Jodi pulled her car to a halt outside her father’s house with a feeling of trepidation creeping over her. The house loomed in front of her, the Gothic style with its narrow, tall peaked roofs, decorative stones and many columns and arches appeared no more welcoming than when she’d been a child living here.
She looked across and saw Quinn’s car was already here. Quinn was her younger brother who had been living god only knows where recently. It was a good job he always had a topped up pay as you go mobile phone – she couldn’t contact him any other way.
As she walked to the heavy wooden front door she took a deep breath and knocked using the ugly doorknocker she’d always despised. Waiting, waiting, waiting, no one answered the door so she tried the handle whilst calling “Hello”. Nothing, but as she entered the house she knew someone was there. She heard a noise from the back of the house but steadily gazed around. Everything was as she remembered it even down to the portrait of her father hanging halfway up the giant staircase. She truly hated that picture; he just looked so pompous, pretty much like his everyday life really.
She passed the office where her father had set desks up for her and Quinn to study and do homework. Their father had quite often locked them in this room when they were younger to keep them out of his way. Jodi had found reading and writing more difficult than most children as she was dyslexic and had experienced major problems with words as a child.
Her mother had been so patient, happily spending time helping her daughter overcome her learning difficulties. Jodi had missed her terribly since the divorce. Her father had agreed to the divorce but the children had, unfortunately, had to stay with him.
She carried on further into the house calling “Hello” again. She heard a reply from Quinn, “In here, by the pool.” He sounded strange, not the usual Quinn. It could be the room distorting his voice, she thought. She hurried through to the extension where the pool was and stopped short with an audible gasp.
Her father was in the pool, in the deep end but not swimming. He was face down in the water, not moving. Sheer terror bolted through her body. “Oh my god, do something, help him Quinn.” “I can’t swim,” came the reply. “Neither can I, what can we do?” she wailed frantically.
“He’s gone Jodi, he’s gone. He fell, he slipped on the tiles, he fell, he hit his head and then fell into the water, the deep end.” As her legs gave way, Quinn caught her and went silent. “What are we going to do?” Jodi asked. “Do we call the police, an ambulance, what?” “No, none of them.” Quinn’s cold reply shocked Jodi. She turned to face him; she wanted to see his face, his eyes. “What do you mean? We have to do something!”
“No, we don’t. He demands our presence here today, again without any explanation as to why and…..
“Quinn, stop, for once I know why. He called yesterday from his solicitors; he’d changed his will. Everything you were inheriting he willed to me, to teach you a lesson, from the deeds to this house to the ownership of his business. Except he never wanted me to inherit anything, he intended to change it back in a week, a month, whenever you fell back in line. He told me so. That’s what he wanted to talk to you about today. Bit late now though I suppose.” Jodi surprised herself at how cold she now sounded.
“What? Why? That should all have come to me; I’m his son and heir, what’s going on?” Jodi held her tongue until Quinn had finished his outburst.
“You were ‘bumming around’ as he put it and he thought it the only way to teach you a lesson.” Quinn went to open his mouth again but Jodi stopped him. “Quinn, shut up and listen. I never agreed to this, I didn’t want anything from him. He feigned the title of philanthropist to the outside world while being nothing but a miserable bully at home while we were growing up. He never hit Mum but he psychologically abused her. She was a shell of her former self when she was finally able to leave him and move away where he couldn’t control her, that was when he finally accepted it was over.”
Quinn was astounded. “I never knew, Jodi, I never knew.” “You were young Quinn; she wanted it kept from you as we were having to stay here. It was too late for me, I’d seen it all – he knew I had lost respect for him but you doted on him, as all little boys do with their dads.”
“I wasn’t that little, I was 12 when she left.” “Yes, but you were away at school most of the time, I was here, at the local college.” Quinn looked past her, out the big glass window. “Did you blame him for the break up, her leaving?” He asked. “Honest answer, yes I did Quinn.” “You never said anything Jodi.” “I couldn’t, but why do you think I moved out after she left? She moved as far away as she could, I don’t know if you know but she’s recently settled in Barbados. I dearly wanted you to come with me but you were too young. He would never have let you come with me anyway. I think he saw himself in you. Until this past year I think he had the highest respect for you but that faltered when you decided to leave your job with the company and go travelling.”
“I didn’t want to be tied without having seen a little of the world, he knew that Jodi.” “Yes, I knew it too, but that’s not our main problem right now is it?” She said while gazing at the pool.
“I know exactly what we do!” exclaimed Quinn. “We go, we leave, we do nothing. He was perfectly fine today when we called in to see him, we talked about the Solicitor, the Will and everything, and I agreed to go back to work for him. We left him as he wanted to change and have a relaxing swim. The cleaners can find him. They come in once a fortnight and he told me before he fell that they were here yesterday. So his body will have been in the water the better part of two weeks before he’s found – and we are each other’s alibis. What do you think?” He looked over at her tentatively.
“Then what?” She smiled weakly at him. Quinn was soon back in full flow. “We wait till the cleaners raise the alarm, we wait till everything is cut and dry, so to speak, and then we organise a funeral service.”
“You know what I was thinking?” Jodi said, “When we were younger he always wanted to do a parachute jump, it was on something he called his bucket list, but he was either too lazy or fat to do one. Well, I’ve seen it advertised where a loved one can be cremated but instead of being buried or chucked in the sea or whatever, the ashes can be taken up in a plane and a skydiver empties the urn on the way down. What do you think?” “Yes, that sounds perfect” agreed Quinn “as so does both of us as joint partners in the house, the business and everything else, if you are willing to share your inheritance with me?” “Yes, that’s the only way I could see it working now, just promise you won’t disappear from the company to go travelling again, unless it’s with me and going to visit Mum.”
MY SECRET LIFE
by BARRIE PURNELL
In my real life I am conventional I wear a suit and tie
A middle class professional is who I typify
In my real life I am a scientist an engineer by trade
I fix things when they’re broken I know how they are made
In my real life I am god fearing no one knows I’ve sinned
I don’t annoy my neighbours my lawns are neatly trimmed
In my real life I avoid an argument I am both mild and meek
I don’t like impetuosity I think before I speak
In my real life my pension is why I worked hard all my life
I achieved a certain status I had a well respected wife
In my real life my friends are all similar to me
But now I’ve got to thinking if that’s how it’s got to be
In my secret life I am a rebel not wanting to conform
I want to be a writer who can inspire and can inform
In my secret life I am a romantic seeking out the truth
Making up for all those years I wasted in my youth
In my secret life I’m Leonard Cohen writing a memorable song
I’m Retford’s answer to Bob Dylan righting every wrong
In my secret life my songs are lovers aphrodisiac of choice
The bereaved they use my poetry to give their grief a voice
In my secret life my stories are read out on radio four
When I sign my book in Waterstone’s the queues are out the door
But these are flights of fancy which I always had assumed
Would stay inside my secret book inside a darkened room
But in real life I joined a group of creative Retford writers
So the light inside that darkened room is now a little brighter
Could it be they will provide me with the inspiration
To resolve the problem of my secret life’s frustration
I may not find fame or fortune or save the world from strife
But I aim to make reality closer to my secret life