This Is The Day:chapters 62/63/64

62

Danny

 

 

                        He shifted slightly on the bed, when he saw them lining up outside the door, getting ready to come in.  He wondered what he looked like, and glanced sideways at Michael, guessing that he probably looked even worse.  Michael smiled the softest, weariest smile Danny had ever seen on his face, and Danny smiled back.  He automatically winced, screwing his eyes up in pain, and raising a hand to his swollen lips.  It was easy to forget, he thought, that other parts of him were broken too, when the pain in his sides was so horrendous.  Breathing hurt, let alone talking. He looked back at Michael and lifted his eyebrows. Michael managed a slight nod.  His face was as white as the bandages that circled his head.  He looked exhausted, Danny thought, watching him.  He closed his eyes for a moment, and his mouth remained turned up. He could barely believe the strength of the emotions that were flooding him.  He could only keep thinking over and over, I’m alive, I’m alive, it’s over, it’s really over and I am alive.

 

He had to keep telling them he was alright.  None of them seemed to believe it.  His mother held his hand on one side, Lucy on the other, and by the looks on their faces you would think he was on his death bed.  He kept on smiling.  He kept on saying it to them; “I’m alright, I’m fine, look! I’m really alright.”  Michael barely spoke.  He seemed drained, and barely with it.  Anthony too, Danny thought glancing at where he was seated next to his brother. He sat rigidly, his body full of tension, all the fears he had imagined etched on his pale face. It’s all alright now, Danny wanted to tell them both, we did it, it really is over this time. We did it right. 

He supposed he felt like a mammoth weight had been lifted from his shoulders.  It seemed like that anyway.  He smiled at all of them and he wanted to grab them all, hold their hands and squeeze their faces and get out of the bed and jump up and down with them.  He wanted to shout it out, the way he was feeling, how good it was, how that heavy feeling had finally gone, and it didn’t feel like anything was pressing him down anymore.  He felt light, that was it, light as a feather and as free as a bird.  He wanted to laugh, but when he started to, they all swapped anxious looks with each other immediately.

“I’m not crazy,” he told them through his battered lips, which felt like pillows on his face.  “I just feel like laughing.”

“Drugged up,” Anthony said with a snigger from Michael’s bedside.  They all nodded, faint smiles pulling on their faces.  Danny rolled his eyes at them all.

“Just want to get out of here,” he said then, and his eyes met with Lucy’s.  He took a deep breath in as his guts took a nosedive at the thought of it all. Their lives.  Finally starting.  He tightened his hand over hers and let her feel his strength. “Start a life. Me you and babes, eh?”

The smile that lit up Lucy’s face made him want to weep. She was nodding and using her other hand to wipe the tears from her eyes. “Plus you’ve still got to get your bloody tattoo,” she said, making them all roar with laughter. “What?” she frowned around at them all. “He does! He said he would.”

“I’ve got it all figured out, don’t worry,” Danny grinned at her, stroking his forefinger back and forth across the top of her hand.  “Just wait til the baby is born, that’s all.”

When they had all been shooed out again by the doctors, Michael cleared his throat and turned his head slowly, painfully to look at Danny. “You alright mate?” he croaked, and cleared his throat again.  Danny nodded, suddenly swamped by tiredness. “Sorry mate,” Michael said then, and Danny looked at him sharply. “Sorry I fucked it up.”

“Don’t be a twat, they knocked you out, what could you do?”

“Just feel like a twat…let you down.”

“No. Fuck off did you! There wasn’t anything you could do.  We were stupid to go in there. We should have known. Anyway, forget it, I mean it Mike.” Danny fixed him with a stern glare, to which his friend nodded in response. “’Cause I can feel it you see,” he explained. “I can feel it all over me, inside me, everywhere. It’s over this time.  Really it is.  We did it.  One way or another.  Maybe the right way this time.  Okay?”

“Okay,” Michael nodded. “If you say so Dan…”

“I do.  I do say so.  Time to live now Mikey my son.  You and your family and me and mine, and Anthony and his.  Okay?” Michael nodded again, and forced a brave smile, his eyes looking drowsy and half open.  “Good,” Danny told him. “Because we’ve all got to forget it now, you know, we’ve all got to just get on with life.”  He closed his eyes, his eyelids too heavy to battle against anymore. I thought I was gonna’ die, but I didn’t.  I paid for what I did, and so did they.  It’s all over.

 

The next time he woke up, Danny found his brothers strained face staring back at him.  He was sat to one side of the bed, elbows on knees, hands clasped together under his chin.  He had a small beard, Danny noted right away.  And flecks of grey all through his hair.  Danny blinked and grinned. “Hi John.”

“Alright little brother?” John grinned back, his shoulders relaxing with relief.  Danny shifted on the bed, and winced automatically.  They had encased his middle in thick, tight bandages to hold the ribs in place.  He felt like he was wearing a cast.  He felt the sudden urge to throw back the blankets and run for the door.  There was so much waiting out there now, he remembered, and licked his lips.  A whole world he had never dared believe in before.  “They tell me you’re gonna’ be okay.”

“Course I am.  I’m always okay.”

“Good, good,” John sighed and nodded at him.  He dropped one hand from his chin, slid it hesitantly across the bed sheets towards his brother.  Danny felt it fall softly onto his arm and frowned at it.  “Nothing to worry about now, you know?” John said to him, speaking gently, as if Danny was a kid still, as if he were still tiptoeing around his moods.  “They’re all in jail.”

“Yep,” Danny agreed.  “Or dead.”

John’s forehead creased. “Yeah,” he looked away briefly.  “Or dead. You’re gonna’ be okay though, yeah?”

“Course I am John. Don’t you worry. I got Lucy and the baby to think of now, you know.  Have you seen the size of her?”

“Yeah,” John smiled. “Listen, I won’t keep you long, but I’ve got something to tell you.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah, I mean, you might not want to do anything about it but he asked me to tell you, so….” John shrugged his broad shoulders while Danny looked on in curiosity.  He could see John was struggling, just like that day on the beach, struggling to find the right words and put them in the right order. “I mean,” he said, “you hadn’t contacted your dad, after I gave you the letter and stuff?” He looked at Danny expectantly.  Danny made a face, then winced in pain.

“I’ve had a lot of other stuff on.”

“Oh I know, I know, of course,” John looked startled and uncomfortable, and smiled weakly.  “I know, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…”

“So what has he asked you to tell me?”

