Time for Part 9 of the continuing saga of Ted Harris. Last time, we learned more about the start of the problems in Ted’s life, after his wife was diagnosed with a brain tumour. This week, he is forced to face to truth about what he did…
You can read Part #8 of the horror, Die, Blossom, Bloom, HERE.
Ted lifted his head from the table, rubbed his eyes, and stood up. Leaving the cup where it was, he walked into the living room, and looked out of his front window. In the darkness, it was difficult to see clearly, but he could tell something was wrong. He slipped his glasses down from his head and positioned them on his nose. It didn’t help; the night was too dark. Moving to the front door, he pulled on his wellingtons, grabbed a torch, and stepped outside.
The night was cool, and Ted pulled his dressing gown tighter, covering his chest. His cotton pyjamas gave scant relief from the cold, and he could feel his knees shaking as he made his way onto the lawn. His breath was visible in the torchlight, and he breathed heavily, heart racing. He had only taken a few steps, when he felt something through his boots. He shone the torch at his feet, illuminating the plant that lay there. Lifting it up, he shone the light ahead of him, picking out other plants that lay on the grass, roots exposed. He raked the torch across the borders and put a hand to his mouth, stifling a moan, as he saw other plants, pulled out of the ground and strewn across the grass.
He picked up the nearest plant and examined it in the torchlight; the roots appeared to be mostly intact, and Ted thought it could be salvaged. A brief look at the others confirmed his first thought. It would be a lot of work tomorrow, but the garden could hopefully be restored.
A sound from behind him spun Ted around. He shone the torch towards the corner of the cottage; it had come from the back garden. It sounded as if someone had stepped across his gravel path. Ted knew he should call the police. The phone was only metres away in the house, but this was his garden. No, it was Sissy’s garden and that meant more to him. Moving more cautiously, he made his way towards the side of the cottage, torch in front of him. “Is someone there?” The torch beam wobbled as his arms shook. There was no reply to his question, and he edged slowly forwards. The sounds had stopped. Without taking his eyes from the pool of light on the floor in front of him, he scrabbled with his free hand, searching for what he knew was there. He picked up the spade that leant against the side of the cottage and moved into the back garden, sweeping the torch as he did. There was no movement.
“I know there’s someone there,” he said, speaking with confidence he didn’t feel. He stepped further into the garden, jumping slightly as his boots crunched on the gravel. He stood on the path for another minute, the torch playing over the garden. There were no sounds and no movement.
Just as he was ready to return to the cottage, he heard a sound. Directing the torch at his large compost bin, the light fell on Jordan’s face. He had fallen back into the shrubs that grew there.
“Jordan? What are you doing here?”
“Mister Harris.” Jordan pushed himself to his feet. He was momentarily startled, the torchlight picking out his wide eyes. “I was just-”
“I’ve seen what you were doing.” The boy twitched noticeably as Ted spoke. He wore the same dark hooded top that Ted had seen the previous night. “Did your grandmother put you up to this?” Jordan stood, silent. “I’ll take that as a yes. Please leave. I shall speak to the police in the morning.”
“Fine. Call them. You can explain this to them.” He held out something to Ted.
Ted had to move closer and directed the torch at the boy’s outstretched hand. He held what looked like the lower part of a jawbone. Ted staggered back a step. His heart rate leapt, and he felt sweat forming on his forehead. “Where did you find that?” He managed to keep his voice calm. Perhaps the boy wouldn’t know what he held.
“In there.” Jordan pointed to the composter. The little door at the bottom had been opened, and some of the compost had been dragged out.
“It’s not what you think.” Ted could see exactly what it was that the boy held. He needed to play this carefully. “Maybe it’s a bone from a bird?” he ventured.
Jordan looked at the bone again, holding it close to his face. “I don’t think so, grandpa.”
“It could be,” said Ted. He suddenly felt very warm, and pulled open the front of his dressing gown slightly.
“Well, I’m not certain,” Jordan paused and held the bone out towards Ted, “but I reckon that,” he jabbed a finger at one end of the bone, “looks like a tooth.” He pulled the fragment of bone back to his own face. The moon offered little in the way of light, and he squinted. Dropping the hand slowly back to his side, Jordan looked at Ted. He broke into a grin and began to laugh. Silently at first, his shoulders moving up and down, then he threw his head back and brayed a laugh. “It bloody is, isn’t it?” Ted’s shoulders had slumped. “This is a bone. From a mouth, right?” Never the quickest of boys, Jordan’s conclusion was sound. Ted offered a silent prayer that he had reached the limits of his intellect, but the boy pressed on. “Is this,” he paused at the realisation of what he was about to say, “your wife?” It was Jordan’s turn to take a step back.
Ted lowered his head. “Yes.”
That’s the end for this week! You can pick up the next part of this conversation next week. I hope you’re enjoying reading along!