Welcome to Chapter Seventeen in the serialisation of Neil Mason’s unique and critically acclaimed debut novel There There My Dear. An ex-con discovers that private lives are never really private as he continues to be an unwilling pawn in a disturbing game.
If you’ve missed out on the earlier chapters, don’t worry. To discover the plot so far, just follow this link to catch up!
There There My Dear
A converted loft. The bedroom and shower in the eaves, the large living space and the stairwell in the dormer. Walls painted magnolia, the woodwork silk white. Atop the hard-wearing carpet were a double bed, a chest of drawers and a wardrobe of pine in the bedroom with a sofa, dining room table, three wooden chairs, sideboard and armchair in the living room. Fixed to the wall was a large LCD television. This was Benson Powell’s new temporary home.
Ironically for him it was larger than his own flat. Equally ironic was the fact that it was also paid for by Harold Connor. Powell felt owned.
He set down his bags near the top of the stairs that descended directly from the living area. He checked out the rooms briefly and then slumped into the armchair. His journey had not been overly long but it had been uncomfortable. Not because the train had been overcrowded – he had managed to find a group of four seats around a table and nobody had chosen to sit next to or opposite him – but the seats were too hard and there was not enough leg-room.
After a few moments’ rest he went to his bag and pulled out his laptop. He had to drag the armchair towards the wall in order to plug in his power lead at the nearest socket. As the laptop powered up he checked his watch. Conscious of his instructions he knew that timing was crucial.
He had to pull the back cushion of the armchair up against the rear frame to get comfortable before logging into his shared Yahoo account and reading through the profile Harold Connor had sent him once more.
The level of detail in the document was astonishing to Powell. In less than an hour he read through the dossier and wondered if he could ever strike up a conversation with the enigmatic and outstanding student. As he read he started to feel guilty that he knew so much – the complexities of their personal life, their academic performance at high school and college and the physical changes they had gone through at university.
It struck him that he would already know, if he asked a question, whether they were lying or telling the truth. He thought about testing them to see if they were inherently honest or whether they would hold anything back. But what would he do if they told him a lie? What could he do? What if they did not know the truth at all?
Once he had skim-read the document Powell closed down the laptop and let it slide from his lap. After an inert moment he let out a deep and noisy sigh, stretched his limbs, his back and neck and he hauled himself to his feet. The laptop dropped onto the carpet with a dull thud. Making his way to the kitchenette he was aware of nothing in particular. The kettle had some water in it and he switched it on. He was greeted by the airy whooshing noises and clicks as the kettle started to heat up.
It was then that he recalled his second encounter with Harold Connor. He remembered just how much the old man knew about him. There was nothing that Harold Connor did not know. In fact, Powell had learnt a few things about his own family that he had been totally unaware of through the whole of his life.
Powell’s balls froze as the water in the kettle boiled.
The desire for a cup of tea vanished. He felt a nausea growing in the pit of his stomach, and yet there was no way he could explain or define his feelings. He recognised that he had been compromised totally and that he no longer had any control or even ownership of his own life.
Thin saliva filled his mouth and at once he felt hot and cold. Disoriented he turned to make his way to the bathroom but, in these unfamiliar surroundings he did not know where to go. He could hold on no longer and threw up across the armchair.
To Be Continued…
So, what does the future hold for Benson Powell and is it really possible for a former life of crime to remain in the past? Benson isn’t the only character in this story who is trying to leave a previous life behind, but does redemption and re-invention ever come without a price attached?
You can be a part of the conversation by following my Facebook Page . I look forward to seeing you there.
Chapter Eighteen to be published next week.
Very best wishes,
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