“Oh. Well, he wants to meet you. He’s here. I mean, not here in the hospital, but he’s booked into a hotel nearby. He wants to make amends with you.  Get to know you.” John raised his eyebrows hopefully and tried another wary smile.   Danny blew out his breath and felt himself growing weaker by the second.  He looked back at his brother and could see how much it meant to him. The eagerness to please, to do something right, was etched all over his face. 

“Okay,” he said with a slight nod. “Tell him that’s fine. When I’m out of here. I’ll be at Lucy’s.  You can give him the address.”

He watched the relief flood his brothers face, and found it quite touching.  He closed his eyes briefly, and then opened them again to find John getting up from the chair, and buttoning his coat. “I’ll leave you to it. You must be exhausted by now.” He leaned forward then and for a terrifying moment Danny was sure John was going to plant a kiss on him. He braced himself, but John merely gave him an awkward clumsy hug, that made his ribs grate in protest when he lifted one arm to reciprocate. “I’m so glad you’re okay,” John told him. “And I’m glad it’s all over. We can all look forward now, can’t we?”

Danny nodded at him and closed his eyes again.  He wanted John to go, so he kept his eyes closed until he heard the door open and close. He wondered vaguely what his mother would think about him finally seeing his dad again, after all these years.  He was not sure if he would want to hug the man, or hit him.  He pushed it away, pushed it to one side in his mind, something to deal with when the time came, and he felt his eyelids growing heavier again.  He thought of the men in the ground, and the men behind bars, and the rest of them, the survivors. How they would just have to get on. Just keep going.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

63

Lucy

 

December 2004

It felt like the baby was taking over her entire body. It was simply exhausting to imagine she had four more months to grow.  She could not fathom how her body would manage to stretch any further.  She had not had a decent nights sleep in weeks, but her mother told heritt was normal, that it was natures way of preparing her for the many more sleepless nights to follow.  In the weeks following Danny and Michael’s release from the hospital, Lucy reflected that life felt dreamlike.  Things were unusually quiet, subdued even, but in a calm and healing way.  There were so many things that made her smile.  Anthony’s wife Christina finally agreeing to meet Danny, Lucy having gone to the trouble to arrange a big dinner party at her flat.  Michael bringing Jenny along, holding her hand, a wicked gleam in his dark brown eyes.  Danny talking tentatively to his father on the phone.  Danny sleeping like a baby, deeply and soundlessly, as if his mind had finally emptied itself of horror.

The week before Christmas, she was thankful to be off work at last, and putting her feet up a bit.  Danny had finally arranged for his father to come over to the flat, to meet them both in person.  He was nervous, of course, trying on two different t-shirts before he settled on his Clash one.  He went out on the front step three times to smoke a cigarette.  He was trying to give up, for the baby, and cursed himself each time he reached for the door knob, shaking his head at his own weakness. In the end Lucy got up from the sofa and caught his arm before he ducked back out.  She reached up and pressed her hand against his cheek, smiling at his taut expression, tracing her fingertips over the faded bruises.  “Relax,” she told him, as he opened the door and stepped half outside with his cigarette between his lips. “He’s coming because he wants to see you. There’s nothing to worry about.”

Danny smiled back, lit his smoke and puffed a sigh of smoke into the crisp December air.  She watched him shiver, and shake back his hair.  She felt the rush of warmth towards him that was always there on the surface, making her want to bury her head in his chest, and feel him wrap her hair around his fingers.  She kept her arm linked through his. “There’s a taxi coming,” he nodded, narrowing his eyes at the road. Lucy peered past him and watched the black and white taxi pull in behind her old mini.  She rubbed his arm.

“I’ll put the kettle on.”

She did not want to intrude on their meeting, so she busied herself in the kitchen, gathering three mugs and placing the chocolate cake she had made in the centre of the table.  She bit her lip, waiting anxiously, a smile tugging at her mouth, while Danny met his father for the first time in fifteen years.  It was exciting, she thought, scary and daunting, but extremely exciting, and she couldn’t help but feel pleased for the baby, who would have two sets of grandparents to be spoiled by now.

When Lucy heard the front door close, she came to the kitchen doorway. She had a brief moment before he turned to face her, to look Danny’s father up and down, and for a moment the similarity to Danny took her breath away.  He was shorter, and thinner, but with the same shock of thick blonde hair, and it was his movements too, she mused, gazing wonderingly, it was everything about him! “This is Lucy,” Danny said then, seeming to take a huge brave breath as his father looked up at Lucy.  She stuck her hand out and he immediately took it in both of his.  She knew she was going to like him right away.

“Darling,” he said, “good to see you, how lovely to meet you! Bloodyhell eh?” He was grinning from ear to ear, Lucy noted, like the cat who had got the cream.  There was an edge of nervousness about him, in his eyes as he looked quickly from Lucy to his son, and back again, pulling back his hands, and making an awkward show of removing his thick duffel coat.  He unwound a navy blue scarf from his neck, and Danny took it with his coat, hanging them carefully on the hook.  He then gestured for his father to go into the kitchen, and Lucy moved back, allowing them in.

“Good to meet you too,” she told him, showing him to the table. “Would you like tea or coffee?”

“Tea please,” Brett replied, pulling up a chair. “Two sugars love. Did you make this too?” His eyes had rounded at the sight of the chocolate cake.

“She’s baking non-stop at the moment,” Danny said with a grin. “Must be that nesting thing I’ve heard about.”

“You’re looking well,” Brett nodded at her, still with that beaming smile across his face.  Lucy made the tea and placed the cups on the table. “Due in May is it?”

“That’s right,” she agreed. “I’ll be huge by then!”

Danny came to her side then, snuck an arm around her waist and pulled her into him for a hug. He kissed the top of her head. “You look beautiful,” he looked over at his father. “I’m always telling her.”

They sat down, taking a chair next to each other, and she felt Danny’s hand creep onto her knee. She knew what he and his father had talked about, during their telephone calls over the last few weeks.  She knew they had taken things slowly, getting to know each other through the conversations.  The first one had been the hardest. She had seen the tears in Danny’s eyes afterwards, and then the anger.  That night they had sat out in the kitchen for hours, their hands wrapped around the mugs of thick cocoa she had made them.  “There’s still part of me that wants to blame him,” he had admitted, rubbing at his eyes with both hands. “And her.  There’s still part of me that thinks, if he’d stuck around me, if she’d let him, then things would never have got to that point with Lee….I would have….” He had trailed off then, but she could easily have finished the sentence for him. He would have told his dad. 

