Laing stood on the tiled verge of the deep end, under the unvarying fluorescent light.
On more than one occasion the elevator doors were sprayed with urine.
‘They’re always complaining about something,’ Steele confided in Laing as they stepped into an elevator. ‘If it isn’t this, it’s that. They seem unwilling to accept that the services in a new building take time to settles down.’
Fifty feet away to Laing’s left a cocktail party was in progress. Two buffet tables covered with white cloths had been laid with trays of canapés and glasses, and a waiter was serving drinks behind a portable bar. Some thirty guests in evening dress stood about talking in small groups.
Laing picked up his rackets case and towel bag, but his way to the staircase was blocked by the people around him. The entire cocktail party had moved along the roof, and the waiter now stood alone between the bar and the buffet tables.
Resting at his feet was Royal’s Alsatian with its Arctic coat, without doubt the premier dog in the high-rise. Making no attempt to hide himself, Anthony Royal was watching Laing with a thoughtful gaze.
During the electricity blackout the eighteen-year-old wife of a fashion photographer on the 38th floor had been assaulted in the hairdressing salon by an unknown woman.
Charlotte laughed openly as soft drinks were poured on to the cars below, drenching the windscreens and roofs of the expensive limousines and sports saloons in the front ranks.
Everyone in the high-rise, Laing reflected, watched television with the sound down. The same images glowed through his neighbours’ doorways when he returned to his apartment.
Seizing Charlotte good-humouredly around the waist, one of the pilots almost dragged her off to the small projection theatre beside the school which had previously been used for showing children’s films. The theatre was now screening a private programme of blue movies, including one apparently made on the premises with locally recruited performers.
He even took a certain crude pleasure in joining in the gossip, and in watching the usually circumspect Charlotte Melville put down several more than two drinks too many.
Giving up, Laing stood to one side. He watched as the shocked young woman stumbled into the mouth of this eager gauntlet and was pummelled through a circuit of fists before she was allowed to disappear into the stairwell. His reflex of chivalry and good sense had been no match for this posse of middle-aged avenging angels.
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