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THE MiSERY OF AGE

©  WRiTER oN THe MoON

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14

The torturer of Charborough Road

They returned from Weston-super-Mare after an hour and forty-five minutes of a traffic jam on the A4 coming into town, a mile and a half before the Clifton Bridge, (The Clifton Suspension Bridge). Arriving in Totterdown and turning to the right and then to the left, they ran smack into two ambulances and three police cars that were completely blocking the entrance to Fitzroy Street and part of Winter Walk.

Marisa told the car to park at the beginning of the street where a magnolia was bursting with flowers. Getting out of the car she told the boys to grab the shopping bags from ASDA and take them to the house.

"Now don't tell your mother what we were talking about. I know she wants to tell you, so when she does, act surprised."

They nodded and got the bags out of the trunk. They walked to the front door of the laundry where a policeman was asking Jack some questions. Sara and Marisa stood off to the side, whispering between themselves.

"Mom, what the heck happened? What are all these ambulances doing here?"

She told them to go inside and this was not the time or place to talk about it. When they walked into the kitchen to leave the bags they saw Coralie sitting there with a glass of tomato juice and the same clothes she had on the last time they had seen her at Blaise Estate.

"What in the hell are you doing here, Coralie?" asked Alan.

"Didn't your mother tell you?"

"No. We just got back and found the ambulances and all the police. Do you know what happened?"

"I have no idea. I got here about a half an hour ago and your mother told me to come inside and wait for you guys in the kitchen."

She grabbed Javier and hugged him. Very surprised, he put his arms around her and she began to weep.

"What's wrong, Coralie?" asked Javier.

"It's my father."

"Did he punish you again?"

"No, no, it's not that. He, he committed suicide."

Neither one of them could imagine such a thing, and they looked at her with their mouths open.

"Just a second, dead, dead?" said Alan.

"Dead, dead. He's in my house." she replied.

"And nobody knows about it yet?"

"No."

"But Coralie..."

"I know. I saw him hanging there, I panicked and since I didn't know where to go....you were the first people I thought about." and she began to sob, remembering him hanging there.

"You have got to call the police."

"I know. Can you guys help me?"

Without hesitation they both nodded.

They all went out the back door.

They arrived at Filton at 8.02 pm. They walked to 15 Charborough Road. They opened the little metal gate that squeaked then snagged on a rose bush. Coralie looked through her bag for the keys. Her hands shook. Alan began to imagine that maybe all of this was a farce to catch his attention and thinking what a fool he was by letting her trick him this way. It seemed utterly impossible to him that Mr. Betancourt was dead, hanging from a rope, as Coralie had told them, especially since they had just seen him a few hours ago scolding her for speaking in German.

"Wait guys. I can't do it." she said.

"What do you mean you can't do it?" said Alan crossley, "We have to go inside and call the police!"

"I can't, I can't. I won't go in there again. Is that so hard to understand Alan?"

"Look girl, we came all this way from my house, with everything that was going on there, and didn't tell anyone where we were going. Coralie, either we go in the house and make sure he is dead or we have to go back."

"Then go."

"Like hell I'm leaving! Cuz you say so!" Alan grabbed the keys out of Coralies hand. She looked at him, terrified.

"Don't go in there, please."

Alan stopped and took a deep breath.

"I am going in and if your father really is dead in there we are going to call the cops. Enough! You're aren't lying to us, right? This isn't a joke?"

"Lye? You are an idiot Alan Lamb!"

"When I see it I'll believe it and then I will accept your insult."

"Alan, calm down a little." said Javier.

"Wait, wait," informed Coralie, " I was just remembering what he said to me earlier when we were coming back from Blaise this afternoon. He was acting very strange in the car. He had bags under his eyes and they were watery, like he was about to cry any minute. I asked him what was wrong and he started talking about his job and how sick he was of it. That the company he worked at had turned into an immoral place. "Vile and demonic!" were the words he used."

"What does that have to do with anything?" asked Alan.

"Alot, I think. He said his job within the company was to frustrate the workers so they would agree to a number of conditions in their contract, an internal machiavellian plan to destabilize them. Some people actually committed suicide before breaking in to them."

"Oh , how nasty. The company, I mean." said Javier.

"Yeah. Then he said to me, Girl, whatever you do, don't give your life to a company. Form your own and change the world. I thought it was a very strange thing for him to say, being so backwards as he was."

"And that's all?"

"No. We got home and I went up to my room. When I came down for a glass of water I found him hanging from a rope from the banister."

"Jesus!"

They felt a chill run down their spines. Alan insisted they enter. He went to the door, put in the key, turned it twice and opened it. Coralie said she did not want to go in there again. She would wait outside sitting on the steps while they went in and saw it for themselves.

"After all, to my father I was just a stupid and ugly little girl."

Javier grabbed Alan's arm. They entered into the hall, stuck together in one piece and there, just like she had said, from the highest segment of the stairwell, hung the body on Mr. Betancourt.

"Alan Lamb," noted Javier, "I guess you really are an idiot!"