Dirty Laundry

Gethin sat quite still in his car, staring intensely at a a flickering street lamp through the windscreen. The engine was still running and although stationery, he held onto the wheel tightly. He was parked outside his house and had been for quite some time. The last few hours had drifted past slowly and through the entirety of it, Gethin had felt like he was trapped inside some hazey dream. Fran had noticed the strange development in Gethin’s behaviour and he had been forced to fabricate a lie about being under the weather. Bridge couldn’t have cared less and didn’t even register Gethin’s departure nor say goodbye. He was too enamoured with his find of the day to pay anyone attention. Evidenced spectacularily by his bumble into Fran’s interview. The more he learnt about Detective Inspectior Nicolas Bridge the less convinced he became about the London based policeman’s skills and experience. He looked the real deal, there was no denying that. But mabye that was all it was, a show. Maybe he didn’t have a clue what he was doing and the reason they had sent him up here was because they wanted rid of him in London. Either way the less impressed he became with the D.I with each passing minute.

Gethin glanced at his watch. It was ten to eleven. He should really go in. His mum would be sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of tea, counting down the minutes till he walked in that door. His evening dinner would be waiting in the oven for him as usual. The thought made him sad. He wasn’t ungrateful. On the contray, he made continual effort to help his mum out where and when was possible. Unlike the terrible twins, who left their rubbish everywhere and wasted their money on alcohol and drugs. The reason he was sad was that it was all his mother had. She had spent the last thirteen years raising the three of them by herself, after Gethin’s dad had finally decided looking after more then one child sounded too much like effort. Now that they were getting old enough to fend for themselves, Gethin’s mum was faced with living a life of her own. A truly freeing experience but difficult to ingest if you have been denied it for so long.

Dry washing his face to break himself out of his daze, Gethin reached over and turned off the ignition. The low rumble of the engine cut out and the car lay silent. He opened the door and shivered, as a few drops of rain dripped down his neck. It was drizzling outside, aided by strong winds that caused constant icy cold spray attacks to the face and hands. He hastily closed the door and turned to face the house. A large, overly fluffy cat sat on the doorstep, barring him access over the threshold. Gethin suddenly felt like he was attempting to gain access to an Egyptain mummy’s vault as opposed to his mum’s terraced house.

‘Pssssh.’ He hissed at the cat and kicked the corner of the doormat on which she was sat.

The cat just stared up at him nonplussed and even had the audacity to stretch herself out more across the doorway. Gethin sighed and crouched. He held out his hands, preparing to scoop her up if necessary but before he had time to do anything the cat had butted its head into one of his outstreched hands, purring loudly.

‘But I can’t take you in. Rhys is allergic to cats.’

Or so he claimed. Gethin had never actually seen him around a cat. A point he had made several times but always at the wrong moment. Either when his mum was on the phone or the twins were playing xbox. Gethin had made the easy mistake of taking pity on the friendly cat and feeding it some of his chicken sandwich. Since then, every night without fail the feline friend had returned, eager for some more food and fuss. The worst part was that it wasn’t a stray or owned by someone who neglected to feed her. Gethin had soon discovered from seeing it around town that it visited several houses of an evening, as well as residing in its own abode. Despite all this, Gethin couldn’t help but feel an attachment to Fergie. That was what he called her on account of her endless amounts of fur. Gethin had never had any of his pets, through a combination of his mother’s dislike and a deep fear that the twins would do something nasty to it.

‘Sorry Fergie, nothing for you tonight. Shops were shut on the way back…ow…bitch.’

As he had attempted to remove Fergie from the doorstep she had nipped at his hand, leaving two fresh red marks. Disgruntled she slinked away, most proably in search of a more hospitable guest and an easlily obtainable meal. Gethin kicked a puddle of water after the departing feline and rubbed his war wound.

As expected Gethin’s mum was sat at the kitchen table, nursing a half drunken cup of tea in her hand. She wore a bobbly purple dressing gown and furry slippers, which were a bit frayed and discoloured. Her attention was focused on the small tv on top of the fridge, which displayed an episode of some detective drama that she had been following for the last few nights.

‘Heya.’ She called and threw a casual glance at the hallway door leading from the kitchen.

Gethin kicked off his shoes and loosened his tie, taking extreme amounts of pleasure in the soft hallway carpet under his feet. He lent against the hallway wall for a moment and closed his eyes. Exhausted though he was, the thing that had been gnawing away at the back of his mind all day had still yet to leave him. From the kitchen he could hear muffled gunshots emanating from the TV set. He massaged his cheeks which were sore from a day of forced smiles and entered the kitchen.

