No Good Deed Ever Pays

Posted on June 2, 2013

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Edinburgh skyline courtesy of www.northernstarmusic.co.uk

Edinburgh skyline courtesy of http://www.northernstarmusic.co.uk

Okay, where to begin?
I suppose how I got to this point really would be a good start.
I’ve only ever tried to do the right thing by so many people over the years but one day everyone pushed me too far.
Much too far.
All I wanted was a home to call my own by the sea or mountains so I could paint the views till my heart was content and write poems to go with my paintings. I wasn’t looking to be a millionaire either. I just wanted that special place with enough money to pay the bills in a place surrounded by wildlife and a village or small town with a couple of pubs, one of which would look out to the stunning views. I wanted a dog for company and to be away from the affairs of humankind and the continuing chaos that still reigns in our world.
The affairs of politics and religion matter not a jot to me. They are the downfall of us all.
I didn’t want much yet it seems I was asking for the world and everything in it. But family, friends and higher ‘powers’ pushed and pushed me till I broke and all suffered the consequences of their actions. I’ve been blamed no doubt for the chaos that ensued but a weapon isn’t dangerous until it’s used. An animal won’t be dangerous until it’s provoked. Leave things be and they’ll leave you be.
I had money, although not a lot and this was abused by so many due to my stupidity. I’ve certainly learned never to trust anyone again.
I wasn’t happy where I lived and I was intending to move west or north, far away from everyone and everything I knew. I had just started my studies which were long overdue and was enjoying the new-found direction in life. Then the pressure came for me to move out from my temporary home. I was given two weeks notice and my funds were far too low to just up and leave. I was owed quite a lot but those that borrowed were ignoring my pleas. I was stuck and in a mess. I didn’t know what to do. I had helped so many people over the years but all I got from them were their backs turned to me. I couldn’t believe it. Why did they all do that? No good deed goes unpunished eh? Nor does no bad deed either as I was soon to find out.
I was so very tired of life at this point anyway in mind, body and soul. I’m surprised I hadn’t snapped before then.
I was forced to beg for help from the government, the very people I despise. They refused to find a home for me and offered me help only on handouts which did little to get me where I wanted to be. They were under pressure from the government and I was under pressure from everyone else. I was at my wit’s end. Then the handouts stopped as they didn’t think I was trying hard enough for work which I was! They gave me two weeks to sort myself out and find something then they would consider helping me again. I was struggling to find work and living in a hostel with druggies and alcoholics and other problem types. I had done nothing wrong except trying to do good. I couldn’t understand how I had got to that point in my life? I was at rock bottom and was scared of going lower. I had one hundred pounds to my name. All my personal effects were luckily at a friends property, stored away safely thank God. I thought on selling everything I had and did sell as much as I could just to keep a bed each night but even this was short-lived. I was asked to leave there too as they needed the bed.
I had nowhere to go. I was homeless.
A friend put me up for a week and even lent me some money but most turned me away and looked at me in disgust. I knew then who was truly a friend and loyal. As for family, they said it was time I stood on my own two feet even though I had many times before and was trying to get away from them all anyway.
Luckily I had a tent and had five hundred pounds thanks to my friend and the stuff I sold. I also had my passport. I saw a coach heading north. The question was did I take the coach or head to Europe?
I remember that day so clearly. It was a cold February morning but the sun was shining brightly. I wasn’t angry strangely although I had been for a while over the past few weeks. I’d gone through so many emotions you wouldn’t believe. I even went to dark places that no-one should ever go to but quickly got that out of my system. or so I believed…
So, there I stood looking at the coach to the wilds of the north and the enigmatic cities with a packed out rucksack by my feet. The coach office was very busy, people bustling in and out of everywhere. All these people seemed to have lives and homes to go to. I wondered at them and what they did for a living. I like to go by big houses with huge gardens and guess what they do. Lawyers and doctors probably?
I remember a man bumping into me in his rush for a coach, saying sorry and moving quickly with his bags. In that instant I decided to board a coach to Edinburgh. I knew it slightly from previous trips there and thought I may be able to get work there as it’s busy all year round with various festivals and tourists. So moving to the ticket office, I paid the man the fare and prepared for the ten-hour journey to the Athens of the North.
My bags were stored in the belly of the coach and I took my seat. As we pulled out of the dreary town I realised that I would never be back that way again.
My life had changed overnight and was about to change in a way I could never have thought of…

