1. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
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    Manchester, England

    Winner Tweek Short Story Contest 29: A Dark Secret

    Discussion in 'Monthly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, Oct 13, 2008.

    Tweek - The Secret Life of Eddie Trigg

    Eddie Trigg took a long hard look at himself in his bathroom mirror. He plugged the bathroom sink and turned on the cold tap, watching the beard hairs from his earlier shave slowly build up around the waters edge as it steadily rose. He turned the tap off, cupped his hands into the water, and splashed them over his face. He met the gaze of his bloodshot eyes in the mirror and mentally questioned himself for the hundredth time that day. His questioning never got him anywhere. All he really wanted was to justify his actions in some way, look for a scapegoat, but he knew deep down there was no excusing what he was doing. His internal interrogations merely kept the problems at the forefront of his mind, which, in his opinion, was where they needed to be. His actions were bad enough, if his conscience didn’t incessantly berate him for it throughout the day, then how much lower would that mean he’d sunk.

    Eddie dried his face, fastened the buttons on his chequered blue shirt, and tucked them into his khakis as he made his way to the bathroom door. It was Wednesday night, quiz night in The Butchers Tavern. It was Eddie’s excuse to get out of the house, and had been for the past two months. His wife, Karen, had argued with him about it the first time, now she barely registered him leaving. They’d been happily married for twenty-two years, unhappily married for one. Their eldest son, Mike, was twenty-one years old and in his final year of University. He’d pretty much stopped visiting the past year. He made the mandatory Christmas and birthday visits, but both Eddie and Karen could see it was begrudgingly. Frankly, he didn’t blame his son for keeping his distance, if anything he was jealous of his freedom to escape it all.

    Their second, and youngest child, was Becka. She’d turned seventeen a few weeks ago, but had been nothing but trouble since she’d become a teenager. She’d been arrested for shoplifiting and being drunk in a public place before the age of fifteen. When questioned about her behaviour, she’d fly into a rage about how her parents were losers, who lived in a sh**ty house in a sh**ty neighbourhood because they weren’t smart enough to afford anything better. She blamed the shoplifting on her parents’ inability to afford anything nice; she got drunk simply because she liked it, and that was that. She’d been stealing from them regularly up until six months ago. Eddie suspected she was into drugs, but since the stealing had stopped the suspicions became more sinister. Karen had noticed she was wearing expensive clothing more frequently. Eddie, being a man, hadn’t noticed, but since he’d been told he began weighing up the possibilities. She could be shoplifting again; she could be dating a dating a drug dealer; or, heaven forbid, she could be dealing herself. She certainly wasn’t paying for them out of the ten pound a week pocket money they were giving her. Neither Eddie nor Karen knew what to do about. The strain of dealing with their daughter had put their relationship at breaking point.

    Eddie made his way downstairs, making sure to avoid eye contact with the family photos hung on the walls. The happiness radiating from them couldn’t be a more stark contrast with how his home life had been the past year. He slipped on his brown loafers at the foot of the stairs, and made his way into the kitchen where Karen sat on the worktop next to the sink. She took a long, final drag of the cigarette she was smoking, and extinguished it under the cold tap. He know longer knew how many she smoked a day. She’d been on ten a day since they met; judging by the dense cloud of smoke that now hung in mid air, she’d had this many since he’d been in the shower.

    ‘It’s quiz night tonight, I shouldn’t be home later than eleven’ Eddie said, picking his jacket off the hook behind the kitchen door. ‘Where’s Becka?’

    ‘She said she was going out to a friend’s place, and that she’d be back by midnight. But to answer your question, I don’t know!’ She lit another cigarette, sidled down from the worktop, and filled the kettle with water. Eddie noticed her hands shaking as she held the kettle under the tap. The large quantities of caffeine and nicotine weren’t helping her anxiety, but he held back from passing comment.

