Sunday, 23 July 2017
I walk into the bedroom, and can't help but be amused by Mace, who is already sat where he seems to live these days, on his drawing table, pencil in hand scribbling away and oblivious to time as well as the world around him. I wander for a moment if he hasn't been sat there all night.
I can't help but regret buying him that drawing table sometimes, especially when I can not get any sense out of him. This week he has been particular bad, constantly working, doing single covers and TShirt designs for Tapestry, as well as taking on some free lance work. I now understand what Thyme meant when he said Mace is a workaholic and never knows when to stop.
I have just come in from working the night shift, and he hasn't batted an eyelid, he has just glanced at me then continued to scribble away. Normally he would have jumped on me, these days I don't even get an hello or a kiss, I'm beginning to think he's going off me!
"Mace where are Saffron and Atlas?"
"At Tapestry's, with Vanilla and Poppy." he mumbles without looking up.
"Okay, I'll be back in a sec."
I laugh as I walk out the door without any reaction from him.
I laugh as I run up the stairs, thinking if he didn't have that damn table and that pencil in his hand, he would have interrogated me before I walked out the door, wanting to know where I was going and why. So I guess there are some perks to him having that drawing table, sometimes, it keeps him off my back a little, he is not suffocating me, which in the past has really irritated me, but now that he is suddenly not doing it, I don't like it!
I walk into Saffron and Atlas's room, not knowing where Slate and Dad are, so I lock the door behind me. It doesn't really matter if any of them catch me right now, but there is still something that I want to keep hidden, mine and Forrest's divorce and the papers. I really don't want the surprise that I am now planning for Mace spoilt, by anyone slipping up and telling him that we are now divorced by accident, so it is better that only me and Forrest know for now, that our divorce has come through, and what I am up to.
When the divorce papers came through the door yesterday morning and landed on the mat, I'm glad I was the one to pick them up. If anyone else in the house had picked up the mail, they would automatically have given my letter to Mace, who probably would have opened it.
I have not told Mace yet, that our divorce is final, because I can just imagine what his reaction would have been, he would have screamed the house down with excitement and gone all hyperactive on me. Me on the other hand, I needed time to absorb it, It has taken me the day to get my head around it. Even though it is what I wanted, to be free of Forrest so that I can marry Mace, I didn't expect it, not so soon, I thought it was going to take years, and today, it has just come out of the blue and it has knocked me for six. It is finally over, after nearly thirty years of marriage, and even though I am happy to now be divorced from Forrest, it still hurts, even more so now that he seems to have forgotten everything about our lives together before the day we got married, due to this strange memory loss that he has since he woke up.
Forrest has had our marriage Annulled, due to abandonment, without even telling me .... which annoys me a little, because that is what I asked him to do from the start, but he dug his heels in and told me if I wanted a divorce, then I would have to be the one to do it. Of course he could get our marriage annulled because I am the one who abandoned him, but I couldn't, me being the one applying for a divorce had to go the long winded way. What annoys me the most is all the money that I have waste at the Solicitors, and he knows it ... then he goes and does this, but that is Forrest all over, he has to do it his way, how and when it suits him!!
Mace thinks it will be years before mine and Forrest's divorce comes through, so he will get the shock of his life when I spring on him the surprise marriage that I am now planning before the trial begins. Which is going to be tight, because I only have two weeks to do it.
Hopefully it will make him feel a whole lot better knowing that we are married before he gets his sentence. I know that is one thing that has really been upsetting him, he thinks we won't be able to get married until after he has served his sentence, however long that might be. I don't think I have helped to ease his worries very much, by not putting an engagement ring on his finger yet. I still don't think that he completely trusts that I am not going to go running back to Forrest after he is sentenced and especially that I will be there waiting for him to be released ... not that a wedding ring and marriage certificate will guarantee that ... but he thinks it does, and it will put his mind at rest a little.
