For obvious reasons, did not get a lot of sleep last night. Stayed awake, wondering if they’d come for me in the middle of the night. Imagination went wild thinking of all the ways Landlord could have murdered someone. Wondered who it was. Wondered if was girl he has photo of in his bedroom. (But then, you know, would he really keep a photo of a chick he had murdered in his bedroom? Probably not.)
Wondered a lot of things. Like how maybe Parkinson’s was karma for murder. But then felt ashamed for thinking that. Then felt angry at self for feeling ashamed. Has all been terribly confusing.
Seriously, though, not a good night. Know am medicated now but the whole lack of sleep thing not good. Stress does cause episodes.
This morning, knew had to do something proactive. Couldn’t just sit around wondering.
So went to Policeman’s. He was the best bet. Less likely he was murderer as am sure murderers could not be police officers.
He was outside in chicken coop. Except wasn’t just chicken. Was turkey amongst them.
I hate turkeys. Believe they are evil animals. Dinosaur legs. Sinister eyes. Fuckers.
Though am carnivore, do have pang of guilt whenever I eat meat. Animals cute. With every steak I image those large doe eyes of a cow, with every lamp chop; the cute little fluffy sheep.
But never, ever feel guilt about eating turkey. Revel in it. Those fuckers deserve to be eaten.
Abruptly stopped walking when saw/heard turkey. Policeman, whose hand was all ready raised in greeting.
‘What’s wrong?’ he shouted over to me when he saw my look of concern.
‘Evil fucking turkey,’ I shouted back. Glad to be talking again. How on earth could I have signalled that. Sign of turkey hatred also evident in fact that I mentioned turkey before mentioning that Landlord is a murderer.
Policeman thought my turkey-hatred hilarious. Extracted himself from chicken slash turkey coop while I rambled on about all the things I hated about turkeys, imploring him to make sure was locked away so did not come and peck me to death in the middle of the night.
Told him I hoped he would be eating it soon.
‘You’ll have to wait a couple more weeks. Is for Christmas.’
Christmas. Had forgotten about that. Or maybe blocked it from memory. Knew it was coming. Was colder. People are talking about it on their blogs. But have put it from mind. Don’t really want to think about being alone at Christmas.
Then had a thought. Wished did not verbalise it. A reason for staying quiet for so long. Not knowing when to keep mouth closed. Said to policeman. ‘That’s a lot of bird for one person!.’
Just presumed he would be alone for Christmas. Like the three of us living this side of the village are lonesome folks bundled together in misery. For all I knew Policeman came from large family with a dozen sisters and brothers and twenty or so nieces and nephews. And they all came together Christmas day, a great swathe of red heads cramped around the dining table while Policeman carved the evil turkey.
Before Policeman could reply, apologised for presumption. He smiled at me in a very sad way but said was fine.
He looked back over at the turkey. ‘Suppose it is a bit much for two people but it just doesn’t feel like Christmas without the turkey.’
‘Who do you celebrate Christmas with?” Was curious. An adult child, maybe? There were no pictures in the house. No mention of one before.
Of course, he didn’t say Landlord. He said his real name. Was floored.
‘But you hate each other.’
‘Mmm. Not really. It’s just that we remind each other of something terribly sad and so, if we can help it, we don’t like to be in each other’s company.’
‘Yet you spend Christmas together.’ Seemed very sad.
Policeman shrugged. ‘What causes us pain is also what links us.’
Was time to bring up the note. Had it with me. Evidence.
Policeman was very angry when he saw the note. Face red.
‘Those interfering—‘ He didn’t finish sentence.
wondered how he knew about church. I hadn’t told him. But maybe Landlord did? During period was in hospital?
But no. Was not referring to church. Was referring to village folk.
Policeman thought it a conversation which was better had over tea. Of course he did — he’s British. So followed him inside to the kettle and his kitchen table so he could tell me about the tragic past linking he and Landlord.
Cripes. Is all unimaginable. Is weird when you know about people’s history. Like, all of us, we all deal with shit in our lives. But we don’t wear our troubles pinned to the front of our shirts. And so we forget. We forget and start to think everyone is normal and that it’s just us who are dealing with pain.
But it’s not true. We all deal with pain.
And me, I’m sandwiched between two men with painful pasts. Two men linked by that pain.
And so the story goes…
Landlord and Policeman grew up together. Closer than brothers. Policeman’s father looked after the ‘estate.’ The farming and the gardens. Landlord and Policeman played together as children.
Landlord went off to boarding school. Policeman went to local school. In secondary school, Policeman met a local girl. Loved her. She was beautiful, apparently. Long dark hair, dark eyes, English rose skin.
When Landlord came home form school he, Policeman and the girl would drink together in the gatehouse.
And then Landlord’s mother died. The girl comforted him. Suddenly, she no longer loved Policeman. Was Landlord she loved.
Landlord and the girl were married. They lived somewhere else. London, I think. Was better for Policeman, them being gone. Didn’t have to face the girl he loved married to his best friend.
But then, Landlord’s father died. So Landlord came home to be lord of the manor. Policeman hated being close to the girl he loved. But then he didn’t. He and the girl (now woman, I suppose, but I will continue calling her the girl for continuity) started having an affair.
Landlord knew about it. Landlord knew his wife was unhappy, living away from the hustle and bustle of a city. He withdrew. Became distant.
Landlord then started to drink. Properly drink. Was turning into his father. (Policeman’s words, not mine.)
Landlord didn’t have much love from his father. Landlord senior was abusive. Mummy Landlord (because you just know he would have called her Mummy) was depressed, dulling herself with medication. So Landlord had never known proper love. He thought his wife had loved him.
One night, before Christmas, the girl was enjoying a night with Policeman. (Though am unsure whether he was a policeman at this stage.) Landlord was drunk. He drove drunk to pick up his wife from Landlord’s house. Which seems so aristocratic, reserved, not-airing-dirty-laundry way of going about things. Well, that and he was drunk.
So he goes to Policeman’s house to pick her up, and she goes willingly with him. Policeman regrets letting her go. Could see Landlord was drunk. (So maybe was a policeman at this stage.)
She got in the car, her drunk husband behind the wheel, and in that short distance from he farm to the manor gates, Landlord lost control of the vehicle.
Ice is common on the road just before the gatehouse. A camber in the slight bend. A trickle of water which always seems to be there.
The Policeman, perhaps, trying to give excuses. Trying to not put all the blame at Landlord’s door.
Landlord’s wife died in the accident. He has never forgiven himself. He has been a recluse ever since.
The village still gossips about it to this day; feeding off the pain of others. Some call it murder. Policeman saw it as a tragic accident.
Landlord went to prison, for three years, but Policeman says he is still paying the price. They both are. No matter how much he loved her, he says, he should never have had an affair. An affair which led Landlord to drink. Which led him to driving drunk with his wife next to him in the car.
And so every Christmas, despite the pain it causes them both, Landlord and Policeman come together in a silent tribute to the woman they both loved.
The anniversary of her death is soon. Policeman says am to watch out for Landlord. Apparently he often does something reckless this time of year. (!!)
Can you imagine it, though? Is terrible, terrible story. What I’ve been through is nothing in comparison. Need to suck it up. Seriously.
The only — only — positive out of this is that the note wasn’t from the church. No. Just a gossiping village who can’t let go of the past.
Don’t think Landlord can, either. I mean, now when I think about it, I see it in him every day. Saw it in him all those years ago by the Thames. There was something which immediately connected us back then. I just didn’t know it was misery.
So yes, somebody died. But they weren’t murdered.