Don’t Trust Me | Chapter 31 of 60 - Part: 1 of 6

Author: Joss Stirling | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 1657 Views | Add a Review

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Chapter 24

Jessica

The picture of Jacob, Emma and the child smiles out at me from Jacob’s desktop. It is the same as the photo in his house, the one where Emma is turning away as if she wants to avoid the lens. How had I never seen this at the office? Jacob was very familiar with the cat-who-looks-like-Einstein that I had as my wallpaper. Sitting with my tea cooling in the cup, I think back and remember those times sharing the same small office space. Jacob never left his computer open and always had it facing away from me. He was like Emma in that, trying to avoid the direct gaze. He probably got a thrill from the risk.

‘What were you up to, Jacob?’ I whisper.

It takes me a while to work out where he kept his work files. First, I have to open and dismiss a whole lot of documents in which he seems obsessed with corrupt global business, land grabbers and polluters. I’m interested in something much more local. I then have the idea – something I really should’ve thought of first – to see what he was working on most recently. Rejigging the files to ‘date modified’, a folder comes to the top called ‘Harrison’. I’m guessing this is nothing to do with the Beatle.

Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, I cannot believe what I’m reading! I find that he has detailed, point by point, intersections between Michael’s life and the girls he asked me to investigate. Can this be real?

I read it through several times but the times and dates do seem to stack up.

With my pulse racing, I look further into the files. Oh Christ, he mentions me too, saying he wondered if I’d make the connection but notes that I didn’t, or at least, ‘not visibly’.

Of course, I didn’t, because there is no connection to make, is there?

Is there?

I’m being dragged into his crazy fantasy. Stop it, Jessica. You started this to find out more about his relationship with Emma, not to be dragged into The Insane World of Jacob.

But there’s nothing about Emma in there. Reading on, I discover that Jacob really has gone overboard. He thinks Michael is some kind of serial-killer-cum-sex-offender and the missing girls are in a shallow grave in a forest somewhere. Why would he think that?

I look up to find life carrying on around me, plates served, drinks poured. Wonderful, sane, ordinary life. I can’t believe this. This is mental! I wish I could say it’s like some psycho’s diary, only it’s not rambling and incoherent, it’s ruthlessly logical.

Oh God, there’s more on me in here too, in a sub folder. I click on that.

My jaw drops. Here is my pathetic application for the job, detailing all my personal information, no surprise there. But Jacob has also written what he calls ‘an assessment’ of me. In this, he admits that he knew about Eastfields and was only employing me to watch what I did. He was coming round to thinking I was complicit in Michael’s sexual perversions, either because I ‘wilfully turned a blind eye or because I actively aided and abetted’. Eastfields fitted with the second of these two theories. He doesn’t spell out the accusations against me but from his insinuations he knows things I thought only I and a select few were party to.

I feel sick and exposed. Ashamed.

Shaking, I try and sort out my confused thoughts. What have I learned? Jacob seems to have had some grand idea about Michael and me, seeing us as embodiments of evil. Me, he thinks morally evil, failing in my duty to protect the weak – meaning the girls who fall into Michael’s path; but it’s Michael for whom he saves his strongest words. In his last entry, on the very day he was murdered, Jacob writes that Michael, like so many wrongdoers, has ‘an egotistical sense that he is justified or allowed to commit heinous acts. He doesn’t scrutinise; he indulges himself in a false sense of entitlement.’ In sum, Michael’s arrogance means he takes what he wants without any consideration of the harm he does, and I’ve been shutting my eyes to it.

How could Jacob have thought that about me? He knew me better than that, didn’t he? So it must be total rubbish about Michael, right? Jacob has to be insane.

But now he’s dead. The police haven’t ruled out murder.

I’m so confused. I look again at his long final entry. Jacob clearly expects his life to be in danger if Michael hears of his investigation. Did I do that? Did I unwittingly tip Michael off that a private detective was coming his way?

I rerun in my mind my argument with Michael in Minorca. We’d been sitting over breakfast on the terrace, the ‘hello, sailor’ Mediterranean mocking us that we weren’t having as good a time as the brochure promised. Michael’s friend, a TV producer, owns a villa that is predictably fabulous – terracotta-tiled floors, biscuit-coloured walls, hand-carved furniture, a frozen explosion of bougainvillaea from pots, streams of purple stars over arbours, and an eternity pool that even I enjoyed swimming in. Michael had been looking particularly handsome in his sun-tanned god-man way in navy shorts and white shirt. If only it had been the beginning of our relationship and not the end, we could’ve put that pool to good use. I remember thinking that he would’ve made the advertising photo but I, with my sunburnt shoulders and not-beach-ready body, would’ve been airbrushed out. How unsuitable we have devolved to look as a pair. He’d turned away from me when I’d angled for sex that morning, which made me feel about as desirable as takeaway leftovers at the back of the fridge.

Never reheat rice, I remember my mum saying. Never try to reheat a relationship, I might now add. It only ends with a horrible feeling in the pit of your could-lose-a-few-inches stomach.

‘It would be nice if for once you took me out for dinner,’ grumbled Michael, still fretting about the expensive seafood meal we’d consumed in Mahon the night before.

‘Did you know that Mahon is the origin of mayonnaise?’ I quipped, hoping to change the subject away from my economic failure.

‘Can’t you stay on topic for two minutes, Jessica? Are you remembering to take those pills Charles gave you?’

‘Mother’s little helper.’

‘What?’

‘Rolling Stones, Michael. Their song on housewife addiction. It’s really quite famous and even before your time.’ I wafted my heated cheeks with the floppy sunhat that hadn’t done well in the suitcase.

Comments

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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