by Nevs Coleman

Fiction 3: Wilf and Derek.

The door rattled as Derek shook it in rage.

Upstairs, in the kitchen, his Uncle Wilf sighed to himself, put on the kettle, and switched on the radio. He took the biscuit tin he kept in his bread bin and stored it in his freezer. The sound of Tom Jones wasn’t enough to drown out Derek’s shouting, and as Wilf ambled down the stairs, holding the railing gingerly, he could see a crowd had gathered around his door. Passing his front room, he looked at his mantelpiece and saw his memories, his achievements, gone. His war medals, his sporting trophies, the gold framed picture of Muhammad Ali.

Gone, gone and sold down the pawn shop. He’d said nothing to his nephew about this. He thought people were more important than things. That by holding onto that, the best thing he’d have is a decent legacy in his grand-nephew, Richard. Derek would play on Wilf, he’d say he needed money to buy Richard toys for his birthday, or because Richard had got a good result in an exam. Each time he prayed the story wasn’t a lie. God wasn’t listening to him, because he’d pass by the Puddle & Duck and see Derek outside on the tables drinking from cans. When Derek spied him, he’d catch Wilf’s eye and slug the cheap booze that bit harder. He’d be wearing the wife-beater that showed off his weeping track marks.

He couldn’t work out why Derek was here now. Derek’s girlfriend had taken Richard in the middle of the night and disappeared them both. He couldn’t have any excuses or justifications left. In fact, the only thing Wilf had left that could be of any possible use was the…

…the nest egg. The money he’d put together for Richard’s college. But Derek was just misguided, he wasn’t mean. Derek was the son of Wilf’s brother, and nothing that nasty could be in his family. With a leaden heart, he shuffled to the door and opened the latch.

yes derek?/what’s up unc? can i come in, yeah?/i’m rather busy as it happens/oh yeah, radio on, is it? i won’t be long, yeah, just need a quick chat?/fine, then what can i do for you?/it’s becks, innit? she went off with little richie an’ it’s breaking my heart, unc, but i think i know where they are, yeah? mate saw them knocking about hastings so i wanna go get em back.

Hastings. A lie? He wasn’t sure. Rebecca had sent Wilf a text message a few days ago, assuring him they were both fine – but had also said that she wouldn’t tell him where they were, in case Derek came bothering him. Derek was a lot of things, but he was uncanny at working out when people were lying to him.

hastings?/yeah yeah yeah so i need to head down there, innit? get my kid back. i miss him, unc./and? go to hastings then./yeah, but i ain’t got the bread, innit? i know you got some money for richie’s college, so yeah, if you hit me up with that, i’ll go get him, but gotta do it soon, yeah? train goes in about half an hour and i got to get up to waterloo./From here? it’ll take more than that. maybe you should do it tomorrow? you’ll be a bit calmer then./nah man, got a mate waiting to motor me to waterloo, so just, just pass us the money now, yeah?

He looked at Derek. Derek was sweating, his eyes were flitting about and his hands were shaking. The gathering by his door had gone. The breeze drafted through it and he felt his knee twinge, the same knee that he’d damaged passing to Scott Johnson who’d scored from the pass to win the regional cup final. The match that meant that Good Ol’ Wilf had a trophy as a memento, as recognition to the fact he could not run around the field again. Couldn’t pass a ball, nothing. He could walk for a while with help.  The one thing he had, to remind him that his leg being in pain had gone, sold for junk and booze and some tart Derek’d been seeing, while keeping Rebecca and Richard in nothing but misery: missed school plays, sports days, or worse –  he’d show up off his face and shame that child.

no derek i won’t hand you that money, that’s for richie’s future. he could be something. maybe you could do him some good and stop bothering them. go away, go get drunk or something. that’s what you’re good at. what are you going to do? show up there and drag them back to that estate?/shut up unc, just gimme that money, yeah? gimme the money now old man./it’s a good thing your father is dead, boy, that he can’t see how you shame him, shame our name by your actions. get out of my house, i don’t have a nephew no more, boy. you’re a stranger in this house now./look unc don’t be mean at me, i’m trying, just want to see my boy he’s down in bradford yeah?/bradford? i thought he was in hastings, you damn fool, now get out!

With that Wilf began pushing Derek out of the house, until Derek pushed back, slamming Wilf against the side of the door to the front room, then kicking him in the knee.

if i’m a stranger, old man, then it don’t matter whose robbing you, yeah? where’s the fucking money, eh, where is it?/don’t do this, boy, it’s not just richie, it’s your soul, you do this and you’re damning your soul/in the kitchen? is it in your hideyhole? the one you think i don’t know about? in the freezer/it is, innit? wicked!/police!police!police!help!i’m being robbed!

Derek stalked around the kitchen and pulled open the freezer, smashing it open as Wilf carried on screaming. He tried to open the tin but it was frozen shut.

fuck it i’ll take it with me, stupid fucking old man! stupid fucking old man!/please don’t, please/just fucking shut up!

Derek shot him dead.

He ran out into the car, where his friend was waiting.

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