    ‘Well, if you need me, I have my mobile with me,’ said Eddie, knowing full well that she wouldn’t ring. They’d barely spoken more than a few sentences to each other in a year, she was hardly likely to ring him up and ask him to bring home some milk. Eddie made his way back out the back door, leaving his wife at home watching the kettle boil, a single tear running down her cheek.

    He opened the door to his Ford Escort, turned on the ignition, and pulled out the space he’d taken up in the street. The black paintwork was littered with bumps and scratches, the driver’s side wing mirror was smashed, and most recently, the exhaust pipe had become loose, occasionally scraping against the floor mid transit leaving a trail of sparks in its wake. Becka had passed a drunken comment recently about how the car perfectly befitted someone of Eddie’s financial status. Her belittling tone never surprised him; she thought she was destined to do better. He questioned her once about how she planned to do better, since she didn’t have a job and wasn’t in college. After the argument that followed he didn’t question her about it again.

    Eddie traversed the speed bumps leading out of his street, driving in the centre of the road to minimise any additional damage to his exhaust. He waited at the t-junction for a gap in the traffic, and took a right down the main road through his village. It was only seven o’clock, and the nights were rapidly drawing in. The sun was setting behind the endless rows of council houses to his right, its brightness obstructing his visibility of the road ahead. Neglecting to pull over, he reached into his cluttered glove compartment, pulled out a pair of fake Ray Ban sunglasses, and put them on. He didn’t like to show too much of his face where he was going anyway. He continued down the road until he saw a sign for the Butchers Tavern, indicating he could get great food all day, every day, just 100 yards ahead on the left hand side. He continued on for 150 yards until he came to a roundabout. He took the third exit, signposted Docks.

    He hated himself for lying to his wife, and hated himself even more for doing what he was doing. Nowadays, when he looked in the mirror he wouldn’t recognise the man standing before him as Eddie Trigg. The problems at home had detached him somewhat from the world outside his family. Now he even felt a stranger to himself.

    He continued on down the road towards the docks, and thought about his wife. He knew that the last time they were truly happy was before Becka started causing trouble. He knew this to be true, but he genuinely couldn’t remember the feeling of happiness. He hadn’t hugged or kissed his wife once in the past year, wasn’t sure if they’d even touched. They’d taken up single beds a year ago; by this time sex had long been forgotten. Eddie didn’t know how to rectify the situation. The only pertinent issue to talk about was Becka’s behaviour, but agreeing on a course of action to take always led to arguments. Eddie wanted his daughter out of the house for what she was doing to her mother, but Karen had continually disagreed. While Eddie thought evicting their daughter would force her to grow up, all Karen wanted was her daughter under their roof where they could keep an eye on her.

    With the stress of trying to control Becka, Karen had aged ten years in the past two. Her once flowing black locks had thinned considerably, leaving the grey hairs and split ends to dominate. The fine lines on her face and neck had become more prominent, the darkness under her eyes deepened every passing day. Her teeth had become nicotine stained through excessive smoking, and she’d developed a cough that could be heard through the thin bedroom walls most of the night. They’d argued incessantly since Becka had turned fourteen, she’d managed to divide them in a way neither though possible. Despite their seemingly innate inability to agree over Becka, they never went to sleep angry with one another. At first, anyway. Eddie still couldn’t put a finger on what had changed, but the coldness they now showed each other suffocated him. He’d take back those years of arguing any day over what it was like now. If you argued, that meant you cared, he often thought. Since they’d stopped arguing, Eddie had lost hope.

    Eddie pulled up in a lay-by 400 yards short of his destination, and took a deep breath. The dockland area he was approaching was no longer the hive of industrial activity it once was. It operated at roughly quarter its capacity. Rumours had been circulating for years that it was to be completely shut down, the occasional tea and coffee imports were the only thing left justifying its presence. The lay-by Eddie had chosen had an elevated view of most of the docklands area. From where he sat he could see clearly that the majority of roads and buildings that still serviced the area were in a poor state of repair, those that were no longer in use probably should have been cordoned off and condemned.

