When I was young, my dad taught me how to play chess. In his usual style, though, he only explained half of what I needed to know before we launched into our first game. Whether out of impatience or because he wanted to win, am not sure. Any how, it wasn’t long before I was pawn-less, castle-less, down one bishop and both knights. A triumphant look spread across my father’s face and he moved his queen across the board, declaring, ‘check mate!’
Thought it weird. While overly Australian, my dad had never used the term ‘mate’ with me. Was reserved for his friends and associates. Remember having to listen to long-winded phone conversations pepped frequently with the word mate.
How’re ya doing mate, what’s going on mate, look, mate — that kind of thing. But to call his daughter mate? Never had happened before. Perhaps was his competitive nature coming out. Perhaps was his way of trying to man me up. He would have preferred, after all, if I had been a boy.
But no. Was a chess term. Revealed to me after much histrionics. Am pretty sure ‘checkmate’ is something which should have been revealed to me at the start of the game, no?
Checkmate. You win. You have your opponents king.
They have won. Because now am stuck.
They’ve done their usual thing. They know where I am and have back-checked everything. They know things I don’t. But they only want me to know part of it. They want to scare me.
Yes, I’m talking about the church.
There is a reason for all of this. Came home today, opening my door to a folded note on the floor, slotted through the letterbox.
As soon as saw it; stomach dropped. Knew, just knew it would be something bad.
And it is.
Note was handwritten:
Your neighbour is a murderer.
My neighbour is a what-now? A murderer? Really? What. The. Fuck.
Quite frankly, am in shock. Obviously, because have smoked an entire packet of cigarettes. I mean, I enjoyed smoking the entire packet of cigarettes, but that is not the case.
Am on knife-edge.
Because — who the fuck are they talking about? Have two neighbours. Yes, have link to both of them. Cripes alive, have kissed both of them. Have shagged one of them.
But here’s the thing (and have had time to think rationally, which, to be honest, I have found amazing): it can’t possibly be policeman. Because can’t be policeman if is a murderer. Is something they check, is it not?
Which would mean is Landlord. The man I’ve been spending all my time with. Now there’s a scary thought.
Not that I’m scared. Okay, I am, but am trying, — trying — to be rational. Church could be lying. Could be, simply, a scare tactic.
But do, of course, have to think (rationally!) if is not a scare tactic. If is actually true.
Where does that put me? Am I at risk? And it just goes to show you don’t know, you just don’t know who people really are.
But if someone is a murderer, would they not be in jail? Have done quick Google search on the matter. According to Wikipedia (and let’s face it, I couldn’t be arsed reading the whole article) murderer’s don’t always get life in prison. Sometime’s are out in 12 years.
Now. Going on whole time-line of things — Landlord would have had to commit this act (hate thinking of him and the ‘m’ word) before I met him. The first time. Because otherwise would still be in prison. So this is something which would have to of happened in his twenties. Although, what the fuck does it matter when it happened?
I just, I just can’t get my head around it. Is so weird! The man is so reserved! Imagine he would be the type that when massive crisis happening, like house on fire, he’d walk in and go, ‘ah, yes, well. Luckily we have insurance. Let’s see if we can still pop the kettle on, then, yes?’ I mean, when all that shit was going on with me, is exactly what he did! Popped the kettle on. And now, when I think about it, when I came back from the hospital, he hasn’t mentioned my episode at all. Keep calm and carry on, as they say.
So to get worked up enough to kill someone? It just doesn’t fit him. It just doesn’t.
Maybe there’s another neighbour. Maybe refers to someone in the village. Would not be surprised. A cesspool of secrets, that place.
See? This is exactly what that fecking church wants me to be doing — going out of my mind with worry.
I could ask Gruff. He would know, surely, if something was up with Landlord? But then, he would never have let me come here if he did. And if I say anything, he’ll just worry. He’ll act all gruff and pretend he’s not worried, but he totally would. Honestly, I love that man.
Right. Here’s the plan. I’m not going to worry. I’m not going to do anything. Yet. Except maybe smoke another half pack of cigarettes. And sleep with a knife under my pillow.
The real worry, though? The church has found me.