Living in the Shadows

Living in the Shadows by Judith Barrow

Book: Living in the Shadows by Judith Barrow Read Free Book Online
Authors: Judith Barrow
21st
    Linda sat on the bench, staring unseeingly at her hands clasped together on her lap. The autumn sun was quite warm on the top of her head but inside she felt icy cold. Why was Gran so upset? Who was this man? Instinctively she felt she knew who he was, but how? Where from?
    The lake was crammed with families in pedal-boats and canoes, enjoying their Sunday. Shouts and screams of laughter wafted across the water. Dogs barked, children cried. Somewhere an ice-cream van played a tinny tune. Greensleeves ? But the noises in the park sounded miles away. Occasionally she’d been conscious of someone sitting on the seat next to her, attempting to chat, but she ignored them and eventually they’d moved away. One, a young woman, had a child with her: a small girl who’d touched Linda’s hand and smiled. Linda could only stare blindly into the child’s brown eyes.
    There was a high-pitched yell and a loud splash. Linda jumped; her scalp tingled with the sudden disturbance. One of the men in charge of the boats was hooking a canoe towards him as a girl clung to the side, her paddle drifting away on the water. They were laughing.
    Linda stood. There was only one way to find out who that man really was … George Worth. She needed to get home.
    Later, she wondered why she hadn’t put two and two together when she was talking to her gran.
    There was no one in the kitchen when she walked in through the back door but she could hear voices and she went into the hall. Her dad was cleaning the outside of the living-room windows. Bert Robinson, a neighbour from the end of the street, leant against the house wall talking to him, the pipe between his lips waggling from side to side as he spoke.
    ‘Hello, Linda, love,’ Bert said, taking the pipe from his mouth and pointing the stem at her when she looked out from the front door. ‘You look in a lather … been running, like?’
    ‘Linda.’ Ted turned, dropping the wash-leather into the bucket at his feet. ‘You’re late home, lass…’
    ‘Can we talk, Dad?’ She didn’t acknowledge the question in his voice and went back into the kitchen.
    She heard her father say, ‘See you, Bert.’ before following her. He put the bucket by the sink. ‘What is it?’ He dried his hands, bunching the towel up and tossing it onto the draining-board.
    Now she was here she didn’t know where to start. She leant against the table, clutching the edges of the surface. ‘Something happened at work. A man. The husband of one of my mothers…’ She saw Ted’s mouth tighten, the slight frown. Gran was right; her dad must know something. But his next words threw her.
    ‘Someone been pestering you?’
    ‘Not like that.’ Impatience made her voice strident. ‘Gran said I should ask you about him. She said you’d know…’ Her knees were giving way.
    ‘Know what?’ Ted put his hands on her arms and gently sat her down on one of the chairs. He pulled up another chair and dragged it closer to her. ‘What is it, love? What’s happened?’
    ‘Gran said you’d know who he is.’ Linda gulped, the words hard in her throat. ‘Who this man is. There’s something about him. He’s nasty, aggressive for no reason. He bullies his wife.’ Linda held up her hand as Ted opened his mouth to speak. ‘It’s not that … it’s something else.’ She wasn’t explaining properly. Her words tumbled out. ‘I keep getting the feeling I know him from somewhere but I can’t… I don’t…’
    ‘Take it easy, lass. Tell me what he looks like?’
    She frowned, picturing the man. ‘Like he used to have ginger hair … more grey now. Not tall. He has a half-moon shaped scar on his cheek. And a nose that looks as if it’s been broken. Bent, like. Gran said I had to ask you. She was really upset. Really upset,’ she stressed. ‘He scares me, Dad. It’s as though I know – knew him once. I remember…’ her words trailed away. She watched Ted. His face seemed to crumble and then harden. But his

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