Extracts from my novel Time Has Past
It was early morning, the date was the 18th of December. Peter sat on the small hill overlooking the beautiful Hertfordshire countryside. The early morning mist lay deep in the valley, a blanket of white covering the land as far as he could see. An early morning frost was a beautiful sight – it almost brought a smile to his face, but the sadness and the loneliness he felt prevented such an expression. It was bitterly cold; the wind stung as it bit deep into his face; his only protection from the wind was the oak tree where he rested. He had turned into a bitter man and he knew it. He recalled all the events that had taken place over the last few months. He knew he could not return to his normal life, he knew things would never be the same again. There was only one thing on his mind, and he did not care about the consequences. His fascination for and curiosity of the past had set him on a path where there was no turning back. His regrets of a few weeks back had turned into anger.
Peter had grabbed both her arms and she struggled to free herself. ‘Who is that man? Is he the Ripper? Why is he coming back and forth from the past to the present?’ He found it hard to believe he was saying such things to a stranger
Peter was on to his second pint when he stood up to look out again. Two people came out of the hotel, a woman and his gentleman friend. They both stood for a while talking, then they kissed and went off in opposite directions. The woman started walking towards Peter. He watched as she walked past and looked her up and down. She carried on down to Whitechapel Road and turned left; Peter followed. She entered the tube station and purchased a ticket; he quickly followed. She boarded the Northbound District line, Peter followed. The train pulled into Mile End where she alighted and made her way to the Central line. She got on the next train heading west, and Peter followed. She only went the one stop, which was Bethnal Green. Peter followed her out of the station, and watched her turn into Bethnal Green Gardens. The path through the gardens was quiet so he decided to take this opportunity to confront this woman. He quickened his pace. ‘Excuse me.’ She turned her head but carried on walking. ‘Excuse me,’ repeated Peter.
She turned again and stopped. ‘Yes?’ she protested.
Peter couldn’t help noticing the scar on her left cheek. ‘I know you don’t know me but can I ask you a question?’
He could see she felt a bit uneasy. ‘It’s ok,’ he reassured her.
‘Well ask away,’ she replied.
Peter hesitated for a moment then came right out with his question: ‘Who was that man that you left the Brick Lane Hotel with?’
A look of shock formed on her face as she took several steps backwards. ‘Who are you? Why do you want to know? You’ve been following me, haven’t you? Why have you been following me?’
Peter continued in a reassuring voice, ‘There is no need to be alarmed, I only want to know his name.’
‘Look, just leave me alone. It’s got nothing to do with you who that man is, now go away before I start to scream.’ Her voice was trembling and quite loud now and it alerted a passer-by walking their dog. Peter thought it best to let it go as the dog owner had now stopped and was looking on.
‘Never mind,’ he replied and he turned to leave. He walked for about fifty yards then turned around and went back, his steps increasing as he caught up with her. He placed his arm on her shoulder, but she turned her head and pulled away.
‘Leave me alone,’ she shouted.
By now, Peter had grabbed both her arms and she struggled to free herself. ‘Who is that man? Is he the Ripper? Why is he coming back and forth from the past to the present?’ He found it hard to believe he was saying such things to a stranger.
‘What the hell are you on about?’ shouted Mary. ‘Are you fucking mad, or something?’
Peter released his grip, he knew how ridiculous he must have sounded.
Mary started to hurry away. ‘Now leave me alone or I’ll have the police onto you.’
Peter stood still, rubbing his forehead. How stupid was all that, he thought to himself. He made his way back to the exit to the park and set off home.
DI Knowles sat across the road in the same café that Peter had been in hours earlier. He had Jones placed up the north end of the street and Finch at the south end. He looked at his watch: 2:55pm. The street was busy, but it did not stop him picking out the man he was looking for – he appeared on the street walking like a man with a mission. Knowles placed his cup in its saucer and picked up his phone; the text he wrote said, ‘GO’. He stood up and made his way to the shop. The two accomplices were also heading in that direction; Knowles indicated to one of them to make their way around to the back of the shop. Knowles opened the door and Peter turned instantly. The shock on his face said it all. He looked around; there was no escape.
‘Come quietly, Peter, the game is up.’
‘You bastard,’ he shouted at the coin dealer as he turned and picked up the chair next to the desk. The chair smashed over the dealer’s head, the dealer’s arm made for little protection, and the chair hitting him rendered him almost unconscious as he fell to the floor. The door opened and Jones came rushing in to see the chair being lifted again and swung at Knowles, fortunately he was swift enough to dodge and ducked down as it flew over his head. It caught Peter off balance as the momentum carried him round twisting his body. Jones took full advantage and leapt onto Peter bringing him down to the ground with ease. The two wrestled on the floor each trying to manoeuvre himself into a more advantageous position. Knowles stood back not really knowing what to. He kicked out at Peter's back when the opportunity arose, but with little effect. Jones managed to pin Peter down and landed several punches to his face, hampered by the arms and elbows of his victim. A knee came up into the groin of Jones and he reeled in agony. The pain grew as Peter’s fist landed on his cheekbone, followed up by a big push that sent him clambering to the floor. The door opened again as Finch entered. Peter’s attention was diverted by the door opening and he never saw the next kick from Knowles coming.