We arrived in Edinburgh around just after six in the evening. I had slept most of the journey which surprised me as I have a habit of looking out of the window constantly as I like new things and new places. But I was so tired from many sleepless nights that I lost most of the journey being awake for about two hours I guess?
I got off the coach, grabbing my bag and headed to Princess Street Gardens. I sat on a bench for around ten minutes looking up at the castle that dominated the city skyline and just taking everything in.
I was so happy to be back in this beautiful city words cannot describe what I was feeling at that moment. Suddenly all what had passed was forgotten and I was on a new adventure. For now I needed a bed for the night and a job. Maybe I should sign on at the jobcentre for some help in the financial sense? I decided that I would do that in the morning. First though I needed to check in and get some food. So picking up my bag I headed up to the Royal Mile and to Castle Rock hostel at the top of the famous street. I knew it well and was confident of a job pretty quickly. I had to be careful with my money though. I should’ve put it in my bank but there I was with cash in my bag. I decided to do that first thing too.
I checked in, paying a week upfront and went to find my bed for the week. The room was empty as it was off-season I suppose. That suited me fine although I expected the other nine beds would be filled pretty soon. I put my bag in the locker that was supplied in the room, grabbed a quick shower then went out into the night.
I could feel the excitement in me wondering what was going to happen over the coming weeks? I was confident of good things only. I had my belief that all would be well. I just had to be very shrewd, not fussy with work and keep my head down.
So there I was walking down the mile just breathing in the smell of Wotsits or Cheesy Puffs to Americans, and the smell of the sea. The Wotsits smell is actually the brewery on the mile and it always gets me hungry and thirsty too. I had so many pubs to choose from and didn’t know which one to go in as I loved most of them but in the end I chose The World’s End, an olde worlde pub of renown and held of great affection.
I ordered a Guinness and haggis, neeps and tatties which should see me through the night. Yeah, I know the food is touristy but I love it and like I said, it did me well and served a purpose. I had a newspaper with me and I was armed with CV’s to hand in to every bar, shop and restaurant that I could find of which there were hundreds to anyone who has been there.
So I sat in the pub with the newspaper open and drinking my Guinness having already eaten my hearty meal. I ordered another pint from the bar which was a few steps over from my seat of which there isn’t many in there and sat back down.
I got talking to a local couple in their late sixties who asked if I was on holiday. I explained that I wasn’t and was looking for a new start without going into too much detail. They smiled politely and spoke of many things although I got the feeling they thought of me as another one come to take our jobs but it swings both ways I think. There are many Scottish and other nationalities in the south-east that is far too much overcrowded and many people are out of work. People seem to think London and the rest of the south-east streets are lined with gold and money trees. The truth is far from that. People should be allowed to go where they want to but towns and cities should be monitored. There has to be limits. It’s very difficult. I’ve had the same in Ireland too and many of them left there to work and settle here. I should know as my Mother is Irish. Well she was born there but brought up in England from the age of three due to a lack of work for my grandparents. They missed Ireland I knew but when it came down to it, their country had failed them when they had needed help most. I feel no pity for the so-called political wing who fight against the British when they can’t even look after their own. It disgusts me. It’s all double standards and hypocritical. Politics and the common man are very different things. Politics doesn’t put food on the table to feed your children. Hard earned money does.
Let’s not get started on politics as it gets me very angry!
I gave my CV in and left after a couple of beers and a stroll around the city dropping others in to various places. The night was drawing in and I headed back to the hostel to sleep which I did fitfully.
I dreamed of good things but the shadows were always there.
Hiding…

The next few days passed quietly but were busy enough. I managed to get help from the Scottish government and also was guided in the right direction for a room until a flat came up. I grabbed at it for the hostel was getting busy and very noisy with drunk students and travellers coming in at all hours of the night.
My room was in the Grassmarket area which was ideal for me and was clean and tidy and respectable. It had a private sink and en-suite shower too which was perfect. It was a bed and breakfast but the council used it for people like me in difficult circumstances. I was only in there a few days when I also secured a job in a kitchen for a pub in the same area. Things were moving fast and looking up for once. At this kind of momentum who knows what I could achieve. For the first time in a long while, I could finally see a reasonably okay future. I would be happy with that until I was settled then I could focus on something brighter to set my sights on.
Days passed then weeks and finally after three months I was offered a flat not far from the Old Town. I couldn’t believe it. I was so happy. I had made many new friends although I kept them at a distance, never letting them get too close, I had a good enough job for as long as I wanted it and now a flat.
Edinburgh was becoming my home.
Family and friends had tried to get hold of me for weeks but I had decided one day to take out the sim card and get a new number. I had severed my ties with the South and all who I knew down there. Did this hurt to do so? Of course it did. I’d be a liar if I said it didn’t but it had to be done. My social network accounts I kept but never told anyone I was online. I was always cryptic with my messages. I still was curious to know what was going on down there and if anyone truly cared?
So did anyone care you ask? For a while it seemed but as I had lost my trust in humanity I doubted it very much. They had all broke me piece by piece and messages that were left for me ranged from are you okay? to you selfish bastard! to tears of please come home… There was even one with my little nephew on the phone crying for me. That broke my heart so much but I had to do what I did for if I didn’t I knew that I would die down there in some way, bitter and twisted and full of hate in my heart for everyone.
Even now, I think of the way I was treated by them all and I know nothing would ever change if I went back. They were on their own. I had warned them not too push me too far but they tested me without thought for the consequences.
Anyway, there I was with my own little flat which was nothing special but to me it was like my very own castle.
All was happy and well and another three months passed when I met her.

