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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1. Meeting Steve

 

I first met Paul during the same dinner party in which he met his fiancé. Luckily, we became such good friends that although he was in love with another woman, he invited me and my family to their engagement party and was forever texting me exciting texts about all his plans for the wedding and how I was receiving a front row seat.

                Unfortunately, my parents lived up in Norfolk so only my sister Kate and I were able to come to the engagement party. I didn’t really know Paul’s girl that well and Kate didn’t know either of them, so attending their party was more of a venture for us than a happy get to together to celebrate the union of Margaret and Paul. I had, however, met Margaret or ‘Maggie’ on several occasions and knew her to be a light haired, fairly girlish woman for her age. She was forever having a giggle and thought badly of no one, something which Paul was quick to pick up on. Paul was just your ordinary guy: late twenties, worked as an I.T. consultant, had a pretty poor sense of humour but very enthusiastic and over-caring. It was a safe marriage, I used to think, one which hopefully should end up as a happy one.

                It was at the engagement party where we first made several acquaintances which we only kept through these events.  Paul’s brother Steve was someone who quickly introduced himself to Kate and me and took it as his personal duty to make sure we always had someone we knew to talk to and plenty of alcohol in our hands. Steve was a lot more fun than Paul and I enjoyed hanging around him and finding out more about Paul’s rather sticky past,

“He hasn’t always been an I.T. consultant,” giggled Steve, half drunk.

I asked him more, hungry for some gory details,

“When he was at University, he got in with the wrong crowd when he was studying biochemistry.” Steve had lowered his voice and was whispering to me, “He always thought Maggie was out of his league.”

I ignored this last comment due to the facts that Steve was by this point heavily intoxicated and that I had been there when Paul met Maggie and they had been an instant hit. Still, the wrong crowd? I wondered whether something in the past had changed Paul to be the boring guy that he was now. I was interrupted from my musings by Kate clawing her way back to me,

“I’m hot!” she exclaimed, a little too loudly,

“We can take a quick break outside!” piped up Steve, grabbing her by the arm and dragging her away.”

I disapproved. Kate had agreed to drive and here she was having had too much to drink,

“Kate!” I called after her, “We’re going to have to stay late now, thanks to you. I think you need to sober up!” Kate shrugged me off and disappeared with Steve on her arm.

                A little closer to 1 in the morning, Kate seemed to be steady enough to drive us back to my house on Brighton Road where she would also be staying for the night. I had had no restraints during the course of the evening, so had ended up having a very flirtatious chat with Paul and crying incessantly into Steve’s arms. I had only cleared up slightly when Kate had taken her turn in pulling me to my senses. We had left to sombre farewells and a kiss each from Steve,

“My darling Lindsey, my darling Kate!” he had repeated to himself, waving us off.

As we reached the end of my road, Kate let out a little squeal and jerked on the brakes. I only had time to flick up my head again and mutter, “Kate?” before she shook her head clear and slammed her foot rather impatiently back down on the pedal in order to finish the journey back as soon as possible. Just as we turned the corner, a dim neon sign caught my attention,

“FRANK’S SNIPS” it exclaimed into the clammy night. Yet again, I was so dreary with sleep that I had almost forgotten it by the time we arrived home.

                A couple of days after the party, I got a call from Steve,

“Hey, Lindsey!” he sounded relieved, “I was wondering if you wanted to come for a drink with me?”

I looked down at my watch. It was hardly ten in the morning. I chuckled: Steve certainly was enthusiastic,

“Sure,” I replied, smiling, I’ll be round in a tick,”

“No, no!” insisted Steve, “I’ll come pick you up! Paul’s left me with his car and I wanted to take it for a spin.”

“Fine, whatever you feel like,” I agreed, “Have you got my address?”

“Maybe,” teased Steve, “But I’m sure I can find you.”

I put down the receiver and let my hair lose, letting the thick waves tumble from the bun. After quickly scanning myself over in the mirror, I decided to change my top, whisking upstairs to grab a flirtatiously low cut jumper and my most expensive handbag. I threw on a few more layers of foundation and eyeliner, checking that I did look smokingly hot.

                I could see Steve eyeing me over as I opened the door to him, and as he took my coat to throw it in Paul’s car, I let myself brush lightly against his side. I was quite enjoying all of this attention; it was usually Kate who attracted the guys. I slid graciously into the passenger seat and eyed the pristine car. Paul was even more caring and simple than I had expected. What else can you expect of a young guy, preoccupied by a marriage and family? But Paul, as usual wasn’t a typical young guy. It was as though he was too perfect. At least his brother seemed to be a little more fun.

                Steve drove us around a few blocks and we stopped at a small diner not far from Paul’s house. We were still a way from the centre of Bristol, and it was a nice, quiet morning. Steve gave me a nod, and we stepped out of the car and onto the pavement, making light remarks and breaking some of the distance between us. By the time we reached our table and had ordered drinks, I was in a perfectly pleasant and attractive mood: I carried on flaunting my features and well rehearsed tinkling laugh.

                I had an undoubtedly pleasant time with Steve that morning, and by lunchtime, we were wandering around Cabot Circus, engaging in rude conversation about the annoying tourists. That was when I received the call from Kate,

“Hey,” I said pleasantly, picking it up with gusto, “Anything good?”

“Well,” Kate began, chuckling slightly, “There’s been a pretty cool case today. They found a homeless guy on the streets dead this morning, quite near you. Not murdered, starved, hypothermia or ill. It’s strange.”

“Wow!” I moaned, I awe of Kate’s job, “Why didn’t I become a Policewoman?!”

Kate chuckled again, “Unfortunately I’m not involved at all, but the whole division is in a buzz over it. I think it might make the news.”

“So what have you been dealing with all day then?” I asked, perplexed,

“Traffic...” Kate trailed off, “Look it’s boring, you don’t want my job, but I just thought you might like to hear it, hot off the press!”

Kate wasn’t wrong. My curiosity was enough to satisfy several thousand. A dead homeless man? It sounded interesting,

“Was he old?” I asked, waving at Steve who was beginning to look impatient, shooing off advertisers and keeping a close hold of my shopping bags. We were still in the middle of the busy street, surrounded by bustling shoppers.

“Well,” continued Kate, “I don’t know to be honest. I’ll know more tomorrow, I’ll spill it then. You’re going to have to wait.”

“What?” I cried, “Kate, you moron! How could you do this to me? I have half a mind to come and find you. Just tell me more, will you?”

I heard Kate laughing even harder on the other end. I wondered whether she really was teasing me.

“Fine,” I scoffed, “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Wait!” she called, “Are you free now?”

“No,” I said coldly, “I’m in town with Steve.”

“Oh, isn’t that Paul’s brother? The one we met at the party?”

“Yeah,” I smiled across at him, “I’ll speak to you later, OK? Bye!”

She muttered a word of farewell before the call ended. I turned back to Steve,

“Boy, a dead man on the streets! They don’t know what killed him! It could be highly sophisticated murder!”

“What’s your obsession?” moaned Steve, “And anyway, who would want to kill a sad guy with no house, money or family?”

“You’re such a jerk sometimes,” I concluded, “And I always wanted to be a detective. Miss Marple and all that!”

“So outdated, Lindsey!” said Steve getting pretty fed up, “And let your sister be the good cop, eh? Please don’t get too excited.”

I shut up and let him have his way. 

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