By all accounts however, Brett would not have been much help to anyone back then.  He had been in and out of prison over the years.  He had never worked a steady, reliable job.  He had battled a drink problem.  Lucy looked at him now and she realised you could see it all on his face.  “Some people have kids at the wrong time for them,” she had said to Danny. “They can’t cope.  They’re too selfish.  They do all the wrong things. But one thing you can say for sure about both of your parents now, they regret it and they are sorry. They want to be there for you now.”

“How’s the job going?” Brett asked, breaking the silence, and picking up his tea.  He looked so eager to please, Lucy thought then, his eyes almost constantly on his son, his lips twitching with unease, while his eyes burned with enthusiasm. 

“Danny has two jobs now,” Lucy said proudly, slipping her hand onto his and squeezing.

“Really?”

“Oh it’s not really a job yet,” Danny shrugged. “But I’ve got on this course, this counsellors course? There’s this place near here, this youth place. They’re open all day. Kids can come in and out, find out about jobs and experiences, get advice and help. That kind of thing. And they have like a Friday night disco, and a garden project, and a band on the go. You know.”

“To keep them off the streets?” Brett was nodding emphatically. “Brilliant! Bloody brilliant! I’ve been involved with one myself, in Southampton. I go in and talk to the young lads about drink and that? Try to put them off!”

Danny glanced at Lucy, raised his eyebrows then looked back at his dad. “Yeah, that kind of thing,” he nodded. “So they have a place to go, and people to talk to. They can get into things that will help them.”

“And you’re gonna’ get a job there?”

“Just a volunteer at the moment,” he shrugged again. “But they’ve put me on a course, so yeah, hopefully, one day.”

“Well that’s brilliant, just brilliant,” his dad was beaming again. “Amazing. After all that’s happened. There’s not many people that could turn it into something positive like that, you know.  Took me bloody years to sort myself out. Wasted so much bloody precious time. But you can’t keep looking back, can you? It doesn’t do you any good. No.” He made a fist then and bumped it against the table as if reinforcing this point. “You got to look forward. Enjoy the moment and look forward. So well done you, you should be proud of yourself.” He put his tea down and bit at his lip for a  moment, and again Lucy was reminded of Danny, and she wondered how on earth this must feel for him, despite the phone calls, sitting across the table from his father, after all these years.  “I did try to find you, you know,” Brett said then, swallowing hard.

“I know.  John said.”

“I bundled about from disaster to disaster,” Brett went on. “But in between I’d try to find you. I had no idea where you’d all gone. Then there were times I was in such a bloody mess I convinced myself you were better off without me.”

“Not exactly,” Danny murmured, this hand tightening on Lucy’s knee.

“I know, and I’m bloody lucky you’ll have anything to do with me after the mess I’ve made.” Brett’s expression was sombre. “And that goes for your mum too, in my opinion.”

“We made our amends a long time ago,” Danny said. “There’s no point dragging it up.  She had her hands full with me at that age. I only hope this little blighter doesn’t give us half the trouble!” He smiled warmly at Lucy, but she could see the tremor in his lips. 

Lucy patted his hand and got up then from the table.  She realised they had a hell of a lot to catch up on, and work through.  She yawned dramatically and pushed back her chair. “I think I might go for a little lay down, if it’s all right with you two?” She glanced at Danny and winked.  “I’ll leave you to it for a bit, and catch up on some rest, if that’s okay?”

“Course it is love,” Brett assured her. “You go for it. You won’t get the chance once the little one is here! If it’s anything like him, it’ll scream non-stop from the moment it pops out!” He rocked back in his chair with laughter.

“So Kay keeps saying,” Lucy grinned.  She squeezed Danny’s shoulder as she passed him. “See you in a bit.”

 

In the bedroom, she left the door slightly open and spread herself out on the bed.  Moments later she heard the soft pattering of small feet, as Kurt followed her in and jumped up beside her.  Instinctively, Lucy wrapped both hands around her swollen belly, and rested them there.  She felt the immediate and reassuring kick of the baby against her palms, and smiled slowly to herself.  She fell into sleep with the gentle pokes of the baby against her hands, and the soft murmurings of conversation from the kitchen in her ears. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

64

Danny

 

June 2005

 

            “We must look like a right pair of soppy bastards,” Michael sighed, shaking his head and lifting his hand to his forehead briefly. They sat, side by side in the tattoo parlour, sleeves rolled up, teeth clenched.

“Soppy bastards is the way to go,” Danny replied, biting his lower lip and meeting Michael’s eyes as the needled hammered into his skin.  He made a face and laughed. “Shit!”

“They’re gonna’ love it,” the mohican haired tattooist was grinning back at them. “It’s the ultimate statement of love! Scarring your own body for someone!”

“Plus you owed Lucy one,” Michael was saying. “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing here.”

“Proving your commitment to Jenny, that’s what,” Danny reminded him and he rolled his eyes and nodded.

“The design is genius really,” the tattooist went on, his thin face screwed up in concentration as he traced the lines stencilled onto Danny’s arm.  “The way it works, you can add more names to it as you go, you know, if you have more kids or whatever.”

Michael and Danny met eachothers eyes and burst out laughing.

 

Afterwards they sank a pint in the Old Inne, for old times sake, and to wet the baby’s head, and then it was time to go home, to see the girls.  Giddy with excitement and invigorated by alcohol, they walked the whole way back to Lucy’s flat.  As they walked, Danny inhaled deeply, aware that he could feel it again, all through him, that lightness he had first experienced on waking up in the hospital.  It was the only word he could find to describe it.  Just lightness.  It was his guts too.  He could barely remember how they used to feel, knotted and curled and heavy and sick.  Not now, he reflected, basking in the glorious June sunshine as they headed down Barrack road together, laughing and joking about the mutilation they had just endured. 

They found the girls out in the back garden, soaking up the sun.  Anthony and Christina had just arrived with the kids, and a huge bouquet of flowers.  Danny shook hands with Anthony, swapped his usual polite nod with Christina, and let Anthony pull him in for a proper hug. “Congratulations Danny,” he was grinning from ear to ear, pumping his hand and slapping his back. “Welcome to the club!”

“She’s beautiful Danny,” Christina smiled at him, and he nodded in reply.  He didn’t need anyone to tell him that, did he?

“Come on let’s get this over with,” Michael groaned, pushing past his brother to join Jenny, who was at on a deck chair, with Zach eating an ice cream on her lap.

“I’m not sure we want to see!” she joked, swapping a look with Lucy.  Danny found Lucy’s side and knelt down next to her.

“You ready for this?”

“Go on,” she told him. “It better be good. I can still remember how much mine hurt!”

