So one of my resolutions for 2018 was to write a short story or piece of flash fiction for my blog each month, and here’s the first. I hope you enjoy it and I’d love to hear what you think!
I nodded absently, adding the odd ‘mm I suppose,’ as my dad rambled on. I don’t know when he decided that every bowel movement, or lack thereof, deserved an in depth discussion but I suppose there wasn’t anything much else to talk about. At eighty-three his body seemed to be giving up on itself, and now he was confined to living in a nursing home where the only sources of entertainment were reading or staring mindlessly at the TV. Well, unless he overheard one the care staff dishing some salacious gossip, but that had gotten less frequent of late, now his hearing was as he described it ‘like having his ears stuffed with itchy cotton wool’.
Today was especially bad. After the simple task of getting out his chair had caused him to take a tumble two days ago, he’d confined to his bed to rest, which mean he didn’t even have the company of his fellow residents to break the monotony of his day.
His bedroom wasn’t much bigger than your average bedsit. A wardrobe, a chest of drawers, a single bed and a chair had been crammed into the tiny space. It was making me claustrophobic sitting next to his bed.
I remember as a child thinking how tall and indestructible he seemed now he looked so small and shrunken tucked up under his duvet cover.
My eyes hovered over the bruise just above his eyebrow, covered most of his wrinkled forehead was turning from purple to a yellowish green, which was a good sign but the cut running the length of his forehead that I was more worried about. It had turned an ominous shade of black.
This was the man who used to make bad jokes, always telling me and my sister tall stories of when he was a pirate or a spy or some other such nonsense that kept us enraptured…
“Kerry?” said dad, his weak voice breaking through my thoughts.
“Yes, dad?” I replied.
“You’ve got that look.”
“That worried look.”
“I don’t mean to,” I sighed. “It’s just…how did you fall again?”
It was my dad’s turn to sigh. “I told you. I got up to go the loo and my legs decided they didn’t want to do that and I fell. Hit my head on old Bertie’s chair.”
“Nobody pushed you?”
“No, this is a good place this, no abuse here.”
“Okay, then,” I replied, not entirely convinced.
“Your mum was always a worrier when she were alive. I was a couple of hours late home one night, she called the police, the coastguard and she was trying to get hold of the army when I walked in.”
“Down the pub, were you?” I smiled. I knew most of his stories and they always seemed to involve the pub in some way, shape or form.
I noticed him shift uncomfortably under his duvet cover.
“Don’t tell me you cheating on mum?”
“Your mum was the love of my life, I would have never done that,” he snorted indignantly. “It’s just well…it’s not something I’ve ever told anyone before.
“Oh, go on,” I replied, “it can’t be that bad.”
He looked at me for a long moment, his bloodshot eyes staring me down.
“Alright then,” he said eventually. “It happened when you were small, seventy four I think, the autumn or was it the winter…”
I could see him getting agitated, so I placed a hand on his arm. “It’s okay dad, the date doesn’t matter, just carry on.”
“Anyhow, we were living in this lovely street, well, it was lovely apart from this one little sod. Matthew Carter.”
I nodded, wondering where this trip of nostalgia was heading.
“I mean real scum of the earth. Couldn’t hold down a job, too bone idle. Beat his wife up, she was young too. Little slip of a thing. Always drunk and having fights with strangers in the street. I broke one up once, which was a mistake because that set me firmly within his sights.”
“He started by shouting abuse in the street. He and a mate jumped me on the way home from work once too. Luck for me I could defend myself, him and his mate ran away with their tails between their legs, I can tell you. He didn’t like that. A week later he put a brick through our window, missed your sister Sue by an inch, she was only a baby at the time too.”
“Didn’t you call the police?”
“Could do anything, unless they had proof and nobody would testify against him.”
“Aye. Then I found out he’d been dealing drugs…selling them to kids too..” he said trying stifle a yawn.
“Maybe you should have a rest dad, tell me the rest of the story later.”
“No, no,” he replied. “I need to get this out. Anyway I followed him one day, determined to get proof, photographic proof, so I could take it to the police. He went down an alleyway and this girl came up to him, she must have been about fifteen at the most. She had that emaciated look that druggies have. She was obviously trying to buy something from him, I heard him say that she didn’t have enough. She begged him for the stuff. He replied saying that there were other ways to pay for things.”
“As the kids say, eww.”
“Exactly. But she was made of stronger stuff that girl, she refused but Matthew decided to not take no for an answer. She stand a chance against him.”
I gasped. “Did he…?”
“I didn’t give him the chance. There was an old tire iron someone had dumped, picked it up and hit him, again and again and again until there wasn’t much left of his head.”
I could feel my mouth drop open. Did my dad just confess to murder?
“What about the girl?”
“Bolted,” replied my dad, his voice fading a little. “Never saw her again. I kept waiting for the knock on the door from the police….”
His head drooped forwards. I quickly leapt forward to check his pulse. It was still beating steadily.
He emitted a small snore.
I sat back down heavily, accidentally knocking into his bedside table sending some things flying.
Automatically I picked them up placing them back on the table.
My dad’s a murderer? I can’t believe it. What should I do?
I picked the last item up. A book. The cover caught my eye. It was of a man holding a tire iron. I checked the back. It had a strangely familiar synopsis. It was pretty much the same story my dad had told me.
I couldn’t believe it, he’d just told me the plot line of the book he was reading. He’d been having me on this whole time, just like when I was a kid.
I bent over his bed and kissed him on the forehead.
“You got me dad,” I whispered.
I swear he smiled in his sleep.