“Isn’t this place just perfect?”
Jan was talking to herself as she wandered around her new home. He hadn’t moved from the lounge.
No! It isn’t. It’s fucking yours! Your house! Your money bought the fucking house! Yours!! Everything is yours!! It will always be yours! God!! I FUCKING HATE THIS!!!
His thought induced tantrum died down. He took a breath and thought of puppies. Eddie liked puppies.
“Yes it is lovely. You did a fine job finding this place.”
“Are you sure that you are not angry as we didn’t see it together?”
He couldn’t deny that her words were sincere and caring. She slipped her hands around his shoulders. She loved him. Was besotted by him. He knew this. This was the way that it had been for the last nineteen years. Seventeen of those in marriage. Jan had fallen in love with the carefree boy and finally adored the deep thoughtful man that he had become. Everything had been fine up until five years ago when Eddie had lost his Fitters job. It had been a dying trade then, a dead trade now. Jan paralleled Eddie’s employment demise with her success. She was now a Public Relations Officer with one of the largest companies in the country. Her salary more than compensated for Eddie’s unemployment. She knew that he resented her being the bread winner. She was more philosophical about it, she looked on it as ‘Their money’ and ‘Their Life’, it didn’t matter who earned it as long as they both enjoyed it.
“Of course not. I am more than happy to leave these things to you. I’ll have a look around and start unpacking.”
He gave her a small peck on the cheek and began to open the box that was closest to him.
He looked around at Jan and put on his most natural smile, “Now go on, before I change my mind, leave the unpacking and sample the nearest pub!”
Eddie heard the door close and decided that he would now have a look around the place. He went into the kitchen. Jan had already begun to unpack some of the many gadgets that she had bought for ‘The new house’. Gadgets annoyed Eddie. He preferred simple things. He could never understand the appeal of an electric knife when a carving knife would do. He noticed the dishwasher, his dishwasher. It had been his own fault as he had volunteered and then insisted that he would do all the household duties. He had explained that it was the least that he could do as she was Paying all the bills!
Jan had never argued and Eddie had figured out why. She had taken a psychology course a few years back to help with her PR work and he believed that she practised on him. To him, Jan thought that he held the housework as his personal contribution to the matrimonial home and he could therefore validate his worth.
“Bollocks!!…I only do it to emphasise what I am! I’m a loser! A fucking useless bastard who does the housework to emphasise what a useless bastard I am!!”
Eddie aimed a kick at one of the boxes but stopped as he saw that it was marked ‘Booze’. He opened it up and took out the first bottle.
“Black Rum – How lovely!”
He unscrewed the lid. He went over to his dishwasher and sat on it taking three large gulps of the rum. The liquid warmed his stomach, quickened his heart and soothed his temper. He decided that he would take the bottle and have a bath to go with the booze. Eddie began to cheer up. The thought of her coming in and him being drunk amused him.
Eddie headed out the kitchen but stopped to have a look at the garden. He hated gardening. There was an incline at the bottom that caught his eye. His curiosity got the better of him. He went out side and as he got closer he saw that something was half buried. He sat the rum on the grass and cleared away some of the soil and saw that there was an old up-and-over door. He tried to remember if it had been mentioned in the schedule for the house but to be truthful, he hadn’t bothered much with it. He pulled at the handle and was surprised at how easily it opened. He looked in and reckoned that it had been some sort of fruit cellar at one time. He jumped down into it and walked around. All that was there were two steps that lead up to a wooden platform. He walked up onto it.
He began to laugh and scream, “Wooo fucking PEEE! I’ve found a bloody useless hole in the ground!”
He stamped his feet, it sounded hollow.
“Worth a look!”
Eddie ran his hands over the side of the platform and he felt a ridge at either side. He lifted the wood and half the floor opened up to him. He peered in feeling like a kid looking for treasure. He sighed when he found nothing. There was a five foot drop to the ground below.
He sighed but thought that it would give Jan a kick. She liked nooks and crannies and would be happy that he was taking an interest in the place.
He closed everything up and went back into the garden. He retrieved his rum and went over and leaned against the boundary wall.
Fucking hole! That’s all it was.
Eddie saw the young man walking across to him.
“Could you help me? I’m lost. And I’ve got no service for this phone. Pile of shit! I’m trying to get back onto the main road.”
“You’re not far away. Just keep walking the way that you’re facing. That’ll take you into town and onto the main road. It’s a straight walk from here.”
“Thank God for that. It’s my own fault, I tried to cut over the fields and lost my bearings.”
Eddie held out the rum, “Here have some. Please excuse the lack of glasses but we’ve just moved in.”
He took a few large gulps.
Eddie held out his hand.
“Oh sorry! “
The boy returned the bottle.
“I take it that I could get into trouble for giving you that?”
The boy blushed.
“Well just! I am eighteen next month. But my mother moans about everything that I do. She hates me backpacking”
Eddie laughed, “And I take it that’s why you do it?”
“The only reason that I’m here is because she doesn’t let me do anything interesting. When I asked if I could go on a camping trip, all she said was that I would get lost or into trouble. To her, she needs to look after me as I’m a fuck-up!”
Eddie gave the bottle back to the boy.
He took another swig.
“So do you know what I’ve done? After about six months of nagging, she finally agreed. She reckoned that I would be back after the first night. I was supposed to speak to her daily and tell her where I was. Well fuck that! I have texted her each day, saying I am ok. She thinks I’m up north somewhere but I went in the totally different direction. Wait until she sees my selfies at the signposts.”
The boy began to feel groggy.
I don’t want to talk out of turn son, but being a rebel is fine but a rebel without a clue is dangerous. If you’re honest, you’re only doing this to piss your mother off.”