“Oh I think you’ll find ours beat you in the pain stakes Lucy!” Michael told her, with his hand poised to pull off the bandage at the top of his arm.

“Er, she’s the one who just gave birth!” Jenny reprimanded him with a giggle. “Come on then, get it over with, show us what you’ve gone and done to yourselves.”

“On three?” Michael looked at Danny.  He nodded.  “One…two….three!”

They pulled off their bandages simultaneously.  Lucy peered closer, her mouth gaping, her eyes wandering greedily over the extent of the work he had endured. “You are nuts!” she giggled, hand going to mouth.

“That must have killed!” Anthony exclaimed, next to Michael, poking at his arm.

“Must have cost a bomb!” said Jenny, with a slight frown.

“What do you think?” Danny asked Lucy, cutting the rest of them off, like they had always been able to, slipping away into their own private space, where everything else became a blur and a hum, and it was just them, nose to nose, eye to eye.  Lucy traced her finger over the tattoo, following the swirls of thorns and roses that encircled his upper arm, and along the letters of her own name, which linked through a chain of daisies onto his name, and then finally, making a circle, onto the baby’s name, Eliza.  She looked at him, breath caught in her throat, tears shining in her eyes.  “It’s all of us, see?” he felt the need to explain to her.  “Me you and Eliza, linked together in a circle see? And you know what the tattoo man said? The way it works with the brambles and the flowers, you can add on more names too, you see? When we have more kids?”

Lucy laughed at him, then cupped one hand to his cheek and kissed him hard on the lips.  “I was expecting just my name or something,” she said. “Not all of that! We wondered what was taking you so long!”

“Had to wet the baby’s head too,” he grinned. “Give her here then.”

He slapped the bandage back over the tattoo and eagerly accepted the sleeping infant from Lucy’s arms.  He stood up with her, settling her tiny warm body into his arms, making sure to support her head.  He looked her over.  She had so much hair, already getting blonder by the day.  She stirred and lifted a tiny pink fist, then opened her eyes slowly, blinking him in.  He stared at her and he did not speak, because it was like a spell that might be broken if you spoke, and interrupted it.  He smiled down at her and she stared back at him in that intense way she had.  She had his eyes, they all said it.  Deep blue, they flashed with anger when she screamed.  But she didn’t scream now.  She stared at him and he felt like he had known her his entire life. She was the final piece in the puzzle, he reasoned, staring at her.  She made it all make sense, she made everything worthwhile, and when he stared at her, he knew that there was more love possible in this world than he had ever imagined. 

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This Is The Day:Chapters 60/61

60

Kay

 

                        It’s my fault, like everything, like always, it is my fault, it is my fault, it was my fault from the very beginning, stupid, stupid, stupid woman!  She had to wait outside the wretched, stupid club, the shitting pointless club that had meant so much to Lee. She had to wait there with Lucy, poor Lucy, tears streaming endlessly down her wretched face.  She had to wait there like that, no idea what was going on, only that there were police cars and ambulances everywhere and the police would not let them get any closer. The police would not tell them anything.  Where the hell were Michael and his brother? They would know something!

            She stared in fury at the white and blue building before them.  It was low slung, probably a listed building like everything else in Redchurch.  Apparently it had been a tavern, right back in the nineteenth century, like the George in the high street, frequented by smugglers.  Lee had told her that, she remembered, and she also remembered that she didn’t give a shit.  He had been obsessed with this place, she thought, glaring at it now, as the neon lights from the police cars reflected upon the white washed walls, stretches of red and blue rolling across the textured surfaces. She stood on the pavement, arms folded across her coat, the wind flicking her hair wildly across her face.  It had started to rain too. Where is he? Where is my son? Where is my little boy? This is all my fault, yet again, let him down, useless stupid woman!

            There was no limit to the rage Kay felt with herself, as she stared up at the club she had met her husband in.  She remembered that night as if it were yesterday, and the memory made her seethe with overwhelming regret.  She had gone out alone, dressed to kill.  Things had ended with Frank Bradley and she had been looking for attention.  Looking for someone to make her feel better.  She had known it wouldn’t take long, and she was right.  There had been several men eyeing her up from the moment she walked into Nancy’s all alone.  She had never expected the manager, the co-owner he soon told her, to try it on though.  But he had made a beeline for her as soon as he set eyes on her.  His intense stare had found her through the many heads and shoulders bustling and pushing at the bar.  He had found her and held her with that stare, and she had never felt anything like it.  Her body had trembled from head to toe, and they had not even exchanged words.

            Months later, when he had moved in, when it was obvious that Danny loathed and resented him, when she was surrounded by conflict and being torn in two, Kay had convinced herself that Lee was a good, solid man.  A grafter, a hard worker, someone who had worked his way up from the bottom. A man with old fashioned values and ideas.  A man who wanted to protect her and worship her.  That was what she had told herself, every time she heard him reprimand Danny for some misdemeanor she personally would have let go.  That he was doing it for her, that he was trying to make life easier for her.  She would let it go. Sometimes she would almost say something, open her mouth to try to smooth things over, and then she would stop, close her mouth and say nothing. How many times had she done that in that house? Let him be the boss?  She had stood back and handed him that control, slowly but surely. He wanted Danny to have more jobs around the house.  Fine.  Why not?  Why should it always be her picking up after him?  If he wanted pocket money, then why shouldn’t he do something to deserve it?  Then came the room inspections.  She should have heard the alarm bells then. A teenagers room was a teenagers room. You just closed the door on it and let them get on with it.  But oh no.  Lee was a stickler for cleanliness and tidiness. Oh again, she had seen this as a good thing, hadn’t she? So many men were so filthy and messy, weren’t they?  Not Lee. Not her husband.  He was a man who noticed if the skirting boards were dusty.

            I should have stood up for him then, she thought miserably, maybe it would not have gone so far if I had stood up for him then, if I’d said no, leave him alone, it’s his room, let him have it how he wants, it doesn’t matter. But she’d stepped aside, she’d busied herself with planning the wedding, she had lapped up his devotion and his attention, she had turned her head away every time her son fixed her with his deep blue eyes, as Lee entered his room to check it.  Socks on the floor. Not good. Clothes on the back of the chair. They should be in the wardrobe or in the linen bin.  Over flowing rubbish bin.  Not good. Why couldn’t he take it down and empty it before it got like that, stinking the room up?

