5. THE CORPSE

5. THE CORPSE

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson
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Reflecting on the past Draxton remembers taking a street girl home with him.

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Chantelle’s eyes were as clear as her voice as she shook her head and whispered, “I can’t, sir, my mum told me it’s not right to go into strange men’s homes and my dad said he’d beat them up if they asked me.”

He nodded slowly. Of course that was right. Of course he shouldn’t ask a young girl into the privacy of his home where just about anything could happen. He smiled to himself. There wasn’t much that could happen, he being ninety three and she being so young and strong. But she was right to be cautious.

There has been a time long before he was anything like ninety three when he’d invited Carole into his home. It was soon after the war and still quite a lot of things were hard to come by, rationing affecting the wealthy more than it affected the poor because the poor were used to not having things anyway. And Carole was a girl that popped into his life off the street. He’d met her, he couldn’t remember how, and he knew what she wanted and what’s more he was prepared to pay for it.

Carole had come into his lounge: it was in this same bungalow with its modest, even humble, exterior and it’s quite beautifully furnished and decorated interior. As far as he knew his father was out on business for the day and he had the place to himself. He liked it like that when he was entertaining lady friends, not that he would ever have claimed that Carole was a friend of his because she wasn’t anything like that. She was an acquaintance, that was all, a pretty enough acquaintance but no more than that.

You never know what you’re going to find in a gentleman’s house,” she had smirked, and he had known full well what she meant when she said that. She had a reputation, did Carole, or so he had guessed.

You might find the gentleman’s boudoir’s to your taste,” he had muttered sleazily, and he had meant it. He had a taste for sleazy lasses who were quite happy to spend an hour with him and be rewarded for it. He’d learned since his earlier more intimate moments with the gentle sex that some of them liked a reward.

She had her knickers in her hand by the time they’d reached the lounge. She had slipped them off unbidden, and he felt a tingle of excitement start to course through him when he noticed.

What on Earth are you up to?” he asked, assuming disbelief.

It’s what you brought me in for, ain’t it?” she asked, grinning lasciviously.

It was and it wasn’t, but he chose to suggest that maybe it was. “Maybe if you’re a good girl and daddy’s out we’ll do something worth quite a big reward,” he said in the dirtiest voice he thought he had ever used.

But who’s the old man?” she asked, stopping suddenly still so that he bumped into her.

What old man?” he asked, and she pointed.

Father, or daddy as he had come to call him, was sitting in his favourite chair and so motionless that he must absolutely be asleep.

What are you doing, having forty winks at this time of the day?” he demanded as Carole hastily scrunched her knickers up and pushed them into her small handbag.

Daddy didn’t answer, though.

He must be really tired,” he told Carole, “come on, let’s go to my room. He never goes into it without knocking, so we’ll be perfectly private while he’s off with the fairies!”

Are you sure it’ll be okay?” she asked, and he held her by one hand encouragingly. “Of course,” he said encouragingly, not at all sure that it would, but the sight of her carrying her underwear had roused him and he was prepared to take just about any risk in order to satisfy it.

It was at that precise moment that his father chose to move. His head seemed to droop slowly at first to one side and then more swiftly until his it up with the back corner of his chair and remained still as though he hadn’t woken up at all. It was as though he was oblivious to his son and the girl, in a world of his own.

It was Carole who screamed.

She pointed at him and wouldn’t stop screaming.

Hush, or he’ll hear you and wake up,” remonstrated Braxton in the kind of voice he could remember seventy years later as he stood by the orchard gate and gazed at Chantelle.

But the memory, playing in his mind, wasn’t over yet.

He won’t wake up, you silly toff!” shrieked Carole. “He’s dead! Can’t you see that he’s dead! And here am I in the same room as a dead man and with my panties in my purse!”

So that’s where you put them, flashed through Braxton’s mind as he turned his attention to the figure slumped in an ungainly pose in his father’s favourite chair, and suddenly he knew that this street girl was right, that the man he revered, his only living parent for longer than he cared to remember, was as dead as a dodo. Or deader. Much deader.

He ushered Carole out of the room in order to silence her screaming and sat her on a dining chair in the room next door. Then he carefully sat down himself.

I don’t know what to do,” he confessed, “poor daddy, I mean, but what can I do?”

The police,” she urged him, “you’ll have to tell them! They always need to be told when there’s somebody that dies unexpectedly.”

Yes. Yes: I’ll phone them.”

Let me go first,” she begged him, “the coppers mustn’t find me here or they’ll put one and one together and be bound to make seven!”

But what harm…?” he found himself asking.

Don’t be so bloody daft!” she scowled, pulling her underwear from where she’d scrunched it and turning her back on him while she replaced it, “they know how I make a living and that’ll give ‘em an idea why I’m here!”

And, at that, she left him. He watched her go, and told himself never again. Not a girl like that who wouldn’t help him in his hour of need. Who’d leave him to sort things out by himself.

Then he went to the telephone and dialled 999.

There’s no dead body in the place,” he told Chantelle by the orchard gate. It sounded like a joke, but it wasn’t one. “I mean, my dad died in there, that’s all, and that was a long time ago and it’s all forgotten now. I tell you what, you’re right about not wanting to go into the house with me, but if you come and wait by the back door, there’s something I’d like to show you. Will you do that much at least?”

She thought. It was an odd request but, well, he was as old as the hills and if he got up to any funny stuff she could easily get away from him. So she nodded slowly, and smiled.

I suppose it’s okay,” she said.

© Peter Rogerson 04.02.19



© 2019 Peter Rogerson


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Added on December 4, 2019
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Tags: prostitute, father, dead, police


Author

Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom



About
I am 76 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..

Writing