The Four Musketeers: Part Nineteen

This is the nineteenth part of a fiction serial, in 786 words.

We sold our house to the third person who looked at it. No haggling, no hassle, full asking price. We had only viewed one house, and Susan had fallen in love with it. A nineteen- thirties semi on the good side of Honour Oak, close to Dulwich Village. It was close enough that we had to pay a premium, and that extended us on the mortgage.

Then she pestered me to change the car, so I bought a nice clean Volvo Estate, only twelve months old. With Susan not working, my salary was more or less accounted for, so she gave up the idea of another child for the time being.

Moving less than three miles was not much cheaper than moving twenty. But the house was nice. Two large reception rooms, and a small extension at the back to make a bigger kitchen. The three bedrooms would be handy if we had more kids later, and there was an attached garage. It wasn’t big enough for the Volvo, but provided great storage, and an off-road driveway. The garden was a decent size, and gave some scope for little Stephen once he had started playing and walking.

Keith kept in touch, though he didn’t visit for a long time. He had announced his engagement to Maddy, with a wedding to follow the next year, in Maidenhead. I half-expected him to ask me to be the Best Man, but of course he didn’t. He told me that Terry had moved to West Ealing, still running a plumbing business. As Terry was no longer talking to either of us, I had to presume Keith found that out from talking to his parents.

It was a busy time for me. A longer walk to the station, lots going on at work, and Susan consumed with the new house and Stephen. To be fair to her, I never wanted for anything. She still did all the housework, cooked me a nice meal every evening, and seemed to really love me.

For a long time, I was very content.

The wedding in Maidenhead was a posh affair. A local church, followed by a lavish reception at a hotel on the river. Keith’s choice of Best Man turned out to be some upper-class twit that Maddy knew. He gave a shit speech, and only Keith’s parents thought he was funny. As Susan was family, we were on table one, next to the top table, but there were no other guests from Deptford. Terry hadn’t even been invited, as I found out later.

I had declined to stay in a hotel, because we took Stephen. So we left before the last dance, and I drove home.

Things carried on as normal. We settled into our new life close to Dulwich Village, and my mum still came round a lot. I worked hard, determined to get a promotion, and Susan proved to be a wonderful wife and mother. So good in fact, that I never went back to see Jeannie, or anyone else.

Truth be told, I had almost forgotten about Johnny, and the incident near Beachy Head, when the phone rand one evening not long after dinner. Susan was upstairs with baby Stephen when I answered. It was Keith.

“Danny, I have to talk to you about Terry. I recently heard that he is acting strangely. His wife is really worried. It seems that he isn’t working regularly, and has gone into arrears with his bills. Alice tells me that he doesn’t seem to be interested in little Sophia, and his wife is on the phone to her, crying. Seems to me that he isn’t coping well with what happened, if you get my drift. I think we need to get over to Ealing next weekend, and have a serious talk with him. Maybe take him out for a drink, and tell his fortune. Are you with me?”

Of course I was with him, in as much as I knew what he was suggesting. We had to put the frighteners on Terry, in case he cracked up and spilled the beans.

By then, Keith and Maddy were living in a trendy flat in Pimlico. It was close to work for him, and Maddy had some notion of becoming a celebrity photographer. Sounded to me like Keith was paying all the bills for his new wife. But he was right about Terry, we had to have a talk with him. I told Keith I would pick him up on Sunday morning. We would turn up and surprise Terry, take him to a local pub for lunch. Keith chuckled when I told him that.

It wasn’t a good chuckle, and made me feel cold in my stomach.

27 thoughts on “The Four Musketeers: Part Nineteen

  1. (1) If Danny and Susan move into a semi, they should watch out for young pranksters on a Joy Ride, avoid calling anyone named Candy Cane on their CB radio, refrain from decimating cornfields, and refuse to engage in murderous activities at roadside motels.
    (2) Sometimes when I pull out of my driveway, it’s to go off-roading in the desert.
    (3) Grieving widow: “I’m off to the cemetery to see my Terry.”
    (4) Danny: “For a long time, I was very content. For a short time, I was less than content. And for a brief moment in time, I was not content at all.”
    (5) The upper-class twit favored low-brow humor.
    (6) Bad citation: “So we left before the Last Dance, because neither of us was a fan of Donna Summer’s songs.”
    (7) Bad citation: “We had to put The Frighteners on Terry. So we needed to introduce him to necromancy, help him develop his psychic abilities, and teach him how to communicate with ghosts.”
    (8) In England, it’s best for a person to avoid cracking up and spilling the beans. In Mexico, it’s best for a piΓ±ata to crack open and spill the candy.

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