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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2. Cupcakes for Kate

 

“Guess how weird this is,” Kate said the following day, the moment she had descended the steps from the police station. I was waiting with my ‘taxi’ to drop her home, where we were planning on stopping off for a strong coffee. “We found another one today!”

“What?” I exclaimed, following her into the car, “Another homeless man?”

“Not quite,” said Kate, raising her perfectly plucked eyebrows, “This one was in his twenties, doing an apprenticeship at a small garage in Henleaze. He had ID on him and they even contacted his parents and a long term girlfriend. Only, he was also found dead on the street, no sign of being beaten up, drugged or ill.”

“Blimey, that’s awful,” I said, shaking my head, “a young guy with his whole life ahead?”

Kate looked at me disapprovingly,

“Not any more awful than the homeless man. He was a human being as well, you know. We’re just trying to find a connection, if one.”

I rolled my eyes, slamming my door shut and starting the engine,

“You free for a few hours? We can catch up.”

“Sorry, Lindsey,” she said, rummaging in her luggage, “I’ve got that Steve guy chasing me down and I’ve already arranged to see someone else. Can we go to your place for a quick cuppa? I can walk from there.”

She even looked a little disgruntled, and I felt even more so. Steve had been chasing her down? I thought it was me he had liked.

                I pulled out of the parking space and sped off down the road, heading for home. I wasn’t exactly working at the time, having been made redundant the previous year, working as an ‘extra’ financial advisor for a medium sized firm. Since then I hadn’t really done anything, I hadn’t rethought or even starting looking properly into jobs. I kept my small income going by filling in a few forms a week for stupid teenager jobs, just to keep the council happy. Kate just happened to be a busy policewoman, always getting juicy gossip for me and letting me act as her chauffer. I didn’t complain: every now and again she would treat us to a large oriental takeaway and a day’s pampering. I seriously depended on my big sis.

                Kate was gone again as quickly as she had come, and we got home, I made her a cup of tea and she left again, heading out on foot to meet someone ‘not far away’. She didn’t answer my questions and I had no idea who she was meeting, just an old friend, as she let slip. I sat down wearily after she had hastened out of my door and pulled out my mobile, looking up Steve’s number. I called him without thinking, just to check that he really did want to see me again,

“Hey,” he said, answering me, “I only saw you yesterday!”

“Oh, I’m sorry!” I stuttered,

“Nah man, I’m just joking!” he laughed, “Can’t you take a joke?”

“Look,” I said, silently shaking my head, “would you like to come round later? I was thinking of a takeaway.”

“Like an old married couple,” Steve mused. I clicked unappreciatively,

“Do be quiet, you,” I joked, “Just be here by seven.”

Steve grumbled and moaned and finally agreed, laughing and slamming the phone cheerily down. I felt a little more reassured, convinced that we did get on extremely well and that he did indeed want to see me. He couldn’t have been more interested in Kate, and she couldn’t care less about him.

                 I double checked my appearance and happily switched on the TV, to sit myself down for a few hours before he arrived. I happened to catch the news and the story Kate had been talking about popped up. Two dead, unconnected, just similar symptoms. Police hadn’t yet made a statement and mourning relatives were avoiding the cameras. It appeared that the media had great interest in the subject, mainly because of the murder mystery, and who-dunnit scenario. I watched in dismay as a few young lads paraded around the streets, bearing large placards with ‘who’s next?’ slogans, and shouting enthusiastically at the cameras. The whole case just looked like quiet and mysterious chaos. Slightly glad that none of it was my responsibility, I switched the channel to an American Talent Show and waited for Steve to arrive.

                Within the next week, no more cases arose and the residents of Bristol began to feel a bit safer in their beds. One night, Kate was supposed to be staying round mine, and when I drove to pick her up from work, I was told that she was out on call and they would not know when she would be back. I returned dismally home, attempting to call her a few times, afterwards waiting for her, who would inevitably call me when she was finished. However, she did not call, and when at nine the following morning, I heard her hammering on my door, I was perplexed to say the least. I let her in, shabby and dismal, obviously having walked the several miles from her house to mine. By the early hours of that morning, I had guessed that she had finished so late she didn’t want to bother me by coming home, but Kate looked like she hadn’t even slept. I sat her down and poured coffee into her,,

“Where in the heavens have you been?” I asked, sitting myself down next to her.

She slowly took a few more sips before replying,

“I was out on call.”

“Anything interesting?” I prompted her, reaching for the fruit bowl and pushing it helpfully in her direction,

“No,” she trailed off, “just a stolen car and some,” she sniffed the mug carefully, “illegal drugs we had to trace.”

I wasn’t convinced and pestered her for a while longer before letting her crash on my sofa. She looked tired, but absent and uninterested. This wasn’t unusual for Kate, being tired and secluded, and I tried my normal ways of getting around her but failed, ending up with her snapping harshly at me to leave her be.

                That morning was when the third body was found. This time it was a woman, in her late forties, a mother of two, but unemployed, council housed and a drug addict. However, as was later discovered, there was not a trace of any alcohol or drugs in her body and she hadn’t smoked for some years due to health issues. Nothing wrong could be found with her, linking her once more to the other two dead men found merely a week before, mysteriously but unmistakably murdered. Steve called me, as he had guessed I had heard already and was also curious to know more. I had to let him down,

“Sorry,” I said, “Kate’s a bit out of it today.”

He popped round later that day with an official invitation to Paul and Maggie’s wedding and a few cupcakes which Maggie had instructed to be given to Kate. I had practically forgotten about the imminent wedding of my best friend, and hadn’t talked to him since the engagement party a few weeks earlier. I hadn’t realised also how soon they were getting married, again in only a few weeks. It all seemed a bit hasty to me. Kate wasn’t all that interested once I starting talking out which outfit to wear, and told me off for trying to make her eat the cupcakes which had been sent. She didn’t really care much for weddings, she said and she’d much rather stay at home and watch old comedy films, a strange occupation of hers.

                For the rest of the day Kate moped around my house, leaving again before supper, refusing to let me drive her back. I considered this strange behaviour and phoned her later to check she was at home. She sounded rushed, but definitely was there, sending me packing by telling me that she was going out for the evening with a friend and would be back late. I let this pass me and sat down that evening, defeated, with a strong coffee and that nice bag of cupcakes.

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