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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4. Suspicion and Inteference

 

                I somewhat daydreamed through the service, and the reception bore little importance to me, and I very much enjoyed my lunchtime nap through the speeches. People kept talking to Kate, and I felt a little ignored, with Steve positioned on the head table and then Kate and me stuck with a few distant aunts of Maggie’s, and even Paul’s gardener. They showed round a few pictures and started trying to ask me about my career choices before I was rude to them and as an afterthought asked an old dear sitting next to me what she thought about keeping bees as a hobby. I hoped she would be stung to pieces and die. Yes, it really was that bad.

                The only interesting things in the entire day were of course, the party that evening and the discovery which everyone made about Maggie. For, as the pretty girl sauntered up the aisle in a long, flowing and floating dress, not even the frills could completely conceal the fair sized bump on her stomach. I was surprised, and so was, so it seemed, half the congregation. Maggie must have been about four months pregnant at least. When I thought about it, I had last seen her at their engagement party a few months before, and Maggie hadn’t been drinking, wearing a loose but pretty jumper. I definitely felt like a detective that day.

                I spoke to Paul during the party that evening and congratulated him. He was beaming all over and even slipped me a glimpse at the scan, taken only the other day. I asked him why it had all been kept quiet,

“We wanted the wedding over first,” he said, patting me on the arm, “I think then we’ll be ready to settle down to the idea of family life.”

I was sickeningly complimentary, and decided after that I really had had enough of being nice, smiley and polite, so I put on my impression of a cow and waded through the people to grab Kate by the arm and drag her back to the car. I had decided: there was a reason I had never wanted to get married.

                Kate seemed a little unhappy at first at being dragged from the scene of fun, but she concluded after a few minute’s silence on the way back home that she would much rather get back to mine, find a few old DVD’s and spend the rest of the night watching them, being as sloppy as she liked. That is exactly what we did. Kate admitted that she missed the amount of time we spent together, and told me that after tomorrow evening, she would be around a lot more.

                The next evening, Kate disappeared as promised, to meet up with this ‘old friend’. I immediately phoned Steve as promised, so that we could follow Kate and find out where she was actually going. We had discussed it the previous week, and having both been so immensely concerned about these strange meet ups and the state Kate was in, we decided to find out what she was really up to.

                Steve drove in his car, which was less recognisable than mine, and it only took him a few minutes to pull up outside my house so I could jump in. We were soon speeding away down the quiet streets, looking for any sign of Kate. Steve looked rather attractive, eyes pulled down and peering hard through the windows, a loose jumper and shirt lying softly on his muscular chest. However I managed to distract myself from the silent Steve long enough to also help look for Kate.

We found her, not far from the place where Steve and I had had that first coffee, and she was hurrying along in the shadows, not in a panicky walk, but still rather rushed and looking a little uncomfortable. We slowed right down to a stop before she could see us coming up behind her and Steve whispered,

“Do I just follow her now?”

“Anything,” I said, raising my eyebrows, “and there’s no need to whisper!”

Steve laughed uncomfortably, and tilted his head, following the movements of Kate. She had turned down a small alleyway, following the path lit by a bright neon sign on a square building saying,

“FRANK’S SNIPS”.

She disappeared into a side door and did not reappear, Steve hovering on the pavement outside. I looked across to Steve,

“That ex you were talking about,” I said, slowly and extremely carefully, “that’s his shop. Maybe he isn’t an ex anymore?”

Steve frowned even deeper than usual. He was even quieter than usual. Up until then I had just guessed it to be a hangover from the previous night’s party, but he seemed far too thoughtful for that.

                In the end he just shrugged, sighed deeply, muttered something about not interfering and drove me back home. He left my house saying out the window,

“Stop worrying, Lindsey!”

Nothing could help. I was curious, I was worried and even worse, confused. I went to bed that night struggling to sleep, my thoughts filled with Kate and this strange man Frank, with his dodgy looking hair salon.

                The next morning I got up late. Something small was nagging in the back of my mind, saying that I ought to have received a call from Kate, but she was nowhere to be seen or heard. I lounged around until well past midday, disengaging my brain completely in order to do the previous day’s crossword and check my inactive email. With my disengaged brain, I couldn’t think or worry about Kate, Paul’s wedding or even the reoccurring mystery murders which kept popping up, and were still keeping all of Kate’s division baffled and confused and chaotic. Chaos: that was a good word to describe my mind that morning.

                However, when I opened my front door in order to empty my bins, I was not expecting to almost fall over a figure, sprawled across my doorstep. I let out a little yell, threw down the bin bags and stooped quickly to see who on earth it was. I couldn’t immediately recognise a face. After a few minutes of nudging them with my foot, I tried to turn them over. I soon discovered it to be a man in his late thirties. Growing ever more suspicious, I carried on poking the lifeless figure, and when I gained no response, it hit me. Gazing momentarily at the dry lips and closed eyes, I jumpily tried to flick open one of his eyelids with my fingers. His eyes were a shade of milky blue and obviously had been one of a bright sapphire. But now they were clouded over. I tried to find any warm breath coming out from his nostrils. There was only the cold air of an autumn day.

                I screamed and darted back from the body of the man, letting it fall clumsily down a step. Only a blur entered my mind and I found myself rushing into my front room, flying around like a startled rabbit trying to find the landline. The first number that came into my head was that of Steve’s.

“Steve?” I half yelled down the line the moment he answered me. I was out of breath and starting to cry, “Steve?” I repeated, “There’s a dead man on my doorstep.”

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