This is the fourteenth part of a fiction serial, in 776 words.
As Kirsty was waving goodbye to the police officers, Adam Brice was drinking tea and eating bread and jam, wondering why old man Inchcape had not showed up to complain about the fencing. But Jess Inchcape was biding his time, waiting until it got dark. He had discovered the fence just before midday, and that had made him lose his appetite for lunch. Hilda had just shrugged, and put his meal to one side. She was used to his moods, after being married to him for almost fifty years.
She went into the sitting room, and thought about her only child. Matilda Inchcape had been named after a great aunt, as they hoped the old lady might leave her something in her will when she heard about it. Matilda never forgave them for calling her by that archaic name, and went by Tilly as soon as she was old enough.
But the old aunt came good, leaving the girl a house worth many thousands that her namesake soon sold as soon as she was eighteen. Then Tilly took off on a trip around South-East Asia, backpacking in Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia. That was where she met Rob, who came from Australia. He invited her back to see his home town, and that was where she had stayed.
Hilda had wanted to attend the wedding, but Jess said there was no money for that foolishness. Now she never contacted them at all, not even phone calls. Calling her after the great aunt had backfired, as Jess was happy to remind her a few times a year.
Jess took the big trailer on the back of his tractor, to clear away the ruined fencing. It was hard work, harder than he expected, and he was back late for his dinner. When he realised it was just his lunch warmed up, he refused it, eating cheese and bread instead. Hilda seemed grumpy, not unusual, and she went to bed early. But Jess stayed downstairs, his anger building minute by minute. Brice was going to get what was coming to him.
As soon as it was completely dark, Jess took the pickup truck, and drove to the Brice farm. He had put the old shotgun in the back, just in case.
Adam was not surprised when the headlights of a vehicle shone across the windows of the living room. He already had his dad’s shotgun across his lap, determined to settle this thing once and for all. Jess saw young Brice walking fast in his direction carrying a shotgun, and reached into the back of the pickup to grab his. But Adam fired first, both barrels at fairly close range.
It was like being hit by a car, and the impact knocked him off his feet, leaving him lying on his back. There was no pain at first, but he couldn’t move his legs, and his underwear felt wet. Brice acted as if he had just shot an animal, not bothering to come any closer, and turning round to go back into the farmhouse.
That was when Jess fired at his back, the aim high because of his awkward position. The pellets hit Adam in the head and neck, killing him instantly. He fell forward into the doorway of his house, and didn’t move. Jess felt suddenly cold, colder than he had ever felt. He started to feel the pain in his gut, then it got march darker.
In Falkirk, Tom Corcoran answered the door, to see the police Sergeant standing in the outside light. Carlyle didn’t ask to come in. “Just to let you know that the prosecution will not go ahead, for lack of evidence. But I understand the Education Authority will be contacting you about an internal investigation into the girl’s allegations. If I were you, I would start looking for another job”.
Tom went back into the living room, and opened a bottle of Cognac that had been hanging around since last Christmas. He wasn’t much of a drinker, but he filled a tumbler to the brim, and drank half of it down without pausing for breath. The he sat down heavily on the sofa, and said out loud, “Heads you lose, tails you lose”.
Sleeping heavily, Hilda Inchcape had not heard Jess leave in the car. She was also unaware of the blue light that had filled the room just after three in the morning. When she woke up just after six, she felt determined to do something. It would mean tackling Jess, but she felt very ready for that. One thing was on her mind that day.
A long-overdue trip to Australia, to see Matilda.