Chapter 14:



I think about the dream I had last night. It's just a dream, it's not and it never will be a flashback: Kathleen had no bad bone in her body. I'm not a gambling man, but if I was, I would bet that Kathleen was a superior angel in heaven. The world feels empty without her. The kindness she showed towards all of us is something that I will never forgot.

I'm looking at the names on the list I made. Todd peers over with a smug look on his face. "I see you've crossed your ex-missus off the list then?"

"Yes!" Sarah's too busy with the girls and her own life to be doing something like this. A lot of effort has gone into those accounts to make her look genuine.

"Who's left?"

"There's Simon, Peter, Bethany and Georgina."

"Simon and Peter..." Todd scratched his head and took off that aggravating silver hat he bought the other day. "Those names ring a bell. They're the first lads that Kathleen and Ruth fostered together."

"That's right."

Todd gets a pen from out of his pocket. "You can cross them off the list.

What on earth is he talking about? "Why?"

"Because they're guys. And while you're at it." He points to a bin overloaded with cups and cans. "There's a bin over there you can put that list in."

"This investigation is far from over."

"Who do you think you are?" He laughs at me, as if he thinks he's laughing with me. "You fancy yourself as a little Sherlock then?"

I shrug my shoulders. "I can be." A bright idea came to my mind. "You can be Wattson."

"Fair enough." I'm not even sure if he's ever seen Sherlock. "So where are we going?"

"We're going to Beth's Beauty, the boutique in the high street. We're going to make sure that we investigate everything."

"So you'll be looking at all the lingerie then."

I roll my eyes. "It's not Ann Summers."

"Where did you get your detective skills from?"

"Professor Layton and Phoenix Wright." There's many more characters from video games that have inspired me, but I think it will bore him to tears.

"I've never heard of them."

I can understand that he's never heard of Phoenix Wright, but I'm surprised he has no idea who Professor Layton is. His games were really popular in the UK in it's prime.

We march towards the blue building decorated with led lights shaped as flowers. "Here we are," I tell Todd opening the door. "Are you ready?"

He gasps, shaking his head. He crosses the street and makes his way to the pub. He points to the window. "Look who's in there."

Looks like Annie forgot to combe her hair again. At least she's got a dress that covers her lady bits this time. "We're in public," I assure Todd. "We'll be fine."

"She's too close to the door."

"Come on, she might not even pay attention to us." As we cross the street I wonder... if I can bring Todd to a lady's shop, can I take him to a cemetery? I open the door and see Bethany, the shop owner. She hasn't changed one bit. Still looks overworked as ever. "Hello!"

"Oh my god," she drops her basket of bracelets on the floor. "You've actually left the house."

Todd nods. "We were in Amsterdam a few days ago."

Her eyes pop open as she takes a step back in disbelief. "You're joking."

"Is Georgina still working here?"

"Oh yeah, she's just gone to the cashpoint."

"Have you seen Kathleen today?" Todd asks. I'm starting to think that there's nothing I can do to prove that she's dead. It kills me. I wish she wasn't dead – but she is.

With every waking moment, I feel like a piece of my soul is being eaten away. It doesn't help that Annie is behind us and can hear every word. I don't know what happened between her and Kathleen, a part of me doesn't even want to know.

Bethany seems to find it amusing. "Mate, next joke. She's dead."

Annie flicks her back round to face us. She knocks the mannequin off the shelf as it bounces on the floor. She points at Todd and waves her finger at him like one of those nasty school teachers. "Are you still going on about her?"

He grits his teeth. "This is none of your business you know."

"YES. IT. IS!" She knocks another mannequin down, much to Bethany's disdain. "You thought I was the one catfishing you."

As soon as the mannequins were back on top, Bethany raised both arms and announced at the top of her voice. "I'm not a catfish."

Georgina strolls in with two McDonalds bags. "What the hell is going on?" she asks, "I can hear shouting from the other side of the road."

Bethany replies with, "it's going to be a full moon tonight. Papa Fish's family are in my shop."

She cringes at the mention of my grandfather. "Don't get me started on Papa Fish."

"What did he do?" Annie asks in a sudden sincere voice.

"He's a dirty bastard just like his granddaughter."

