tagNovels and NovellasJogging Memories Ch. 03

Jogging Memories Ch. 03

bySpencerfiction©

CHAPTER THREE: Blinkers off

"JJ, if you're not down here in exactly two minutes, I'm feeding your breakfast to the dog!"

Jennifer Morris shouted up the stairs for the third time this morning. Her 16-year-old daughter didn't have school today, they were not due back following half-term until Monday, but Friday always was Jennifer's cleaning day and, come hell or high water, she wanted all the kids out of her hair for the rest of the day.

Eldest boy Tom, 18, was not only already up but long gone out the door, his girlfriend's family had picked him up outside the house early. He seemed to get on quite well with them, which amazed Jennifer, as he was so prickly and truculent at home and didn't seem to get on with anybody at all. He even bickered with his girlfriend all the time. How he managed to get Susannah pregnant had been a shock in more ways than one. Tigger, at 14 the youngest, as per usual, kept to himself at home most of the time and had gone out half an hour ago after eating two bowls of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes and used up all but a complete pint of milk.

"Now, JJ!" Jennifer tried, finally. After a couple of seconds she could hear one of the bedroom doors open and the bathroom door slam shut, bringing the first smile of the day to her lips.

Today was not only cleaning day, when she preferred an empty house, but she had an additional unpleasant task to perform. Jennifer had been surprised yesterday by a call from Bob's boss. He wanted to know how he was faring after his accident at work. At least that had answered one question in her mind. So, it looked like he hadn't known about her affair with Richard in advance. It was just an accident that had sent him home early and bad luck that he caught the pair of them out. Bob must have been as much surprised as Richard and she has been.

What a mess! And they had been so, so very careful up to that point. Clearly, though, they had not quite been careful enough. Damn! It meant nothing in the long run, it was just a cheap sordid little affair, which had virtually run its course, even more so now that Bob knew about it. There was never meant to be anything to it other than a little bit of fun on the side.

Now it was serious, though, and was becoming more so as the days slipped by without Jennifer hearing anything from her husband. Faced with his wife's infidelity, Bob had punched Richard to the ground, then run away and simply disappeared. And Jennifer had watched the horrifying sequence happen in front of her like it was a movie clip. When it was over, instead of chasing after her husband, the man she still loved, she had bent down to tend to Richard, a man who meant nothing to her at all.

What did that tell her about herself? Jennifer didn't love Richard any more than he loved her. For both of them it was just a little bit of extra on the side. That's all it was, just recreational sex. As a lover, Richard wasn't even anything to write home about particularly. He wasn't noticeably bigger, certainly not the legend that black men are supposed to be. He wasn't gentle or loving or even caring either. Bob was all of those things and more but clearly something must have been lacking in her marriage for her to do this to him.

Jennifer had even been putting Bob off from having sex for a couple of months now, since shortly after the affair began, and Jennifer thought perhaps he had suspected something and therefore contrived to catch them in the act. Mind you, Bob seemed to have gone off sex with her too recently and certainly didn't complain about being rationed. He was too wrapped up in his jogging, improving his times, talking about going in for his first marathon. Honestly, running marathons at his age!

"OK Mum, I'm down," JJ's arrival and truculent announcement interrupted Jennifer's unpleasant thoughts, "Even though we've never even had a dog."

Her daughter was dressed in jeans with ripped holes in the knees, and a voluminous chunky sweater against the chill wind outside. She wore no make-up as usual, her overly long curly hair was all over the place and she had brought down with her that disreputable old denim jacket that she seemed to have been wearing on a daily basis for at least the last three years now.

Not for the first time Jennifer thought that it was such a shame. If only her daughter made an effort, JJ could be very pretty. She was slim, petite and shapely, yet wore clothes that covered her up completely. Jennifer couldn't remember the last time she saw JJ wear a dress, yet she looked stunning in swimwear at the weekly ladies' only sessions down at the local pool, which showed how supremely trim and fit she was.

"I really don't know what the eggs are like, JJ, after keeping them warm all this time," Jennifer said over her shoulder as she shovelled the contents of the frying pan out onto a warmed plate, "They're probably as hard as rocks."

"No matter, Mother," JJ said as she shook tomato ketchup all over the breakfast.