            I’d turn my head, I’d look away, I’d pretend everything was fine, I’d go back to thinking what a solid guy he was, how wonderful it was the way he looked after me and paid the bills, and told me not to worry, and I’d think how bloody lucky I was, that I’d struck gold with him, and I’d make myself forget that the very first emotion I had when I first set eyes on him was fear.  Fear.

            “They’re coming out,” Lucy whimpered beside her, and Kay looked up.  It was hard to see, there were too many cars and people in the way. 

            “Who is it? Who?”

            “There’s Anthony! Anthony!”

            He looked dazed.  Lost.  His eyes huge with shock.  His mouth hanging open.  He was wandering about like he did not know what to do or where to go.  He staggered towards them, shaking his head at Lucy. Kay covered her mouth with her hands, dreading what he would say.

            “Got to go in the ambulance,” he murmured, and pointed back to the club, “got to go now, with Mike.”

            “What’s happened?” Lucy was begging, sobbing. “Where’s Danny?”

 

 

 

 

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

61

Lucy

 

                        Waiting was agony, but they all kept saying that no news was good news, as if people would eagerly rush at you with bad news, but be slower to deliver good?  Lucy dared not let herself think or believe anything.  She had the baby.  She had the baby with her the whole time, and that was enough.  Don’t worry, she told the baby, rubbing her hands firmly against the bump, if he’s okay, he’s okay, so we’ll all be okay together, if he’s not okay then he dies a hero, and me and you will still be okay, I promise you.

She was calm, while Kay was a mess. “If he dies, if he dies…” she kept murmuring this over and over again, and Lucy knew she was saying it to herself, so she did not answer her.  Anthony was with them, but not with them.  He was white faced and pacing, up and down the corridor, hands in pockets, eyes boring down into the floor.  When he was called away by one of the doctors, Kay leapt to her feet beside Lucy, hands clutched desperately together under her chin.  Anthony disappeared with the doctor, and she sunk shakily back down. “Oh please God, please God let him be okay…”

There was nothing Lucy could say, so she said nothing.  She kept her hands wrapped around the bump and waited.  When Anthony returned, they both looked up, startled out of their own thoughts.  Kay jumped to her feet again and stared at him, trembling.  “It’s okay,” he said right away, and he meant it, Lucy could see that, he meant it.  It was okay. See? She told the baby then, patting it, see I told you, didn’t I?

“What did they say?” Kay asked him.  He stopped in front of them, hands still in pockets and shoulders slouched in exhaustion as he exhaled noisily.

“Mike’s come around,” he said. “I can see him in a minute. Fractured skull, but he’s gonna’ be okay.”

“Did they say about Danny?” Kay’s voice was shrill with fear and climbing higher. “Danny?”

“All he said was they’re working on him and he’s stable, and not to worry.”

“Jesus Christ…” breathed Kay, sinking back down and covering her face with both hands. 

“He’ll be okay,” Lucy spoke up then, looking at them both, and she meant it because she felt it.  “He’ll be okay.”

“Those bastards…” Kay hissed again, with her face still hidden by her hands, her fingers almost clawing at herself.  She shook her head from side to side as Lucy and Anthony looked on.  “They won’t get away with it…they won’t…not this time.”

“They haven’t got away with anything,” Anthony said. “They’re completely fucked.  Caught in the act for one thing, the old git had the knife in his hand when they stormed in, plus those tapes from Haskell have sealed the deal. They will all be locked up for a very long time to come.”

“Attempted murder, at least,” Lucy said, wonderingly. Anthony nodded.

“Yep. Without a doubt. All the harassment and gbh and criminal damage. Plus drug dealing. He was top of the fucking chain. She got it all on tape.”

“She wasn’t really trying to screw Danny over,” said Lucy. “Was she? She took a risk, but she was really on his side.”

“I think so,” Anthony sighed. “Whatever. We’re lucky she taped what she did. The cops wouldn’t have moved that quick otherwise.  It might have been too late.”

“I’ll kill him,” Kay muttered darkly. “If anything happens to Danny, I’ll kill him myself…with my bare hands!”

“Kay, have you phoned John yet?” Anthony asked her, and Lucy sensed he was trying to shake her out of it, trying to get her to focus.  She finally dropped her hands heavily into her lap and gazed up at him through blood shot eyes.  “I think he would want to know,” Anthony added gently.

“He’s on his way,” Kay told them, her tone dazed. “He was in Southampton, so he’ll be here soon….Don’t know what he was doing there.”

Lucy remembered then, what Danny had told her months ago, and she felt a little flutter of excitement and fear shivering to life in her belly.  She bit her lip, wondering if she ought to tell Kay, to prepare her?  She cleared her throat and decided to approach it carefully. “He told Danny he was looking for family,” she said, and Kay’s frowning eyes jerked to meet hers. “When they met,” Lucy explained. “He said he’d been looking for people, you know, family members.”

“He better not mean…?”

“Danny’s father?” Lucy shrugged, presenting it as a question. “I don’t know Kay, I’m not sure.”

“Couldn’t be,” Kay said quickly, shaking her head and waving a hand, before gazing intently down at the shiny white floor beneath her feet.  “I tried to find him myself, when Danny went to prison. It was like searching for a needle in a haystack.”

“Things are easier now,” Anthony spoke up.  “With the internet and everything.”

Kay looked startled by the very idea. “But what on earth would they have to say to each other after all these years?”

Anthony and Lucy swapped glances. Lucy opened her mouth to speak, but she was saved from the ordeal by a young female doctor who suddenly seemed to appear out of nowhere. She was small and dark and wore glasses on her serious young face.  Kay was on her feet again, hands clasped together. Lucy just held her breath.

“You can see him now,” the doctor addressed Kay first, but then smiled at Lucy and Anthony. “Not for long though, he’s going to need his rest.”

“He’s okay? He’s okay?” Kay was suddenly weeping again, and Lucy found herself standing up and putting an arm around her shoulders.

“The wound was fairly superficial,” the doctor explained gently. “There was no major damage to any organs like we feared, but he did lose a lot of blood, so he’s had a transfusion.”

“What about everything else?” Anthony asked in hushed tones, hands still clenched in pockets.

“Several broken ribs, I’m afraid,” the doctor went on. “A hell of a lot of bruising and swelling as well. He’s going to be pretty uncomfortable for quite some time.”

“But that’s it?” Lucy asked, unable to believe it. “Broken ribs and bruising? After all of that?”