‘Hey mum.’

He lent over and gave her a peck on the head.

‘Evening dear, there’s some pasta bake left in the oven if you fancy it.’

Gethin’s stomach rumbled. He was hungry but eating would mean he would have to sit here for the next half an hour and act as if nothing was the matter and he had done far too much of that for one day.

‘I grabbed something at work, got peckish earlier from the sweep this morning.’

‘Oh yeah, how did it go?’ His mum asked eagerly, muting the tv.

Gethin glanced at the TV. The cop who was presumably the main character in the show had been shot in the leg. She sat up late into the night worrying about him and yet she was quite happy to stick on a programme illustrating her worst nightmare. People awfully confused Gethin sometimes. Well quite a lot of the time in fact.

‘It was alright. Found something that may be useful. Bloody tiring though.’

His mum gave him a warm smile. She was so proud of him. He might not be the smartest of her offspring but he was definitely the only one who had done something meaningful with his life.

‘I’m sorry, I know you sat up late but I think I’m going to have to go straight to bed. It’s been a long day and I got another early start tomorrow.’

‘Don’t be silly Gethin, I only stayed up to watch my programme.’

Gethin could tell that she was lying but remained quiet.

‘Go on, off to bed you. I won’t be long myself.’ She said with a flap of her arms.

Gethin gave her a tired smile and planted another kiss on her forehead. Her head smelt of strawberries.

‘Night mum.’

‘Night dear.’ She replied and tapped his arm lightly.

Gethin trudged up his stairs, stumbled into his room and collapsed onto his bed. He lay there on his back, still dressed in his uniform and stared up at the ceiling with bloodshot eyes. His feet and legs ached horribly. Not just ached but stung, as if tiny shards were embedded in the soles of his feet. He began to undress lazily, taking time on each button of his shirt. As he lay there, Gethin tried hard to empty his mind but he couldn’t stop thinking about the tiny piece of tracksuit sitting in evidence. For Bridge and Fran it held no importance apart from the fact that it might provide useful to the case but for Gethin it represented a lot more. He rolled over onto his side and exhaled loudly. Tomorrow he would have to search the laundry basket and he was worried that he might find something that would confirm his worst suspicions.

Gethin was rudely awoken by Rhys farting on his head. Not the nicest start to a morning. The flatulence attack was of a severe degree and Gethin hastily threw open the window despite the cold and somewhat misty weather outside. Bleary eyed, he sat at the foot of his head and stared at a bit of peeling wallpaper on the bedroom wall opposite him.

‘Morning love.’

Gethin’s mum entered the room briskly and thrust a mug of coffee into his hands. The heat from the ceramic was a welcome addition, doing its bit to drive away the pervading chill swirling around the room.

‘For heaven’s sake Gethin, that’s disgusting.’ She said and covered her nose.

There was a chuckle from the corridor followed by heavy footfalls on the carperted stairs.

‘That was Rhys. Chirst Mum what do you feed that boy?’

‘Don’t you blame my cooking. It’s all those Burger Kings and KFC’s that are causing that?’

‘I don’t eat those mun.’ Rhys shouted from the corridor.

‘Don’t give me that boyo. I keep finding the receipts in Dylan’s jogging bottoms.’

‘Exactly, so why aren’t you telling him off instead?’

A chill ran through Gethin and it wasn’t because the window was open. The thing that had been eating away at him all of yesterday afternoon reclaimed its place at the rear of his head. For a moment when he had awoken, after the initial fart attack, he had forgotten all about it. It had become merged and changed within a dream. That illusion had been shattered with his mum’s mention of the tracksuits.

‘Laters mam.’ Rhys called, mimicked a second later by a sarky Dylan.

‘Just hang on a minute you two.’ She demanded hotly and stormed out the room after the fleeing troublemakers.

Gethin took a sip of coffee and winced as it scalded his tongue. What was wrong with him today? He was all eights and sevens. There were a series of loud exchanges followed by the slamming of the front door and then heavy footfalls on the carpeted stairs once more. It was his mum. He knew it was his mum for two important reasons. One, she was a big lady and as such caused several of the stairs to creak from her weight. Two, the door slam was a signature move from Dylan. It wasn’t something he did out of habit but more as a way to escape the nagging of his mother. Gethin’s door opened for the third time that morning. He wished he was a single child. It wasn’t much to ask for a scrap of privacy.

