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Chapter no 120

Spare

I PHONED MY FRIEND Thomas one evening. Thomas, brother of my beloved mate Henners. Thomas, so funny and witty. Thomas, with the infectious

laugh.

Thomas, living reminder of better days.

I was at Clarence House, sitting on the floor of the TV room. Probably watching Friends.

Hey, Boose, what’re you up to?

He laughed. No one else called him Boose.

Harr-eese! Hello!

I smiled. No one else called me Harr-eese.

He said he was just leaving a business dinner. He was pleased to have someone to chat with while he was making his way home.

His voice, so much like his brother’s, was an instant comfort. It made me happy, even though Thomas wasn’t happy. He, too, was struggling, he said. Going through a divorce, other challenges.

The conversation went inexorably to that original challenge, the wellspring of all challenges, Henners. Thomas missed his brother so much. Me too, I said. Man, me too.

He thanked me for speaking at an event to raise money for Henners’s charity.

Wouldn’t miss it. That’s what friends are for.

I thought of the event. And the pre-event panic attack.

Then we reminisced, randomly. Thomas and Henners, Willy and me, Saturday mornings, lounging around with Mummy, watching telly—having burping contests.

She was like a teenage boy! She was, mate.

Going with Mummy to see Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Me and Henners mooning the security cameras at Ludgrove. We both started laughing.

He reminded me that Henners and I were so close, people called us Jack and Russell. Maybe that was because Willy and I had Jack Russells? Oh I wondered where Henners might be. Was he with Mummy? Was he with the dead from Afghanistan? Was Gan-Gan there too? I was jolted from this train of thought by the sound of Thomas screaming.

Boose, mate, you OK?

Angry voices, a scuffle, a struggle. I put the phone on speaker, shot down the corridor, up the stairs, burst into the police room. I shouted that my mate was in trouble. We leaned over the phone, listening, but the line had already gone dead.

It was obvious: Thomas was being mugged. Luckily he’d just happened to mention the name of the restaurant where he’d had dinner. It was in Battersea. Plus, I knew where he lived. We checked a map: there was only one logical route between those two points. Several bodyguards and I raced there and found Thomas on the side of the road. Near Albert Bridge. Beaten, shaken. We took him to the nearest police station, where he signed a statement. Then we drove him home.

Along the way he kept thanking me for coming to his rescue. I hugged him tightly. What friends are for.

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