Tag Archives: supermarket

A Tidy Mess (Part Three)

Part one

Part two

***

Katherine had made a list. She did not use pen and paper, nor had she made any conscious effort, but she had compiled a short list of people’s names. Suspects. Over and over again she silently repeated the list of names: Carly, Greg, Trudy, Granddad Keith, Shane and Rob.

Katherine knew what her father had done to Carly and Greg, breaking apart their relationship and then destroying Carly after their affair ended. She had never met Trudy, Tim’s boss, but he was always talking about how much she hated him. Her grandfather, her mum’s dad, had sworn to hunt Tim down and kill him after he left his family in pieces. Katherine would never have seriously considered her granddad as a suspect, but her thoughts were fast becoming irrational.

James was not a person Katherine had met, nor had she really heard about him, but he had heard Rob casually discussing possible killers with their mother. Ellen had no idea who it could have been and she immediately discarded Rob’s suggestion of Carly or Greg. From what Katherine could pick out, her ear pressed to the living room door, Shane used to be friends with Tim. Apparently her father did something to piss him off. She did not hear exactly what her father did, however, because her neighbour had chosen that moment to begin mowing his lawn.

The reason Rob was on the list was because Katherine had no idea where he was on the evening of Tim’s death. Neither did Ellen. He refused to answer questions about his whereabouts, although Katherine knew that the police would want to know more. If it was Rob, he would have no alibi. But she didn’t seriously believe that her brother would kill their father, no matter how much he detested the man.

In reality, Katherine’s list was extremely short. While it should be more difficult than it was to compile a list of a man’s suspected murderers, for anyone who properly knew Tim it would have been easy to find over ten names. But nobody did know Tim, not really. He was not a complicated man, but he led a complicated and messy life.

After he left his family in Devon and moved in with his sister and brother-in-law in Salisbury, Tim had become even more of an enigma than before.

Tim’s parents refused to speak to him after Ellen had told them of the atrocities their son had committed. Harriett and Martin were the only people Tim had left, and they gave him somewhere to stay. Katherine knew it was out of pity that they reached out to her father, but she appreciated it nonetheless – they had saved him.

But Tim did not change. While Katherine was fed lies from her father’s mouth about the tidy life he had created for himself, he had continued to cause people pain and upset.

The last of his crimes against innocent people began when he got a job at a supermarket in the city centre. After working for a week on the checkouts, it had come to Tim’s attention that customers were often unwise. Elderly men and women would come to his till, slowly withdraw their wallets, retrieve their debit cards, and stare intently for a couple of seconds at the interior of their card holders before entering their PINs.

It did not take Tim long to work out that these customers had their security codes scribbled on a piece of paper, stuck just above the pockets in which their bank cards were stored. A quick glance over the counter and Tim could see the four digit numbers.

After hatching his simple plan, Tim waited for his next customer that had made this error. A man of around seventy years shuffled to his till, offering a basket of groceries to the sales assistant. Tim scanned and bagged the items, including a gardening magazine. Taking this as a helpful cue, Tim then engaged his customer in a thrilling conversation about gardening, pretending that he was a keen gardener himself. When the man extracted his debit card from his brown, leather wallet, Tim quickly scanned and remembered the PIN, scrawled in black biro in the spot he had been expecting. Continuing the conversation, Tim managed to distract the customer by handing over his bags of shopping. He quickly grabbed the card from the machine and bid the customer goodbye. Wallet in his pocket and hands busied with heavy bags, the customer exited the shop unaware that his card had been stolen.

A few weeks and several scammed shoppers later, Tim’s manager, Trudy, called a staff meeting. It had come to her attention that an unusually high number of customers were calling into the store to check if they had lost their wallets. All of them claimed to have been served by a man fitting two of the workers’ descriptions: Tim and his colleague, James.

Furthermore, a few of these customers had called the shop to warn them that money had been taken from their accounts after having lost their cards there. James had immediately denied all claims and shunted all of the blame onto Tim, who feigned innocence and ignorance. After an hour of failed reasoning and blame-shifting Trudy warned the two men that he would have to alert the police.

Nothing was proved and while the CCTV footage showed Tim hurrying customers from the till, it was not substantial enough for Tim to be labelled the guilty party. Over that few days, Tim had managed to convince most of his colleagues that it was James who had stolen the bank cards. Tim soon became the victim. James left the job just days before Tim did. He had worked there for fifteen years and had a pending application for supervisor, and yet Tim had driven him away after just four short weeks.

Tim did not care that he had ruined James’ career. He did not worry that he had swindled tens of elderly people out of hundreds of pounds. He did not spare a thought for anyone but himself.

The evening after he left that job for the final time, Tim drove back to Harriett’s house in the Porsche he had borrowed from Martin. They had gone away on holiday for the week, and so Tim permitted himself access to the gleaming car.

He did not know that someone was waiting for him inside the house, but he would have had a good idea of who to expect.


A Tidy Mess (Part One)

Tim yawned. He did not care that a customer had approached his till with the Sunday newspaper, the correct change clutched tightly in the elderly woman’s wrinkled fist, nor did he care that his manager’s beady eye was fixed on him. He absentmindedly scanned the barcode, flipped the paper in half and exchanged it for a few silver coins. The old lady ambled away from the counter and Tim’s manager marched towards him.

‘I’ve told you before about not ironing your shirt before work, Tim,’ Trudy said in her sharp, shrill voice. ‘And don’t yawn in front of the customers, it makes you look like you don’t want to be here.’

