Elvis showed me his broken glasses, the Sellotape barely keeping the frames together. The damage came courtesy of Kevin Davison. Elvis explained that he and Gilbert had been getting hassled by Kev after school when I wasn’t there. I felt a little guilty but was quite happy that somebody else was taking it for a change. I was therefore bitterly disappointed when Kevin Davison came to see me that morning.
“Have you done your maths homework, Pete?” He wasn’t threatening; in fact he was quite polite.
“Yeah, I did it last night in detention.”
“I didn’t get a chance to do mine. I had some business to take care of. Any chance I can copy yours mate?”
Fuck off you moron, do your own homework. See how you like detention.
“Yeah, no problem. As long as I get it back after registration, we’ve got maths first period.”
“I’ll get it done now.”
I knew I wouldn’t get it back but I was becoming used to detention now so I was resigned to it. I handed over my book reluctantly.
“Might be worth changing a couple of answers, we don’t want them to know you’ve copied.”
I was sure that I had got mine one hundred percent right and didn’t want to make it obvious.
“Yeah, you’re probably right. Don’t want them thinking I’ve turned into some type of swot.”
Kev drained his glass, “After he had beaten us, he always apologised, said it was due to the stress he was under since Mam died. He seemed to make a special effort with my sister. Like any child I was jealous, I wanted to know why she was getting more attention than me. One night he came in after the pubs had closed, drunk as usual. We had waited up for him as we always did, waiting to see what type of mood he would be in. It was a bad one. As soon as he came through the door he removed his belt and attacked me. I tried to protect Elaine but she got it as well. She ran upstairs and eventually my Dad calmed down. He apologised as he always did, said someone had wound him up down the pub.”
Kev bit his bottom lip and tapped his gun on the desk.
“What happened next?” I asked.
“He gave me a bag of peanuts, dry roasted. Said he was going to tuck Elaine in. I gave it a couple of minutes and followed him upstairs. I crept up to her bedroom and peeped through the crack in the door. The bedsheet was peeled back and he had his hand up her nighty. Christ, she was only nine! I felt sick to the pit of my stomach.” His knuckles were white as he gripped the gun tightly. “That was the night I killed him.”
“There you go, Pete. Cheers.”
As promised, Kevin Davison returned my maths book, much to my surprise.
“Anytime,” I said, hoping he would never take me up on it. At least now I was in his good books for a while.
“Right, get your homework books out.”
Mr Burns must have been nearing retirement. He was a short greying man with a quick temper. I had often been the target of his anger when I didn’t do my homework. I had the misfortune to be in both his maths and religious classes and he was also my form teacher. There was no love lost between us. Today he was pleasantly surprised.
“Nice to see you’ve actually done it for a change, Wood. Detention must be doing you some good. Mr Davison, you as well. I think we’re going for some sort of record here.”
He collected all of the books in and put them on his desk. He then proceeded to embark on a long lecture about Pythagorus or some such thing. Maths would be quite interesting if it wasn’t for the teachers. I drifted off as I thought about the swimming lesson that was about to come.
“What about the story you gave to the police?”
I edged over to Kev’s desk, enthralled by his story.
“It was partly true. He had been drinking whisky. The post mortem would have shown that. He even argued with the man on the moon like I told the police. I think that is what pushed me over the edge. I sat upstairs in my room for hours trying to get my head round what he was doing to his own daughter. It didn’t make sense. I headed to the top of the stairs. I was trying to pluck up the courage to ask my Dad why he was messing with my sister and there he was, arguing with the moon’s reflection. I ran down the stairs and shoved his head through the glass. That’s why I never called the police.” He sat back in the chair and opened his arms wide. “The thing is Pete, you’ve come home with this big victim thing hanging over you, thinking you’re hard done by. But we’re all victims, every one of us. And we’re all guilty. It’s how you deal with it that matters. I’ve made my bed and I’ll lie in it.”
“Do you not feel any remorse for what you’ve done? I know that your father isn’t the only one you have killed.”
“Once you’ve killed one it becomes easier. I had nightmares for a while but once I got older I stopped thinking about it. When it came to sorting out business I didn’t think twice before popping someone.”
“What about your sister? Does she know what you did to your father?”
“She knows. She wasn’t going to say anything because they will have wanted to know why I did it.”
“That was Elaine leaving when I got here wasn’t it?”
“I had to warn her that you were back, warn her that the secret might come out.”
“How is she? What is she doing now?”
“She’s on the game. Has been since we were in the foster home together. Used to do hand jobs for the older boys to get a bit of pocket money and progressed from there; blow jobs and eventually full sex. It didn’t matter to her. Then the carers became involved. They wanted it for free as usual, thought it was a perk of the job but they paid, eventually.”
“Have you never tried to stop her? Surely you have the money so she doesn’t have to work?”
“She works for me, one of my best earners.”
I sat down, trying to take everything in.
“So how long have you known?” Kev asked as he sat back in his chair with the glass in his left hand and a gun in his right.
I decided to tell him the truth.
“I didn’t. Not until you’ve just told me. I knew something wasn’t quite right and God knows I have a lot of stuff on you but this I didn’t know.”
He just shrugged his shoulders.
“I thought that’s why you had come home. You knew that I would kill you so I assumed you were going to try and blackmail me. It make’s no difference though. I suppose I had to tell someone.”
He drained the crystal tumbler.
“Are you going to kill me then?” I asked.
Kev just shrugged.
I wasn’t happy to be in the pool after the last incident with Kevin Davison. Up to now the lesson had gone without incident but I was sure it wouldn’t last. I was practising my kicking in the shallow end alongside Gilbert when Karen Walker came into pool area.
“Please Miss, Mr Burns wants to see Peter Wood in the entrance hall.”
“What does he want to see me for?”
“Do you think he’s realised that Kev has copied?” asked Gilbert.
“Don’t think so. He’s only asked for me not Davison. Maybe it’s to praise me for getting one hundred percent.”
“Tell Mr Burns that Pete is swimming. He can see him in his own time, not mine.”
Whilst I wasn’t swimming in the strictest sense of the word I was pleased that Miss Shipp had put Burnsy in his place.
“I’d love to see his face when he’s told that, ” said Gilbert. We splashed harder as we laughed.
“Right Miss.” Karen headed off.
She was back five minutes later.
“Please Miss. Mr Burns says he doesn’t care if he’s drowning, he wants to see Peter Wood right now.”
“Go and get changed, Pete. You have to see Mr Burns in the entrance hall.” She shook her head resignedly as I climbed out of the pool.
I was quite pleased to get out of swimming as it meant I avoided the now weekly ritual of getting my towel and underwear thrown in the foot pool. The only other time I had avoided it was when someone noticed Chris Miskell with a semi-erection in the showers. He was immediately branded a poof and the abuse became so bad that his parents eventually removed him from the school.
I dried myself off and changed back into my uniform, placing the wet towel and trunks in the bottom section of my bag to avoid soaking the books. I headed off to the entrance hall.
Happy New Year!
Another installment of Leg It by Alan Parkinson to follow same time next week.
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