    Eddie had pulled over at the start of the main arterial road running through the docks. It was founded on enormous reinforced concrete columns, that tapered in length and became increasingly slender as the road steadily declined to dock level. He pulled out of the lay-by and started the descent toward the docks. Before the security gate approached, he indicated left and pulled off onto a slip road that gradually bought him back on himself and under the road he’d driven. The stretch of road he found himself on was, as he usually found, pretty much free of vehicular traffic. He could see another car roughly 50 yards ahead. It looked expensive, Eddie reckoned on a Mercedes. Like Eddie, the Merc was driving slightly slower than walking pace.

    To his left, set back about 20 yards the road, were a row of buildings that appeared, from the facade at least, completely derelict. During the 80’s, the buildings homed thriving businesses. Bars, restaurants, and hotels lined the street, forming the docklands so-called leisure complex, a place where tired sailors could unwind after a long journey. When the ships stopped coming into the docks, the businesses struggled to make a profit, and slowly but surely went out of business. The hotels, long since abandoned, still housed local vagrants and runaways. The only legitimate enterprise open for business was a solitary bar at the start of the strip. The local biker gang who’d adopted it as their clubhouse.

    The area still thrived, of course, only the people turning a profit nowadays weren’t likely to be declaring their income to the Inland Revenue. Local police had bigger problems to deal with than the crooked entrepreneurs operating out of the docks. The occasional bust let them know they weren’t operating with impunity, however the risk-to-gain ratio still highly favoured the crooks. Drug dealers offered a convenient drive through service that had proved especially popular with students and wealthy businessmen. The homeless population of the run down hotels also had habits that needed feeding, though needless to say drive through service was not required. During the busy periods prostitutes lined the streets, offering cheap thrills to anyone who wound down their window. The vast expanse of the docks afforded the punters some modicum of privacy for their money. The girls knew all the quiet spots the site had to offer. The only real passion killer was the occasional wandering vagrant paying more than a passing interest to the cars interior.

    Eddie noticed the Merc ahead of him pulling up to the kerb where a young homeless guy stood. The guy was dressed in a filthy pair of blue jeans and a tattered green corduroy jacket. Eddie watched as he made his way around the Merc to the driver’s side window. There was a brief conversation, then an exchange; drugs, Eddie reckoned. Whilst the anonymous Merc driver may have been after a few grams of cocaine for a party, the dealer hadn’t exactly fitted Eddie’s stereotypical image of people in that line of work. Not that Eddie would have known, the closest he’d come to taking drugs was when he was 13 years old. A friend had told him that if you took an aspirin with coca-cola you’d get high. He’d even chickened out of that. Eddie had no interest in drugs.

    Eddie continued his slow trawl of the dockside kerb. In a few hours the street would be lined with working girls soliciting for business. Drug dealers and pimps would be scattered intermittently, but it was the girls who dominated. Eddie reached across and wound down the passenger side window, ready for the girls he could see ahead of him. They’d been stood in groups prior to his approach, but spaced out and formed a line ready for their prospective client to make his choice. The girls in view were spread out over about 50 yards. They probably all worked for the same pimp, which meant that they wouldn’t bother with the hard sell that was required at peak times. From what Eddie knew, money went straight to the pimp who paid the girls at the end of their shift. He wasn’t sure if pay was performance related.

    Eddie pulled over next to the first girl on the street. She was tall, at least 5’10”, and in her early twenties. Eddie stooped down over the handbrake so he could get a better view of her face. Her pale complexion perfectly suited the thick black hair that fell to her shoulders. He quickly banished the comparison to his wife at that age. She wore a red duffel coat that came midway up her bare thighs. Her black knee high leather boots had a heel that someone of her height didn’t need. She smiled at him.

    “Hey honey, what you after?” She swiftly undid two large black buttons that were holding her coat together, and revealed the lacy black lingerie she had on underneath. She shifted her weight to her left leg, pulled back the coat on the opposite side, and left Eddie mesmerised by the curves leading from her thighs up to her full busty chest. “You can do more than look if you got the cash hun! What’s it gonna be, I’m getting cold?”

