The End of an Error

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Monday 1st December

It’s now Monday. A fresh week and a fresh month. The beginning of December. Four and a half weeks until Christmas. Four and a half weeks until the best day of the year is complimented with the best meal of the year. It’s just a shame it’s in Blackpool. Can’t have everything, right?

I think driving lessons is definitely a go. Hopefully she’ll like them. And it’ll give me a chance to have a drink when we go on one of our rare nights out to the pub. I remember the last time we went out for a nice meal. It was for our anniversary. We went to a restaurant in Chorley. The food was lovely. It was just marred by a bigot on the table beside us. I could hear him going on about Syrian refugees. I think he was on his first date with the lady he was with as he was telling his life story, about how his mum ran a factory and he took it over and how he works hard and doesn’t want his hard earned money to pay for refugees who just take from the country. I felt like saying ‘Hey, pal, we’re all human.’ But I didn’t as you can probably tell. What did put a smile on my face though, was when the bill came and he said to the lady he will get it and she replied with ‘No it’s all right, I wouldn’t want your hard earned cash to be spent on me’. I thought: that put you in your place didn’t it, you prick.

Snow fell again last night and is turning slushy as I make my way to the depot. I’m getting a bit fed up of working every day now. Then I think of the alternative: staying at home. It might only be a few hours out of the house, but it’s a few hours of freedom. Plus the money comes in handy. I think I’ll continue for now.

There’s a gritting truck in front of me showering my car with rock salt. It’s a bit late isn’t it? The damage has already been done. To the road anyway; my car hasn’t had its share of scratches yet.

For a mile I follow, staying a nice distance away from it, all the while wishing it would just piss off. Some impatient drivers behind me try their luck and manage to pass us both. I won’t be taking that chance, not on these slippery roads. It’ll be slippery in front of the truck.

I get to the depot and most of the drivers are loading up their cars. I see Naz. He knows what I’m going to ask, so he speaks before I get the chance. ‘Her door looked like someone had kicked it,’ he tells me. ‘And she had another injury, this time on her wrists. Both of them.’

I give him a puzzled look.

‘I can’t explain it either. I offered to help and she rejected it. I’m not doing anything else about it. Agatha is always watching me.’

He seems a little pissed off today.

He went on his way to deliver the meals leaving me standing outside my car a little shocked. I need to see if everything’s OK.

After collecting my box, I take a little detour along Fox Lane and on to Royal Avenue. I just want to drive past her house to see if there’s anything amiss. I highly doubt there will be, not outside anyway, and I daren’t go inside or knock in case she calls the police on me. Before I know it I’ll be out of a job with a restraining order. It’s a possibility.

I turn around and head to Longton, again with her on my mind.

It has bugged me beyond belief. I can’t stand seeing or hearing about people being treated badly. Those kids need to be taught a lesson. I just feel so powerless.

How can they be allowed to get away with something like that? That’s a question I can’t seem to answer.

I finish the round and head home. I can do it on autopilot now and it’s so boring. I need a Mr Byrne or Mrs Mellor on the round to break up the monotony.

When I get home I see the police Corsa outside one twenty again. What’s he been up to now?

The Starkies are out in their garden. I don’t know why, maybe they’re trying to be nosey and not hiding it well.

I approach their wall. ‘What is it this time?’ I ask, nodding at the police car. I think I’ll be nosy now.

Margaret joins me at the wall. ‘I don’t know. It can’t be good. That car was there last night.’

I nod. ‘Yeah I saw it.’

She shakes her head in disgust. ‘That boy needs sorting out.’

I tell her about his mum looking for him yesterday. I ask her if she’s seen him.

She shakes her head.

‘Where’s his dad? I haven’t seen him for ages. I know he works away but he never seems to come home.’

Margaret moves closer to me and leans in. ‘I hear he up and went. Left them alone.’

I can’t say I blame him to be honest. But those other kids need him surely.

Margaret says to me, almost in a whisper, ‘Irene from our church group told me.’

Richard joins us at the wall. ‘All right, Lee?’

‘Yeah, are you?’ Do we really have to go through this all the time?

