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The Island 13: The Confession
Monday 5th March 2012Jacqui Draper and Jade Piggot sat at the bar of the Black Sheep in Union Street, each nursing a large glass of white wine.
It was a Monday – not usually one of their nights for going out, not when Jade had to get 6 year old Jackson to school in the morning. But when Jacqui rang to say she had something important to tell her, something that couldn’t be said on the telephone and couldn’t keep til Friday, Jade – who was pretty well bursting to share some news too – had popped Jackson round to her Mum’s with a promise not to be too long, and driven into Ryde to meet her closest friend.
They’d known each other for a decade, having met at Tesco when both were taken on as Christmas staff. They hit it off immediately. Jacqui had moved to the Island with her parents two years previously. Then a bolshy teenager she bitterly resented being uprooted from Warrington where she’d lived all her life just because her Dad had some daft dream about spending his retirement in the place he’d always loved to holiday. She missed her friends, her accent marked her out as different and as far as she could see there was nothing at all to do in Shanklin. For two years she had stomped round under a black cloud of resentment and misery, maintaining a monumental sulk in order to punish her parents for – as she saw it - ruining her life by bringing her to the Island. When, during the compulsory health and safety training on their induction day at Tesco, Jade had grinned at her, rolling her eyes in exaggerated boredom, it was almost despite herself that Jacqui grinned back.
Later, during their break, Jade (who was the first baby born in St Mary’s Hospital on January 1st 1986 and had never been further from her birthplace than Portsmouth) put the seal on their friendship when she filled Jacqui in on the fact that she had just bust up with her bloke Jason and her best-friend-since-she-was six Rianna, because on the day when both had told her they were laid up with a sick bug, she’d walked round a corner and caught them snogging at the bus stop.
‘Can I go first?’ she said now. She’d told no one, not even her Mum about her conversation with her boss Donna Couchewell. If she didn’t confide in someone soon, she felt she might explode.
‘Go on then,’ said Jacqui. She could wait. She and Craig had already laughed until their
sides split about their narrow escape from Mrs P-S.
Mindful of the fact that her Mum had said she couldn’t leave Jackson for more than two hours; she wanted her house to herself again before Corrie started, Jade talked fast. ‘Donna and Des came back from Barbados to find that someone had been camping in the house. He didn’t do any damage, didn’t take nothing, but he’d obviously been making himself at home, because some beds were messed up and the silly bugger left his Y-fronts in the shower room and some soup cans in the kitchen. Old Hawk Eye spotted something was up before she’d been home 10 minutes.’
She stopped and had a gulp of wine before continuing. Her heart was beginning to pound again.
‘Then the stupid twit only goes and comes back when Donna and Des are home and – not realising they’re in the house – starts making his dinner. She’s up in the bedroom having the vapours about his knickers when she hears him crashing and banging in the kitchen and, although Des tries to stop her (I always told you he was a wimp, didn’t I?) she’s down the stairs like a bat out of hell. And when Mr Knicker-less hears her coming, he scarpers, taking her handbag with him.’
‘And when the police came they looked all round the place and couldn’t see how the bloke could have broken in so they said he must have let himself in, with a key. They said he must have had a key.’
Jade paused for breath and suddenly started to cry. Jacqui, who had been enjoying the story, was taken aback. She reached an arm round her friend to hug her.
‘Oh Jacq, I’ve done something so stupid. I’m going to be in so much trouble.’
‘Hang on. I’m confused.’ Jacqui was used to her friend’s mercurial temperament, but this was a quick change even for her. ‘I thought we were talking about a break in at the Bien Venue Guest House?’
Jade blew her nose, scrubbed her eyes with the back of the hand and sat up straight. She had her pride.
‘Not a break in Jacq. A let-yourself-in-with-a-key-in. And who provided that key?’ She paused before jabbing herself in the chest: ‘Yours truly.’
‘What are you talking about,’ said Jacqui who was completely baffled.
Jade sighed. She leant towards her friend and spoke more slowly, as if explaining something to a foreigner.
‘Remember that night at the Liquid Lounge when you met Craig and I met that other fella?’
Jacqui nodded. ‘The one we said was a slime-ball?’
‘Not we. You. You said he was a slime ball but I liked him.’ Her expression was rueful, apologetic. ‘You know I like that type: blonde, skinny, a bit lost looking. Well, when you and Craig left we were still chatting and he told me he hadn’t got anywhere to stay so….’
‘So you took him home with you? But Jade, you said…..’
‘I know. And I wouldn’t have, but he didn’t have anywhere to go. Anyway, Jacq, spare me the lecture. The point is I said he couldn’t stop another night because of Jackson and he said where was he supposed to go and I said – and I only said it as a joke and because I was pissed – that I had the keys to a place which had eight bedrooms all of them empty.’
Jacqui, quick on the uptake now, interjected: ‘But you didn’t tell him where it was?’ Jade looked away. ‘You didn’t, did you Jade?’
‘I told him it was in Sandown. I’d already told him I worked in Sandown.’ She looked back at Jacqui. ‘And yes. I told him it was the Bien Venue Guest House.’
‘But that doesn’t mean anything. Just because you told him.’
‘No. But the next morning he was gone before I woke up and I haven’t heard from him since. I didn’t even know his mobile.’
Jacqui was about to say ‘I told you he was a slime-ball’, but she thought better of it.
‘I didn’t even think about the key. Even this morning when I was leaving for work and I couldn’t find it, I didn’t think anything of it. It wasn’t until Donna said about the police that it all came back to me.’ She started to cry again.
‘Oh Jacq. What am I going to do? Do you think I ought to tell them?’