“Well and the knife wound, obviously, but like I said, it was fairly superficial ,and it went in here like this,” the young doctor showed them how the knife had hit Danny in his right side, skimming his ribs and sticking into the soft flesh. “It was only two inches deep, although the police say the knife was six inches long? It appears he was either very lucky that the man who attacked him seemed to slip at the last minute, or perhaps the man only intended a superficial wound, I don’t know.” The young doctor shrugged and rolled her eyes as if the answers were a mystery to her. “Anyway, he’s awake now, and pretty keen for some visitors, so if you would like to come this way? You can see them both at the same time.”

This is The Day:Chapters 57/58/59

57

Anthony

 

 

            When the call finally came it made him feel like he was having a heart attack.  He jumped and panicked so much that he dropped the phone onto the floor of the car, and spent an agonising ten seconds frantically searching for it under the drivers seat.  With it finally grasped firmly in his hands, Anthony answered the call and held the phone to his ear.  What he heard did not bode well.  Danny’s voice, sounding desperate and high pitched.  Danny saying he was worried about his friend, who had not moved or made a sound.  That part made Anthony zip up his coat and go to get out of the car.  What the hell had happened to Mike?

He had to listen to more.  It didn’t sound good.  Danny was obviously in pain, had obviously had a beating.  They must have been ambushed on the way in.  Fuck! He had thought to himself uselessly, lashing out and punching the steering wheel, those fucking bastards!

Jerry Howard was arguing with Danny. “Anything he did to you, was for your own good you pathetic whining little specimen…”  The argument went on and on, Danny sounded frustrated, getting angrier as Howard repeatedly denied the truth about his son.  Anthony listened in, phone pressed against his ear, his other hand on the door handle, poised to leap out.  Things were heating up.  Jerry was getting angrier. Was Danny doing it on purpose to get Anthony’s attention? “Get up!” he was shouting now, and there was scuffling noises, “get the fuck up now!”

Shit, that’s it, Anthony thought, flinging open the car door and leaping out with the phone still glued to his ear.  “It’s all true, it’s true, I wish I hadn’t killed him but that’s why I did it!”  There was a loud bang, and then nothing. 

“What the fuck?” howled Anthony, pulling the phone away and looking at it in horror.  The call had ended.  He brought Danny’s number back up, pressed call.  Nothing.  Dead.  Shit.  He started running, stopped, looked at his phone again, and brought up the police stations number.  The phone burst into life again, scaring him stupid and making him drop it a second time. “Fuck!” he yelled at himself, and snatched it up from the ground to answer it.  It was Lucy.  “Lucy?”

“Anthony! Listen, you won’t believe this, me and Kay just had a visit from that reporter woman!” Lucy’s voice was slightly distorted Anthony thought, the line was crackling badly.

“Who?  What?  Lucy, I can’t talk right now, I’ve got to call the cops!”

“Call them, call them!” she was screaming back at him. “We’re on the way to them! Haskell gave us some tapes Anthony! She said it has all the conversations on she ever had with Howard! He admits everything!”

Anthony stopped walking.  He stared ahead at the club, then over his shoulder at the road that twisted around to the police station.  “What?” he cried in disbelief.

“Yes! Yes! She recorded all her meetings with him! We can nail him Anthony! You have to get out of there, you have to leave it to the police!”

“It’s too late!” Anthony cried back, suddenly breaking into a run, the club in his sights. “Mike and Danny are in there! It’s all gone fucking wrong Lucy! Call the cops, I’m going in after them!” He hung up and raced breathlessly across the road towards the club.

 

 

58

Danny

 

            The violence lasted longer this time.  He dipped in and out of consciousness, pondering the nature of it while it occurred.  He seemed to feel oddly at peace with it.  It was almost like after a certain amount of time, you couldn’t even feel the pain anymore.  The other men didn’t have to hold him any longer.  He was down on the floor and he was staying there.  After a while, the kicking and the punching stopped, and he could hear the old man wheezing loudly. Good, he thought in amusement, give yourself a fucking heart attack you old bastard.

“What’s the plan?” Danny heard Nick Groves asking calmly.  Jerry Howard coughed a few times, hawked up something and spat it out onto the floor near Danny.

“I haven’t decided yet,” he growled. “But I certainly feel better for that.”

“We’ll check on the other one again.”

“Fine.”

Danny opened his eyes then.  He found Jerry Howards burning back into his, just inches away, and he smiled at him. “What the fuck are you smiling about eh?” the old man demanded, blowing furious breath out from his flared nostrils. “Now I can really see why Lee liked battering you, you fucking ask for it don’t you eh? You little wind up merchant!”

“It’s just funny,” Danny coughed. “You look just like he did. Leaning over me in the kitchen…slamming my head into the floor…loving it. Until I fucking knifed him.”

“Well see if you find this funny, you worthless little cunt,” the old man leaned closer.  Danny could smell the whiskey he had drunk on his breath.  “I’ve got your money. I’ve got your apology. I’ve beaten the crap out of you. Now I’m sat here trying to decide whether to finish you off or not.”

Danny coughed in reply.  He felt like his lungs were clogged with blood.  It was getting difficult to breathe. Just like last time, he remembered calmly, and I was okay, I was okay.  Jerry Howard rested his elbow on his bent knee and scratched the back of his head, as if in deep contemplation.  “That’s right,” he said. “You put my son in the ground, now I’m trying to decide whether to put you in there as well. I’m trying to decide how I feel about spending the last of my days in prison, knowing that you’re in the ground.  How about that eh? That make you smile eh?”

“Well at least everyone will know the truth,” Danny croaked his reply, and he raised an arm slowly, reaching out for Jerry Howard. He closed his fingers on the old man’s shirt. “Haskells’ story…what you’ve done here…Everyone will know why I did it and everyone will know he pushed me to it…so go ahead old man.  If that’s what you want.”

“I think it might be…” Jerry replied, slapping Danny’s hand away from him.  He reached inside his shirt and brought something out.  Danny could see it reflecting the overhead lights back across the room.  His stomach dropped into nowhere.  Coldness spread down his spine.  He realised then that he was still afraid.  He realised then that he did want to live.  He put his hand back out, snatched at the material of Jerry’s shirt, trying to reach for the knife.  Jerry leaned back slightly, a cold and eerie smile touching his thin lips, as he ran his eyes up and down the blade he held in one hand.  “Do you want to know how he felt, eh?” he asked. “Do you want to know how it feels to be sliced up? Stabbed to death? Knifed, over and over again?  You did that to him, you little fucker, you have that in you. You like to think you’re the victim eh? You like to think you were so innocent?  You like to make out you’re the good guys, and we’re the bad guys, eh? Is that right?” He turned the blade over in his hand, lifted it up and brought it back down. Danny could only see out of one eye.  He reached again, he reached for the knife, he reached out. “You’re just the same as us,” the old man told him, holding it away from his grasping fingers. “You’re a cold blooded killer.”

