#182

“Tristram,” she said. And nothing else.

“Verity, oh god, something awful has happened!” I cried.

I listened as she went silent then blew a little air out her mouth. I was becoming a nuisance, a pest. Something awful is always happening. I heard the TV in the background go mute and then Verity fidgetting about, settling herself down for another intense call from a neurotic queen who was the very worst friend one could ever have: a tear-filled burden.

“What's happened? What is it now?” She asked.

“The police have been here... yesterday. They questioned me. They believe John has been murdered. They questioned me over that! They're onto me, really onto me.... and it was Brian, that little shit, his hand print on the knife again!.”

Verity lit a cigarette. She once told me she only smokes when she's bored or menstruating.

“Ok, ok...” she said, “but you need to calm down, I can barely make out what you're saying. And please, let's not panic, things are never as bad as they seem. First thing we must do is take a breath and take a step back, outside of the shit, so as we can see things clearly. That you're phoning I take it to mean you've not been arrested, Yes? Ok. Well, already that's quite a huge thing. If the police had any suspicions other than a 'tip-off' you would not be there now.”

“Hmm”

“When you say 'it was due to Brian again', how come?”

“They – the police and some neighbours – put up these horrible freakish photofits, you know, of the suspected man of whose genitals were discovered. All along the street, posters of this fucking guy, saying how they believe him to have been the victim of a murder and advertising a hotline to call to give up information. It's harrowing, really. From the end of the road it looks like a funhouse, a twisted 'Hall of Mirrors' with John's head repeating off into forever. And it does kinda look like him... vaguely and without the glasses. It was from that that Brian saw a resemblance to John and must have phoned the hotline and screeched off his disgusting little suggestion.”

“So it wasn't the police that put two and two together but Brian?” asked Verity. “Well, there's another good thing, right there. The Police are following a simple line of enquiry... nothing more. If before Brian's call they had nothing to link the murder to you, they still don't. All that has changed is that someone has offered up the name of the man in the photofit. A reasonable suggestion – someone who is missing and who looks like the photofit. Of course the police will come around to question you.. that's normal... I'd be more worried if they didn't. It also shows that it was a quickfire response. If the police seriously thought you was a killer they'd search out more evidence, surveille you, and the first time you'd know about it would be as they were slapping you in cuffs and reading you your rights. You wouldn't be warned first... given a chance to flee. The police may be stupid but not in them ways. No, they're following up a line of enquiry and trying to scare you. But don't be scared. They've nothing on you Tristram.... nothing at all.”

“They have...” I said shakily, the terror of what I was about to reveal hitting me again, “they took things away... Lots of things... Lots of useless things. But they also found The Book: The Dangerous Dandy. When you returned it I was so relieved at having it back that I forgot it was damning evidence in my hands as well. I put it down and just didn't think. They've got it! And it wasn't luck, they were specifically looking for it as Brian had put them onto it. Jesus, I bet they're going through it right now...Little Dick hand picking a team to come and get me! And that's really why I'm phoning. Not to burden you some more but to say goodbye, to let you know I'm sorry and the next time you may see me is splashed across the Southwark News with COLD BLOODED MURDERER pribnted above. They've got me.... this time they've really fucking got me.”

Before speaking Verity didn't wait for my tears or the self-pitying statements about being cursed and not deserving the shit pie that life had baked up for me. She was good in that way. Instead she quite simply said:

“Tristram, do you really think I would come around yours and plant a piece of damning evidence on you? What kind of a friend do you think I am!”

“But you gave me the book back,” I said back in surprise “and it's my copy because there's that white stain on the front cover, on the Dandy's face, and there's also the dented bind where John crashed it against the wall. They've got it!”

“They may have the book, but they don't have the sketches. I tore them out before returning it to you. 'Jail bait' is what I thought of them. I gave you the book back to show you I had it, had seen the sketches and that you had better explain and tell the whole truth. But the back pages were already gone... I thought you would have noticed.”

“The doodles in the back are gone? Ha, that's beautiful! Eat shit Brian eat you pathetic fuckwit! Oh, I thought I was cooked! I was even thinking of.... well, that don't matter now. So where are the sketches? They may still find them! God, I'm not out the woods just yet... where are they?”

“Don't panic, they're here. But I think they would be better not here, not anywhere, but turned to cinders.... I think I should burn them.”

“I think you're right,” I replied “and I'm sure Babs would forgive us??? And if not, well fuck her! Go on, put the phone down and burn them!”