"Where are you off to today?"

"I'll meet up with Shazza at the shops, hang about at the arcade. I dunno, things."

Jennifer could imagine the smart-looking Sharron would love an expedition around the shops simply window shopping. It didn't seem to be JJ's cup of tea at all.

"Well, make sure you're back by half past five, I'll have dinner ready at six and I need you to lay the table."

"Will Dad be home by then?" JJ asked, with what Jennifer thought was a barbed tone to her voice. Everything about JJ was barbed recently. Teenage girls, Jennifer thought; OK, maybe just my teenage girl, while the boys were really no trouble at all.

"I don't know, sweetheart, I hope so."

"What have you done to him now, Mum?" JJ accused with slitted eyes, peering over a forkful of congealing baked beans.

"What do you mean?"

"Come off it, Ma, when did Dad last go on a residential course, for crying out loud?" she sniffed, "You must have done something. Don't you think it's about time you said sorry to Dad?"

"What do you mean, sorry?"

"You know, I know, everybody knows." JJ's mouth was full as she ate a mixture of eggs, toast and beans, "Probably, even Dad knows."

"Knows what?"

"Knows what you get up to. Did he finally catch you up to something you shouldn't have been doing while we were all away for the weekend?" she accused.

"I don't know how you can even think a thing like that, your Dad and I-"

"Yeah, like you and Dad are all over each other all the time, Mother!" JJ spat. "It looks to me like he's finally moved out and onto pastures new."

"What, have you heard any word from your father?" Jennifer's face was ashen, thinking that if Bob had contacted anyone at all, it would be JJ.

"Nada, nothing. He's been disappearing deeper into his shell for the last couple of years, and so have the boys. While you on the other hand - well, you have been completely out of your gourd!"

"How dare you! You're not too big to put across my knee, young lady!"

"Yeah, like you can take the high moral ground, Mother!"

"What do you mean by that?"

"Meaning that you are a dirty skank and everyone knows it. Us kids are like totally ashamed of you and it was about time that Dad-"

Jennifer reached across and smacked JJ hard across the cheek, splattering tomato sauce and egg across the kitchen. Both stood in shocked silence, JJ that her mother could do such a thing and Jennifer that she actually did so.

"Oh, JJ, I'm so sorry!" Jennifer gasped.

"Don't worry about it, Mother," JJ said, blinking back the tears she knew would start to roll any moment and didn't want to give her mother the damn satisfaction of seeing them.

JJ stood up, grabbed her denim jacket from the back of the chair and stormed out of the kitchen, with the parting words over her shoulders, "When Dad gets back I hope it's only to collect me, so I can go live with him, because I don't want to live with you one moment longer than I have to!"

Jen looked at the slammed kitchen door for a couple of minutes before sitting down, putting her head in her hands and sobbing uncontrollably.

<<<>>>

"So, the eye pads are coming off this morning, eh?" grinned Tommy, "Great! Then I can see what those two absolute dolls, Helen and Sharon look like!"

"We'll have to keep the lightin' levels down for a coupla days, though, Tommy fella," warned Ben, with a chuckle, "Until your eyes get used to the light again. Anyway, them two fine ladies'd dazzle you so much you won't see nothin' else for a week!"

Tommy laughed. "I'll take your word for that, Ben, but it's my lovely Sally that I'm really looking forward to seeing. She must be going frantic if I've been away for nearly three weeks. She's probably worrying about paying the rent. Bloody hell, Ben, it's thirteen quid a week and we have only about twenty quid in the Post Office that we were saving up for Christmas. I wonder if that detective Rachel's heard anything from the Notts Police yet?"

"You'll hear soon enough, it's not nine o'clock yet, Tommy. Let's tell the Doc we're ready for him and get him down here so we can get started on your eyes, shall we?" Ben said. "After that, I think we are really goin' to have to sit down and have a chat about time ... elapsed time."

<<<>>>

"So where are we exactly on them Sommersby Crescent burglaries, Ratch?" barked Inspector Goring, as he marched across the detectives' open plan general office.

