Cold, uncaring eyes stared out from the Polaroid pictures on the wall. Davison, Ingham and Tomma all had their mug shots up there. Joined by a number of arrows and black lines. The eyes were no colder in the Polaroid of Nick Couzens lying, blood covered on the pavement.
D.I. Carter was a confused and worried man. “I just don’t see how it works. We’ve got two dead bodies and one burnt out house but nothing to link them to Davison other than the fact we know they have to be. Davison is in competition with Ingham and Nick Couzens worked for Davison. Ingham is in the protection business but couldn’t protect his own home. Davison’s never made a move onto Ingham’s patch before so I don’t see why he would start now. It doesn’t make sense.” He shook his head.
“Couzens died in a pub brawl. Unfortunate but hardly pre-meditated. I would have thought he would have moved on from that sort of stuff by now. Then there’s this joker. He pinned another photo to the board. Why did he choose to kill himself now?” Carter picked up his paper cup and took a swig of coffee. “Urghh! It’s fucking cold.” He threw the cup in the waste paper basket and headed to the door, grabbing his coat on the way.
“I’m going out, see if I can get anything out of Davison’s wife. If nothing else it might shake him up a bit.”
I was quite content, lying on the floor of the front room watching Grange Hill. My parents were both sat in their reclining chairs, my mother reading the paper, my father reading a book. We’d had quite an exciting game that day that my side had lost narrowly by forty-five goals to forty-four. Whilst the television was on I wasn’t really watching. I was reliving the game in my mind, particularly the Brazilian like, curving free kick I had scored with.
It was quite a hot summer that year and the field had become rock hard over the last few weeks due to the lack of rain. We played football nearly every day. Occasionally changing to cricket when the mood took us. There were a couple of times whilst Wimbledon was on that some of the lads brought out tennis racquets but it never really caught on.
“I see they are going to build houses out the back,” my Mother said to no one in particular.
“Are they? How many?” Questioned my Father. They regularly had conversations like this. Neither of them looking up from whatever it was they were reading. Sometimes they might not even get a response.
“Two. It’s amazing how small they build houses these days.”
“Means you will have to find somewhere new to play football now, Pete.”
“What?” I was confused.
“Aren’t you listening? They are building houses on the grass out the back. Looks like you’ll have to use one of the proper football pitches.”
“It is a proper football pitch.”
“It’s not. Who ever heard of a footballer playing on a little bit of mud like that?”
“Pelé learnt to play on the beach and Kevin Keegan used to practice against the back wall of his house. They didn’t even have grass. I know because I’ve read the books.”
“That’s besides the point. Football field or not, they are building houses on it.” My Dad always had to be right.
“They can’t! That’s our field,” I protested.
“They can do what they like and they would like to build houses. Therefore that is exactly what they are doing.”
I was disgusted that my father wasn’t taking this as seriously as me.
“It’s not a bad thing. It’s getting far too dangerous out there. Look at the state poor Paul is in. Mrs Morris is beside herself.” My mother had now decided that the field had some strange power of its own that had willed Elvis to run out onto the road.
“They can’t. We won’t let them. I’m going to see Elvis.”
“Not until you’ve finished your tea.” I rammed the remainder of my ham sandwich in my mouth and ran out of the door with my cheeks bulging. I hated ham sandwiches.
I left the car at Bumper’s and walked back to the lighthouse. There had been so much to take in over the last few days that I needed a walk to clear my head. The car was all right where it was; I would collect it in the morning. I looked at Joe Ingham’s business card and put it back in my pocket.
When I got back to the lighthouse the decorators were still there. Most of the restoration had been completed before I had returned to Sunderland but they were adding the finishing touches, claiming overtime for working a Sunday. The builders had recommended Jim and Dave and, although they were only half joking when they commented that there wasn’t a straight wall in the house, they had done quite a good job. They were the classic double act, the fat loud one and the skinny one who was the foil for the humour. The larger one had a mop of brown curly hair, which was speckled with white paint. I headed to the bathroom to freshen up and was hit by the overpowering smell of air freshener that was still only barely disguising the smell from the toilet.
“Sorry about that mate. Bit of a wild night last night,” said the larger of the two painters proudly. The combination of these smells along with the paint fumes and cigarette smoke made me feel nauseous. That was the last thing I needed so I headed to the balcony at the top of the lighthouse to get some fresh air.
The main light was still in working order although I hadn’t had it switched on yet; it was part of the agreement I had with the council when I was granted planning permission. Over the past few months I had visited the lighthouse on a number of occasions with the planning officers. My visits were always brief and I left Sunderland as soon as they were finished. Ideally I wouldn’t have visited at all however they were being difficult so I needed to meet them personally to persuade them. The oval sitting room was positioned around the central light with a specially built, curved sofa at one side of the room. I had panoramic views across the city and out to the North Sea and on a clear day I could see all the way down the coast to Cleveland.
“We’re away mate. We’ll finish up tomorrow.”
I thanked the decorators and watched them leave, waiting until they were nothing more than specks at the end of the pier.
The air was sharp and refreshing on the balcony. I took a few deep breaths and composed myself. I had purchased a telescope, mainly to watch passing ships and to look down the coast. I had always wanted one as a kid and it was one of the first things I bought when I knew I was getting the lighthouse. I turned the telescope round and pointed it towards Seaburn. I could clearly see Claire’s house, Kev’s house, Kev and Claire’s house. There was a feeling in the pit of my stomach, not the nausea but something different, emptiness perhaps.
The rain had stopped some time ago but the night was drawing in and it was becoming colder. I put on a woollen Paul Smith jumper and my fleece and sat with a cup of coffee, black as usual, watching, waiting, and hoping to find some clue as to why Claire had chosen to live with such a Neanderthal. Admittedly it was a lovely house and the MGF on the driveway suggested that Claire didn’t do without but how could she be happy, with him? It made me all the more determined that I was going to have to carry through with my plan.
The purchase of the lighthouse now seemed more like a good idea for a number of reasons. I had bought it on a whim when I realised it was coming up for sale. Nostalgia, something I generally tried to avoid, had taken over and I got into a bidding war with someone who was obviously being just as nostalgic as I was. Now that I had it though, I could see the possibilities. First and foremost it brought back a number of memories from my childhood, not many of them good admittedly but the lighthouse portrayed a sense of calm in an otherwise turbulent period. It was also converted into a luxury seafront home with undisturbed views up and down the coast. Now, it would appear, most importantly of all it offered a view of the palatial, if somewhat tacky residence of Mr and Mrs Kevin Davison.
Another installment to follow same time next week.
If this has whetted your appetitie and you would like to buy the book for a bargain £1.99 on Kindle please click here.