“I can do it over the phone if you like? We could burn them together?”

“Oh Verity, in another life I would want you there. Do it! It can be our one tiny moment of burning hot intimacy.”

I heard scratching noises and a tink as Verity's removed the receiver from her ear and laid it to rest. Then I heard the chair squeak and moan and then footsteps and noises as Verity retrieved the sketches. After that the line went quiet for a moment before returning footsteps, the sound of the chair sinking, the phone being scooped back up and finally Verity's voice: “Ok, I'm back,” she said, paper being scrunched up over her words. “I'm going to put the pages in a little metal pan and then set them ablaze. You count to three, OK?”

“OK,” I replied “One... two... three...” And verity struck a match and I heard it burst and fizzle to a flame and then I heard another noise and then a very feint crackling.

“It's up!” she said, “a fat wobbly yellow flame, burning down to orange as the pages turn black and collapse and disappear...”

I could almost smell the smoke. After about a minute the fire noise stopped and I knew all that was left was smoke and delicate, wispy black cinders.

“All done," said Verity “just need to open the window and the 'damning evidence' is then the Ozone's problem.”

I didn't hear the window open, nor Verity move, just her sitting there: her open ear, a huge black hole for my words. I started to cry. Not really sad tears, though not happy either.

“Verity,” I said “will you ever return to normal, you know, like saying 'Darl' and calling me 'triste' and cutting your words and being you? Since I told you what happened you've been like steel. Kinda cold and precise and emotionless. If I didn't know it was you, your voice these past months could've been anyone's. Will I ever have you back or did I also lose you along with John?”

“Lose me, Triste?” she asked gently, “Haven't you learnt yet that you'll never lose me.... I'm with you till the end, Darl... every step of the uncertain fucking way!”

6 comments:

  1. Ah Verity is a real trouper ... you need her now and she needs you ..lovely piece of work as always xx

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  2. 'I'm sure Babs would forgive us??? And if not, well fuck her!'

    Really!

    Miss Barbara Cartland was Princess Diana's great great great aunt or something!

    And she's not pleased. My medium (who's back from rehab - off the booze but five stone heavier) has just channeled her.

    However she's willing to forgive the disrespect for the publicity.

    Babs was always a businesswoman first.

    Am I the only one who thinks Verity is too good to be true?

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  3. Ruby Tuesday: yes she is and I think that is her final position. Dialogue posts are not my favourites, but they are needed sometimes and can really get out lots of information with them. X

    Abigail: Channeled Babs? That's somehow quite surprising. She looked so bad when she eventually died that you'd have thought life after death would have been impossible! Ah well... there's still hope for me then, I suppose.

    I think that Verity is probably really that good. Amongst all the bickering and betrayal and pettiness and jealousies of everyone else, she is the one straight, loyal person. In a way hope... hope in humanity.

    My favourite piece of that post was the little hint that Tristy had somehow managed to ejaculate in the Dangerous Dandy's face: “and it's my copy because there's that white stain on the front cover, on the Dandy's face...."

    X

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  4. OK. I have reviewed my position vis-a-vis Verity.

    (Forgive the jargon, I've been locked up with lawyers all day)

    I thought at first she was great, a diamond.

    Then the reaction to uh, thejohnthing, made me think she wasn't so faithful.

    Then the burning of the evidence OFF STAGE made me suspicious (I admit I'm an Agatha Christie addict).

    My Romantic angel and Cynical devil are forever at war.

    However if you say so, I will accept her
    status as 'really that good'.

    If there is some later twist then you will suffer the consequences...

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  5. Abigail, I think verity almost reflects the reader and gives them a chance to condemn Tristram. Outside of her they really have no one to side with, no sane voice against what has happened. They could go with Brian or Bartholemew or Little Dick Tracy, but these people are just as flawed as Tristram and more, because they are also corrupt and selfish. So verity offers a kind of balanced view of things and says 'it's ok to be against what Tristram did.... even if he is at base a good person'. Whether Verity's final stance is a good or bad decision is another thing, but it was a loyal decision and that counts for a lot.

    No, there will be no twist there. I think whenever I've given hints in the comments it was to straighten things out but I never use them as a way to throw people off track... that wouldn't be fair. So I think as WFJ nears an end, so Verity had finally taken a decision as to where she stands and that is to completely support Tristram in his crisis. An earlier idea did have her cracking, but I abandoned that because there wasn't really time. X

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