He nods his head. ‘If that boy was one of ours we wouldn’t stand for it.’

I remember a story about the Starkies, about how they had five kids and fostered more. I respect that. I’ve never go into it with them properly as I try and avoid the religious pap. The story goes that one of the foster kids ran away after robbing a bank. He served his time in a young offender’s institute and they set him on the straight and narrow. He’s now a major part of the church, I believe. I don’t know what he does and I don’t care to be honest. I just know what they’re good people. To my face anyway. For all I know, they have a dungeon in their house or some S and M gear in the bedroom.

I cringe.

Why did I even think of that?

Then Richard says something that I think is odd. Like it didn’t warrant saying. He says, ‘Well, he’s with God now I suspect.’

It didn’t quite hit me how odd that sentence was until I’m on my way to pick Mei up from work.

For now, we say our goodbyes and I head inside for an afternoon of nothingness.

‘He’s still missing I think,’ I tell Mei on our way home. She asked me about Jason. I also tell her about Mrs Mellor. I think she’s fed up of hearing about her to be honest as she takes her phone out and starts playing some sort of game.

I shut up about her, instead telling her what Richard Starkey said. She dismisses it as the musings of a religious nut.

Perhaps she’s right. I’m becoming obsessed over the smallest things lately. There’s no reason to suspect Jason is missing.

Not until we get home anyway and his mum comes wobbling along the footpath towards us. She obviously drunk. I think it would have taken a hell of a lot of drink to get that woman drunk. Not to mention the money. She has a bottle of wine in her hand.

‘Where the hell is my son?!’ she screams at me.

One of the windows to the flats over the road opens up. We’re getting an audience. I don’t like it, though I am a little concerned about Jason.

‘Still no sing of him?’ I ask in my most sincere voice. The last thing I want to do is aggravate her more, but it comes out as a little sarcastic.

She starts to cry. Long deep filled sobs along with a runny nose. She’s a mess.

Her other children appear at her gate along the road.

‘Please,’ she begs. ‘Just give him back.’

‘I’m sorry,’ I say. ‘I don’t have him. I haven’t seen him since he tripped Mei up the other night.’

Now Harold appears at his gate, which was a bad move.

Jason’s mum looks at him. ‘And you,’ she yells. ‘You’ve had it in for him just as much as these...people.’ She’s referring to Mei and me.

Harold becomes visibly angry now. Raising his voice and pointing a finger at her he says, ‘If that boy has got himself into trouble it’s his own fault. Or yours. You had a chance to help him. Instead you let him get away with murder.’

Bit insensitive, I think to myself.

‘I’m sure you’re all happy now,’ she cries.

The police Corsa comes along the road and stops at the pavement on the other side. Someone has called him.

We all wait for him to get out of his car.

Jason’s mum is first to start. ‘Arrest them. They know where my son is.’

Constable Smith asks her to calm down and to hand him the bottle of wine. She refuses and finishes it off. There’s not much left. She then smashes it on the road.

Even I know that was a bad move.

Smith insists she calms down. He warns her that that type of behaviour can result in her arrest.

She ignores him. ‘Where the fuck is my son?’ she shouts. ‘Where is he? You said you would find him.’

Another police car, this time a Vauxhall Astra, pulls up behind Constable Smith’s Corsa. A female steps out. She’s only young but looks like she can handle herself. She’s also stunningly beautiful.

This riles Jason’s mum up even more. She looks her up and down and says: ‘Slut. Never mind dolling yourself up. Get out there and find my son!’

They both try to calm her down. They tell her they’re doing what they can. This isn’t going to help her case.

Then the unthinkable happens: Jason’s mum loses her temper and pushes the young officer. And then she’s arrested. Right there on the spot.

Smith tells us he will come and speak to us tomorrow. No guesses why.

After they leave, I say to Harold who is standing at his gate, gobsmacked, ‘That was interesting,’

‘Perhaps I shouldn’t have said what I said,’ he says to me.

‘Don’t beat yourself up, we were all thinking it.’

‘Perhaps you’re right,’ he says and heads back inside.

Mei and I go inside.

Mei tells her mother what happened but she already saw. She was watching from the bedroom window.

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