Summer Kids

When Lucas Tweedle, leader of Left Hand Private Investigators, receives a box containing a film he hasn't seen in years, he is prompted on a road trip across miles and years. He has to save Eva Grey, the only girl that ever loved his teenage self.
She may be in the clutches of the Nemesis Crime Ring but the memories of the summer after college graduation haunt the both of them.

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5. APPLEHEAD

 

CHAPTER FOUR - APPLEHEAD

LUCAS

He was numb. Farren said that he was desensitising himself from the situation in order to not feel the trauma but Farren could go fuck himself. Farren didn’t want them to travel to Scotland, to try and at least find Eva.

He knew something was up when the clump of hair came into his line of site. He had been in the business for longer enough to know that it had been torn out painfully and the bloodied strands indicated a head wound. Eva was the type of person to care about her hair just enough to make sure that it remained clean.

The phone was on his desk and the number of Eva’s parents was on his brain. But his brain couldn’t pluck up the courage to force his hand to dial the number. He was just too scared.

“You’ll feel better when you know something concrete.” Edward muttered from the left of Lucas.

Lucas had been forced into the main room and banished from his office on the excuse that he would faint again if someone was not in his presence. Everyone but Farren was keeping a check on him and Farren was out having another smoke, the dregs of it coming in from the fire escape.

“Or I’ll feel worse.”

“You won’t know until you do it.”

Sometimes Edward was wise like Mr. McClellan had been even though he had been the last to be recruited by Lucas himself.

Lucas took a deep breath, froze his tongue to the roof of his mouth and dialled the number that hadn’t been dialled in more than a decade.

The dial tone nearly put him off. Edward stopped him from putting the phone down right then and there.

It rang for approximately seventeen seconds until someone picked up the phone.

“Hello?” and he recognised that voice as Eva’s mother. His tongue was no longer a tongue, his voice was no longer a voice.

Eva’s mother said hello several more times, becoming more frustrated each time and each time there was more chance that she would hang up.

“Wait,” Lucas choked out, his voice sounding like it had been through a hurricane before it had echoed down the phone.

He cleared his throat, and the coughs sounded unprofessional and snake-like rather than human and sincere.

“Mrs. Grey you may remember me, my name is Lucas Tweedle,” now that was a good opening sentence, not.

“Ah yes, Eva’s Lucas, how are you dear?”

Lucas nearly sagged in relief. It seemed like Eva hadn’t told their parents about the great fight between them.

“I’m good, I own a Private Investigators now.”

“That’s good.”

Okay, maybe Eva had told her parents about the great fight, because Mrs. Grey was always welcoming towards him. Whenever he had phoned round the house in their college days he was usually on the phone for ages before Mrs. Grey would pass the house phone to Eva who would always berate him for not calling her mobile. Lucas would retort that this number was first on his contacts but really he just wanted to talk to Mrs. Grey because whenever he called round her parents never seemed to be in.

Plus Eva had always talked about moving out and getting her own place as soon as she was able to. It only seemed right to talk to her parents while he still could. 

“I was wondering if you had heard from Eva lately.” Lucas asked hesitantly knowing that if her parents knew they would be offended that Lucas even wanted to know anything about Eva.

There was silence over the phone and Lucas tensed.

“I need to know if she is missing,” he quickly injected this hoping that he could get an answer.

“How dare you,” she seethed and the phone was put down, the dial tone making his heart miss several beats.

He put the phone down, his shoulders showing tension.

“What happened?” Edward asked from near him, but Lucas didn’t look at him. He didn’t answer him either. “Lucas?”

“Wait.” The answer was rushed and hissed. He knew the game by now. There had been one or two times when he had been round Eva’s and her mother had been distressed by something on the phone, maybe by some annoying sales person or something, and her father would take over the phone. If it had been family, the phone would have put down and then Eva’s father would pick it back up and dial the number just to finish the conversation.

The phone rang.

Lucas’s heart hoped, aching with it.

“Hello?”

“Why did you ask about my daughter?” jackpot, Lucas knew the Grey family well because that was her father.

“I got a box in the mail, with a lock of Eva’s hair in it,” he thought that this was easier to explain rather than film.

“How do you know it’s my daughter’s hair?”

“There was also a film, something that only Eva would have since she made it herself in the summer of 2006 I believe.” Lucas had to be firm with this guy. Eva’s father wasn’t a person that he liked, especially after what he put Eva through…

“Give your evidence to the Edinburgh police.”

That was the end of it and the phone was put down again.

“They know that she’s missing,” he muttered and smiled. A burst of laughter escaped his lips and he spun around in his chair.

Edward looked at him weirdly. Well, he was slightly delusional already because of Eva being missing.

“They know that she’s missing,” he said louder this time, more to the room than to the people in it. He swung back round to the computer he was inhabiting, opening up a tab on the browser.

Emma and Sebastian Grey, he typed in. Emma was a journalist, she had worked with the Chronicle there at Newcastle and if she had moved to Edinburgh then that would be a big change that would have been documented.