Rachel looked up from the papers she was reading, "I've an interview with ..." she moved some papers covering her diary, "... Mr and Mrs Cotton at No. 63 at 11.30, Boss. The burglars took their car keys and drove off with all the loot from three houses in the road. We've had the photos of their recovered car and contents come through from Derby Police. The villains tried to set it alight but the local Trumptons put it out before the petrol tank went up. There were a couple of strange laptops found in the boot that weren't on the lists from the three houses, and the Cottons don't sound like they use computers. If they don't belong to any of the burglaries that we are aware of, they may give us a lead to the perps."

"What you doing until then?" Goring asked, running his eyes over her desk and picked up the papers she'd been reading as he walked over.

"Just that 'John Doe' from the Royal, Boss," she was glowering at him as he read her letter without asking her if it was all right to, "The report you are looking at came from Nottingham CID, looks like the guy's missus has moved on, leaving no sign of her still being on the manor. But they have managed to track down his old mum, who they reckon has not seen or heard from him for over thirty years." He was still reading through her note, so Rachel added, "The bandages over his eyes are being removed first thing this morning, so I want to check when or even whether he will be able to make an identification of the assailants for us."

"Well, that's just a domestic side-issue now, Ratch, not worth spending precious police time on. Just find out what he knows about the perps who tried to rob the girl, maybe see what the photofit images trigger with him. Then file it. Looks like we got nothing else on the two toe-rags, and as nothing really bad happened to the girl I doubt if the CPS will decide anything'll come of it. On the other hand, though, it looks like this spate of burglaries could just be taking off and get quite serious." He had dropped the note and already turned to walk away.

"OK, Boss, I'll keep you posted." Rachel watched him enter his own corner office before hissing under her breath, "Muppet, everyone knows these two guys had only one thing on their minds when they abducted Hannah Knight in that deserted wood. We know exactly what would've happened if Tommy Barlow hadn't come along when he did!"

Rachel glanced at her watch, which read twenty past eight. Right, she thought, leaving now, with the rush hour traffic, it would be just gone nine by the time she parked at the Royal Hospital and made her way to the ward.

<<<>>>

Richard Robertson was filling up the company pick-up truck with diesel on the way back to the depot to collect another load of brick paving. The weather was cold and drizzly, but not quite raining hard enough to stop the gang working. The foreman saw he didn't have his mind on the job though and sent him back in the pick-up to bring up the next load of bricks and sand.

"Rich, I knows you is poking' yo' bitch night and day, but snap out of it, or I'll find someone else who kin do the job!" he had barked at him.

"Sorry, boss, Emma's gone to her mother's for a few days, so I can get some proper rest tonight."

All the workers grinned, they all knew Emma was jumping Richard every chance she got, so it was a relief for Richard to get away from the job and the constant ribbing for an hour or so. It was his own big mouth, he couldn't resist mentioning it and now they wouldn't let him forget it.

Pumping in the diesel gave him time to think. The affair with Jennifer finally appeared to be over. Now Jen didn't want any more to do with him, or even prepared to converse on the phone.

Actually, it was a bit of a relief really. It was an affair that was just too close to home. He knew that from the outset, of course, but he just couldn't help himself. It had been great getting another one over on that sanctimonious prick Bob, but now that the mug had found out about the affair, it quite took the edge off.

Bob was an old pussy-whipped wimp and Richard revelled in the fact that he had made him a cuckold twice. Even that bloody teacher on the PTA had been banging that slut Jen, possibly still was, so she wasn't the challenge she once was. Seducing her on that "second honeymoon" cruise ten years ago was a coup that worked even better than Richard could have imagined.

These last few months, the reprise of the affair had become a sweet bit of icing on the cake. It took some persuading but Jen came round to his charm offensive without the need to fall back on blackmail. He still had the internet photos of her and the teacher that he had managed to download about eighteen months earlier.

However, Richard thought, this time around just couldn't quite hit the heights of that first time. Jennifer turned out to be putty in his hands once he found out about her brief affair with the teacher. Richard didn't believe the rumours at first, but once he saw the pictures, he knew had to try it on again. The silly bitch was easy meat.

He had to admit, he had been surprised by Bob turning up out of the blue first thing in the morning just like that, though. Jen's scream was the first indication Richard had that someone else was in the room. He jumped out of bed to approach the intruder and before he was fully awake he was sucker punched. He never thought Bob was man enough to flatten him with one punch. It must have been a fluke. It was even amusing, getting cold cocked by the cuckold. Fortunately, the punch didn't break the skin, just bruised and darkened the bottom of his left cheek and jaw.

