Fiction Friday: Secrets (September 3 2010)

Connie wondered why the other kids were so scared of that house. “The guy’s crazy” they whispered. “He sees everything.” Connie’s mum was a detective and she often grumbled to her husband that Albert was walking a fine line. At school, Connie would reassure the other kids.

“You haven’t got anything to worry about, unless you do something bad.” The other kids would just look at her, and continue discussing the mystery that was Albert. Fair enough, she thought. Most kids weren’t quite as well-behaved as she was. She wouldn’t dream of doing anything that would disappoint her mum.

She squinted across the park at Albert’s house. The lawn was immaculate, with a few symmetrical flower beds framing the driveway, and the house itself was well-kept. Everyone knew Linda did all the work, because Albert sat in his office all day, finding new things to complain about. Without the man, the house was unremarkable. As Connie swung through the air, she chewed her lip and wondered what he was doing now. A movement caught her eye and she slowed her swinging until she could jump off. Grabbing her bag, she scrambled across the freshly-mown grass, getting clippings all over her dress. Connie crawled into a bush and lay perfectly still, watching.

A car had pulled up in front of Marco’s house and Linda got out. Connie liked Marco, he was pretty cool and always gave the kids lollies. Linda was talking on the phone and looking back at her house, which struck Connie as odd. After Linda stuck something to Marco’s door and left, Connie was curious. She was afraid that if she went to look at the door, Albert would see her. Even though she wouldn’t be doing anything wrong, Connie had vague fears that something bad would happen.

She breathed in the scent of grass and drew in the dirt with her finger, formless thoughts appearing and disappearing. Finally she remembered what her mother had said late one night, when Connie was supposed to be asleep but had come out to get water. “He only has a few cameras, and they are all on his property. If he puts them anywhere else, he’ll be arrested, and he knows it.” Musing on this, Connie realised she might be able to get around the cameras. If something was blocking his camera view to Marco’s house then she’d be able to look at the door, unseen. What could she use to block it though? She frowned and wished this kind of thing came more easily to her—and had an idea.

At school the next morning she approached Tommy Radcliffe. Tommy was in grade seven, two years older than her and twice her size. His thick black hair grew wildly, as if it had never been tamed by a brush. Connie patted her own thin blonde hair nervously as she said hello. Tommy scowled down at her.

“Whaddaya want, runt?” His cold blue eyes belonged in an adult’s face, not a kid’s.

Connie drew breath. “I heard Albert sent a DVD of you to your parents. You got in trouble?” Her voice squeaked and she coughed nervously. Tommy’s scowl deepened.

“What’s it to you?”

“Well, um, I was wondering if you might want to get back at him?” The words blurted in a hurry could not be retracted. Tommy glared at her suspiciously.

“Yeah as if, runt. You’re a bloody goody-two-shoes. Nick off, I don’t need you dobbing on me too.” Tommy turned his back on her. She reached out and grabbed his arm then jumped back, scared.

“Sorry! I really am serious, but I have no idea how to do what I want to do. You’re much better at this kind of thing.” She gazed at him earnestly. He screwed his face up and laughed.

“Yeah well I got caught, didn’t I? Bugger off Connie, I’m not that dumb.” She watched him walk down the corridor, frustration balling in her belly.

“Fine,” she muttered. “I’ll just have to do it myself.” She had not the faintest idea where to start.

Two days later Connie was hidden in her bush again. She’d brought a notepad and a few random odds and ends that might come in handy, like some eggs (that idea she’d stolen from the kids who egged Albert’s house that mum had laughed about), some water bombs, a bit of flour, and a radio. As she scribbled in her notepad she chewed on a cookie and glanced up periodically to check on the house. No sign of movement today. Her best idea so far was to lob water bombs at the cameras then cover them with flour, but she had no idea where the cameras were, nor how to actually do all that without being seen.

“I need ninja skills” she lamented. An ant bit her foot and she swore and grabbed at it. After the pain subsided she looked back at the house and noticed the door was open. “Hmm, that’s odd!” She watched intently for a few moments until a dark figure slipped out of the house. Her flippant ninja comment jumped into her head. Curiosity burned inside her. The door remained open, a glaring anomaly, and finally she squirmed out of the bush, straightened her clothes, brushed the leaves and grass off her dress and marched across the road. Her heart pounded inside her chest but she was determined to be brave. When she reached the open door she called out. “Hello? Is anyone home?”

She heard a scrabbling noise and a staccato burst of swearing. As she hovered on the doorstep, uncertain, a crash and a gargling scream made her yell in fright. “Are you ok?” She sounded strangled. “Do you need help?” She was walking inside, heading for the sound even though every instinct screamed at her to flee. In a haze, sleepwalking almost, she came upon Albert’s office, and Albert himself. He was lying on the floor, blood seeping from a gash on his forehead. Clearly he was still alive, because he groaned and moved his arms, and she took in the bloody smear on the edge of his desk and assumed he’d tripped over the mess of files and DVD cases all over the floor. Unlike the rest of the house that she’d seen, this room was cluttered and disorganised.

“I suppose I should call an ambulance”. She peered at the desk, looking for a phone. The mess made it hard to see one. She looked down at Albert, and realised he was in trouble. He was pale and his breathing shallow. “Shit, where’s the bloody phone?” Feeling panicky, she swept files off the desk, rifling through his sordid pastime to try to find the one thing that might save him. A photo caught her eye—a child on a swing. She picked it up and realised it was a photo of herself, skirts flying, legs bared. A wave of nausea swept over her and she glanced down at Albert again. “You’re a pervert, hey? How many more of these have you got?” He groaned weakly, and she noticed a file clutched in his hand. She prised it out of his grip, surprisingly strong, and read. “Marco Torrisi: File 2.” He spasmed, and she dropped the file to resume her search.

“Took the other one… bastard… got two.” The gravelly voice made her shriek and she swung around to see Albert wheezing at her. He sounded grimly triumphant. “Got two files! Prick… thinks he’s… so good.” Connie backed up as far as she could till the desk was biting her back.

“What happened?” The words fell out, unbidden.

“Tripped… trying to get the file. Stupid bitch didn’t… clean. Bitch… fucking… got two files…” Albert’s voice trailed off and his breathing slowed. Hugging herself, Connie stepped around Albert and dashed into the kitchen. She sobbed with relief when she found a phone and dialled the ambulance.

“Please hurry, I think he’s dead. 14 Davies St, Parkwood. He hurt himself, and I don’t know what to do!” Connie clutched the phone to her chest as she hung up, and crept slowly back to the office. The blood had formed a dirty smudge under Albert’s head, and she could see no sign of life. She didn’t want to touch him. Sliding down the wall to the floor, hugging her knees to her chest, she wondered what her mum would think. She sat in the dark, in the room with a dead man, and waited for the ambulance.

________________________________

Prompt: Along with romantic scenes, many writers find writing a scene which involves killing a character a challenge. Here is your chance to write a scene where a truly objectionable character dies.

Step 1. Go and read “Doggone” – a Friday Fiction first draft piece from a week ago.
Step 2. Decide who, what and how Albert dies. It may be accidental, a blundered break in, alien attack – or by one of the many characters within the short story who may or may not have a motive.
Step 3. Now write… You can choose to be as graphic or lyrical as you like, choose to show but not tell – or just tell it all.

The only rule is – Albert must be dead by the end of the story.

It took me a while to think of something for this story, and in actual fact I just sat down and started typing and I think it worked ok. Much happier this week than I was last week!

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