Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Bad Sons by Oliver Tidy! Thrilled to be able to give you an extract from Chapter 2 on my stop! First, here’s a bit about the book.
David Booker returns to Romney Marsh on the south coast of England for a holiday. He is expecting to spend time helping his aunt and uncle pack up the stock of their second-hand bookshop in preparation for a happy retirement.
He arrives in Dymchurch on a miserable April night to find his relatives missing without word or clue regarding their whereabouts.
As events unravel, the outlook of the local police pushes Booker to search for his own answers to the questions surrounding his family’s disappearance. To unravel the mystery he will have to put himself in danger.
Will Booker find the answers he needs and make it out alive?
Keep reading for an extract from the second chapter of Bad Sons!
The inner, second door I pushed through to reach the bar slammed behind me, sucked hard shut by the gusting sea breeze as the outer door was easing closed. The welcome warmth of the log fire drew a thin curtain of heat to push through. As I stood wiping my feet, I looked around the room for a face I might know. Once upon a time I knew a lot of people in here.
But it was a weekday night. There was no pool match and no darts match. That meant those who turned to see what the wind had blown in were the staff and those few regular lonely souls of the village who could afford to pay for their company. Good luck to them. It had to be better than sitting home alone gawping at the haunted fish tank.
A couple quickly turned their beer-bloated features and their drink-scarred eyes back to the television on the bar, one stared for a few seconds longer, a vague recognition fluttering about his features like a moth around a dim bulb, and one smiled a welcome. I had mixed feelings that I was not related to any of them.
Now I was in and recognised I went to the far end of the bar, unzipping my jacket as I moved. I leant on the counter and the smiling face came down the other side of it to speak with me.
‘Hello, stranger. Long time no see.’
‘Hello, Pam. How are you?’
‘Can’t complain. What can I get you?’
‘My aunt and uncle haven’t been in tonight, have they?’
She must have seen the worry on my brow and shook her head. ‘No. Last time I
saw either of them was the weekend. They were in here on Sunday for lunch. What’s up?’ I explained. She frowned.
‘They knew you were coming. They mentioned it to me.’
I breathed out heavily. For something to say, I ordered a pint of ale. It would have
been rude not to.
As she pulled on the pump, she said, ‘They could be up at the Legion.’
I hadn’t thought of that. It must have shown. She set my glass down on a beer
towel. I reached for my wallet.
‘First one’s on me. You want me to phone and ask?’
I thanked her and said that would be great. I took a long pull on the tepid brown
liquid. English ale was one of those little pleasures I sorely missed in a country where the government controlled the beer consumption to the point of virtually monopolising it with one brand of gassy chemicals masquerading as lager.
As she dialled, she said, ‘How long you back for?’ ‘A week.’
She cut me off with a raised palm. I listened as she found out they weren’t there
and hadn’t been in. I thanked her again for the drink and took a table for one near the fire. I didn’t feel like burdening or involving her further in my situation.
I stared into the flames and made my way to the bottom of the glass. I took my empty back to the bar, thanked Pam again and told her I’d see her soon. I had a stupid idea I’d step out onto the street and look up and across to see lights blazing in the windows above the bookshop. Nothing had changed.
I stopped in at the Indian restaurant, ordered a curry to go, waited ten minutes for it, scanned the local paper, walked back and let myself in. Nothing had changed.
I found a tray, some cutlery, went through to the front room and put the telly on. I wasn’t hungry and I didn’t want to be entertained. I finally admitted to myself I was worried.
I picked at the food, put it down, turned the telly off, stood up and moved around. I wanted to phone the police, but I didn’t know what I could tell them that wouldn’t sound panicky and stupid. There was no evidence of a crime having been committed.
I found myself back in the kitchen. I’d dumped a carrier bag of duty-free cigarettes and whisky on the worktop. They were both for me; neither my aunt nor my uncle smoked or drank spirits.
I shrugged my jacket on, cracked the seal on the bottle, picked a glass off the draining board, poured a large one and went down the back stairs for an outside smoke and more worrying.
The wind was stronger and the air was colder. The night was darker and, round the back of the building, heavy with quiet. The duvet of cloud cover had closed over the moon, putting the Earth to bed – or at least the part I was standing in. I smoked and sipped.
By the time I was tipping up the glass for the dregs, I’d finished two cigarettes. I hadn’t moved forward with my thinking and I understood this was because my thinking had nowhere to go. I had no idea where they could be. I couldn’t even make a wild guess.
I picked up my butts and threw them over the fence into the builder’s yard, trudged back across the shallow beach and let myself in. I locked the door behind me and hoped that if and when they returned they had a key of their own. That gave me an idea.
I hurried back upstairs to search for their bunches of keys. I found one in the kitchen in my aunt’s handbag: the handbag I had already seen three times and not thought anything of; the handbag my aunt never left the house without, even if she was only going next door to the general store. I opened it: purse, tissues, paper, keys, hairbrush, saccharin, compact, lipstick. Shit.
So maybe they had left in a hurry, I reasoned. Maybe they had to dash on an errand of mercy – not far or the car would be gone. Local then. Very local. Maybe a friend in need had summoned them. An emergency. They would know I would be resourceful enough to get myself to Dymchurch, to let myself in, to make myself at home. I liked this more and more until I got to asking myself why neither had phoned me in that case and why both their mobile phones were still in the flat. And why was my aunt’s handbag still here? One step forward, two steps back.
I poured another small one. It was getting late. I was getting tired. Istanbul is two hours ahead of the UK and it was catching up with me. The day’s travel, the draining worry and the whisky weren’t helping. I thought about going to bed in my old room. Impossible.
I went back through to the lounge, closed the curtains, pulled the blanket off the back of the sofa, put the telly back on and lay down to wait.
Oliver Tidy was born and bred on Romney Marsh, Kent. After a fairly aimless foray into adulthood and a number of unfulfilling jobs he went back to education and qualified as a primary school teacher.