The Final Days of Trevor Morrison
By R.J. Heald
The body was found by a group of school-kids. They’d come to the park prepared with a bottle of vodka and a packet of fags and ambled over to their usual spot, a bench in the dark corner furthest from the road. Frost clung to the grass and crunched under their feet. The girls were sensibly cocooned in the thick jackets their mothers had made them put on before they ventured out. They themselves had chosen to wear gloves to prevent the chill of the vodka bottle from sapping the warmth from their hands. The group squeezed together on the bench. They felt the comfort of shared body warmth and the familiarity of routine as they settled down for the evening.
It was in the brief flicker of flame from the cigarette lighter, that one of the girls glimpsed a leather shoe protruding from the undergrowth next to the bench. It glimmered with recently applied polish and the toe pointed upwards towards the sky in a manner to suggest it wasn’t the abandoned footwear of a tramp but an occupied shoe with a foot still inside.
The girl screamed and the boy next to her dropped his fag and cursed her.
They all turned round to look and indeed discovered that that the foot was attached to a leg and a corresponding body wearing a shirt that had formerly been white, but was now dark and hard with blood. The face was obscured by the bushes, but the broadness of the shoulders suggested a man.
It was a moment when they should have known what to do. Dead bodies were more common on the television than loving relationships and they all knew what happened next. Someone would ask whether he was dead, someone would start to cry in horror, someone would check for a pulse and someone else would phone for an ambulance.
But for now they simply stared. It wasn’t that it was nothing like TV. It was too much like it. So much so that it took a few moments for their minds to catch up and realise it was real.
They called the police and then scrambled to abandon the vodka in a bin on the other side of the park, expecting to hear the sound of sirens as soon as they hung up the phone. The vodka had been taken from a parent’s drinks cabinet and was nearly empty anyway. The fags, on the other hand, were precious; a freshly opened packet paid for with their own cash. One of the boys shoved them deep into his jeans pocket, assuming correctly that the police would be more concerned with other matters.
When the police and the paramedics finally arrived they found a huddle of school-children waiting expectantly for them. It didn’t take long for them to conclude that it was a body they were dealing with, rather than a person. A driving licence in the man’s pocket suggested that the body had recently belonged to a “Trevor Morrison.” He was not long dead.
Marion wasn’t remotely worried about Trevor. In fact, she was enjoying not being at all concerned about her husband for the first time in her life. She made a cup of tea and hummed to herself.
Now Trevor was out of her life, she could get on with things. She didn’t know what things exactly, but she would work it out. All the things he’d stopped her doing before. An art class maybe. Perhaps a writers’ workshop. She could write a book. Or do voluntary work. And she’d stop doing the aerobics class he’d so kindly suggested she should join. Bouncing about with over-enthusiastic yummy-mummys half her age was really not her thing.
She sat on the sofa and sipped her tea. So this is what freedom tasted like.
She thought back to the first moment she had realised something was wrong with her marriage. It had been around the time their daughter had announced her pregnancy, about a year before.
“We’re going to be grandparents,” Marion had told Trevor with delight.
“I’m going to be a grandfather,” Trevor had replied, monotone and expressionless.
“Yes.” She smiled back at him, but his face didn’t change.
“We’re getting old,” he told her, as if the passing of time was a great surprise to him; something completely unexpected that no-one had mentioned would happen. As if he’d somehow been conned.
“Let’s get out the champagne and celebrate,” Marion said, trying to paint over her irritation with joviality. A moment ago she had been happy but now her cheerfulness was forced. All because of him. It was typical of him to invade her happy moments, take ownership of them somehow and turn them into something else.
Whilst Trevor usually snapped out of his moods and apologised to her, that evening he had been quiet for the whole night, and none of her attempts to engage him in conversation had worked. Eventually she had given up and settled down in front of Eastenders. After that there had been a drama on ITV and she’d passed a rather pleasant evening, without speaking to him once.
It was around that time that she had started to think she might be better off without him. She had got used to him, but it wasn’t as if he added anything to her life, particularly. He was just kind of there. Always moaning, never clearing up after himself. Just being Trevor. An irritation.
She had reasoned with herself. He earned a good salary and kept the money coming in. It would be foolish to split up. She liked living here. Trevor was a kind of extra, an occupational hazard, something she had to put up with to live the life she lived.
Of course it hadn’t always been like that. She had loved him once. But then, thirty years ago he had been a different man. And she had been a different woman. They had been young and hopeful, ready to take on the world together. Marion smiled wryly at the arrogance of their youth.
It was natural that their attraction would fade with their dreams and that their ties now would be convenience and paperwork rather than love and affection. They had a joint bank account. A joint mortgage. A joint pension. Children. It was like facing a big knotted ball of string. It just wasn’t worth the hassle of untangling years and years of shared history.