He managed to stop Emma noticing his bruise by pretending he was working late on a job that was twice as far away from home then it actually was. Emma had been so tired her first day back from her mother's that she was already in bed asleep by the time he got home. The strain of visiting her dying mother four days out of every seven over the last three months was starting to tell on Emma. Leaving home for work before she got up solved any early morning scrutiny. The past couple of nights he had got around it by asking Emma if they could have candlelit suppers before indulging themselves in baby making; of course she complied. Now Emma was going back to her mother's tonight for another four days and nights, so he didn't have to sneak around the house any more.

The young woman, more a girl really, behind the petrol station counter was stacked but dumpy. She had a nice smile, though, Richard thought, he could never resist short dumpy white girls, blond preferably, but his ginger girl would be more than acceptable. She responded positively to his chat-up line, colouring a little as she flushed excitedly at his attentions. Yeah, he thought, "Cheryl", according to her nameplate, was promising, wondering if anyone had popped her cherry yet. Not been in this petrol station before, Richard thought, he might have to come this way a bit more often.

<<<>>>

"Hey, Dad, you up yet? I was just driving through and thought I'd drop in and see you." The speaker announced as soon as the phone was answered.

"Of course I'm up, cheeky pup, and probably before you even thought about getting out of bed this morning. How long you gonna be before you get here, then?" came back the familiar voice on the hands-free.

"Two minutes, Dad, I'm just turning at the end of the road," Chief Inspector Mike Haroldson chuckled, "Get the kettle on for a brew-up, will you?"

The kettle switched off automatically and Ralph prepared the tea on the kitchen counter. He'd first moved to this long-familiar two-bedroom flat over thirty-five years ago, when his short marriage to Marjorie, Mike's mother, broke up. She'd left him for a lorry driver she'd met in a pub, leaving five-year-old Mike behind for Ralph to look after, along with a backlog of investigation cases to keep him burning the candle at both ends for months.

Ralph smiled at his grown-up son Mike sitting fidgeting at the kitchen table. He smiled to himself, knowing that Mike had something he was itching to tell him, the keyed-up kid inside him never changed. Ralph recalled that, back in those first few months of looking after his son, that he was let down often enough by baby sitters that Little Mikey was almost adopted by the Nottingham CID from an early age; it possibly helped that at the time his father was the Guv'nor, Ralph conceded.

Now, Mike was the Guv'nor in CID; the only difference being that Mike had never married, didn't look like every marrying and didn't have the distraction of being a single parent with a kid to look after.

"OK, Mike, spit it out," Ralph grinned as he swirled the tea leaves in the pot one more time before pouring, "Why else would you come round and see your lonely old man first thing on a Saturday morning?"

"I do come round just to see you, from time to time, Dad, I don't always have to have a reason," Mike replied sheepishly, "But there was one particular thing I wanted to speak to you about, now that you come to mention it."

Ralph pushed the full mug of tea across and watched his son spoon three heaped sugars into his tea while he marshalled his thoughts. Not for the first time Ralph thought that Mike needed to watch his weight. It had crept up on Ralph too, in middle age, and it had taken a lot of effort to shift the extra pounds once he had started putting them on. Mike really needed a good woman at home to sort him out, but really good women were hard to find. If it hadn't been for his Fiona, God rest her soul, Ralph knew he'd have been long dead and buried by now, too.

"You remember the Barlows, Dad? Mrs Barlow used to baby-sit for me when I was a youngster?"

"Yes, course I do, I kept in touch with Ann Barlow for years, although I haven't seen her since just after her old man Alan died. Feel a bit guilty about that, to be honest. I don't think she has much left in the way of family."

"Well it looks like she's got someone now, Dad; her son Tommy has turned up again after all these years, alive and reasonably well, all things considered, up the road in Chesterfield."

"What?" Ralph exclaimed.

"Yeah, I was surprised too, when I saw the report come in. He's in the main hospital, over in Chesterfield. Apparently he stopped an abduction of a young girl happening and got severely beaten up by the would-be rapists for his trouble. According to the local law he's regarded as a bit of a hero."

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