I had worked a hell of a busy shift and I must admit I let the day get to me after ten hours straight. I finished work just after four and walked straight to the bar of the pub I worked in and downed a Guinness in seconds flat. I had the taste but felt dirty and greasy from the day in the kitchen. I knocked back another and felt the effects of the stout inside me. I remember thinking that I needed to get home and shower the day away. I was way too hyper and stressed. It had been chaos and I needed to be calm.
A regular customer came up to me and saw I was about to leave and brought me another pint. I thanked him thinking to myself I would never get out of there. Then she came up beside me by the bar whilst I was chatting to staff.
I turned to look at her, she smiled and in that moment my life had changed.
”Hello,” she had said in a soft Scottish accent. ”You work in the kitchen don’t ye?”
I smiled at her, ”Yeah I do. I’m shackled to the grill most days. They let me out to play once a month,” I said with a smile suddenly awake.
”I thought I’d seen ye around a few times. I’ve noticed ye…” Her words hung in the air like the wisps of a dream.
I took her in quickly. I judged her to be no more than twenty-five or twenty-six, around five foot six, had long jet black hair which was her natural colour from what I could see in the dim lighting. She had a figure that would be the envy of any film star, athlete or model and she used it with confidence too. Working in the pub trade you become an expert in body language and psychology.
Her smile was seductive, naughty and spoke of a thousand stories from her laughter lines. But as with most people everything is in the eyes. With them you can’t hide anything, especially from me. I looked at them for what must have seemed an eternity. So lost was I in her eyes, in the ice blue colour, that I had lost track of what she was saying. ”…ished for the night then?”
I shook out of my reverie, ”Sorry, I drifted off for a sec there. The Guinness is taking effect already.”
She laughed. Oh how she laughed. Pull yourself together man! She’s just a woman like any other. I doubted that though the more she spoke and the more I drank her in. ”You were saying?”
”I said have you finished for the night then? A few of us are off to Whistle Binkies later if you fancy it? I myself am ready now if ye free..?” Again she let it hang there for me like a bee to honey. I mumbled something then to her and again that laugh. ”Och, don’t worry yeself. Ye fine as ye are. It’s women who worry about the way they look, not men. Well, unless they’re vain or batting for the other side..?”
”Good god no!” I hastily added. ”Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I’m not that way.” She smiled at me, enjoying watching me squirm. ”I know,” she said and let her hand play on my arm. Electricity seemed to pass through me. She smiled and said she was off to the ladies. Jenny, the girl behind the bar was pissing herself laughing. ‘Ye in there boy. Don’t ye think you should ask her name first though?” She said. ”Oh Fuck!” I said then I smiled back unsure as to what had just happened. I left my bag behind the bar, spraying myself with deodorant to feel a bit cleaner than I felt.
A few minutes later she came back and told me her name was Sian. She looked more stunning than when I had first seen her a few minutes ago. How was that possible? The doubts kicked in then. What the hell was a woman with this kind of beauty and personality wanting with me? I was no oil painting, not rich, and in a crappy job. She clearly seemed to have a lot more going for her and could click her fingers for any man she wanted yet she picked me? Was this a wind up? My new found distrust of people kicked in but I couldn’t help but be drawn to her.
We left the pub and went to the Witchery with its quiet and private little alcoves and we talked away, time passing without notice. She told me how she was Edinburgh born and bred, worked for the Scottish Government but hated politics, had aspirations to be a full-time writer and was studying to be a journalist in her spare time. She loved wildlife and the Highlands was her escape from the hell of city life. She had one sister who was five years younger, a brother who was in the army fighting useless wars in the middle east. Her Mother had died from Cancer two years back but her Dad was fit and well and worked as a policeman as a Detective Inspector. Her family was close and she loved them all. She had her own flat in the New Town which she had a mortgage on and she said everything was good in her life at the moment. She had a dream of going to Egypt to see the Pyramids but hadn’t got around to it yet.
Then she asked about me. I told her many things but left the gory details out. I wasn’t ready to tell her everything yet and I think she sensed that but didn’t push me for anything. I liked her for that.
The next thing I knew her friends had joined us. John, Lucy, Kevin, Roisin and Bunny whose real name was Danny. He was called bunny because he ate like a rabbit and was rumoured to have produced a few wee bairns around Scotland. He was also in the Merchant Navy so suspicions were rife that he had a few sprogs around the world somewhere? I liked them all and we got on brilliantly.
The night ended so fast that my heart sank as soon as we were kicked out of Whistle Binkies. The bands had been amazing there and we had drunk, talked and danced the night away. It was a perfect night.
They all got taxi’s home and I had got a kiss on the cheek from Sian asking me to call her when I’m next free. Maybe Friday she had said? That was two days away. She had left then and I was excited and happy. Life was going extremely well and everything was in my favour.
I couldn’t have been happier.
And then it happened…

