Kinski in the Attic

Rennie wants to kill himself, but things seem to keep getting in the way...

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9. NINE

I’m outside the interview room. Rob's inside getting it ready. He comes out clutching armfuls of clothes and when I go in there’s still a thin mattress propped up against the wall.

‘Everything alright?’ I ask.

‘Och aye,’ says Rob. He adjusts a tie that’s been loosened and tightened so many times the knot is the size of a raisin. ‘Working late. Burning the midnight oil. You know how it is.’

‘What am I here for?’

Rob sits back and jiggles his foot up and down. ‘Soon. Wait till Bob gets here.’

We wait. Rob teeters on the brink of sleep, his eyes barely open. He takes desperate gulps from his coffee while the clock on the wall crawls through the seconds. Doesn’t offer me any. When Bob shows up, puffy-eyed, the two scurry outside, their furrowed faces visible through the door’s window.

Bob comes in and hits record on the dictaphone. We go through the basics – name, address, date of birth – and Rob returns with two cups of coffee.

‘Do I not get a cup?’

‘Tired?’ says Rob.

‘He does look a bit peaky,’ says Bob, fighting a yawn.

‘It’s late and I’ve had a few drinks so aye, I’m tired.’

‘Up late last night?’ says Bob.

Careful now. ‘Yeah.’

‘What did you do?’ says Bob.

‘Me and Don had a few drinks at mine.’

‘So you were with Don last night,’ says Bob. ‘Interesting.’

‘Y’know,’ says Rob, ‘I do crazy things when I’ve a drink in me. Talk to girls who aren’t the missus. Do a bit of karaoke. Streak.’

‘They called him White Lightning.' Bob shakes his head. 'These things happen to everyone.'

‘Did you and Don do any “crazy” things last night?’

‘We watched Songs of Praise.’

‘Madness.’

‘Now,’ says Rob, ‘when I’m a few sheets to the wind I enjoy a wee stroll.’

‘It's like bathing in nature. Quite fond of the beach myself.’

‘Aye, Bob here likes the beach. Loves nothing more than a good romp up and down the promenade. Me? I prefer a grassier environment. The woods maybe. Or the golf course.’ His eyebrows stretch up as far as they'll go.

'Were you two on the golf course last night Rennie?'

I don't know what to say. The clubhouse has CCTV – maybe it caught us on our way back to mine last night?

'He's certainly giving this a good bit of thought.'

'I was pretty hammered last night. Could've ended up anywhere.'

'Ahh,' Bob says to Rob, 'he can't remember. Such a shame.'

'Maybe his pal will have more luck?'

They saunter out of the room, studying me as they go.

I wait. My phone's still in my pocket. Amateurs. Do I take a chance and text Don? Would it be more incriminating than anything he could say?

Fuck it. I take my phone out, bash out a quick message and scurry around the room looking for a signal. I find one next to the door. Sent:

don't say anything

 

Some time later I see three figures walk past the door. I amuse myself by imagining all the people who've been in this room before. Drunks, thieves, charlatans. Maybe even the odd murderer.

 

Rob sidles in. 'Lovely guy, that Don.' He leans on the table next to me. 'Eager to please.' Something about the way he's staring me straight in the eye doesn't sit right.

'What did he say?'

Rob whistles. 'Everything. Sang like a canary.' Lying. He's too cocksure, too desperate for a reaction. And Don wouldn't talk, not that easily.

'Oh well then.' I hold out my hands. 'Guess you better arrest me.'

Rob drops his gaze. 'Right.' He clears his throat. 'Let me, uh, go and get my handcuffs then.' He slumps out, slamming the door behind him. He returns minutes later, swinging a pair of cuffs round one finger. 'Should've talked while you had the chance,' he says as he pins my arms behind my back and slaps on the cuffs.

'What did he say?'

Rob pauses. 'Everything. The fags you stole, how you walked all the way back. Everything.'

Walked all the way back? Rob prowls in front of me, then leans on the table. 'Who'd you steal them for?'

'Is Bob through there saying the same lines?'

Rob chews his cheek. 'He's making sure the pillow in your cell is nice and fluffy.'

'Great. Long as I don't get the mattress you've been sleeping on I don't mind.'

Rob glares, fist clenched. I think he's going to batter me but he marches out instead. He and Bob return, teeth bared.

'Who'd you get the fags for Rennie?' asks Bob. I laugh, lips curled. I'm a fucking Bond villain. Bob looks to Rob. 'Real attitude problem this one.'

Rob takes a swig of what must be some pretty cold coffee. 'I blame the parents.'

'Ho, he didn't like that one.'

'Touched a nerve I imagine.'

Somewhere in about all that tensed muscle and boiling blood I find a word: lawyer. Can't believe it took me this long. I say it over and over. They try and talk over me but I just say it louder. Bob groans and leaves.

Rob looks at me askance. 'D'you think Joe would do the same for you?'

'Who?'

They keep prodding, trying to cajole and wheedle things out of me until I'm sober and my eyelids hang somewhere down around my knees.

'Where's my lawyer?' I say, the last word seguing into a yawn.

'He'll be here first thing,' says Rob.

'But you sai-'

'You can go home right now.' Dollops of sugar in his voice; Type 2 charm. 'Just tell me who you stole the fags for.'

I sigh. 'I don't know what you're talking about.'

 

I'm not sure when I fall asleep but I hear birds singing. Don snores in the cell farthest away from me. It feels like my eyes have only been shut for seconds when Rob comes in banging a pen against a mug. He doesn't look like he's slept much either but he's putting a brave face on it.

'My lawyer here yet?'

'You don't need one.'

'You fuckeen serious? This is illegal, this is-'

'We're letting you go.' Rob shoogles his keys and unlocks both of our cell doors. I don't wait for him to change his mind. When I push past him I catch a whiff of some pretty serious body odour.

Don and I totter out of the station, sharing looks of indignation but holding back words until we're farther away. A red sportscar is parked next to the steps. The man inside stares at us. I glance over my shoulder when we're halfway up the hill; the doors to the station are swinging shut.

Don stops and looks back too. 'What is it?'

'Dunno. That guy.' I shake my head. 'Looked familiar.'

'Here,' says Don, checking his phone, 'fancy a fry up at my mam's?'

My stomach gurgles at the thought. 'Aye, sign me up.'

Don looks over his shoulder. 'They were trying to tell me you'd grassed me up. Kept at it for hours like.'

'Aye, same for me.'

'But I knew you wouldn't do that.'

I smile. 'Aye. Same.'

Something smashes into the ground next to us. It takes a few seconds for my heart to start again. Binoculars. I lift my head from their shattered remains to the tree from which they fell and my heart stops again: Holly lurks in the branches, eyes screwed shut like a kid who's no good at hide and seek.

 

 

 

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