    Eddie composed himself. “What can I get for forty?”

    “Twenty minutes, whatever you want, just no kissing!”

    “Fine, get in,” said Eddie, pulling out the forty quid he had tucked in his back pocket.

    “Whoa, hold your horses there hun, gotta pay my boss first. Hand us the cash and I’ll be back in a sec!” Eddie handed over the notes, and watched as the nameless stranger he just paid walked off in the direction of an alleyway adjacent to the biker’s clubhouse. She momentarily disappeared into the shadows before re-emerging empty handed. She sauntered back to the car, occasionally looking over her shoulder at the alleyway. “Ok hun, we’re set to go. I know a quiet place a couple of hundred yards away. It’s there or nothing I’m afraid, my boss likes to know where his girls are!”

    “That’s fine, jump in.” She opened the passenger side door and sat herself down next to Eddie. She’d fastened one of the buttons on her coat back up, obstructing his view of what was underneath.

    “If you carry on up this road, there’s a left hand turn after about a hundred yards. I’ll show you where, don’t worry. It’s an old storage area, we’ll get plenty of privacy in there. What’s your name hun?”

    “Erm, Eddie.” He wasn’t used to being asked his name, and instantly regretted not lying to her. “How about you?”

    “Call me Roxy,” she said, keeping her gaze fixed firmly on the road. “It’s left here.” Eddie took the turn through a wrought iron gate. The former storage area was 100m square, secured on all sides by an eight foot brick wall lined with barbed wire. “How about pulling over between those two storage containers,” said Roxy, pointing to a couple of nondescript industrial storage units. Eddie didn’t notice the two men securing the gate behind him as he parked up the car.

    Eddie leant over and to place his hand on Roxy’s thigh, only to have it swatted away. “You’re under arrest!” said Roxy, digging her badge out of her pocket.

    Eddie looked at her incredulously, “What the hell for?”

    “What do you think?” She flashed him her badge as an unmarked police car pulled in behind him, blocking his exit. She opened her door and motioned to the plain clothes policeman who got out of the car. “Read him his rights!”

    “You’re pretty good at this game,” said the policeman with a grin on his face, “sure you aint done this before?”

    “F*ck you, just do your job and read him his rights, I’m not in the mood!”

    Eddie sat there, frozen with fear. He was half dragged him from the driver’s seat, asked to turn around, and had his hands cuffed behind his back. All he could hear was his own heartbeat pounding in his ears as the officer read him his rights and marched him over to a waiting police van. As the officer helped him into the back of the van, Eddie wondered what the hell he’d been thinking. Why on earth wasn’t he at home trying to sort things out with his wife instead of spending money he couldn’t afford on cheap hookers? He sat down in the back of the crowded van and sobbed.

    He thought about Karen. He missed her, and what they’d had together. He didn’t know how she would take this if she found out. He thought about her hands shaking as she filled the kettle earlier in the evening. She was already so fragile, how would she take this news? The guilt tugged at his chest. The burden of the secret life he’d been living lifted slightly as the tears streamed down his face. He vowed to try and make things right with his wife, never to keep secrets from her again. He thought she would leave him, and knew he had no right to try and stop her if she did. Either way, she needed to know the truth. No more secrets.

    Eddie kept his face to the floor, unwilling to acknowledge the others who’d been caught in the bust. The silence of the van was broken by a young girl who called out across the van.


    He didn’t need to look up to know who it was, he recognised the voice immediately. Eddie wasn’t the only one with secrets.
  2. Banoffee

    Banoffee New Member

    Oct 22, 2008
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    New Zealand
    Wow, that was fantastic, very moving.
  3. Sandy

    Sandy New Member

    Dec 10, 2006
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    Great story! Strong emotions from the MC and through him came the emotions of the other characters. Great job.

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