Trevor’s cap protected his eyes from the early morning sun. It was glorious and he wondered why nobody else had taken advantage of the weather to get a quick nine holes in before work. There was normally someone to pair up with whatever time of day he arrived at the club but it was quiet this morning. No matter, he was happy in his own company and took advantage of the peace and quiet to clear his head.
He decided to play the back nine to take on his nemesis, the thirteenth green. It had always proven tricky; an easy par four most would say but he was always caught out with the slope. He was now on the green in two, and without the distractions or time pressures he was determined to get this putt right. He lined up from behind both the ball and the flag, even lying prostrate on the ground to get the lie of the land.
The conditions were still and not even a bird tweeted in the background, he swung the putter and the ball glided up the hill and down the slope on the other side until it dropped in the hole. He couldn’t help but punch the air in excitement then laughed as he looked round to check that nobody was watching.
He retrieved the ball thinking about how he would mark it as his ‘lucky ball’. As he picked it up he noticed some paper stuffed in the hole. A brief flash of anger went through him at the thought of the ball hitting the paper and bouncing out of the hole. What sort of idiot would do that? He thought.
He removed the paper and flattened it out. It was a note. Five words printed in capital letters. ‘WE KNOW WHAT YOU DID.’
His legs nearly went from under him and he grabbed the flag pole for support. His eyes lost focus and his heart was fighting to get out of his rib cage.
How can they know? It was twenty years ago.
He looked around the course but there was nobody to be seen. Throwing the putter in his golf bag he dragged the trolley behind him as he ran for the clubhouse. He stumbled and tripped spilling his clubs over the fairway. He considered picking them up but left the bag and ran until he reached the clubhouse.
He headed round the side towards the car park and nearly went over again when his spikes hit the concrete. Wrestling the keys from his pocket he flipped open the boot of his Jaguar. He tore his golf shoes off, replacing them with his trainers and leapt into the driving seat.
Two men he didn’t recognise stood by a BMW watching him.
Christ, how did they find out? He thought.
He reversed out of the space then pulled straight into the traffic without looking. Horns blared but he was oblivious to them. Radio Four was in the middle of some political discussion; he normally took a keen interest but none if it mattered anymore. He switched off the radio.
His palms were so sweaty that he could barely grip the wheel, he wiped them on his golf trousers as he sat, frustrated, at a red light. He checked the mirror but couldn’t see the BMW. As soon as the lights changed he sped off, cursing at a cyclist who he nearly knocked from his bike.
Another red light. He swore again.
Twenty years. Twenty years without a word and now they’ve caught up with me.
He’d always known this day would come but as the years had gone on, he’d become complacent. Some days he didn’t even think about it. Today had been one of them until he reached the hole on the thirteenth green.
He pulled onto the drive. Anita’s car was gone, she’d be on the school run now and then on her way to the office. It was for the best.
He switched off the engine and stopped for a moment. He considered everything he had achieved in the last twenty years. Twenty years since everything changed. He looked at the house with the double garage, the pink child’s bicycle discarded in the garden, the bench where him and Anita would sometimes sit out and enjoy the sunset. It was over now.
He checked both ways down the street. There didn’t appear to be anybody watching but they could be anywhere.
He went in the house. The familiar hum of the dishwasher churning away in the background, the faint smell of toast still wafting in the air from breakfast.
He climbed the stairs and entered the bedroom, Anita’s perfume hitting him as soon as he walked through the door. This is what he would remember.
He looked for some paper but there was none in the bedroom so he went into his office. A wedding photo hung on the wall, he couldn’t look at it.
He took a notepad and pen from his desk and wrote. He kept it simple, there wasn’t much time or much point in anything else.
‘I’m sorry. Please let the kids know their Dad wasn’t a bad man, it was just a joke that went horribly wrong. I love you all. Trevor. xxx’ He went back to the bedroom and placed it on the bed.
He returned to the car, took one look back at the house then headed for the coast.
Nathan clipped the back of Joe’s heels as they walked to school, nearly causing him to trip over. They both laughed.
“Where next?” said Joe.
“The posh house with the green door,” said Nathan.
Joe ran down the path and shoved the note through the letterbox and ran back. They legged it down the street giggling at their latest prank. A couple of streets later Nathan put the same note under the windscreen wiper of a random Mercedes.
The text familiar.
‘WE KNOW WHAT YOU DID.’
If you enjoyed this story, you may enjoy some of Alan Parkinson’s novels available on Amazon.