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Excerpt from The drowning Pool -  caught red handed!                         Home




I always shivered whenever we came this far south west. I glanced up and his ferocious blue eyes blazed at the point where it happened. I left him alone with his own memories. He’d start arguing as soon as we turned for home. It had just become another ritual. A sacrament to his dead son. He needed someone other than himself to blame. I handled this well enough, if it helped him to manage his guilt, then fine. My own feelings of remorse would stay with me forever. It had become an equation between us with an unstable balance.

I watched him, there were no tears this time. He stared for a good five minutes and then, without saying a word he nodded and I swung the boat around and we headed not only for home, but the jagged rocks of another argument. This one shook me out of my isolated security.

‘Who was that girl I saw you with last week?’

I sat up, surprised by the direction of his latest arrow. I had been on Smeaton’s Pier with Diane. We’d sat there in the evening sunshine, staring across the harbour. A morbid enough occasion, we both knew it was the last time we would be together. We stood and arms linked together, we began the two hundred yard walk back to the hotel. Complacency, my eternal enemy, had turned on me once again. My father rarely came to St Ives, so when I sensed a few fishermen sat outside St Leonards chapel, I saw no danger. My concentration on Diane’s red, tightly packed pubic hair, neatly packaged around the treasure that I would soon have my face in amongst.

Diane glanced up at me and whispered, ‘I want you so much.’

Before I had chance to reply, I heard my father’s voice, ‘It’s a lovely evening.’ He came out of the shadows and stood in front of us. ‘Don’t be late in the morning.’ He said this and stared at Diane at the same time.

‘This is my father.’ I said this in the panic stricken tone of someone caught red-handed. This was irrational in itself, I was out with a girl, so what?

Unlike Diane however, she never missed a beat, ‘Mr Teague – I’ve heard so much about you, I’m Diane. How are you?’ She held out an outstretched hand and he grasped it quickly enough. Was he staring at her short dress. Her tanned legs, the thin straps of the dress an obvious indicator that Diane wasn’t wearing a bra.

Finally he said, ‘Have a nice evening.’ Took his penetrating gaze across to me and repeated his earlier request. ‘Don’t be late in the morning.’

He brought me back quickly enough when he raised his voice a notch, ‘Who was she?’

I stood and we stared at one another. I wondered if my confusion was written large across my face? I felt that I blustered a touch. ‘Just a friend.’

‘Are you still seeing her?’

I felt my eyes stretch wide open. ‘What’s this all about?’

My father opened a page of The Cornishman. I never read newspapers, he opened the paper to the page you always get in local newspapers. Wedding photos and a picture of Diane and her recently acquired husband smiled out of the page at me. I reeled back, the photograph and my father quickly closed the gap. I tried to stall the overwhelming attack about to be launched.

‘That’s not the same girl.’ A feeble shield of a lie came out in my defence.

He read from the paper, ‘On Saturday, Diane Lloyd married her childhood sweetheart.’ He waved the picture at me once again. ‘Diane, she told me her name was Diane. No doubt, it’s the same girl.’

‘We met, bumped into each other by chance.’

‘She was getting married and three days before that, you were all over her.’

I tried to hold the line, repeating my rather weak excuse, ‘we’re old friends, we just happened to bump into each other. Chatted and then said our goodbyes.’

‘You went into the Pedn-Olva Hotel.’

‘You followed us?’

He waved the paper at me, ‘What sort of a man… You disgust me.’

‘It’s not what you think.’ But it was exactly what he was thinking. We’d been lovers for nearly a year. Her fiancée, one hundred miles away at an agricultural college in Totnes.

I felt my head drop.

‘So you should hold your head in shame.’ He rolled the newspaper up and jabbed me in the chest with it. ‘Do you know who they are?’

‘I’m sure you’re about to tell me.’

‘Biggest farmers in Cornwall and you’re out whoring with…’

‘I wasn’t whoring with anyone. Why are you so dramatic all the time?’

I wanted to see the welcoming arms of the entrance to Stennack Cove again. The towering cliffs either side, then the shingle beach. The wooden benches, packed tight with tourists on days like these. Licking ice creams and watching the workers coming in on the tide. Anywhere but this place of inquisition.

‘I should tell him what his new wife’s been up to behind his back.’

‘And what good would that do?’

‘Are you still seeing her?’

I shook my head, ‘we were saying our farewells.’

‘And you had to do that in a hotel?’ I said nothing, waiting for his own gale to blow itself out. ‘You stank of sex the next morning.’

He may have been right, we said our goodbyes with a lazy, early morning coupling. No soft focused images of us walking in opposite directions on a soft Cornish beach, with a blazing red-sunset as a backdrop. We made love and then I dressed quickly and left her in the bed to try and catch up on some much needed sleep, while I motored on to my appointment with a fishing boat.

‘You make things up – you’re in a daze.’

‘She had bites all over.’

This wasn’t true, discretion dictated that I wasn’t allowed to bite. I said nothing, what was the point? I looked away, he just mirrored this setting perfectly. A setting shaped by violence that brokered no conciliation for those who choose to work in it. Appropriate enough given my father’s lack of ability when it came to compromise. An environment entirely suited to an evangelistic Methodist. My mother said that he had been carved from the same granite that Stennack Cove nestled amongst.

It wasn’t meant as a compliment.