I stand nervously, staring at the cupboard, because a conversation about ghosts existing, that I had a few days ago with Tapestry, has really been playing on my mind ever since. I stand there almost too scared to look inside my hiding place, afraid of what I might find, and that what Tapestry was actually telling me is true. I have played our conversation and the events of the day in question, over and over in my mind and I really can not find any other explanation for how he would know everything that he told me, if he isn't telling the truth ... that ghosts really do exist and Sunny in spirit form was actually watching me that day!
I look around the bedroom stupidly, even knowing that I am not going to see anything, almost creeped out by the thought that there might be a ghost here now watching me ... I honestly think that I am starting to believe it. I laugh at myself as I try to pull myself together and knock the stupid thoughts out of my head.
I move the heavy cupboard, which is difficult without making too much noise for anyone to hear. This heavy cupboard being here is annoying, but on the other hand, it helps to keep my hiding place pretty much from being found. One thing I know for sure, Mace will never find my hiding place, as he can't and has never been up the stairs. I laugh again wandering how Forrest has never found this place over the past twenty years. I always thought he would discover it when he changed the carpet in this room, which he obviously has done since I lived here, but he obviously didn't spot the broken floorboard or try to move it.
Since I have been back I had not even given a thought to the hiding places that I have around this house, not until I needed somewhere to hide Mace's ring from him until I propose to him. Over the years I have tried to blot out and forget my criminal past, and my erratic behaviour of being an addict, so my hiding places have not crossed my mind once. This is not the only hiding place that I have in this house ... there are two others.
I sit down on the carpet quite heavily and wander if Forrest has found the other two. My blood runs very cold when something suddenly hits me, a flood of memories slam back into my head and I remember what should still be in one of my other hiding places, the one in the bathroom, if Forrest has not already found that hiding place. Why am I so stupid?! I have been back in this town and house for long enough, why haven't I even thought about them or their contents at all before now!!
At first when I was sentenced, I worried about what I had left hidden in the bathroom, and especially Forrest finding it, imagining that the hidden contents might come back to bite me and even extend my sentence, if he was stupid enough to hand them into the police. However, thinking I could never come home, I just had to hope that it stayed hidden and try to forget all about my past, and hope that it never catches up with me one day. Over the years, getting comfortable in my perfectly legal life, I have gradually wiped my bad life from my mind and forgotten completely about what I have actually hidden in one of the hidey holes ... it has totally slipped my mind until now.
I can't help but think that the hiding place in the bathroom, must still be a secret and it's contents have to still be there and hidden, because if Forrest had ever found them, he would have said something and probably gone totally ballistic at me by now!!
My mind flashes back twenty five years to the job that went totally wrong. Thankfully I had not taken part in it, I was too hammered to go with them so they left me behind, sleeping it off. A simple raid turned into a massacrer, and I was given the job of disposing of the evidence ... the guns. We lost three of the mob that day, but the group of a dozen police officers that swarmed them, had come off worse, because Fudge's mob had totally wiped them all out. I suddenly realise, I do still have a skeleton in my cupboard that could well bite me in the ass - I didn't take part in the raid, but I did hide the evidence and none of the mob were caught or charged with that crime, which was lucky for us because of the severity of the crime, murdering twelve police officers would have had us all locked up for the rest of our lives, even me, because I was an accessory and to this day, I still have the evidence ... I think. The realisation of it suddenly hits me ...this could still catch up with me!!!
