machines’ slithery sides, violent whirlpools scouring the heaving line where ship meets sea. Thank fuck one of the vessels eventually veers off, leaving you exhausted in its filthy wake, seawater slopping in and out of your ears and nostrils. Is this a totally shit experience? Yes, it fucking well is. Another ship’s wash catches you like a scrap of flotsam, creamy spume flicking you into the air before hurling you back. You hit the water with a splat that turns your skin scarlet and draws blood.

What an utter cunt of a swim this is.  

Gooners in super-yachts are a problem too, as she learns when she chugs alongside one. Three young blonde women, as slim and lithe as golden fish, are sunbathing on the deck. Three old, fat, hairy white men sit close by on deckchairs, playing poker. The women spot The Nurse, eyeing her with cool, unfriendly glances as they stream past aboard their gleaming vessel. One spits rudely, letting loose a big, sloppy greenie that hits The Nurse square on the forehead then dribbles down the bridge of her nose and into the sea. Cunts, cunts, and more cunts.

A second yacht, shortly after that, is packed with young drunk men who leer and cat-call at her sensible navy swimsuit, ugly goggles and dark blue rubber swimming cap. She bares her teeth at them, which makes two of them draw their heads sharply back like they’ve been bitten and another drop his drink overboard.

She surges onwards.

Night falls and The Nurse is momentarily horrified. She has prepared herself with months of exercises to improve her strength and endurance in every kind of weather, through every season. Sadly she completely forgot about the night she’d be spending at sea. She hasn’t done any night swimming at all. Worse still, while the traffic in the Channel calms down after dusk as the pleasure craft and smaller boats fade away towards home and anchor, it gets busier in terms of the big stuff. There are more huge cargo ships and oil tankers throbbing along this enormous watery motorway than ever, and apart from their lights – unimaginably high above her – it is pitch black out there. Obviously she doesn’t have radar. Oh, man, this is really, really bad. 

When you swim the Channel you’re not swimming alongside the traffic, you’re swimming across the flow.  It is rather like trying to cross the M25 barefoot in your underwear during rush hour, but scarier. Part of her would like to give up, scream and scream until she runs out of breath and sinks. Part of her would like to quietly let go of this shitty mortal coil and relax into the chilly blackness of the sea bed, bones peacefully whitening as the aeons pass. But that would be fucking silly.

She straightens her shoulders the best she can while swimming and fixes her inner eye on Brighton. The beloved steep flint shingle beach, thoughtfully graded by the sea into XL, L, M, SM, S, and XS bands of pebbles paralleling the waves. The creamy, graceful Regency buildings along the seafront, turned rosy pink and fiery orange by the setting sun. The Pavilion, a what-the-fuck-is-that double-take of a building that could easily have been nicked from India then dropped by some massive cosmic cunt with a silly sense of humour onto the Sussex coast.               

She pictures nights at Andrea’s flat above the Gloucester nightclub, on the Steine, when little Michael O’Rourke sang Puccinni to the backed-up holiday traffic below, applauded by out-of-towners in open top cars heading for home. She grins at the thought of her younger, carefree self, the innocent-looking girl who stole light blue gloss paint then rampaged around the town painting graffiti on walls and defacing phone boxes. The proto-serial killer who regularly fell out of the Escape Club at two in the morning with pupils like saucers. The young lady who was always off her fucking face on E, who threw off her clothes as she ran down the beach like something out of a fucking James Bond film. The girl who’d fling herself joyfully into the sea without a thought for her own safety or dignity. Oh, and that time she lost her clothes. What fun she had in those long-ago days before things turned to shite. 

The Nurse swims past gross floating islands of plastic waste. Slicks of oily stuff stick to her skin and hair in greasy layers that gleam like rainbows as the sun finally rises. She spots sea life but it doesn’t look happy. Nor would she if her home had been invaded by island-sized machines with their noise pollution and filthy bilges. She never imagined she would feel sympathy for fish, but for fuck’s sake. These waters are revolting.

The swim takes The Nurse way longer than she’d planned. When she finally struggles up the pebbly beach below Brighton Marina, thirty hours after she first slipped into the sea off the French coast, she is fucking exhausted. Her limbs weigh a ton, her skin feels loose, and her hair is a filthy reddish tangle of  seaweed and fish crap. Gross. Thank goodness for Lisa, who The Nurse spots immediately, waiting in Asda car park next to a scarlet campervan. 

The women shake hands briefly. Lisa gives The Nurse a key. The flat is in Kemptown, bought and paid for months ago with cash from the Warehouse Ho-House and The Nurse’s thriving international Chin Bib business. Lisa hands over a plastic bag bearing the logo of a smart boutique and The Nurse climbs into the back of the campervan to get changed. She looks a bit odd in the beautifully cut suit thanks to her peeling, greyish skin and shit hair, but it feels fucking awesome being properly clothed again, dry, and warm.

Lisa drives The Nurse to the posh crescent where the flat is and watches as her best-ever customer makes her way up the stone stairs, then through the massive glossy green front door. When Lisa sees a light go on in the top flat window she sighs with satisfaction, gets into the van, and makes her way home. A five hundred grand fee for finding and furnishing a flat paid for by her client, providing clothing, and stocking the fridge? Bargain. She kept schtum last time she and The Nurse did business together, when she sourced a handy killer in the shape of Invisible Dan, and she’s going to keep just as quiet this time. She’s not daft.

The next morning, The Nurse wakes with a massive grin on her face. She made it. She’s home. Fucking brilliant. There’s such a lot to do, but she decides to spend her first day in Brighton simply staring out of the window at the view over the private gardens, down the shingle beach to the sea. Her sea, her lovely sea. She is delighted to be on the right side of the Channel at long last.

Three skinny, beautifully dressed gay men with tiny, weeny dogs on the end of pink leads slide gracefully past on the pavement below. Two more gay men trot past, this time leather clad Muscle Marys leading massive, scary dogs. OMG, this is heaven. Gangs of happy lesbians trail by in funky sunglasses, enjoying the late summer sunshine, and students mill around savouring life in Britain’s coolest city. The usual homeless folk and drunks decorate the street corners. A bearded man in a fabulous designer frock and high heels emerges from Boots. Brighton is just the same as it always was, thank goodness, and she feels properly at home for the first time in years. The Nurse’s eyes fill with happy tears as a gang of Lycra-clad, grey haired cyclists hums east along Madeira Drive, heads bent low against the early morning sun’s rays, and the grockles stroll by with their ice creams and fish and chips. 

It takes The Nurse a full week to settle back in. And it is one of the happiest weeks of her life. All she does is stare out of the window and slowly, luxuriously recover from her epic swim. She daydreams, smokes almighty spliffs, tries on clothing from the smart new wardrobe of outfits supplied by Lisa, and firms up her plans. Now she is actually here for real, The Nurse feels a strong desire to create purpose in her new life. She can’t just hole up in the flat. She’s gagging for action. On Monday morning she dresses carefully, straightens her shoulders and makes her way outdoors. There’s no time like the present. She’s going to find The Inspector, suss out his habits, and begin the long-planned seduction. 

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