Jan Nowak sat at a wooden bench, leaning his elbow on the sun bleached table. To his left the faded elegance of Brockwell House created a deep shadow over the steps which led to the café.
A couple of women waited at the top while a third struggled through the door with a tray, smiling her thanks. Ahead, the view of central London, with its mishmash of towers, was fractured by the trees that dotted the centre of the park. He felt nervous even though he could see all the paths leading to where he sat. No one could sneak up on him here. Shit, he thought, I’m getting paranoid.
Despite the heat, he pulled the lapels on his coat over his chin, wishing he had brought a cap. The two women reappeared followed by a gaggle of five young children who noisily cascaded down the steps and skipped and ran to the grassy slope.
A line of sweat tickled down his spine. Everything was conspiring to keep him on edge. Jan studied everyone carefully. A man in a green jerkin and brown shorts whistled his dog to follow him and disappeared towards the meadow. A pair of joggers with matching blonde ponytails bobbed across the slope and increased their pace as they dropped towards the ornate gate by Herne Hill station. His eyes felt tired and scratchy as his gaze followed the two women. The one on the left had a good arse. Much more his sort than the scrawny one on the right. He could watch that arse all day, he thought.
About half way down the slope they ran past a lone woman in a leather jacket and skinny jeans striding towards him. She paused once to shade her eyes and look up but showed no sign she had noticed him.
Jan glanced at his watch. Olga was always on time. He smiled. When he looked back for the joggers they had disappeared. Oh well, another time.
Having passed between two trees Olga stopped once again and stared at him. He waved but she didn’t respond other than to push her fingers through her spiky dark hair, briefly covering her eyes with her hand. It brought back a sharp memory when he had got her in trouble with her father, his uncle, when they were about seven. She had made him suffer for that betrayal.
Olga stopped right in front of him, studying him for a moment before she put her bag on the table and bent to kiss his cheek. “Cześć. You want another?”
This is a extract from my forthcoming novel ‘Salisbury Square’ which is due for release in the autumn. Set in central and south London, it follows the disintegrating lives of two already troubled people, Suzie and Jerzy over a few days one hot sweaty summer. The images are taken recently in Brockwell Park rather that the summer setting of the novel but I hope give a little of the sense of the place.