(Twist of Truth is available on Amazon – click the link in the side bar.)
Charles Clegg looked old. The life force that was so much a part of him had been subdued by drugs and confusion. He lay in a quiet room in the local private hospital. Once out of danger he had been transferred from the infirmary and was now well enough to have visitors. Simon dragged a chair up to the side of the bed, he was shocked at how ill the man looked.
There were large floral displays and cards on the window ledges and tables and the hospital smell was drowned by the heavy scent of lilies. It was over heated and in spite of the attempts at luxury, the old man was still lying in a hospital bed with wires and tubes attached to his bruised body. Subdued noise leaked into the room and it was all pretty depressing. Simon couldn’t see any point in staying. They had said Clegg was conscious but there was no indication that he was going to be able to talk and so, with a brief squeeze of the age spotted hand Simon stood and prepared to leave.
“Don’t go lad. I’ll be with you in a minute. Just give me a bit of a chance.” The voice was just above a whisper but the words were clear.
“I thought you were asleep.” Simon lowered back onto the seat.
“No, it’s the dizziness. I can’t see straight, it’s bloody awful.” His eyelids flicked open for a moment and Charles Clegg moved his head a little towards Simon.
“Don’t worry I can come back. When you’re feeling a bit stronger. It’s fine.” He was surprised at the strength in the hand that reached out and gripped his wrist.
“Wait. Just wait.” The old man forced his eyes open again and pointed at the glass of water on the bed table. Simon helped him to take a drink and then settle back against the pillows.
“Bloody drugs ‘ave me confused. I’d rather feel the ache in me leg to be ‘onest but they’ve got me in their clutches and they’ll do what they will. Bloody doctors.”
He lay now with his eyes closed but the slackness in his face had lessened. “Good of you to come lad. ‘ppreciate it.”
“I wondered if you remembered what happened?” Clegg groaned as he made the mistake of shaking his head, his concussed brain paid him back with pain and nausea. He breathed deeply and raised a finger to indicate that Simon must wait.
“I’d ‘ad a busy day, out and about and what not. I remember leaving the yard. I decided to drive over the top. I do quite often, usually mid-week, even though there are memories up there. It’s no good letting stuff like that dictate what you do. I don’t know much more than that. I remember that young lass, the one that helped. She clambered down to me, somehow opened the car door, called the police. Saved my life I expect. I’ll tell you sommat but you must promise not to say a word – right?”
“Erm, yes okay.”
“I didn’t ‘ave my belt on. Bloody belts, I ‘ate ‘em, always ‘ave and every now and again I just leave it off. If I’d not been such a stupid, stubborn old bugger I could ‘ave walked away from this. Well, serves me right. I were probably goin’ a bit quick truth be told. No point ‘avin’ a powerful motor if you don’t let it off it’s leash now and then.” He gave a throaty chuckle but it caused him to cough and Simon helped him to take another drink. “Bit of slide on corners you know, bit of a twitch in the rear, just for the ‘ell of it. Bit ‘o sharp brakin’, testin’ ‘er metal, you know? They’re sayin they think I fell asleep but that doesn’t feel right, not right at all.”
“No, not from what you’ve just been saying.”
“Aye, well I don’t want em pryin’ too much, crash investigatin’ and what ‘ave you, so I’ll let ‘em ‘ave their way and take the ‘it on the insurance. Serves me right and I’m paying for it now. But truth is I don’t remember anything properly, just flashes. I can see that girl, but it’s odd because sometimes it seems that maybe there were another one, ‘appen a woman, ‘appen not, but anyroad it’s all a fog. It’s just the drugs and my poor scrambled brain but… Let’s be ‘onest, I reckon they know, about the seat belt I mean, they can tell these things from bruises, stuff like that, but sometimes, well if you show folks an easy way out they’ll likely take it.” He flapped a hand weakly now against the bed covers. “It’s no good I’m befuddled. They reckon it might come clearer in time but right now I just don’t know what ‘appened. Been drivin’ for more than fifty year and only ever ‘ad one other accident – years ago when I were a daft kid.” Simon saw exhaustion and medicine take Charles Clegg away again. He left the little get well card on the table and walked quietly out of the room.
It would be useful to speak to the woman who had helped him. Maybe her name would be in the paper by now. He pulled out his phone and made a note to check.
So, the afternoon would be spent on the computer. This wasn’t quite as he had imagined it would be but the web was such a great source of information. He hadn’t been able to do anything about tracing the veterinary nurse though, he had spent hours well into the night bent over his desk.
When he phoned Gloria they decided the only route left open to them was to call all the local veterinary practices – “At least there are fewer than there are hairdressers.” Gloria had laughed and they had taken half of the listings each to work their way through, just calling and asking if Fiona Carpenter worked there. “You know they might start with the stupid privacy stuff don’t you.”
“Yes, I know but at least we’ll have tried.”
He called at the little convenience store and picked up a Lasagne ready meal for lunch and a six pack of lager. He was seeing Gloria for dinner but for now he liked the idea of getting on with what he was thinking more and more of as his job.
The shop front looked smarter with the new pane and he decided to have it painted. Now they were talking again he would speak to Gloria about making an offer to buy it. It would be much simpler having cleared his name and he would love to own his own place. He was settling and becoming attached to his home. It was a good feeling. He knew it would please his dad as well, so that was another plus.