Eddie Marsden took the call from dispatch that the sheriff wanted to see him as he sat on the dying stretch of asphalt that fed to the highway. He’d been passing the time playing Bejewelled so that Sandy could proudly claim credit for beating her sister to level 50. It added a hefty sum to their cell phone bill but it kept her happy and him busy. The hours drawn out like a dull blade. Enough solitude led Eddies mind to feed upon itself.
Trying not to think about his next night patrol. Guilt and excitement went well with one another but during the day, that little voice in his head was more inclined to cruelty in the same way some people preface ‘I’m just being honest’ before going full asshole. So when the call came, he was too eager to ask questions about why he’d been summoned.
It’s easy being clever, afterwards.
Turner had taken off his hat and turned the brim in his thick gnarled fingers. There were shadows beneath his eyes and he had cut himself shaving, which left a small nick on his upper lip. He smiled but Eddie was reminded of a crypt door opening by it and when he sat down, he wished with a child like intensity to be bored again.
Turner’s fingertips were bloodless from the grip he had on his hat as he asked Eddie to pull up a chair.
Eddie gave a smile that he hoped was eager rather than near frenzied.
‘Oh she’s great, sir. Nesting instincts in full swing. ‘
Turner acknowledged that with a raise of a greying eyebrow.
‘Be a splashback won’t it?’
Eddie’s stomach roiled and anxious perspiration gathered at the small of his back and underneath his arms.
Turner gave another of those smiles and Eddie wanted to swing at it until it broke. This conversation had detoured into nightmare although Eddie gauged that it had always been heading that way. He had just come along for the ride.
‘Although I imagine that you’re a, what is it, pitcher?’
Eddie got to his feet and Turner slapped the hat against the desk loud enough that Eddie had his hand on the butt of his sidearm.
Turner laughed and shook his head.
‘Son, I’ll tolerate a cocksucker over a liar so sit down and listen’
Eddie fought against the tears that pricked in the corners of his eyes as he sat down.
‘Now I like you. You’re a good patrolman and you’re in possession of a bright future. Your proclivities are between you and your wife.’
At that, he sat back and steepled his fingers. Eddie fought the urge to bolt out of the office with everything he had.
‘I only question your taste in men if I’m honest. But that’s precisely why we’re having this conversation. ‘
Eddie would not give him the satisfaction of telling him that Harlan had been the only man he had slept with. A realisation turned in his mind like a key in a well oiled lock.
‘I’d like to speak with him. Away from any kind of scrutiny. Could you arrange that? ‘
That made Eddie frown and Turner chuckle as he shook his head.
‘Oh dear, blackmail? You watch too many movies. I’m just trying to negotiate a way to get something that’s blown out of all proportion resolved. ‘
Eddie’s vision swam as he fought for breath.
‘You understand that I’m not exactly comfortable with this, sir?’
Turner put his hand up, palm outwards.
‘Gregory’s doing coke every weekend, Lee’s a functional retard and Aarons never gotten over the attention deficit after people lost interest in cops as heroes after the world trade centre. You being a cocksucker with a wife is something that I can live with, if you can. ‘
Eddie could not laugh but he wanted to smile. He nodded and wiped his forehead with his left forearm.
‘And you just want to talk with him without it being seen as anything?’
Turner sighed and leaned forward, his eyes twinkling with a resigned humour.
‘My wife is driving me nuts over this. I see that he can’t come out and renounce what he wrote but I’d like to pick his brains on how to mitigate it without any more drama.’
Eddie remembered a line from a grisly book that Sandy had read.
The devil couldn’t tempt you unless it was with something that you wanted. Despite himself, Eddie agreed, convincing himself that he hadn’t acknowledged Turners accusations openly. He said, noncommittally that he would ask if he bumped into Harlan. When he drove away from the station, he found the unwelcome guilty voice in his head asking questions that he should have asked Turner.
It’s easy being clever, afterwards.