Chapter 18:



I didn't expect Grandad to be sitting on the couch with a cup of black coffee. BLACK COFFEE! Watching him drink anything non-alcoholic gives me the shivers.

Something's wrong.


"Yes, my boy!"

"How come you're not at home?"

"I've been thinking about my last case as a police officer. Little boy with down syndrome dropped down dead in the playground at school. Only seven. Bless his heart. An unexpected death, we had to go and investigate."

His coffee cup clatters in his hand, louder than the rain outside.

"You've never told me this." I sit next to him. "Do you want to talk about it."

"His parents were too distraught to pick up their daughter. I was the one who took them home. She was only five, she didn't understand what was going on. My heart broke when she said he'll wake up like nothing ever happened. The retirement party was fabulous. I smiled on the outside, but inside I was screaming. My heart broke for that family, but it was already broken. I drink to forget my failures with my job and my family."

"You're not a failure!" I wanted to add I am, but I knew it would make him rage like a forest fire.

He pats my back and smiles. "You and Annie are all I have left. Please go out and live. I can't bare the thought of outliving you both, and being alone in this world."

"You're never alone. You've got us and all your friends. Everyone in town loves you."

"I may be a local legend, but my stardom is fading. I'm not getting younger and the drink won't help me. I guess we're both alike."


"We both want to die, but we have to live. Let me go first, that's all I ask of you. I don't even mind if you kill me."

"GRANDAD!" Jumping off the coach, I run to the kitchen door. The optimism that Grandpa held so dear to his heart now fades to nothing. He'll hate me for it, but if he's going to carry on like this, we'll have no choice but to put him in a home.

I might be his next-of-kin, and I'll be the one to contact social services. Annie won't want anything to do with that, she's already having issues with them trying to take her Romeo away.

I think of something random. It's not right to see Grandpa moping to himself. "Hey Grandad, do you want to play some video games with me and Todd?"

He shakes his head. "No thank you. I need time to think alone."

"Do you want us to phone a cab?"

"No! Home isn't quite welcome at the moment. I shall have to do something with those knickers on the staircase. The pest control will do a runner. By the way, did you ever find out who was pretending to be Kathleen?"


"I was confused you know. I was sure she was dead. And then out of the blue, she calls me! Anyway, enough about old me. I'll leave you young ones to your gaming mumbo jumbo. Sometimes I think I'm going mad."

I hug him. "You're not going mad. You drink too much, but she's still gone."

I feel bad for leaving him after that, but that's what he wants. I carry on gaming with Todd. My eyes are dry. Too dry. Just one scratch and they're watering up. Todd and I have been up all night playing videos game after video game. Todd hates losing, and I love winding him up. So I'm having a field day as he's wondering how a little boy called Ness can defeat a bulky captain.

Skill my friend. Skill.

One of our phones is going off. I glance over at the kitchen to see which one it is. It's my phone ringing. Kathleen's face pops up on my screen and the whole world stands still.

"Answer it!" Todd yells. "It's Kathleen!"

What sort of nonsense is this...

I answer the phone, this is either going to give me lots of answers or lots of questions. "Hello?"

"Hey Bobby, long time since I've heard from you." I'm stunned. It's tempting to just throw my phone out the window. I know it's not her, but it sounds identical to my sister's voice.

I'm picturing the person behind the profiles as someone with either a lot of money or a gifted voice actress. I don't recall Kathleen knowing any Mr Moneybags or aspiring voice actresses. Then again, there are lots of things that I don't know.

"I'm well." It's all I can say. What else can I say?

"You sound surprised."

"Of course, I am." I decide to play along with it. "It's not every day that your sister rings you from the dead."

"Well meet me at Flat 99 at Old Town Court. I'll be waiting for you."

"Whoever you are, I know you're not my sister. So you can stop pretending to be her."

"You can come anytime. Bring Todd with you if you want. See you later little brother. Love you."

"Kathleen" hung up.

Flashback: Too Good to Be True


I love you with all my heart.


Yeah, so do I!


You should get a hamster and call it Mr Fluffy

Missed call




Sorry, cam's broken.


Okay then.

Have you tried your phone?


Just a second, let me get changed.


You don't need to do that.


I'm really body conscious.


You're beautiful. No matter what.