‘It’s 7am on a Sunday morning, I don’t want to be here.’ Replied Tim simply.

Trudy sighed, unable to find the energy to argue with her most stubborn employee, and sped off towards the bread aisle.

Probably going to find someone else to moan at, thought Tim. Warm saliva circulated the taste of last night’s beer around his mouth. He grimaced and greeted his next customer, responding with only a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as the middle-aged suit struggled to make jovial conversation. The day was going to be slow and painful, Tim was certain.

 

The top of Tim’s thigh began to vibrate. He glanced around and, no manager or customers in sight, lifted his vintage Nokia half-way out of his pocket. It was his daughter, Katherine. He made a mental note to call her on his break and released his phone.

Only eight more hours, Tim told himself. He detested the inconsiderately visible clock that faced the counters: keeping track of the time made it go even slower, it seemed. His third yawn caused tears to gather in the corners of his eyes. He shut his eyes and slowly dragged the palm of his hand down his face. When he opened his eyes, a young woman was standing in front of him, talking rapidly and loudly into her phone and thrusting a two pint bottle of milk and a scrunched up five pound note at him. He carried out the transaction silently aside from a forced ‘thank you’ as the chatty brunette shot him a smile and darted out of the automatic doors.

 

Eight hours trundled by until Tim was finally free to go home. He was sitting in the car, fumbling with a pouch of tobacco, when his phone rang. It was his Katherine again.

Shit, I forgot to call her back!

He answered the phone, letting the filter tip drop from between his dry lips.

‘Alright, love?” He asked gruffly.

‘Dad, listen to me. You can’t go home.’ His daughter sounded panicked.

‘What? Are you alright, Kat?’

‘Dad, just promise me you won’t go to your house. Something bad’s going to happen,’ She pleaded.

‘What do you mean, something bad? Don’t be silly Katherine, I’m fine.’ He was met with silence, and then a deep exhale.

‘Okay then, dad, just call me when you’re home okay?’

‘Will do, bye love.’

‘Bye dad.’

 

Tim would have been disturbed by his daughter’s phone call, once upon a time. But not anymore. Katherine phoned him at least once a month with a warning (or ‘vision’ as she liked to call them). Since she was fifteen, Katherine was convinced that she had some sort of psychic ability to see into the future, but her prophecies hardly ever came true and those that did were never more than coincidence. Tim shook it off, rolled and lit his cigarette, wound down the car window and drove out of his parking space, the thought of a cold, refreshing beer and  comfortable sofa propelling him home.

 

He pulled up on the large, gravelled driveway fifteen minutes later and stepped out of the silver Porsche 911 Carrera. Upon entering the boastful house, Tim deactivated the alarm system and locked the door behind him. Stepping into the front room, the middle-aged shop worker knew something was different.

 

Tim was a very particular man and everything had to be perfectly in its place. But it wasn’t. The rug was not straight, the door leading to the kitchen was ajar, and a letter was on the floor. There was no way that Tim would have left the house in this state; just looking around made him feel uneasy. Then again, he had had several beers last night. Maybe he had woken up still slightly drunk and failed to realise the mess he had caused. He doubted it, but it was possible.

 

Unworried, Tim walked into the kitchen. Everything was perfectly in order, it seemed: The floor was immaculate, one clean tea towel hung from the cutlery drawer handle, the blinds were all three-quarters open and the breakfast bar was gleaming. He opened the dishwasher to find a clean mug and began making himself a cup of tea. As he poured water into the kettle, he realised that he had not been to the toilet since before he started work. Suddenly, his bladder felt ready to burst. He put the kettle on and rushed towards the stairs.

 

If Tim had not been in a rush, he would have noticed the faint footprints on the cream carpet. He would have heard shuffling. He would have noticed that the ornament of a woman playing violin was no longer on the window sill at the top of the staircase. Unzipping his fly as he dashed into the bathroom, he did not bother to lock the door before emptying is bladder with a satisfying release.

 

He could hear the kettle bubbling from the kitchen, and so he did not hear the shuffling from the bedroom next door. After he washed his hands, Tim gazed up into the mirror. He realised how tired and old he appeared. He was only forty-two and yet he looked at least fifty. His daughter joked that he should dye his hair because the grey was becoming more dominant that the light brown it once was. He wondered what his daughter would say if he turned up on her doorstep with all the grey entirely eclipsed. Maybe he would dye it blue to shock her. He smiled at the thought and turned off the bathroom light.

 

The kettle was roaring through the house, coming to a boil. Tim walked across the landing but stopped suddenly. He could faintly hear something else. Creaking. Shuffling. He turned quickly, but nothing was there. Mentally shaking himself, he arrived at the top step. The kettle clicked and stopped  boiling. A floorboard creaked. Tim span around and froze. Someone was there. He squinted through the darkness, trying to make out the shadowed face.

 

‘You?!” Tim exclaimed in shock.

 

A heavy object struck Tim around the cheek. He whelped in surprise as he was knocked backwards by the force of the blow, toppling on the step before losing his balance completely, tumbling down the staircase.

 

As he lay at the bottom of the stairs, heavy footsteps descended upon him. His attacker stopped, took a deep breath, and brought the ornament down with great force onto Tim’s skull.

 

Tim’s phone vibrated in his pocket. It was Katherine, calling to see if her father had arrived home safely.

 

To be continued…


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