Vikki Winner is a regular sight on the red carpet here on the Algarve. Armed with her trusty microphone she seeks out all the juicy gossip for her weekly column: Vikki’s Vices, and has never been one to hold back with her opinions, even when this has led to the occasional legal writ coming her way.
Tonight she’s attending an event at the Municipal Theatre, hosted by the local Expat community. Fern Mortimer is expected to attend after tickets from an ‘unknown’ source were sent her way, supposedly with the generous intention of taking her mind off the upcoming trial. Strangely enough, and allegedly unrelated, Vikki has suggested in her column that she’ll be targeting a certain young woman tonight. I think we can all draw our own conclusions from that.
The event in question is a theatre production to be performed by a local drama group, notwithstanding a cameo appearance by homegrown talent and oft-nominated Jose Rosco (he’s particularly “big” in Brazil).
It’s getting noisy here as people flock into the theatre. Rumour has it there will be an auction in the interval, raising money for Access4All, a charity promoting wheelchair-friendly tours around the globe.
Here comes Vikki now with an entourage of photographers close behind; those flashing bulbs give her an angelic aura, although I doubt she’ll be remotely heavenly once she gets her prey in sight.
Well, talking of prey, Fern has just arrived with Raven at her side. Vikki has spotted her too and the glare of the cameras now falls upon the startled young women.
RH: (whispers) I think we’ve been set up.
FM: What? I can’t hear you.
RH: (leans in closer) Don’t look now but there’s a woman with a huge microphone heading our way.
FM: Our way? Why?
RH: No idea, but maybe this wasn’t a good idea after all.
VW: Miss Mortimer, Vikki Winner here from The Courier. How are you feeling?
FM: Fine, thank you. (She looks to Raven with a ‘what the heck’ expression)
VW: Great. You must be nervous, what with the trial starting tomorrow.
FM: Must I?
RH: Come on, let’s go back to the hotel. You don’t need this, not tonight. (She steps in front of Fern’s wheelchair and thrashes her arms about as though to clear people out of the way)
VW: Going somewhere?
RH: We’d like to, yes, please. If you could just …
VW: You’re not staying to lend your support to the charity. My editor thought it would be perfect for you, that’s why he sent those tickets.
FM: You sent them?
VW: (beams and turns to the camera) Not personally, although I might have suggested it to him.
RH: Are you going to let us pass?
VW: You really aren’t staying? That’s a shame. Maybe the stories in the other newspapers were correct. Not that I like to talk about them …
FM: (taps Raven’s leg and nods to her to move aside) What stories? I wasn’t aware of any.
VW: Really? That does surprise me. It seems the defendant’s father has been … shall we say, loose with his words.
RH: (now interested) But, surely that’s not allowed? Not until after the trial, anyway.
VW: Well, maybe in some places. Besides, the Pereiras are a local family. Very successful too – Mr Periera Senior mentions moving his law practice back to the area. Such news went down very well with the local Chamber of Commerce.
FM: Did he mention me, then? By name?
VW: Not exactly, but as you must realise this is a small community. People talk. Names are irrelevant. Let’s just say there aren’t many young blonde Brits taking a local man to court right now.
FW: So, what do these stories say?
RH: Fern, don’t get involved. you can’t risk anything that might harm your case.
VW: Harm it? Are you unsure about the case then? Having doubts, maybe?
RH: (Jumps in front of Fern again) No she is not! But as we are not familiar with legal formalities here, the less said right now, the better.
VW: That’s a shame. My readers are very interested in you, Fern. (She gently shoves Raven aside) They really want to know why you’re accusing Mr Pereira’s son of assault. It’s common knowledge there are no witnesses.
RH: (stepping forward again) She does have a witness, and a strong case.
VW: Really? Based on whose evidence?
RH: Based on a little thing called the truth. You might need to look that up, I know journalists are prone to ignore it.
VW: Hmm, can I quote you on that? (She spins to the photographer and mumbles something to him. A flashlight goes off. She turns back to Fern)
FM: Raven, you’re not helping. Come on, let’s go. (She looks up at Vikki as she passes) Please inform the organisers that we are unable to stay, but we’ll be making a substantial donation to the charity before we leave the country. Goodbye, have a lovely evening.
(The two cross the road and head away from the theatre, not caring where they’re heading so long as Vikki and her cameras are not close by)
VW: (Back outside the theatre, she faces the camera and winks) Seems we scared them off, guys. That spoilt little girl tag sure does seem appropriate now.
Well, what do you make of that? Has Vikki thrown a spanner in the works? I’m not so sure she has. Fern looked pretty composed to me. Raven, on the other hand, well, that young lady certainly gets riled easily. This trial certainly promises to be addictive. Then again, I would say that, wouldn’t I? 😉
Thanks for reading 🙂
In the meantime, you can read The Fifth Wheel – A Prequel now and find out what happened to her last summer.
NB: Access4All is a fictitious charity, created purposely for this series of interviews – although it sounds like a great idea to me.