I remember that day quiet clearly, now I think about it, and it is just one of many things that I have pushed to the back of my mind over the years. I remember how I had been abruptly woken up from my drunken slumber, ironically by Mace of all people, screaming the place down because Fudge was giving him a leathering. I had jumped up to try and stop Fudge, Mace was only a kid, probably about six and I couldn't stand to watch a grown man battering a defenceless child. Fudge blamed Mace for the raid going wrong, I'm not sure why or what he had done, and I didn't ask, because in my book, the child shouldn't have even been there or taken part in it. Fudge never liked me interfering when he was battering Mace and Tarragon, which I always did, I couldn't just sit there and watch him doing it like all the others did. Fudge turned on me then for interfering, and I let him batter me, but I didn't really mind if it stopped him from battering Mace. That was when he told me to dispose of all their guns ... I remember his worlds as clear as day "Dump the evidence in Apple Lake, after you have wiped off all the prints." he had then shoved Mace towards me quite forcefully "You might as well dump this useless runt in the lake while you are at it, I can see he is going to be a waste of space just like you are. I'm sick of his snivelling face, his sister has got more balls than he has!!" At the time, Fudge was so angry with Mace, I honestly think he meant it!!
Obviously I was never going to do it, and I didn't dump anything in the lake that night, I took it all home with me, the guns and Mace. Mace being six years old, after having a battering from his Dad, a grown man, understandably was in a mess, physically and mentally. I was more concerned about him than disposing of the guns, which I hid in the back garden, in the middle of an overgrown bush before we went into the house. I chuckle quietly thinking about Forrest, the minute I went through the door carrying the little boy he started to go ballistic at me for bringing Mace home again, because it wasn't the first time. I should have seen back then that he had his child phobia, but not being medically trained at the time, I didn't even know such a phobia existed.
After Forrest's initial kick off, he did show concern over the state of the both of us, I had a bloody and swollen face and so did the little boy, who was pretty badly battered and bleeding, he needed stitches, and he had a broken arm. After I cleaned us both up the best I could, we had to sneak Mace into the hospital, during the middle of the night, so that Forrest could get Mace stitched up and his arm put in plaster.
I had to break into the plaster room, which thankfully was empty and locked up for the night, we couldn't afford to let anyone see the state of him, because if social services or the police had been called in, they would have been down on Fudge like a tonne of bricks and it probably would have dragged us all down with him, especially if they got wind of what the mob had been up to that night. At the very least I would have been at the bottom of Apple lake for grassing him up, or being responsible for social services and the police on his back After we got home, me and Forrest had the mother of all arguments, because yet again he said I had dragged him into my shit, He packed a bag and went to stay at his parents, refusing to set foot in the house again, until I had got rid of Mace.
My conscience was very torn at the time over Mace, I could see how soft he was, unike his sister who was already as hard as nails and a typical Brownie in the making. She was loving her life, while Mace visibly wasn't. The environment that they were both being brought up in was very wrong. While I wanted to get them out of there, there was nothing that I could do about it - I would never have lived to tell the tale if I had even tried. I didn't want to take him back to his parents and the hell that I could see he was living through, but I knew I couldn't keep him, or at least get him some proper help.
He stayed with me that night, and the very next day Fudge came banging the door down looking for his son. I laugh remembering he gave me another battering for taking his son - even though he had told me to, even watching me walk out with him. Luckily I didn't dump him in the lake like I had been told to, or I would have ended my days at the bottom of Apple lake along with many others who have met there end there.
I'm not sure why at the time, but I kept the guns as insurance, not that I ever used them as such, when there were plenty of times that I could have done. I had watched them all dropping their guns into a large clear plastic seal-able freezer bag, their fingerprints still all over the guns. I remember thinking at the time, how stupid are they to trust that I will wipe away their prints, and dispose of them properly. I also could not help but notice that there was one too many guns going in that bag, especially after I watched Fudge dropping two guns into the bag, the bag which was sealed and has never been opened by me since.
The extra gun really spooked me, and I couldn't help but keep staring at it, and I think that is why I initially hung onto the bag of evidence, because of the extra gun - it looked just like the gun my Dad used to have. It was quite distinctive, it had a marble pattern on the grip. I've seen plenty of guns during my time of being mixed up in the criminal world, but to this day, I've never seen a gun like the one that my Dad had.