Recently, Trevor had begun to irritate her more and more, although she couldn’t work out whether it was he who had changed or she who had become less tolerant. Trevor seemed to have developed an arrogant swagger, and a way of talking to her which could only be interpreted as talking down to her. He had also started to work late a lot, but then that was a blessing, as this gave Marion full control of the television. She began to think more and more about how pleasant life would be without him.
Despite their tangle of paper relationships, it had become evident to Marion that things were over for her and Trevor. It had come to the point where she had to do something about it. His affair had been the perfect excuse.
Sally’s flight was at 9:15pm. She checked her watch; she would be boarding any minute. She watched the airport staff, preparing to check the passports and tickets and let the waiting passengers onto the plane. Soon she would be away.
She checked her phone. No missed calls. She turned it off.
She was nervous. She supposed it was because she was running away. From her job. From her life. From Trevor.
Their affair had begun a year earlier. Empty office. Working late. 101 clichés. But at the time that hadn’t mattered to her. She had been tediously, unbearably bored of the dull routine of her life; work, dinner alone in her flat, sleep. A relationship with Trevor was a bit of fun, some excitement at last. Nothing more, nothing less.
The first time they had been alone in the office together she had felt a flutter of excitement. They both had known what they were there for; their increasingly flirty emails had been building the tension towards the crescendo of the moment.
The gurgle of the water cooler and the buzz of the overhead lighting was their only company as night drew in around the empty office. He moved towards her in silence and she backed away, leading him towards a desk in the corner, furthest from the door, with the fewest papers covering it.
The desk belonged to an aged, malicious P.A. with a well-developed hatred of anything new or young, which included Sally, even though she was pushing 30. She had the neatest desk in the office and was always nagging Sally to tidy up her own cluttered work-surface. There were no rewards for OCD in this office, Sally thought spitefully as she lay back on the tidy desk, with Trevor on top of her.
Once the affair had started it was easier for Sally to let it continue than to end it. It soon lost any air of lust there had been in their first encounter, but there were advantages: extravagant dinners far away from the office where no-one would recognise them, expensive lingerie she normally wouldn’t be able to afford. And she’d thought at least she’d get a pay-rise.
But then he’d held her performance review. There had been no bonus. No pay-rise.
He was senior enough to make an exception. They both knew that.
Marion studied the TV guide carefully. She had circled the programmes she wanted to view tonight in red ink. But there was nothing on until 9pm, when there was a programme about celebrity divorce settlements. That would be informative, she thought to herself.
She just had time to take the sheets out of the tumble dryer, fold them and put them in the airing cupboard before the programme started. She had washed them twice already, trying to get rid of the smell of Trevor’s aftershave.
Marion had discovered Trevor’s affair two days previously. She had been relieved. She’d known that their relationship was over for a while and she had just been waiting for him to catch up. The affair was the best way to end it. The alternative would have been for her to tell him that she no longer wanted to be together. The children would have hated her. At least now the blame clearly sat with Trevor and with luck he would be so racked with guilt that when they divorced he would give her the house. That had happened to her friend Shelia and she hadn’t looked back.
Marion had been looking for incriminating evidence of an affair for some time, taking every opportunity to rifle through Trevor’s things, in the hope of finding her route to freedom. Yesterday, while Trevor was out on a mysterious unplanned and uncharacteristic trip to Ikea, ostensibly for some flatpack furniture, Marion had gone through Trevor’s bedside table, looked through the pockets of his coat and searched under the bed.
It hadn’t taken her long to find something. There was a receipt for lingerie in his trouser pocket. Lingerie Marion hadn’t received. She felt a shiver of relief and excitement. Her new life was about to begin.
She had confronted him as soon as he returned, noticeably without any furniture. She had simply shown him the receipt and then watched him squirm.
“I don’t know where that came from.”
He was always a poor liar. He could have said it was a surprise for Marion, but he wasn’t quick-witted enough. His eyes darted round the room, as if looking for an escape route. There was none. She had cornered him by the front door.
Marion waited, counting to ten in her head. At five, he spoke.
Marion thought she saw tears forming in his eyes and for a brief moment she felt sorry for him.
“I couldn’t help it. I love her.”
Marion’s pity departed. Thirty years of marriage flashed before her eyes in a series of cups of tea and stilted conversations. She felt a twinge of jealously and told herself she was being stupid.
“Please leave this house,” she said.
“Marion – ”
She turned and walked away, back to the kitchen, where she turned on the kettle. He paused in the hallway.
“Marion – please,” he tried once more.
She turned on the radio.
Then she heard footsteps on the stairs. Five minutes later he walked out the door, suitcase in hand. Marion congratulated herself for the ease with which she’d handled the situation. She didn’t even feel particularly upset.
She had wondered if he’d come back and she’d half-expected to hear his key turning in the lock that very night. But she hadn’t heard anything and eventually she had gone to bed. He must have gone to his mistress. Marion wondered if she was younger than Marion, and if she knew what she was letting herself in for with Trevor. Two days later and Trevor still hadn’t come back, so she supposed the mistress must be a very tolerant sort.
