I waited most of next day, worried sick, but she didn't show.
Early that evening, I rang a few friends I knew went to the same clubs and pubs as Van. Sure enough, one of 'em
had seen her the night before dancing wildly in a Rave club in London. He reckoned she was stoked up on Ecstasy
and booze. He hesitantly told me he'd seen her leave with a bunch of misfits and wasters... which really gave me
the chills for her safety.
I rang my old mate Mol, and told him what was going down here.
I know he loves Van and me lots and sure enough... he said we'd have to go looking for her right away and came
over there and then!
We went down to 'cardboard city' on the Southbank. This
is a place South of the city near the river, where people without homes tend to spend the night laying on
the concrete with some limited shelter from building over-hangs. A pretty girl, who couldn't have been older than
15, told us she'd seen a red-haired woman walking along the wall next to the River Thames.
Me and Mol became really anxious. With Van's state of mind,
and all boozed up and all, she might have jumped in or even fell into the icy waters below.
The wind seemed to howl around the Shell-BP tower building,
like the foreboding breath of death, as we walked up the river bank looking for the worst!
We found nothing. We crossed over the river into the West End, and moved towards Soho. As
we searched the shops, alleys, and bars - I stuck up little posters I'd made earlier on my PC. Each had a small
photo of Vanessa, and a promise of 100 pounds reward if anyone phoned me to say where I could find her.
As we left to go home, my mind was filled with an image
of her walking along the Thames wall, bent on killing herself. I just prayed she was still alive!
It was nearly a week and a half later - and a lifetime of worry
and self-guilt - when we got a call from someone looking to pick up the 100 pound reward. The caller said
that a woman like the one in the photograph was sleeping rough in a cemetery in Kennington.