‘Those two will be the death of me.’ She said with a wrinkle of her nose.

Despite Gethin’s best efforts the room still stank. Even copious amounts of deodorant couldn’t dispel the heavy musk that was Rhys’ bottom. The boy was like a skanky inner city fox marking its territory.

‘Well you may be better behaved then the tornado twins but you are just as messy.’

She flicked up a pair of Gethin’s boxers that were in an untidy heap on the floor and caught them expertly in the dirty laundry basket she was holding under her arm.

‘Got any thing else to wash?’

Gethin shook his head drowsily and yawned. His mum was halfway out the door when Gethin suddenly had a thought.

‘Give that here mum. I’ll sort it out for you today. Go and have a brew.’

‘Nonsense.’ She replied and flapped him away with her arms. ‘Besides, don’t you need to get ready for work?’

Gethin shook out his messy bed hair with a hand.

‘Fran said I could come in a little later today on account of a breakthrough on the evidence.’

It was weak, even for Gethin’s standards.

‘Alright then, thanks dear.’

She handed him the overflowing basket and left the room. Gethin relaxed. He thought she would have cottoned on he was fibbing but then again she wasn’t very well clued up on the world of the police work. Ironic really considering the amount of police dramas but then again they weren’t exactly accurate.

‘Seeing as your doing that I will nip to the shops and get some supplies.’

‘Yeah you do that mum and whilst your there you wouldn’t mind picking us up a red bull would you?’

Gethin’s mum shook her head disapprovingly.

‘Honestly Geth, you ought to stop drinking that stuff. What’s wrong with your coffee?’

‘Nothing…I just need an extra boost is all.’

She frowned at him.

‘Hey I’m a man now. I can make my own decisions.’

‘Don’t play that card you’re still a boy, hence the ‘teen’ in nineteen.’ She chuckled.

Gethin gave her a sulky look.

‘Oh alright, just one?’

‘A four pack.’

‘I’m getting you two tops and no negotiation.’

And with that she made her escape before Gethin could put forth a proposal of three. He could hear her moving about on the landing, humming to herself. He perched on the edge of the bed and waited patiently for her to vacate the premises. It was a lengthy procedure and by the time the door had finally slammed, Gethin had almost nodded off again.

A few moments of silence passed. The high pitched beep of the binman’s lorry travelled into the room. Gethin glanced at the full laundry basket and bit his lip. Hesitation took hold. The longer he left it, the less time he had but despite his best efforts he remained frozen to the bed. Finally, heart in his mouth, he dived into the basket, throwing out item of clothing after item, until soon the bed and floor were once again littered with dirty clothes. As he neared the bottom of the basket, he began to worry that they were not there. If that was the case how else would he obtain them. Miraculously he suddenly discovered them and held them aloft in shaking arms. Gethin studied the pair of tracksuit bottoms intently and felt an icy chill grip his body. There was a rip in the right leg, leaving a small patch. He desperately searched the rest of the laundry in the hope that the missing piece was somewhere in there. But his search was fruitless. Tracksuit bottoms clenched in tight fingers, he stared at them with intense eyes, as if he was trying to remove them from existence by will alone.

The sound of a binman pressing the crusher outside brought him back to reality. They were right under his window now by the sounds of it. A sudden thought occurred to him and he leapt up, threw open his door and darted downstairs and outside. The binman was already moving along to the next house.

‘Hey butt wait up a minute.’

The binman turned to Gethin with an air of impatience. He held out the torn tracksuits.

‘What am I supposed to do with those?’

‘Can you take them please?’

‘Afraid its too late mun.’

‘Come on, I am only a few seconds late.’

‘Rules are rules.’ The binman said officially and turned to return to his duties.

‘wait…wait.’

The binman swivelled round a second time and sighed.

‘I will make it worth your while. There will be a nice Christmas bonus for you if you do.’

The binman pursed his lips and contemplated the offer. Gethin’s face was scrunched in a ball of exasperation.

‘Right you are.’ He agreed and snatched the trousers out of Gethin’s hand.

As the binman carried on down the road, Gethin watched on numbly, still recovering from the shock of having finally got rid of them. It was only when the lorry had driven out of view that Gethin regretted what he had done. But it was too late, the tracksuits were gone and so was his morality.

© [Daniel Ashby] and [Ashby Tales], [2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Daniel Ashby] and [Ashby Tales] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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