Even though I kept telling myself it couldn't be my Dad's gun, he was long gone and so would have his gun been, it was just one that looked like his ... but I still kept them.
I guess at the time, I was being sentimentally stupid, even though on the surface I hated the man who had faded when I was twelve years old, the man who I blamed for all my problems and screwed up head, he was still my Dad and that gun meant something to me, his or not, and I found myself holding onto it, even though I knew I shouldn't have been.
Thinking about that gun now - alarm bells start ringing in my head. I now know that Gravel was behind the mob - he must have known about that raid and especially the officers who were massacred, he worked with some of them!! I remember panicking a little that night, worrying that he might have been one of those officers, and I made a nonsense phone call to him on the way home with Mace and the bag of evidence, just to check that he wasn't one of them. That extra gun had really bugged me back then, like it is stating too again now ... where did it come from and who used it ... I am now starting to wander - could it actually have been Gravel ... but how could he have had Dad's gun?!
I now think I'm in a right mess because I kept that bag of guns. I need to get rid of them, but first I need to check my hiding place in the bathroom to see if they are actually still there. I could just be sat here worrying about nothing, but highly doubt it. I stare at my watch, knowing I only have a few hours left before I am due back at work, I know I don't have time to be disposing of them now ... not that I would now even know where or how, I'm too many years out of practice!!
There is nothing I can do now, so I just have to try and forget about my new dilemma until later. I laugh at myself as I remember why I am actually sitting on the floor in Saffron and Atlas's bedroom.
After crawling to the corner of the room, I pull back the carpet and take a deep breath as I lift up the loose floorboard and stare down at the rusting metal tin, that is sitting between the rafters underneath the floorboards. I pull out the tin and place it on the carpet in front of me, taking another deep breath before lifting off the lid.
I stare down, almost numbly, at the contents of the tin. I did get the ring box out of here before my shift last night, but I closed my eyes and didn't look, only wanting the ring, not wanting to see what else was in there, just in case Tapestry wasn't joking and he was telling the truth. I didn't want to see the contents of the tin before my shift, worrying about Forrest and if there was going to be anything wrong with him when he woke up, I didn't want to burden my mind with all this ghost stuff. I had brushed something that felt like cold glass when I was feeling around for the ring, I hoped and presumed it was the bottle of vodka, and that Tapestry is just having a laugh with me.
I now have my eyes open and can't take them off what is actually now in there, seriously not believing what I am looking at!! The vodka and drugs have gone, just like Tapestry said they would be, and in there place is a jar of Honey. I stare at it and can't help but laugh - wandering if I am going mad. I take the jar of honey out as I throw the envelope containing Forrest's divorce papers into the tin, along with my own.
After I have quickly put the tin, floorboard, carpet and cupboard back in it's place, I sit back down on the carpet turning the jar of honey over, taking a good look at it. It is not a brand that we usually buy, so I doubt it has come out of our fridge. So where has it come from .... more to the point, who took away the vodka and drugs and put this here in their place?!
I think about what Tapestry said for a moment "Oh and he's left you something in place of your stash, he says you'll enjoy that a lot more ... something only you and Mace know about apparently!"
Yeah, this is something that only me and Mace should know about, if applied to our private use of honey ... unless Mace has told someone, what we actually do with it. I wander for a moment if he hasn't told Atlas, in the past he has confided in his best mate about our sex life. Atlas, Saffron, Tapestry, Mace, they are all very close these days ... I wander for a moment if they haven't found my hiding place and this is just one big joke?! It could be ... but it still wouldn't explain some of the things that Tapestry said, that nobody could have seen because there was nobody around me to see, I was totally alone, especially when I was in this locked room on my own. Either Tapestry has to be telling the truth and ghosts really do exist, or I am going totally mad!!
I jump to my feet, and after putting the jar of honey into my pocket, I go over to the door, and stand listening to see if I can hear anyone on the landing. It is deadly silent so I unlock the door and slip out of the room.