I knew it was too good to be true. A black cloud always seems to follow me around. Why does it haunt me so? What the hell have I done in my life to upset others except to help them in any way that I can? I just don’t know the answer?
A few weeks had passed and I had seen Sian on several occasions. We had got very close and had even gone up to the Highlands together to Ullapool, one of my favourite places and it turns out hers too. Life couldn’t have been better.
Then one night after a heavy shift and Sian had rung me to tell me she would be at my flat for about nine that night, I was walking home with the thoughts of her in my heart.
The streets were full of drunks and tourists and other crazies and as I neared my home I caught something at the corner of my eye. I stopped and looked. This was a quiet area in the heart of the Old Town yet no noise came from the bustling streets just a few minutes up the road. Again, that noise like a rustling, slithering sound? What was it? Probably a fox I thought or a cat? An animal anyway. The mews I had entered was dimly lit.
Then I heard it again but louder this time? Something wasn’t right?
”Hello?” I called a little nervously. ”Are you okay?” I thought it best to say this as someone maybe hurt, probably a drunk had fallen over? The mews though were quite select so I guessed maybe not? ”Hello?” I said a little more forcibly?
Then I saw it. The legs poking from the side of a building. I moved forward fast and looked down on the dark shape before me. My god, I had to call for an ambulance and the police. It was then that I saw the blood on the floor underneath the figure. It was a man sprawled face down and he was alive but only just. I tried to dial for the police but for some reason there was no signal? It was then that I had noticed the time. Three hours had passed since I had left work. The journey home was only a fifteen minute walk. Then I noticed something familiar about the man on the ground struggling to move. I bent down and tried to move him but he wouldn’t budge. I then noticed something else not far away. Another figure was lying not far off. It was a woman. I walked over quickly and suddenly bile rose to my throat. I recognised her for I had not long spoken to her.
Sian’s body was lying on its side, her throat cut and her beautiful eyes staring up at me. She still had the smile on her face as if she knew this was going to happen and that everything was going to be okay? But I had not long spoken to her! What the Fuck was happening!?
Then my phone rang. It was Sian’s number. I dropped the phone as if bitten by a snake. I looked at her lifeless body staring into nothing. To something…
There on the ground beside her was her phone smashed to bits.
I turned then and looked at the body a few feet away.
I knew who it was then for I saw his face.
It was me…
The phone had stopped ringing and as I looked into my own eyes I knew then that I could see myself looking back. What must I be thinking lying there with blood pouring from me and looking up at a ghost of myself?
I remembered then what had happened…
We had indeed met at the flat at nine that night and had gone back out for a drink and a meal. But we never made it. We heard someone asking for help and both of us had come down the mews to see a man over another with something glinting in his hands. Then it had happened swiftly. Sian had been taken from me whilst I was wrestling with another. She had been killed quickly before me without any hesitation. In that brief moment she had said with her eyes All will be well.
I had screamed with pure rage and fought back, wrestling the knife into the man who had me. He screamed in pain and panicked, ran away, leaving me and his ‘mate’ alone with a now dead Sian. I went at him with an anger I had never felt before but that must have been when I was stabbed for everything went dark and all I saw was Sian’s eyes, her smile and the phone. I heard our attackers run away. The next thing I knew I was standing over both bodies looking down on our own bloodbath.
Everything made sense then. I wished I had made it up with all my family and friends but fate had intervened and dealt a nasty blow. It just goes to show you don’t know what may be around the corner.
I heard a scream then as everything seemed to darken around me and my phone was starting to ring again. Footsteps and sirens surrounded the mews.
I picked the phone up and answered it. It was Sian. ”Are ye coming home? I’m cold and need warming up.”
”I’ll be right there my beautiful angel. I’ll be right there…”

A lonely quiet wynd in Edinburgh taken by the author Darren Greenidge

A lonely quiet wynd in Edinburgh taken by the author Darren Greenidge

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