"What did he do?" Todd questions. "Did he touch your arse or something?"

"Oh, he did more than that," Bethany speaks out. "And you know what Kathleen she just stood there and laughed."

Annie collapses and shivers as she crawls back up. "Kathleen did it to me too."

"You think everyone rapes you," Bethany calls out.

"STOP LAUGHING AT ME!" Annie screams as she runs out of the shop. No one's laughing, let alone smiling. I listen to my gut and follow her to the castle ruins.

She may be crazy, but she shouldn't be the laughing stock of the town. She deserves better than that. I'm lucky that I have someone like Todd, Annie and her son have nobody.

I follow the sound of her sobbing. When my shadow hovers above hers, she looks up at me and wipes her tears with her sleeves. "Oh hello again, Bobby. I'm just upset. I'm such a big baby."

"You're not. I get depressed all the time. It's more common then you think."

She curls up into a ball just like she did when I saw her all those years ago. I'll do my best to reach out and listen to her. I should have done this years ago.

She's not crying anymore. "I don't understand society. They tell you speak up about abuse, but when you do they laugh in your face."

Todd races towards us with a sour expression on his face. "Stupid women." He won't stop shaking his head. I wish he would stop, I'm getting dizzy just at the sight of him. "They're jealous – that's what it is. Nothing but pure jealously.

A distant voice echoes from the side of the road. It seems to be coming from the shop. Young and distorted.


Annie stands up. "ROMEO?" We chase her back to the shop and Romeo's standing in the shop with a gun in his hand. Annie reaches out to him. "Please honey. Please my boy. Put that gun down."

"They made you cry, so they must die."

"We're sorry, please listen to your mother."

Romeo throws the gun to his mother like a bouquet of flowers. "Okay, I'll let you off this time."

I've never seen anybody so relieved in their lives. Annie pats Romeo's head. "Don't forget it's your girlfriend's birthday tomorrow.

He nods and starts giggling. I've never seen him smile – a bit like me when I was a child. It's not right. No child should live in misery. He rubs his hands together. "I'm going to buy her a ring maybe we can get married in that little church you like."

"Wait till your older," Annie suggests. "I don't want the tree to curse your relationship like it cursed mine."

"What's your girlfriend's name?" I ask Romeo.

"Whitney Decrovid."

"No way!" Todd shouts. "That's my cousin." I can tell Todd's had enough because he's making his way to the pub. The guy can drink his wallet empty. Bethany and Georgina seem to be too frozen to serve them. I don't blame them with that gun.

I still don't feel like this world is mine. Weapons seem to be flying out of nowhere and the community spirit I witnessed in my youth all seems to be gone. What gets me the most is these accusations – I can't bring myself to believe them, but Annie needs to know that she and Romeo are not alone. She is not the only one suffering.

We're all suffering in this crazy abyss we call the world. We can get through this together, even though it feels impossible.

Flashback: Friend Request

Kathleen Fishman

Hi. Thanks for the add. Do I know you? x

Todd Patrick

You're welcome.

And no, but we can get to know each other.

I just wanted to say that you are drop dead gorgeous. x

Kathleen Fishman

Aww you're so sweet. 😊 😉

Thank you so much. xx

Todd Patrick

You're welcome.

So tell me something about yourself. I'm Todd, 14. xx

Kathleen Fishman

That's so great. I'm 25.

Live in Nottinghamshire. xxx

Todd Patrick

Wow! I love that area.

I have a question. xxx

Kathleen Fishman

Yes, what is it? xxxx

Todd Patrick

Are you single? Xxxx

Kathleen Fishman

Yeah...I just broke up with my girlfriend. Xxxxx

Todd Patrick

Aww I'm sorry to hear that.

I'm here if you want to chat


Kathleen Fishman

Hey I've just got a crazy idea. xxxxxx

Todd Patrick

What's that?


Kathleen Fishman

Let's go out together.

Like boyfriend and girlfriend. xxxxxxx

Todd Patrick

That's a great idea.

I've had girlfriends before, but they are not as beautiful as you


Kathleen Fishman

I love you. 😊 xxxxxxxx

Todd Patrick

😊 love you too. xxxxxxxx