I automatically think about the contents of my hiding place in the bathroom, as I stare at the bathroom door, and decide I really need to check right now. My nerves are already jangling, and I nearly jump out of my skin, as I go to grab the handle on the door, the door opens suddenly and unexpectedly ... my Dad is just coming out of the bathroom.
"Hell ... you gave me a fright." he just stands there laughing at me as I try to catch my breath.
"So what are you doing, sneaking about up here?" he frowns at me
"I'm not sneaking!" I laugh at him
"Really?!" his eye brows raise "You forget I can read your face like a book, and you don't have any reason to be up here, seeing as you live downstairs, unless you are up to something!" he laughs "I followed you up the stairs, and you've been in Atlas's room for quite a while, I heard you bumping and banging about it there ... so?!"
"Okay ... I was sneaking!" I laugh at him, he is just like Gravel, he rarely misses anything!!
"Should I be worried?" he frowns at me
"No! I hid something in there a few days ago so Mace didn't find it." I smile at him as I pull the ring box out of my pocket "He is very good at snooping, finding things and spoiling surprises."
"Is that what I think it is?" his eyes widen
"Yeah." I mumble as I open the box and show him the ring
"That is a ring for Mace I take it ... not Forrest!" he frowns at me
"Obviously, it is for Mace!" I laugh at him "I think you should have gathered by now, with Forrest's latest confessions, Mel and the kids, that we are over, it's done!! I even have the divorce papers to prove it!!" I bite my tongue the words are out of my mouth before I realise what I've said. So much for keeping it a secret!!
"Divorce papers ..." he frowns at me "You kept that quiet!"
"They only came yesterday, I wasn't even expecting them myself, after all the arguments we have had Forrest goes and does what I asked him to do in the first place and he refused to do!! He has filed for an annulment. ... so it's over, we are now divorced." I smirk at him
"I bet Mace is happy!!" he grins at me
"He doesn't know yet." I laugh at him "And you are not to tell him either ... only you know besides me and Leafy .... I am planning to spring a surprise on Mace ... we are getting married before the trial begins, and Mace doesn't know it yet, and he won't until it happens."
"While I'm happy Mace is getting what he wants, I just hope you are doing this for the right reason!"
"Of course I am ... I love him."
"Ahhh light dawns on marble head!!" he starts laughing "You finally realise what we have all seen since the day you woke up after the shooting!!"
Him mentioning the shooting makes me think about his gun again.
"Dad ... what happened to the gun that you had when I was a kid?" he frowns at me "The one you caught me trying to shoot Forrest with ... it had a marble pattern on the grip."
"Oh berry, I remember that!" he starts to really laugh "I should have known you would turn out to be a little criminal when you was older, the way you lifted my gun without me even feeling you doing it. I've never fallen asleep with my gun on me since that day!!" he is really chuckling "I nearly had a coronary when I walked out into the garden and saw you and Forrest playing cops and robbers with that gun!! I can laugh about it now, but it was far from funny at the time. You even manage to lift the bullets out of my other pocket, its just a good job you didn't have the sense to load the gun with them, or I dread to think what might have happened!! Forrest would have been a gonner, you was actually stood there aiming perfectly and continuously pulling the trigger ... and all I got from you was the normal ... "leafy told me to."
We both stand laughing for a moment
"So what happened to that gun, because I have noticed the one you have now is different."
"Well it would be after over thirty years soft lad, they don't last forever." he laughs at me "But as it happens, I gave that gun to Gravel, not long after he turned up on my doorstep." he smiles at me "Like you, he was always fascinated with that gun when he was a child."
"Yeah, it was very distinctive, I've never seen one like it before, but I guess in your day it was just a common make of gun."
"The gun itself yes, the handle no." he laughs quietly "That gun was pretty much a one off."