Marion carried the clean sheets upstairs to the airing cupboard in the bedroom. She observed the room with fresh eyes. She’d never liked that blue colour that Trevor had chosen for the walls. Perhaps she’d brighten it up – give it a fresh coat of paint – yellow perhaps. She wandered into the spare bedroom, which contained Trevor’s exercise bike, an item he had bought about six months ago and never used. She could sell that. She’d put an ad in the paper and then convert the room into the study.
She’d have the whole house to herself now. She could do as she pleased.
She looked at her watch. 8:54. Time to make a cup of tea and then settle down for her programme at 9. She thought she heard a ringing sound and went downstairs. The sound continued and she realised it was that awful musical doorbell Trevor had bought back in the 90s and never replaced. Who would come to the door six minutes before her programme was due to start? How inconsiderate. It could only be Trevor. She would tell him she was busy.
She hurried to the door, eager to silence the tinny music reverberating through the hallway. At least she could disconnect the doorbell now Trevor was gone.
Outside her house were two policemen. Her eyes widened in shock. For a moment she forgot about her programme. She gave them a nervous smile.
“Are you Mrs Morrison?”
“Can we come in?”
She offered them a cup of tea, but they refused. When she had let them in she had somehow imagined them staying in the hallway, but they came uninvited into the living room, moved the magazine she had been reading off the sofa and onto the coffee table, and sat down heavily. The sofa creaked and she noticed with irritation that they had not taken their boots off. She had hoovered the house when Trevor had left and she hadn’t been expecting to have to do it again so soon.
“Do you want to sit down?” they asked.
She sat in Trevor’s chair as her space on the sofa was already taken.
“Is your husband Trevor Morrison?”
At first she thought that he might have done something; embezzled funds from his company, or committed fraud or something like that and she hoped that he wouldn’t somehow lose her the house that she was so close to inheriting.
“Yes,” she said, cautiously.
“I’m afraid we have some bad news.”
Suddenly, a wave of recognition hit her. The policemen at the door. Coming into the house. Sitting on her sofa with no time to take their boots off. The whole charade was such a cliché that she felt a desire to laugh. Next they would tell her Trevor was dead.
They did and she fainted.
Sally finally boarded the plane. It was only fifteen minutes delayed but she had found the wait in the departure lounge almost unbearable. Now she was on the plane she just wanted to sit down, put her seatbelt on, and for the plane to take off immediately. She found her seat; a middle seat in the middle section of the plane. She had booked it last minute; it was the only seat left. Both the armrests were being used by the men beside her and she squeezed in between them. She smiled to herself. Soon they would be up in the air, leaving the UK behind.
Since Trevor had told her that she wouldn’t be getting a pay rise Sally had been job hunting. But she hadn’t found anything. And each day working with Trevor at the office had become more and more difficult to get through. He’d wink at her at inappropriate moments, follow her into the toilets when no-one was looking and encourage her to work late, so they could spend time together. She had done everything she could to avoid him. Their affair had lost all of its original excitement and when she thought of it now she smelt body odour, heard rasping breaths and saw an old, faded office carpet.
She had to get out. She had to escape. Thailand would be a fresh start. She’d never travelled to Asia before. Perhaps she’d find a job there. Maybe even bar-work. A new life. A new Sally.
On Monday, Trevor had called her into his office. She had been hopeful. Perhaps he’d swung that promotion for her after all. But of course it hadn’t been that. Instead he had told her that his wife had chucked him out, that they could finally live together. He had talked on and on excitedly, but she had said nothing in reply. He hadn’t noticed. There was a stale smell in the meeting room and Sally had concentrated on opening the window. Trevor confessed he had slept in his car the previous night.
That evening he had accompanied her home and talked of their future together. She had unlocked the door to her flat and let him follow her in.
He hadn’t wanted to go out for dinner so she’d cooked. They’d watched television until he’d fallen asleep on the sofa and she’d left him to go to her bed alone, a pillow over her head her only respite from the irregular, rasping snores from the other room. She’d known this couldn’t continue.
It hadn’t taken her long to plan. She’d bought a set of kitchen knives from John Lewis at lunchtime the next day.
That night they had walked back to her flat through a little park. She told him it was a shortcut, even though if he had had any sense he would have realised that the quickest route to her flat was along the main road. As they moved from the glare of the street lights into the park their shadows lengthened, the only light from the houses at either end of the park.
She dropped a few steps behind him and rummaged in her bag. He strode on, oblivious, barely noticing she had fallen behind. He always liked to walk a few steps ahead.
She stabbed the knife into his back between his shoulder blades, as she had seen once in a film. She was alarmed by how easily it slipped into him, his flesh complicit in her revenge. She watched his body curve inwards as a small groan escaped his lips. He stumbled and fell as the red stain spread across his white shirt.