Brighton Road

When Lindsey, leading a secluded life in a small city starts worrying about her sister Kate, where will her curiosity lead her and what will she find herself falling into?

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6. Black and White

 

                  It was when Steve was passing through the centre of Bristol that I remembered Kate had possibly no idea what had happened. I whisked out my phone to try and call her. I couldn’t get hold of her. Aided by Steve, we continually tried for half an hour to at least get a text from Kate, but there was nothing. We eventually phoned her station who said they hadn’t seen her all day.

“OK, we’ll try again in the morning,” Steve reassured me.

“You’re seriously expecting me to wait?” I cried, “I’ve had enough of all this suspicion and not knowing. Please, just turn round so we can go back and find her. I’ve simply had enough today, and I’m not going to mope around trying to ‘recover’ from a random dead dude being found next to my recycling bin!”

Steve couldn’t argue, and we were soon at Kate’s front door, banging loudly so that half the neighbourhood was roused from their afternoon activities. However Kate did not answer,

“Is it just me that’s starting to see a pattern?” Steve asked, running his hand through his rusty coloured hair. I ignored him,

“Right.” I concluded, “That is it! We are paying a visit to Frank’s Snips!”

                Steve I ordered to stay in the car, to look to Kate and to carry on trying to call her. I decided to enter this hair salon and look for Kate myself. I practically leapt from the car the moment Steve pulled up outside the rectangular building, the neon lights which were now turned off looking like drunken cut outs. I was just so curious and worried, that no normal thoughts were passing through my mind.

                I made my way less than tentatively down the side alley and came across a patched up wooden door, almost hanging off its hinges and still bearing a flip around ‘open’ and ‘closed’ sign. It was currently showing ‘closed’ with a menacing crack shattering the tiny pane of glass present. The door jumped open for me and I found myself in a high ceilinged room, which looked as if it had once been a warehouse, and that little had been done to hide the fact. Several long mirrors were strewn on the odd wall and the obvious desks, sinks and trays were littered around. It was half lit, bare brick walls and a smell of damp rendered the air. I immediately concluded that Frank’s Snips was not a pleasant place.

                I could also see that there was no one else in the room, and the most prominent piece of furniture was the reception style desk leaning against the wall at the far end. I picked my way cautiously along to it, the stifled atmosphere pumping adrenaline through my veins, even more than usual.

                The desk was just as unkempt as the rest of the room, papers littering it, several chairs swinging lightly around its perimeter and a bin overflowing with undesirable waste. The documents looked old, but had been recently disturbed, no dust covering them with a fresh banana skin floating on top. The whole thing was just generally vile.

                I flopped disdainfully into the large office style chair and eyed the book of receipts sceptically when something caught my eye. A plastic glare flashed as a car drove by outside, and I followed it to a draw underneath the desk. On pulling the draw a few centimetres out of place, a see through plastic bag came into view, full and sealed, containing what was most obviously an illegal drug. I was careful not to touch it, but pulled out the drawer further, revealing three more packets of the powdery substance. I was no expert on the subject, but surrounded by the atmosphere of the dodgy hair salon, cannabis and marihuana sprung to mind.

“Hello?” A voice suddenly called from the door, strangled in the acoustic, harsh and hostile.

I sprung to my feet, startled and bewildered. That voice wasn’t Steve’s and neither was it Kate’s. It must be the voice of Frank himself.  That was when a terrible thought came to my mind. What if Kate was involved with the drugs too? Before I could ponder any more, Frank had advanced over to where I was standing, hands held out and ready, as it seemed, to pounce at any moment. His eyes followed mine in the half light down to the open desk drawer.

“What are you doing in here?” He asked, his voice now clearly rasping and strained.

I looked back up in slight panic and studied his face. Frank was past his prime, unhealthy and not one to care too much for the health of his body. His teeth were yellowed by years of smoking, his skin was parched and his eyes sunk deep within his face. Now, not smiling, he looked practically like some form of zombie.

“I’m Lindsey,” I said calmly and a little quieter than I intended, “I think you know Kate?”

Frank was taken aback. He was wearing a large overcoat, baggy and worn, which he pulled tighter around himself in order to survey me more closely.

“What are you doing in here?” he repeated, his voice turning into a snarl,

“I’m looking for Kate.” I said, earnestly, “Have you seen her?”

“Not since last night.” said Frank, savouring the words. He even smiled slightly, his features contorted by a violent expression, “So what are you doing in here.”

He strode past me and knocked my hand out of the way to pull out the half open drawer completely. He swept up the bags of drugs with one hand and waved them in front of my face,

“Are these what you want?” he laughed.

“No.” I said a little bewildered. I inched away from him.

Frank laughed even harder and strode away from me, reaching another smaller desk at the opposite end and fiddling with what sounded like some more drawers.

“Well you’ve found the drugs,” he called back to me, “and you’re looking for Kate. How unfortunate!” he laughed even harder.

His laughs seemed to finally penetrate my skin, and I fell back even further, suddenly terrified at his bloodthirsty catcalls. I was dealing with a maniac. I was surely in the wrong place at the wrong time. What did Kate have to do with this madman?

“Kate loves me.” Frank said, still calling back to me. “She comes to see me every night.”

