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|Old Haunts (standard:drama, 751 words)|
|Author: Ian Hobson||Added: Apr 24 2005||Views/Reads: 2234/0||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|Chatham Dockyard? The Cavalier? Probably a ship then. Or maybe it's a pub. Yeah, why not a pub? But who's this Toby character, and why is he leaving for good this time?|
Old Haunts ©2005 Ian Hobson Chatham Dockyard. The Cavalier. Both names that Toby had tried to forget. Yet even after thirty-odd years they were still at the back of his mind; right beside another name: Ronald Breslin. Now as Toby walked through his old haunts, the memories came flooding back, together with an uneasy feeling: An irrational fear that some old copper would be lying in wait for him. Was it true that murderers always returned to the scene of their crimes? Or was that just a myth? The rational side of Toby's mind opted for the latter. He sidestepped a puddle and crossed the road, lifting the collar of his raincoat as the drizzle turned to rain. But why had he returned? Maybe he should have stayed home in Australia and let one of the younger engineers deal with this contract. Mike, or Dave; it would have been good experience for either of them. But then, maybe this little side-trip would lay the ghost to rest once and for all. The Cavalier looked much the same. Toby wondered what the beer was like these days. The rain began to fall faster, so he decided to find out. As he approached the steps he couldn't help glancing down at the pavement and imagining the shape of a body drawn in chalk. *** It was almost a year since Toby Lancaster - or Lanny, as his workmates called him - had finished his apprenticeship. He worked for an engineering company near Chatham Dockyard, and as the youngest member of the maintenance team, he was often given the lousiest jobs. Though on that Monday night, in mid-October, he'd volunteered to stay late and help repair the broken-down horizontal borer. Serves me right for volunteering, he thought as he walked home just after midnight. But then, the overtime pay would come in useful. He quickened his pace; hoping his landlady would not have locked the door for the night. She usually didn't; she was used to shift workers. Though as he approached the Cavalier he wished that it were still open; he could have murdered a pint. But the place was in darkness. The drinkers – mostly dockers, and probably a few of Toby's workmates – had long since gone home to their beds; or so Toby expected, having not noticed the man sitting on the pavement beside the steps. 'Out a bit late, ain't you, Little Orphan Lanny?' Startled, Toby stopped and turned towards the voice, then he relaxed a little as he recognised Ronald Breslin, a former workmate. Not that Breslin had been much of a one for working. Propping up the bar of the Cavalier was more his style. Toby had never liked him. And apparently the feeling was mutual. From the day that Breslin had found out that Toby had grown up in an orphanage, he'd picked on him and christened him Little Orphan Lanny. 'You know how it is, Ronny. Some of us have to work for a living.' Toby couldn't resist the temptation to have a dig at Breslin's employment record. He'd been sacked at least twice that Toby knew of. It felt good to turn the tables on him. To vent a little of the anger that had built up over the three years they'd worked together. 'You cheeky young bastard!' Suddenly Breslin was on his feet and reaching for the collar for Toby's anorak. Toby stepped back, his right hand going for the wrench in his tool holster. He sometimes carried the wrench when returning home late. Not that he'd really expected to need it. It was just a precaution; there were some rough characters about. But now, as the resentment from three years of Breslin's constant bullying resurfaced, instead of turning and walking away as he should have, Toby reached for Breslin's collar with his left hand, and with a muscular right arm, swung the wrench at his head. This brought Breslin to his knees, but as an uncharacteristic surge of violence overtook Toby, he swung the heavy wrench again and again. *** As he sat and sipped his beer he recalled how he had washed the blood off the wrench and then vomited into the washbasin, and yet how calmly he had lied to the police when he was routinely interviewed three days later. Was it Breslin or the guilt that haunted him? Having left his beer unfinished, Toby walked down the steps of the Cavalier and left Chatham Dockyard – it was for good this time. Tweet
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