"Really!?" my stomach starts rolling
"Yeah, my Dad had it made specially for me when I joined the force. Probably why I hung onto it for so long." he smiles "My brother had one too, but the pattern on his was different, his was zebra print."
"It's funny, I don't remember seeing Gravel with that gun."
"No, he told me he kept it locked up and didn't use it ... one of the reasons was so you didn't see it, I was a bit stupid giving it him really ... I didn't think about you seeing it at the time. I doubt you will ever see another one like it, so you would automatically know it was my gun." he starts to look thoughtful "I wander what happened to that gun? I was actually expecting it to turn up in amongst all the seized property from his house, but it didn't!!"
My blood runs cold for a moment as my head starts to spin. I am suddenly now thinking that the gun in the bag probably was Dads, and Gravel must have gone along on that raid and been the one to use it. A little ironic that Dad should wander where it is, after he just walk out of the bathroom where it is hidden, I think.
"Why are you asking about that gun Granny?" he frowns at me suspiciously, as he must have just been watching my face twisting.
"Oh no reason." I mumble
"Something must have made you think about that gun!" he is still frowning at me and I have to do some quick thinking.
"Just a conversation I had with Mace ... Clay will never be able to have any toy guns, play cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians like little boys do ... or we will have Mace screaming the place down."
"No I guess not." he laughs.
After Dad leaves me to use the toilet, so he thinks, I close the bathroom door behind me, lock it then lean against it. I stare at the bath, my head now in turmoil, thinking that has to be my Dad's old gun!!
I have to think about that for a moment. Dad gave Gravel that gun, Gravel who ran the mob, and I was given the gun by Fudge to dispose of it ... obviously Gravel did do that job with them, and he must have used it and been responsible for shooting someone to be having his gun disposed of.
I drop down onto my knees, and stare at an old familiar bath panel - not quite believing that Forrest has never replaced this bath or bath panel. I prise the bath panel off with my bare hands, knowing just how to do it quickly. It comes off without a problem.
A cloud of dust suddenly flies up and I start choking as I wave my hand around trying to disperse the cloud. Once I can breath again, I start to laugh ... seriously has he NEVER removed this bath panel even once in the past twenty years?!
I look into the dark space underneath the bath, and all I can see is years of dust and cobwebs, the odd faded spider and moth. To be honest I never expected this space to be completely untouched, and judging by the state of it, I would say it is.
As I duck down a little more, I put my hand on the floor underneath the bath to steady myself, while I lean in looking for the nail in the lino, which is sticking out a little. I laugh at myself, because of the clever little thing that I did, glued the nail into the lino, so when I pull up the nail the lino comes with it in a perfect square, which I had cut out of the lino. As I sit back to put the lino square down at the side of me, I spot my hand and finger prints on the floor in the dust .... that is not good!!
The last thing that I need is to be leaving finger prints under the bath, so I start to look around for something to wipe the hand print away. I laugh grabbing a damp face cloth off the sink, as I spot a few unopened boxes of brown hair dye on the shelf. Slate and Bay have been dying their hair and going out into the coded world, no doubt this hair dye is here ready for their next trip out. I grab one and tear open the box to get out the plastic gloves that I know are always in with hair dye.
Now that I can no longer leave fingerprints everywhere, I go back under the bath, I pull up the broken floorboard with the help of another glued nail. I have to go right under the bath now to stare into the hole.
HELL!! I feel sick ... my eyes fall upon the bag of guns, because it is still there, exactly where I left it!!"
Now I SERIOUSLY am in trouble!!
I come out from under the bath, quickly replace the floorboard and lino, trying only to touch the nails. I take off the plastic gloves, screw them up and throw them into the peddle bin.
After I have replaced the bath panel and cleaned up any mess I've made, only then can I sit there thinking, while I'm having a slight panic attack.
Now I have a new dilema ... do I hand the guns in so that Gravel can finally take the rap for taking part in that job, or do I dispose of the guns quickly to save my own skin?!