No, no, no.

“In the old days it was always an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. You killed my son. Now I’ll kill you.”

No, no, no, no, that’s not how it goes, that’s not what happens, no, no, no it’s not the bad guys that win, it’s not the bad guys that win, it’s not….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

59

Anthony

 

            He had never run so fast in all his life.  He ran as fast as he could, and it still didn’t seem fast enough.  He arrived around the back of the club, and flung himself at the locked back door.  Panicked, he looked around for a weapon, just as he could hear the sirens already wailing behind him.  He couldn’t find anything, so leapt back up the steps and hammered wildly against the door. He heard the screech of tyres as the first police car skidded into the alley.  He heard a voice behind the door.

“Who’s there?”

“Let me in!” Anthony roared blindly, “fucking let me in!”

“Out the way, get out the way!” Voices behind him, boots pounding, more cars spinning and screaming into the alley. Anthony was forced aside.

“They’re in there!” he cried out helplessly, as the policemen ran up to the door, battering ram in hand.  They did not knock, or call out any warning, they merely started to batter the door down.  Anthony stood back, watching in fear, his hands raking through his hair.  The door submitted, flinging back, bits of metal and screws from the hinges flying out.  The police ran in, a whole load of them, and Anthony went with them.  He felt hands on him, pulling him back.

“Not you! Out you go!”

Anthony shook them off.  They had all clattered through to the main part of the club.  He could hear them shouting, warning. “Get on the floor! Get on the floor now!”

One of them was kneeling to the side of the hallway, as the rest of them bundled past.  Michael.  Oh holy fuck, Jesus Christ, oh shitting hell Mikey! Anthony landed on his knees beside him.  The policeman was already on his radio. “Ambulance!” he was crying out.  Anthony put his hands down on his brother, who was not moving, not making a sound.  There was a puddle of blood and his head was lying in it. “Don’t touch him, don’t move him!” the policeman barked.

“He’s my brother! He’s my little brother!”

“He’ll be alright. He’s still breathing.”

“Oh Jesus Christ, Mike? Mike?”

“Sir, you have to get back outside!”

“No, no I’m not leaving him.”

Police were on their way back through, two of them hauling the huge figure of Nick Groves, his hands cuffed behind his back.  Anthony glared at him from the floor.  He wanted to leap to his feet and beat the guy to death.  But his legs were like jelly, and his head was swimming.  Nick Groves was pushed roughly past him and out into the night, followed closely by the other man.

Anthony found his brothers hand, lying cold and still under his stomach.  He pulled it gently out and closed his fingers over it. “Hold on, yeah?” he told him. “Just hold on Mikey, you’ll be okay, I promise.”

There was another screech of tyres and wail of sirens out in the alley. “That’s the ambulance,” the policeman informed him, patting his shoulder. “They’ll look after him.”

Anthony looked on uselessly as two paramedics rushed into the hallway and surrounded Michael on the floor. A policeman’s head appeared around the door then. He nodded at the paramedics. “Got another one in here!” he cried urgently. “Need you quick!”

One of the paramedics leapt back up and followed suit. Anthony looked up, as it registered slowly in his mind. He patted Michael on the arm. “I’ll be right back little brother,” he said, and to the man working on him. “you look after him, right?”

He got to his feet, walked quickly from the hallway and into the main part of the club.  More paramedics came rushing past him, nearly knocking him flying in their rush to reach the figure in the corner.  Anthony covered his mouth with both hands.  There were two police officers snapping cuffs onto the wrists of Jerry Howard, who looked stony faced, his top lip curled in a snarl.  Lying on the floor, close to the stage, was Danny.  He was not moving either.  The paramedics were working in a frenzy, pressing huge wads of bandages against his abdomen, where Anthony could see fresh bright blood pumping steadily through.

This Is The Day:Chapter 55/56

55

Michael

 

                        There was a horrible pain in his head. It was unbearable.  He felt immediately frightened and alarmed. Something was wrong.  His head felt like it had been split in two.  He was face down on a grubby floor. He moved his arms up, found his face with his shaking hands, and looked at them.  They were bright red, slick with his own blood.  His vision was blurring in and out.  He felt his stomach lurch horribly and an uncontrollable rush of vomit hurled up his throat, splattering violently across the floor in front of him.

            He tried to move.  His legs didn’t feel connected to the rest of him.  He thought dimly of his phone, but he didn’t know where it was, or how to get it.  His head was on fire. He kept it still. His cheek pressed into the floor. He wondered if he was going to die. He wondered where Danny was.  His ears trained in on noises close by. Swearing, scuffling, grunting.  There was nothing he could do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

56

Lucy

 

                        She had made herself some pasta for dinner, but had only managed to eat a quarter of it.  Every mouthful seeming to stick and lodge in her throat, making her want to gag.  It didn’t seem worth it in the end.  She pushed the plate aside, covered her face with her hands and gave in to a good cry.  What did it matter?  She was all alone.  No one would know.  When she felt better, she got up, scraped the leftover food into the bin, and did the washing up.  Her phone rested on the worktop the whole time, ignoring her, blanking her, telling her nothing.

            To kill time, Lucy went and had a shower.  She got out, and realised she should have had a bath. It was nice and relaxing for the baby, she remembered. That was when she felt it move the most.  When she was submerged in the warm water, hands wrapped around her belly, eyes closed.  She would feel it awaken inside of her.  Start to stretch, and wriggle and jolt.  Sometimes it made her laugh out loud. What do you think you are doing in there? She would imagine it turning somersaults, and using its tiny feet to bounce against her womb like a trampoline. 

            She put on her pyjamas even though it was early.  Her phone accompanied her to the bedroom and sat quietly on the bed while she dressed, still refusing to speak to her.  She pulled on her dressing gown, tied it around the middle and went to plonk herself down on the sofa with a warm throw, and some rubbish to watch on TV. He’ll be alright, she kept telling herself as she walked to the lounge, phone in hand, no news is good news, he’ll call any minute now to let me know he’s okay.

            She was about to drop onto the sofa when she heard the doorbell ring.  At once, she froze in uncertainty.  The doorbell or the phone ringing were no longer as harmless things.  Instead she found herself imagining all the nasty people who could be on the other end of them.

            Lucy wandered slowly and quietly down the hallway towards the front door.  The bell rang again.  Whoever was out there did not have much patience, for some reason.  “Who is it?” she called out, something she had never done before.

