The End of an Error

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Thursday 4th December

This morning came the news everybody knew was coming: Jason Kirkland was confirmed to be the body found in the canal. They said there is more to come on the story later in the day.

His mum must have identified the body. How awful. Though where his dad is I still don’t know. Unless he did it as revenge to the mother, as I’ve heard happen on the news countless times.

I’m sure the police will find the murderer. If he was murdered.

I can’t really be bothered to work today. I want a day off. Seems like everything is going wrong. And my only source of information on Mrs Mellor, Naz, is getting fed up of me asking.

I go to work and ask him anyway. He tells me everything is the same as the last time I asked and walks away from me like I’m a leper.

Today I’m determined to find out if she’s OK. I can’t believe the kids have been allowed to get away with this crap for as long as they have. It’s ridiculous.

Agatha the witch steps out of her cave as I enter the depot to collect my box. She stares at me as though she’s ready to say something horrible, or put a curse on me. Maybe she already has which is why things have been turning sour lately.

She curls her long finger and ushers me in like she did when she told me I was being moved from the Leyland round.

I go in and stand at the door in silence and wait for her to speak.

‘I’ve heard talking between the drivers,’ she says. ‘I hear you keep badgering Naz about Mrs Mellor.’

I stay silent.

‘If I find out you’ve been in contact with her since she asked you be moved, well, it’ll be your job.’ She sits back and looks at me all smug like. I would love to grab her face and smash it on the desk. Perhaps it will make her look better. I don’t think she realised she just admitted to me that it was Mrs Mellor who requested a different driver.

I sigh. It looks like my plans to see Mrs Mellor are out of my hands. I can’t risk my job no matter how shitty it is. Damn the drivers and their idle gossip.

I walk out of the office with their eyes on me. I collect my box and leave without so much as a sideways glance. They can go fuck themselves.

In the car delivering my round I’m seething. Why am I not allowed to speak to her? I’m only a caring acquaintance of hers. It’s not like I’ve done her any harm. Do they think I did? Do they think that it was me who gave her those injuries?

Don’t be stupid.

I head home to see if there are any new developments with the Jason situation.

It seems as though the divers have found all they’re going to find. It must be cold down there. Not a job I’d like to do myself.

The crowd isn’t out today and there are significantly fewer vehicles around. Seems like the buzz has gone now.

As I step from my car I see that the two men from next door but one – the maybe gay and maybe straight – are in their garden. I just have to find out their names. Referring to them as ‘maybe gay and maybe straight’ just feels wrong. I know it shouldn’t matter what one, or both, of them do in their lives. I think I’ll call them Fat and Buff. Is that worse? It’s worse isn’t it?

Fat and Buff are out in their garden. I don’t know what they’re doing but they both watch me as I head to my house. It’s a little creepy and makes me want to rush inside.

I take off my shoes and see Mei’s mum in the kitchen. She’s made me a cup of tea. She’s never done that before. And she’s smiling. It’s like she’s trying to get on my good side for something, like Mei does. But what? Could it be that she’s just trying to make a peace offering? Though out of character, I can’t say I know her that well so perhaps she is just trying to make a peace offering. It’s not that there wasn’t any peace between us before, it’s more like we just tolerated each other for Mei’s sake. Whatever the reason, it’s a welcome one.

She hands me the cup with a smile. ‘It’s not poison is it?’ I ask with a smile.

Of course, she can’t understand what I’m saying, so she just smiles with me and holds an invisible cup to her mouth to mime a drinking motion.

I drink it and it tastes lovely. It’s not a tea I’ve had before. I think it’s from China.

She leaves me and goes upstairs with a smile. I don’t know what’s gotten into her lately but I kind of like it. I like it when she’s in a good mood. It’s nice. But the fall from ecstasy is a short one and it won’t take long to make that smile go away. I need to keep it there.

I finish the drink and head to Harold’s.

Constable Smith’s car has appeared on the kerb opposite mine in the time it has taken me to drink my tea. He’s not in the car. I wonder if the good looking one is with him.

I knock and enter Harold’s house. The lack of barking is still evident. I do miss that dog.

I hear voices in his living room. Harold yells, ‘In here.’

I walk in and find Smith in my seat and Harold on his usual perch on the reclining sofa. The pretty young one isn’t there. It doesn’t matter. I don’t want to fixate on her while we’re talking.

Mei doesn’t mind me looking at other women. She says it’s natural. I don’t mind her looking at other men. We trust each other not to do anything about it. After all, Mei is beautiful and what idiot would do something to ruin such a good thing?

Certainly not me.

I sit on the sofa beside Harold and they catch me up on their conversation so far, which is about Harold’s Christmas lights. Smith has come round to give an update on the matter. Basically, his lights weren’t taken by Jason. They were taken by some other dickhead out to make a quick quid to feed his heroin habit. Other houses in the area have also had their lights stolen.

I see Harold go a little sheepish. I ask him if he’s all right.

He nods. ‘I just thought it was Jason.’ It seems like he feels guilty now that Jason is dead. If I were him I don’t think I would. Jason did kill his dog after all.

I ask Smith, ‘What about his mum?’

‘What about her?’

‘How is she?’

He tells me she’s doing the best she can.

‘Any idea if he fell in or was, you know, murde-’

‘I can’t disclose that information at the time,’ he interrupts.

Harold looks at us both. ‘Could he have been murdered?’

Smith stands to his feet and says, ‘Like I said, I can’t talk about it.’

Harold joins him and shows him out. I can hear them have a little talk, something I can’t quite make out. The open door is letting in a draft.

Harry comes in, weary and playful with small wide eyes. He’s a lovely cat. I try to pet him and he goes for my hand, rolling onto his back with what looks like a smile. I know it’s not a smile but it looks cute.

Harold closes the door and walks into the kitchen. ‘Brew?’ he asks as he passes the living room door.

‘No thanks,’ I shout. ‘Mei’s mum made me one.’

‘These bloody foreigners taking our jobs,’ he jokes.

He doesn’t make himself one either.

I move back onto what I call ‘my seat’ and Harold returns to his recliner and looks at me for a little longer than I’m comfortable with.

‘You all right?’ I ask him.

He says, ‘Do you really think he could have been murdered? That canal bank isn’t the safest place for kids to be.’

‘Was only a suggestion. Could have been though, couldn’t he?’

He nods. ‘I suppose so. I’d just hate to think that we’re living among a murderer.’

I’d hate that too. I know I already feel uncomfortable living around here. I think Mei’s suggestion of moving is becoming more real by the day.

Later, as we’re eating Mei’s mum’s lovely cooking, we watch the BBC news and find out the answer to whether Jason was or wasn’t murdered.

He was. Apparently he was bludgeoned with a blunt object before being dumped like one of those old mattresses in the canal. Someone had tied bricks around his torso to weight him down somewhat.

‘That’s awful,’ Mei says. ‘I hated him like everyone else but it sounds like he suffered.’

Although the food we’re eating is nice, I have somewhat lost my appetite.

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