Ah, there.

Saying Goodbye to Home, an opinion tabloid that had only been exclusive online. He scanned it, it had all been about the merits of Newcastle and how it would always leave a mark on her even though she was swapping England for Scotland.

The blog was written just under two months ago.

That had been recent, too recent to be a coincidence.

“Farren we’re going to Edinburgh.” He called back from where Farren stood in the corner.

“What proof do you have that she’s missing?” he asked coming closer.

“Her parents have relocated to Edinburgh, they swore that they would never leave Newcastle unless of a dire situation. Her mother shared an article saying that she was leaving and I quote for ‘not to explore the world but to meet the people we knew before and lost before,’ the ‘people’ she refers to is Eva who lost touch with her parents before moving to uni.”

“Everything happens before uni,” James muttered, moving away from the team.

“We’re not going to Edinburgh,” the statement was stale and nonchalant and Farren looked over some more paperwork.

Lucas’s eyebrows furrowed.

“We are going to Edinburgh.”

“We—“ Farren’s words were cut off by Lucas finally letting the steam from his brain loose onto his room.

“Last time I checked I was the boss around here, Mr. McClellan handed the business to me four years ago and I will not let you, jealous of the fact that I own the business, stand in the way of finding Eva. I may have let her down once and I will not do it again.”

Farren said nothing to the commanding tone in Lucas’s voice.

“Now Edward I want you to hack into a phone record for me,” he wrote down a number on a post it note and stuck it under Edward’s nose. “Shawna I want you to book train tickets to Edinburgh the closest date that fits with our budget. Kayleigh I want all viable cases on my desk by the end of the hour, give me what fits in with our definitions of quick but effective.”

He looked at his team looking at him like he was a new person. But he wasn’t a new person. Leadership had to be taught and learned and commanded. Mr. McClellan trusted him with a position and it was his choice to uphold it or wither from the pressure.

He would not allow himself to wither and let Farren do what he had wanted to do since he first began working for Mr. McClellan all those years ago.

“I am going to be picking that box apart, I saw it once in memory, if there’s anything different now then I will know it.”

The team didn’t move.

“I didn’t employ you to sit around and do nothing.” He motioned behind him and watched as they scuttled. He grinned as he made his way to his office.

He didn’t want to touch the box but he was forced to. He had only been in it once and that was when the film had been finalised and Eva had presented him with the twin CD copies.

“You do know that I haven’t been secretly filming you for the last six weeks right?” Eva asked as they were sat in their bedroom.

“You’re not a spy, I know when you’re filming me.” 

“Well this is the product of it,” Eva laughed and handed over a CD with blue flowers and green vines. The CD she held had red flowers and green vines since she was a Christmas Nut even in the midst of August. They were in the lake house, their second final day of their vacation before they would drive back to Newcastle and things were coming to an end. “I’ve been finished with it for a couple of days now but I couldn’t wait until we got back.”

“Where did you hide this?” he asked as he wheeled himself to the laptop that he had packed.

“In a box.” Eva said with a deadpan and ushered to a box covered in postage stamps. She hit pause before the video could play and showed him the box. “This is my baby, the one thing where I keep all the memories that my brain wouldn’t hold. She held it gingerly and hesitated before handing it over to him.

It was beaten into submission, not perfectly in the shape of a box but with rough edges pushed back with postage stamps. The inside was plain although more postage stamps littered it, this time loose. A few photographs, train tickets, the smell of popcorn from times at the cinema.

“I’ll give you a secret,” she whispered and he looked at her with raw eyes. Eva gave out her secrets like they were gold bars, scarce but precious. He nodded and her hand wavered towards the box.

She pointed to a lower corner, “This box used to be a puzzle box that my grandmother gave me. I gave it to my father to re-update and he gave me this, a butchered version with one discrepancy.” She tapped the floor and then the side and a small drawer popped out, something just big enough to fit a screw.

A post it note popped out. “The drawer responds to pressure, if you ever find this box again it says that I am either deranged or dead,” she laughed and paused for a moment, “or on the off chance that our friendship is dead.”

She gave the note to him and it was folded haphazardly like she was one second from being thrown into the bin.

I love you but not in that way, apple head. It read and he burst out laughing.

Eva un-paused the video and he collapsed into laughter once more.

Who knew that by that night, or by the dawn in fact that it would have all went to hell, a cold hell where not even they would return from.

His fingers found that small cubby hole now, tapping twice on the floor and on the side. The box would have to have passed through Eva’s hands before it reached the Nemesis Crime Ring. It gave her an opportunity to give him a message. Like he had thought there was a post it note like there had been when all those years before. This one was more crumbled than before too.

This time there were three messages on it each one in different states of disarray.

The first was faint as though it had been written long before the next two, I am sorry apple head.

The next one was the neatest out of the three although it was slightly crooked on the note, a man has been following me for weeks, I don’t know what to do apple head.

The third one, the last one, was the most rushed and it took some time to figure out what it said exactly, there’s a man at my door, I can’t keep him out, save me apple head. 

 

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