tagNon-EroticSchool and Mall Ch. 02

School and Mall Ch. 02


This story came in for some criticism as being too complicated. I was trying to make the story succinct and subtle and all who commented said it was too obscure. Therefore I have hammered out all the subtlety, adding half as many words again and submitting it for your comments.


SCHOOL AND MALL - Pass it on.

"Don't go too far, Katie," I cautioned, "Karate'll only be five minutes."

Katie was two and fearless. I was 62 and wired fearful whenever I babysat my grandchildren. At half-term I had two to watch on my own. 'Karate' was my son Dan Black's boy Daniel, the Fourth Dan in our family.

"Okay, Gramps," Katie answered, wheeling her toy pushchair around where I sat on a long circular bench in a broad walkway.

"Hello, Dan, mind if I sit?"

A silver-haired woman hovered next to me, holding a couple of shopping bags. Although she had changed much, the voice was unmistakable, as were those blue eyes.

"Of course," I replied, "it's a free country, Mrs Evans."

"I'm Connie, Dan, please?"

"Sure, Connie, please forgive an irascible old man."

"A gentleman, Dan, not that old," she smiled beautifully.

Connie sat next to me, depositing her bags on the floor by her legs. "We were best friends once, a long time ago... And, like you, I miss Mary."

I started at the mention of my late wife. Even after five years the void was manifest. I never knew that my wife was acquainted with my childhood sweetheart. I met and married Mary in a different town and, although we moved back to my hometown, Mary and Connie would have moved in quite different social circles, and Mary never mentioned Connie, who I hadn't spoken to since I left school at 16.

"You knew Mary?"

"The Baptist Church Wednesday Club. We chatted all the time. Actually, we mostly talked about you. I even spoke to you at her funeral, but you were distracted."

"Sorry, Connie, that day's blurred. I don't remember seeing anyone who was there."

Connie squeezed my hand and kept hold of it. I had tears well up in my eyes, but fought them back, checking that Katie was still playing safe.

"Sorry about Freddie, I liked him."

I played Sunday golf with her husband Freddie Evans until seven years ago. He told me he was worried leaving Connie all alone after he passed, as he had been diagnosed with serious heart problems. They couldn't have children, after Connie's ex-husband beat her almost to death while she was heavily pregnant with Freddie's child, which she lost, so she had no-one. I promised to keep an eye out. I did, but never let her see me. Today the grandchildren had taken my attention.

"Freddie was a nice man," she remembered, squeezing my hand hard, "And you, Danny, were a nice boy."


I thought back to when we were at school, age 15, I was sitting next to Connie as always. She had lived next door to me since we were born within months of one another. We learned to walk and talk together, I taught her bicycle riding, the precocious minx taught me kissing when we were 12. When my hormones eventually caught up with hers, I wanted to court her, but prevaricated and was pipped at the post.

Jimmy Logan tapped my leg under the desk, passing a note. I unfolded it, "You're beautiful!" it said.

I looked to the other side of the room; Rich Roebuck gesticulated, pointing to Connie. Simultaneously, Jimmy hissed, "Pass it on", with a ventriloquist face.

I passed it on. Connie read the note, gave Roebuck a flash of her beautiful smile, passed a reply back and broke my heart into a million pieces.

I told her at break that Roebuck was a bully, he had a history of cruelty and violence. Connie was angry; apparently Rich was a "dreamboat" and I was just "jealous". They became an item and I was out in the cold.

They were the first in our set to marry and the first couple to divorce. That was just after the third time Connie was hospitalised and her friends finally persuaded her to leave him.

By that time I was happily married to Mary, who I met at college miles away in another town. I couldn't study alongside the Roebucks, so I had moved. I qualified as a master moulding plasterer, gained experience and returned to my home town to start my thriving business.

Roebuck got eighteen months inside for his history of abuse. Connie divorced him and married Freddie Evans.

Later convicted for aggravated assault, when he beat Connie to within an inch of her life and killed her unborn child, Roebuck was jailed for five years. That didn't stop him threatening to force Connie's return from the courtroom. I sat at the back, unseen. Released thirty months later, Roebuck was found in the alley behind his local pub, beaten so systematically that he never walked again, with no recollection of his assailants.

By chance, Connie and Freddie attended a West End concert on the night of Roebuck's beating, watching her favourite band, in company with Bobby and Sherry Baker. Sherry had won four tickets in a raffle and, although Bobby was a useless Community Policeman, he was perfect alibi material.

It was a fortnight before a detective inspector got around to interviewing me. I told the officer I was at a seminar on 18th century panel mouldings in Bournemouth and I was wearing the tee-shirt to prove it.

My apprentice had bought me two tee-shirts, so I could keep them fresh for as long as I needed to.


'Karate' returned to the bench with sweets and pop. Connie and I let go of our hands while I examined the ingredients. The drinks were too sugary. I sent him back to replace them with fruit juices.

Connie grinned, "You still do karate, Dan?"

"No, we fell out, philosophically." I wasn't going to admit to Connie that I had violated the code; it didn't stop me making sure my son and grandchildren took up the discipline, though.

We both fell silent for a while.

Then Connie stood and gathered her bags, "Nice seeing you, Dan. I enjoyed our little chat."

"Likewise, Connie, maybe I'll see you around."

She crossed in front of me, walked past a woman sitting a few feet from me and sat down again. I could see her out of the corner of my eye. Connie extracted a pad from one of her bags and wrote a note, passing it to the woman sitting between us. The woman tapped my arm and held out the note. I recognised her straight away.

"Hi, Sherry," I said, "I was sorry to hear about Bobby."

"He passed on painlessly in his sleep, Dan. I got your condolence card last week," Sherry said, then added, quiet as a whisper, "Thirty-five years ago I got those concert tickets and a week later the negatives of ... Harold and me ... turned up."

I nodded. She continued whispering.

"That fling was a one-night thing and months before Roebuck's release. Bobby was on nights and, well, Harold was very persuasive."

"I was patient," I said, "I had followed and taken earlier photos of Harold for months, enough to get him tarred and feathered and run out of town. He had a habit of preying on married women. He left town as soon as he heard what happened to Roebuck."

"I heard."

"I'm sorry, Sherry, for using you like that. I really didn't want you and Bobby hurt."

"We were good, Dan and, as far as I know, he never knew and I never strayed again. Here."

I took it from her and unfolded the note, it read, "You're beautiful, call me", with a number written underneath and signed, "love, Connie xxx".

I pulled out from my coat pocket a flyer I'd been give earlier and intended putting in the next bin. I simply wrote down my mobile number and folded it.

"Hey, Sherry, pass this on, please?"

The end.

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by Anonymous

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by DeKre03/12/18


I really enjoyed the first version - not so this one.

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