Annie, Victims Liaison, informed me by letter when the assailant’s probation would be up. I replied, adding some self-promotion of my story. John said his barrister and probation officer had told him to tell me the worst. From one visit to the next there were certain inconsistencies I didn’t remark on because I’d just get some more gloss. I did write even when told to tell what was worst about himself, he varnished it.

Through Annie an appointment was made for me to see his probation officer. Annie was there too. They wanted to know if John had told me the worst. Yes but it was varnished. I asked what the truth was. They wanted to hear what he’d told me. “Keeping your cards close to your chest,” I said but told them anyway: the story had inconsistencies. In one version there were no girls and only another man at the taxi rank who told John to make sure the sixteen year old who’d gone off for a lift home was all right though out of sight and earshot. John had come across him and the lift man struggling and intervened though, when told to rob the man, did so and in so doing made himself accessory to murder because the boy stabbed the man several times.

Annie said in my letter I’d mentioned visiting John. “Let me see. Why did I do that?” She used the word subconsciously as is common usage whereas I’d say I’d done so unconsciously. My unconscious wanted me to know the truth John wasn’t giving. The truth was he and the boy had set out to rob with violence some homosexual prey and, after the boy had stabbed the man repeatedly, John kicked him when he was down and hit his head with a brick. There were witnesses. He was a murderer who got life. After thirteen years, not as he’d said ten, he was out on licence and had been out on licence five times, each time ending with a minor crime that did, however, entail another lengthy stretch inside, the latest being that of assaulting his wife and spitting in her face, a common assault, for which he got twenty days and an additional four years he was serving till absconding.

I left and a 371 played fast and loose with me, because of the vagaries of Kingston’s one way streets, so I took the train home as I’d taken the train there. A crumple-faced workman looked at me but I wasn’t in the mood and quickly averted my eye. He took the hint.

I was depressed and would’ve liked to talk it out with Quentin but hadn’t the will to do anything elaborate like seek him out with cake and champagne, any superfluous niceties. What I did to alleviate my mood was talk to Steve and the demoted blonde in Waitrose. I even forgot to black bag the rubbish that night.

I saw Candice who was annoyed with me for saying I’d avoid her next week too in case she tagged me and I disappeared. She did have Rodger’s bike down for a tag but didn’t know both bike and Rodger had gone, so hadn’t got the joke she’d tagged him as well as the bike. I mustn’t make jokes on social networks. Anyway, she giggled at my murderer with that sensitivity of feeling for which she is well known.


About johnbrucecairns

I'm a retired history teacher who's written for most of his life with a book readied for publication.
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