I rang Sharon last night to see when she wanted me on Sunday.
“Usual time Dad. I expect you’re off on your usual Good Friday pilgrimage again tonight” she joked. I just let it pass. She knows I’m not around Thursday to Saturday night every Easter, it’s been this way all her life.
We were only working until lunchtime that day twenty eight years ago. Of course we’d headed for the pub. There was a good atmosphere, the usual bank holiday high spirits. After about three pints I stood up to get a round in. The barmaid was a real looker, a page three type, but she knew it. Blonde, curvy and cute. I’d been watching her since we arrived and thought that she’d smiled at me a couple of times.
“What can I get you?” she asked, tilting her head suggestively.
“Five pints of Tetleys and a kiss please.”, I grinned at her.
“Come back when you’ve grown into men’s clothes.” she replied.
There was a roar of laughter from the lads and I flushed, picking up two pints and taking them to the table. Nothing outwardly showed the cold hatred I felt at that moment. I’m strong, broad and fit, I have to be to the job I do. So why did she only see my height? Bitch.
I left the pub at half seven just as the light was fading and walked down to the canal. My mind was racing with the humiliation in the pub and I could feel the pulse in my jaw. Minutes later I saw someone walking towards me, an older woman. I don’t know what made me do it but as she passed I grabbed her and pulled her into the bushes. I kissed her as roughly as I could, clawed at her clothes, tore them. She told me to stop, tried to push me off but that only made me more determined. I wasn’t motivated by sex, it was more that she needed to see that I could take what I wanted. And I did. But suddenly she started screaming and scratching. So I had to stop her. I had to.
In the weeks following the police interviewed every bloke I know. I think they took every man between twenty and sixty who lived within a mile of the canal. Including me. I told them the truth except I said that I got the bus home. I heard that they were pretty rough on a few of the blokes, especially the anglers. Then it all went quiet.
The documentaries on the TV always imply that once someone has taken a life, it is likely they will want to do it again. It isn’t true. Not for me anyway. All I wanted was a normal life and I got one. I married, had a daughter, Sharon, who I walked down the aisle four years ago. I managed to just close my mind, except for over Easter when I hide from the world because I can’t avoid the sight of a coat button rolling onto the tow path, the smell of Himalayan Balsam that grows all along the canal banking and the moment when her body slackened under my clenched fingers.
Tomorrow I have to go to the police station. We have all been called back, something about evidence and scientific developments in forensics. It’s a lovely Spring day but today I just can’t get warm.