The boy grinned, “Yep! I don’t even like fucking camping…
Mum maybe right. I am useless. I think I’ll start a losers club. Do you want to join?”
He opened his arms.
Eddie’s revelation happened right at that moment. As the boy put his arms down Eddie lifted the bottle. He smashed it over the right hand side of the boys head. The boy slumped, twitched three times and then stopped moving. Eddie enjoyed watching this. He’d become someone once again.
Lying in the bath Eddie sipped more rum. ‘Rag Doll’ was making the walls shake. He closed his eyes and considered the boy. He’d been sent. Eddie had killed someone who was a bigger loser than himself. Eddie had moved up in the world.
The CD had finished and he knew that he hadn’t much time. He checked his fingers to see that they were clean. He had moved some sort of bush closer to the trap door and cleaning the muck off his hands was the most difficult thing that he’d done today. That made him laugh. He heard the door opening.
“Where are you?”
“In the bath with a bottle of rum…Want to join me?”
Jan was a bit surprised with the jovial Eddie she found in the bathroom. She was even more surprised with the caring and passionate way that Eddie made love to her that night. This went on for three weeks, he seemed happy and they were happy.
“Eddie.” She whispered one night just as he was falling asleep.
“What can I do for you or can I do for you again?”
He began to stroke her hair.
“You’ve changed. Not that I’m complaining.”
“Well there’s no more to be said.”
“I know but I was just wondering why it’s taken you so long to be happy?”
He sat up and leaned back into his pillow, “I know I was a prick. The years of unemployment got me down. Watching you bring in the money pissed me off…Before you interrupt, let me finish. I’ve come to accept what we have. I appreciate you and me being a total bastard wasn’t doing either of us any good. I’ve come to realise that I have so much to be thankful for and I know that I’m not the biggest loser in the world any-more. I think that this house has finally shown me that.”
She kissed his shoulder.
“I’m just so glad to have you the way that you used to be.”
“I’m happy to keep trying to find work but I’ll never take out my frustrations on you anymore. You don’t deserve that.”
“I love you Eddie.”
“I love you too. Life’s too short to be going around with a chip on your shoulder. Now unless you are feeling particularly adventurous, you should sleep!!”
She cuddled into him and Eddie was happy to shut off and fall asleep.
Jan had just came out of the shower as Eddie swung his legs out of the bed.
“Why are you getting up so early?”
“The new me is ready for the day. I want to tidy the house and then get dinner prepared. Now once I have done that…”
“…You’re going for a pint.”
He laughed, “You know me so well. Maybe, I’ll see how I feel.”
“Just go Eddie, you’ve hardly been out since we moved in. Jesus, that must be a record. You’ve never been in any of the pubs! Oh dinner…Remember I’m not sure when I’ll be in.”
Eddie began to get dressed, “No bother I’ll make a chilli, the longer it cooks, the better. Do you want some toast or something before you go?”
“No thanks. I’d best be off.”
He kissed her and went into the bathroom. He heard her picking up her car keys.
“Love you! See you tonight!”
Eddie began to tidy up. ‘Who Do You Want For Your Love’ blasted from the CD player. He swigged out of his breakfast beer can. He opened up a bottle of wine as he began to prepare the chilli. He didn’t want to be drunk before she came home but he reasoned that he could have a sleep for a couple of hours in the afternoon and would be fine. The wine kicked in, the sleep wasn’t needed and the pub beckoned.
He arrived at ‘The Oaks’ just after one. He had no plans to stay out too long, just enough for a couple of pints and a look around to see who was who. The pub was clean and a bit old fashioned. The dark wood looked dated but not in an antique sort of way. Eddie felt comfortable enough. The clientèle was mainly older folk, the retired and out for lunch brigade. Eddie ordered a pint and then walked over to the fruit machine. He emptied his pockets of change and fed the machine. Ten minutes later he sat down with his pint.
Eddie wasn’t a betting man but he stared at the TV. He went through the motions of watching the racing. He drained his pint and decided that he would have one more. He went towards the bar when he heard the clatter of the puggy.
Eddie smiled to himself.
“Hey there mate! You!! Mate!!!”
Eddie turned to face the man who was filling his pockets with pound coins.
“Let me buy you that drink. I owe you one.”
“…Eh, OK. I’ll have a pint of lager.”
“I’m Jim by the way.”
“Pleased to meet you Eddie. Now go and sit down and I’ll get the drinks.”
Eddie went back to where he had been sitting. Jim brought over two lagers and two double whiskys.
He sat across from him.
“It’s the least that I can do. I saw you putting a few quid into that thing and I thought that I would give it a go. I normally win heehaw but today was my lucky day.”
Eddie smiled, “Well I got a pint and a double out of it!!”
Jim laughed and toasted him.
“Are you from around here? I haven’t seen you here before”
“Yes. But we’ve only been here for a few weeks. I’ve been busy, you know, getting the place squared up.”
“Moving is a nightmare.”
Jim downed most of his pint. Eddie followed and they both lifted their whiskys.
“This was good of you Jim. You didn’t need to do this.”
“It is a pleasure. Now if you want, we could go to the other pub just up the road a bit.”
“I should be getting home.”
Jim clinked glasses with Eddie.
“Here’s to the unluckiest man I know, here’s to you Eddie!!”
They both laughed and finished their drinks. Eddie followed him out of the pub.
“I’ll tell you what, if you want to go the other pub, I’ll meet you there. I need to go home and get some more money.”
Jim rattled his pockets, “Fuck that! I can stand you a few more.”
“Not a chance. I pay my way.”
“Do you want me to walk with you and keep you company?”
Eddie nodded, “Why not. We can have a blether. And when we get there I can show you the garden, it’s rustic, especially the bush. When you see that you’ll realise that I’m not unlucky at all.”