The End of an Error

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Wednesday 3rd November

There are even more cars there this morning it seems. Could just be the same amount, but it feels like more. It could just be that the residents’ cars are still outside their homes, though there does seem to be a buzz about the place.

The morning news comes on the car radio. I usually don’t bother with the news as it’s always bad news. But I can’t tell if this is good news or bad news. They’ve found a body in the canal. It’s good that they might have found him but it’s bad he’s dead. Know what I mean? For me, it would be like Christmas has come early, but only if he’d been moved instead of killed. They haven’t confirmed whether it’s Jason or not, but who else could it be?

He could have fallen in. Simple as that. I’m jumping to conclusions saying he’s been killed. Though plenty of people would have a good reason for it I suspect.

‘I feel so sorry for his mum,’ Mei says from the passenger seat.

‘Me too.’

After I’ve dropped her off at work I go and do my job. Naz tells me everything is the same as it was regarding Mrs Mellor, apart from she looks depressed. When I ask him in what way does she look depressed, he sharply says ‘depressed’ and leaves it at that.

I can sense I’m becoming a pain in his arse with this but I need to know and I don’t understand why he isn’t as bothered about it as I am.

I do the round and head home to find what seems to be the entire neighbourhood out to watch the commotion. Some people are even complaining about the noise of the traffic coming and going.

At my house Mei’s mum is in my bedroom window watching everything unfold like a living soap opera. It must be better than whatever drivel she usually watches.

She sees me and smiles like she’s been caught. But she carries on watching. Well, as long as she’s happy.

I enter into a house that has been bottomed. Clean isn’t the word I’d use to describe it. I’d call it a spotless oasis, though that’s just the artist in me speaking.

God I’m full of shit.

It does look lovely, though. It’s no wonder Mei has a crappy immune system, living in a bubble, as it were. In the nicest way possible it seems like Chinese people have obsessive compulsive disorder. I know they don’t actually have it and it’s probably their culture, but a lot of them are afraid of the slightest bit of dirt, or washing up liquid bubbles. Mei’s mum always said ‘If the washing up liquid does that to the plates, what is it doing to our bodies?’. I suppose she has a point but I do think sometimes things go too far. Not everything is contaminated.

With the house looking so crisp it’s hard to look forward to her going home.

Harold is out at the moment so I think I’ll go for a walk, you know, to innocently scout the area and see what I can.

The maybe gay couple – the neighbours from one hundred – are in the crowd. What I consider a crowd anyway. It’s a small mass of about seven people but I imagine it was worse earlier. I can see certain people from the area in their dressing gowns complaining about the noise waking them at almost lunch time. How the other half life, right?

The maybe gays were watching with their arms folded and their backs straight like this was the most exciting thing to happen in their lives. Their necks are stretched to get the best view over the vans. I don’t know if they work or not; that’s their business. They both have brown hair and both are physically opposite each other. One is small overweight and the other is tall buff.

‘Hey,’ I say as I approach them.

‘All right, Lee,’ says the buff one in a deep voice that kind of makes me think it’s a fake voice.

‘Hi,’ says the other one. His voice sounds normal. Not high and camp nor deep and ashamed. Looking at them I can see why people would think they’re gay. I don’t, though.

‘What’s happening?’ I ask.

The buff one tells me they saw a body being taken away. ‘I think there are still divers down there but the police won’t let us near. We almost got on TV earlier, though. You might see us later on BBC North West.’

I smile.

The overweight one says, ‘That little fucker needed to be dealt with.’

I look at him.

He sees my expression. ‘What? He was horrible. You know what he did to poor Harold’s dog and Christmas lights. Not to mention the things he called me. And the eggs thrown at our houses.’

OK, now I definitely think he’s gay.

The man was shedding a tear. ‘I’m sorry,’ he says while waving a hand in his face as if to cool down. ‘I just loved that dog.’

His friend looks embarrassed.

‘What if Jason simply fell in?’ I ask.

‘Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t.’

I feel a little uncomfortable with this conversation and want to find a way to leave it. It’s the first time I’ve spoken to these two and it may be the last. I glance behind me to see Harold pull up outside his house. That’s my cue.

‘I’ll catch you guys later guys,’ I say, though I almost say that wrong.

They say goodbye and I can feel them watching me as I head to Harold’s.

‘All right, Lee?’ Harold says as he climbs out of his car.

‘Don’t go up there,’ I say. ‘Not if you want to come away unhappy.’

We go inside and have our usual cup of tea. He asks what happened and I tell him what the maybe one gay and maybe one straight person said. He finds it as odd as I do. He also goes quiet on the subject of Jason’s departure and changes the subject to Liverpool where we then sit and analyse the match. Or I sit and nod because I don’t get into it as much as he does. Not that I’m complaining. It’s good to talk to him, plus I think it takes his mind off the recent problems he’s been having. I think the Jason thing has conflicted him more than at has me. He tells me he saw Jason’s mum being returned to her home. She looked a right state. It’s a good job she has an older daughter there to look after the kids. Don’t know how old she is, late teens I suspect.

Later on after I’ve picked Mei up from work, we head home. There are still some police cars around the bridge entrance but I avoid them. I think right now I’d rather let whatever happens, happen.

We sit down to our food her mum has prepared for us: tomato and egg soup with chow mein. It’s half six so I put BBC one on for the evening news. I want to see if there’s anything about the recent events. There is. The camera shows the canal and a diver and in the background behind the journalist is the small crowd, with the maybe gay and maybe straights looking on (I need to stop saying that, the liberals will hate me). They stand out. Luckily I wasn’t there at the time of recording.

I wonder who it was that killed him. If it is him. When I think about it, there are a lot of people around here who could have done it. Harold surely has the most reasons to, what with Poppy and his lights being stolen. The Starkies don’t really have much of a reason other than he goes against most things they believe in and he egged their house. Their neighbours have some reason to, they did hint that he had caused them trouble. What trouble, though, I don’t know.

Then I think, what if his mum did it? Or his siblings? She could be covering it up with her wild antics of late.

That’s preposterous.

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