            “Me, Kay!” the voice called back, and then as an afterthought; “Sorry!”

            Lucy breathed a sigh of relief and opened the door to her.  Danny’s mother bundled quickly in, holding out her mobile phone as if it were on fire.  “Are you alright?” Lucy asked her.  Kay showed her the phone.

            “No, I’m worried about Danny, I can’t get hold of him and he sent me a really weird message when I was at work! I only just saw it, look!”

            Lucy took the phone and walked into the kitchen.  She put the kettle on, and read the message Kay was so worked up about; hoping to end it all 2nite, don’t worry have friends with me, gonna do the right thing, love u, Danny. It felt like a stab in the heart, and Lucy had to turn away quickly, snatching down mugs from the shelf to make the teas, so that Kay would not see its effect on her.

            “I know,” she told her. “Him and Michael came to see me on my lunch break at school.”

            “What the hell did they say?” Kay demanded, taking back her phone. “What the hell are they doing Lucy?”

            “As far as I know, just going to see Jerry Howard, like Danny has planned for a while now.  You know yourself what he wants from him.” Lucy wiped away a pointless tear and turned to face Kay, while the kettle boiled.  “I guess that’s what they’ve gone to do.”

            “But this message!” Kay cried, holding the phone up again.  “It sounds like he’s not coming back! Don’t you think?”

            “No, no it doesn’t say that, he doesn’t mean it like that.”

            “But this bit, this bit, love you! He never  says he loves me Lucy, never.” Kay tossed the phone onto the table as if it enraged her.  She pushed her hands into the front pockets of her long woollen coat. Lucy could see that she was angry and scared.

            “He’ll be fine,” she nodded at her. “He’s got Anthony and Michael with him. He’s not alone.”

            “There’s not a part of you that doesn’t see these messages like those letters he wrote for you lot? Before he came to kill Lee?”

            “No!” Lucy cried, offended by the idea. She turned her back to make the tea, and heard Kay pull out a chair and sit down with a sigh.  “It’s not the same at all Kay. You’re getting all worked up.  Jerry asked to see him, right? He’s gone to do the right thing, to give the money back and apologise I should think.”

            “You think so?” Kay asked, her tone pleading. “You really think that?”

            “I think that’s what he means by ‘the right thing’, yes.”  Lucy placed the two steaming mugs on the table and pulled up the chair opposite.  She sat down, and suddenly felt overwhelming tiredness hitting her.  She yawned and rubbed at her eyes, and then blinked down at the table, and the two mobile phones lying there desolately. Call, you bastard, call.

            “Can I wait with you?” Kay asked her then, picking up her tea.  “Until we hear from them?  I don’t think I could bear to go back to my empty flat right now.”

            “Of course you can,” Lucy smiled at her across the table. “We’ll kill the time together.”

            They sat on opposite sides of the table, their hands wrapped around their mugs of tea.  Kay frowned and cocked her head to the music coming softly from the lounge.

            “What have you got on?”

            “Danny lent me some CD’s he picked up from the shop,” Lucy said, with a smile. “You know what he’s like. Insisting that I listen to them!”

            “Does he still like Nirvana?” Kay asked, meeting Lucy’s eye. Lucy felt sad looking at her then.  She looked her age for a moment, haunted.  Her eyes shone with tears yet to fall. “He always used to like Nirvana.  That’s what I remember the most.  Coming from his room.  He had the posters all over his walls. Got his hair to look like the singers, remember?”

            “He still likes Nirvana,” Lucy nodded at her warmly, and she could see that this reassured Kay for some reason. Her shoulders relaxed slightly and she drank slowly from her mug of tea.  “I think they’ll always be his favourite,” she added.

            They both jumped when the doorbell rang again, Lucy spilling half of her tea over the kitchen table.   She put a hand to her chest, laughing at herself. Kay glanced anxiously into the hallway. “Are you expecting anyone?”

            “No.”

            “Ask who it is again. Just in case.”

            Lucy nodded and got up from the table, just as the doorbell rang for the second time.  She called out to the door. “Who is it?”

            “Caroline Haskell,” came the voice from the other side. “Can I speak to you please?”

            Lucy’s breath hitched in her throat.  That woman.  No, she did not want to speak to that woman.  She took a step towards the door, and heard Kay stepping into the hallway behind her.  “What the hell does she want?”

            “I don’t know,” Lucy said, and opened the door.

            Caroline Haskell stood on the doorstep, her hair windswept, and her eyes red.  She did not appear to be the well groomed, confident young woman Lucy had seen before.  “What do you want?” she asked in confusion.  The woman thrust something at her, something heavy swinging inside a carrier bag.

            “I need you to have this.”

            Lucy took it hesitantly. “What is it?”

            “It’s tapes.  Tapes I made every time I met with Jerry Howard.”

            Lucy’s mouth fell open.  She swung to look at Kay, who hovered unsurely behind, eyes dark with worry.  She looked back at Caroline Haskell, who now shoved her hands into the pockets of her mac. “I saw Danny earlier,” she said. “He knows the truth about me.  He said the only thing I could do now was go to the police with everything I know.  But I don’t seem to have the guts for that.” She flicked back her hair and nodded at Lucy. “I thought you probably do though.”

            “I don’t understand…”

            “I never liked Howard, I never trusted him, and I never believed Danny needed to be punished anymore for killing his stepdad.  I just wanted the story.  For my own reasons.”

            Lucy looked helplessly down at the bag, then back at the woman. “I still don’t…what do you want me to do?”

            “Go to the police.  I’d go soon if I were you.  He said he was going to see Jerry, and believe me, that is not a good idea.  It’s all there.  Everything you need to nail that man for what he’s done.  He even admits to drug dealing on those.  They can raid his businesses and his homes.  He’ll be finished.”  Caroline Haskell shook back her hair and stepped away from the door, looking like she was in a hurry to be gone. Lucy struggled to find something to say to her.  She leaned forward out of the door, the carrier bag swinging ominously from one hand.

            “Caroline,” she called after her.  The woman had gone down the steps, but stopped and looked back.  “Thank you.”

            “You’re welcome,” she nodded, and then gestured to the bag.  “I’d hurry up and do it if I were you.” Then she turned abruptly on her heel, and marched away.  Lucy ducked back inside her flat, craving the security of it.  She slammed the door and turned to face Kay, who was looking as bewildered as she felt. 

            “Did you get all that?”

            “I did.”

            “What the hell shall we do?”

            “Get dressed, and get in the car. We’ll take them to the police right now.”