I looked up, suddenly disgusted,

“But you’re a fraud,” I replied, tilting my said, provoking more from Frank, “You deal drugs and...” I was cut short by more of his laughter. He still had his back to me and was still fiddling with something.

“Even worse.” He laughed.

I bit my tongue, trying to recognise the scum which Frank was. What else would he do? The truth unfortunately hit me,

“You’ve been using her, haven’t you?” I asked, stepping closer to him, out from the main desk, “You’re that type of scum!”

Frank was now in fits of hysterical laughter. I was finally really quite frightened by his insensitivity.

“Of course I am!” he shrieked, “Because I never said I loved her back!”

I was backing away from him once more and Frank finally turned around, his face stretched into a terrifying grin with his piercing eyes lighting on the small object held in his hand. I couldn’t quite see it in the light, but as he drew nearer, I finally recognised it. Frank was holding a syringe.

“What’s that?” I asked, tentatively.

Frank didn’t answer. His look of joy morphed slowly but surely into one of anger and hatred, longing and a hidden passion. I was disgusted by him, but I was still being forced back, into the side of the desk.

                Frank lunged at me, the sharp point of the syringe aiming at my stomach and I let out a yell as I threw out my arm to throw him off. At same time there was a tremendous bang as the wooden side door was thrown off its hinges and several bodies burst through, torches blazing and voices shouting madly. Both Frank and I were stunned and stood for a few seconds, like rabbits in headlights. I regained my senses and took the opportunity to knock the syringe out of Frank’s hand so that it dropped to the floor and shattered. I heard someone shout my name and instinctively moved away from Frank and the pile of liquid on the floor towards the new voices, three of which I now recognised.

                Paul, Steve and Kate were all there, and with them, now rushing through and seizing Frank, were a small band of police officers. Paul looked grave and strangely powerful as he eyed Frank up and down. Frank was now being held down by the police officers and Kate was staring in horror at him.

“Arsenic” Paul said quietly, “and drug dealing. Frank killed those people.”

Kate and I both let out a cough of disbelief.

“How did? What?” was all I managed to splutter. I had fallen against a sink and held my arms out for Paul. Steve took them,

“I called Paul and Paul told me everything.”

“What?” I repeated,

“Shush, Lindsey, and I’ll explain!” said Steve, hugging me. “Paul knew Frank at University when he was study Biochemistry. Paul was the expert in poisonous chemicals and Frank knew that. So now, when Frank wanted the means to murder, he knew to contact Paul, who he knew could also obtain the Arsenic for him. He then threatened Paul so he wouldn’t tell anyone. He then decided to use Kate as a cover, started meeting up with her again and pretended to be in love. Last night he and Kate had a little fight, which is why he murdered that man and left him on your doorstep: it was meant for Kate. Frank also got angry with Paul last night for letting slip about Arsenic poisoning to Kate, who then passed it on to the police. That’s why Paul refused to speak to us today.”

By this point, Frank had been wrestled out of the building, and Paul was trying to talk to Kate, who was extremely upset and confused. She can’t have been more confused than me, though.

“Lindsey?” Steve repeated, “Are you OK? Frank nearly killed you then as well.”

I only half heard him.

“I’m fine,” I murmured, looking absently around. I couldn’t keep my head in one place, which was n spinning round and round. “Look.” I turned Steve to face me, “Take Kate home. She needs you.”

Steve frowned and tried to protest.

“Steve, you love her, don’t try to hide it.” I insisted, pressing him even further and then forcefully shoving him in her direction, as she was now standing by the door, looking lost.

Steve muttered something but was soon gone, without as much as a word of farewell to me. I stepped into the doorway and watched him help Kate around the corner and out of sight. They looked happier together, and like they fitted, two pieces of a jigsaw finally reunited. I would have been sad on any other day. I couldn’t feel anything at all that day.

                I finally turned back to Paul, just as he was walking my way,

“Are you OK?” he asked me, about the sixth person to do so. I nodded, as I couldn’t be bothered to reply. He shook his head momentarily clear, “I’m sorry I married Maggie.” He said suddenly, his voice a little uncomfortable. I started, but let him carry on talking, “I’m just not sure what makes me happy any more.”

I couldn’t think of any condoling words to share, so let Paul wonder out of the darkening salon, questioning his life decisions and future.

                Kate and Steve were long gone by the time I left Frank’s Snips that evening, and Paul had left to go home. I didn’t want to go to my own home, traces of the dead man’s body probably still littering the step and forensics still poking under every flagstone. Instead, I decided that I would wonder the streets for a few hours before finding a cheap B&B in which to crash. I felt alone, but I didn’t feel enough that night to actually feel alone. I supposed there was good in the world, with Frank the maniac caught and Kate happy with Steve. It didn’t matter whether I was happy or not, I still didn’t have a boyfriend or even a purpose to my morose existence. Even thought Kate wasn’t even fully mine any more, I did still have her and Steve and Paul. My thoughts just swirled in and out, happy and sad, positive and negative, black and white, black and white.

                I didn’t even find a B&B that night: I just wandered, back and forth and black and white, long into the early hours of the next morning.

 

 

THE END

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