“It’s two miles from the airport,” he said. “Look for the biggest house. And I mean…” her voice dropped to a whisper, “… the biggest.”
“It’s a very famous house,” he said. “The anti-slavery establishment started there.”
I was aware of this property from my previous research. It was a colossal butter-colored mansion once owned by a prime minister, William Pitt the Younger. I’ve removed it from contention as a possible Cruise residence because it was sold in 2018 (£8.5m) to a used car mogul who, at least judging by a 2020 article I read in Car Dealer magazine, seemed to be ensconced in it. But it was only a few miles away. On foot, the journey could be completed in just over an hour.
How exactly, I ended up on the edge of that woman’s privately owned field again, I have no idea. The expedition up to that point seemed to take me through entirely new areas. Suddenly, I noticed that the path had dissipated into a dense forest. This is like what happened yesterday, when I trespassed into that woman’s field, I thought, then looked up and saw her house in the distance.
I panicked. I scared a badger, too, baby! —and headed through the woods as fast as I could in a new, randomly chosen direction. This deposited me in a vast field, previously unknown. In all previous paths, the vigorously growing cow parsley had stood on slender stalks, shin height. Here, upright hordes brushed my shoulders, while fallen comrades wrapped themselves around my ankles. Needles of true panic pricked the back of my neck under my sweaty hair. Statistically speaking, I assured myself, it was unlikely that I would be trapped in this field long enough to die there.
Although, wouldn’t it help that woman if I died in this field, so close to hers, where it was not allowed? “That would teach him a lesson,” I told the audio recorder I had brought in case I ran into Tom Cruise. I have to “find some way to notify him,” I explained. (Of my death.) I wish I could see my photo in a… newspaper! That would be another good thing about dying here, I told the recorder. It would “serve” the editor who recklessly assigned me this article, who had irresponsibly approved my travel budget, “correct”. It would probably ruin his life, or at least his working life. God, would he be fired? Certainly, at the very least, he would get in trouble. You should never have sent her to a small English town.. Would our boss tell him not to blame himself? I hope not, I’m dead because of him! He didn’t want to die, of course, but if it did happen, at least he’d die doing what he loved: making people feel bad and get deservedly in trouble. I had yet to clearly develop a mental image of my widowed husband’s second wife when I realized that she had stumbled, in the middle of a field, on a dirt road that led into a neighborhood. I ran for it, surprised to discover the exact address of the used car dealer’s palatial estate.