The Death of Jessica Ripley was both a pig and a pleasure to write. It was a pig for a year because it fought me so hard that I was ready for giving up.
The second half was a joy. Inserting all the nuances that make a book sparkle was a delight for me. But the most satisfying part was writing the ending. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.
I found a couple of pages of text that the editing process had ejected from the book. I think there were more, and if I find them, I’ll add them here too. These are first or second draft pieces so you can expect them to be a little rough around the edges.
The first is just titled ‘Eddie contemplating in the car park’. I don’t even remember where this sat in the original story, and furthermore, I don’t remember why I cut it out. Anyway, it won’t take long to read…
A number, tortured by waves of other peoples’ death and mutilation, until all traces of human had been hammered out of existence.
The next piece, slightly longer, is taken from a scene where Jessy arrives with Tony at his house, prepared to do the deed on him.
Tony is a tramp, remember? Well, I later changed his living status to home-owner rather than dosser, because I worked out the twist of the story, where he did pretty well out of Jessica’s misfortune twelve years ago. And his house, seen in the current version of the book, is like rubbing salt into Jessica’s wound when he discloses to her how he came by it.
Until then, he was a dyed-in-the-wool dropout, and this place is where he existed.
Jessy took a look around, but she knew it was clear – it had been the last time she’d visited. Tony was very careful where he lived, like he said, he liked his seclusion. It was dark, cloud stole the moonlight, and the main road gave noise cover as she shouldered the door. Her small torch confirmed that they were alone.
Despite her heart banging inside her hollow chest, Jess put aside her fears and her hopes, and dragged Tony into what was probably someone’s lounge about ten years ago. Now it was just a damp room with a mattress in the corner and mould on the walls. The paint on the windowsills was lifting, the wallpaper hung in limp strips, and there were rat droppings by the kitchen door. It smelled of urine in here.
She let him go, and he slumped to the floor, groaning. His breathing had slowed considerably, and she hoped he wouldn’t expire before she’d aset things in motion. It was very important to her that he should be alive for as long as possible.
Of course there was no electricity, but there was a camping stove with a box of matches next to it sealed inside a small plastic bag to keep them dry. The carpet was clean where feet had cleared a path; otherwise it was covered in thick dust that had become a kind of mud around the edges of the room. Strangely enough, Tony had a well-stocked bookcase. It was for show though. Mould grew rampant on it and on the books, and coated a sickly green/blue the wooden chairs next to it.
The following two pieces are from the tail end of the book, from when it was still fluid, molten, flowing around inside my head until it solidified into an ending completely different to the one you see here.
The first part is whatever happened to Sutherland. Was he just going to let his daughter’s death go unchallenged? Read on, and then make up your own mind, because I didn’t take this any further.
It was still raining. It was dark.
He parked in the darkness outside Eddie’s house and watched the trees being tormented by a bitch of a wind over there by the only streetlamp on this dead end road.
It was kind of ironic that Collins should live on a dead end road. And he smiled. And then he stopped smiling; it wasn’t that good.
Leaves blew down the road; rainwater cascaded from the trees overhead onto the car roof and sounded like a drum solo. But the noise couldn’t drown out the scream that lived in his mind and had done for days. He saw no reason why that scream would ever cease. It was painful, and a pain like he suffered wouldn’t ever go away. And he didn’t want it to go away. It was all he had left.
* * *
Eddie turned the corner onto his road and saw the car parked just where his dad said it was. He roared towards it at speed and the front of his car was inches away from the parked car. Eddie kept his headlights on and they shone directly into the driver’s face as Eddie climbed out of the Discovery.
He went around to the passenger side of the parked vehicle and opened the door. Without an invitation, Eddie sat in the car and closed the door, blinking in the light from his own car’s headlamps. “Are you armed?”
Sutherland shook his head.
“Do you mean to cause me harm?”
Sutherland paused, thinking about it. “Probably not.”
“I should tell you that there is a dash cam pointing right at us, and it’s live streaming to Dropbox, okay?”
“I’m not going to hurt you.”
“Then why the hell are you here?”
And lastly is the second epilogue where we explore what happens to Troy.
Remember his father, such a stickler for propriety? Well, this is what he thought of Troy.
* * *
The next day, a man calling himself Marlow Ainsley wandered into Elland Road police station and offered the counter staff the keys to his car. He maintained there was something of value to them inside, and urged the staff to summon a police officer at their earliest convenience.
Their earliest convenience was twenty-five minutes later. Two officers – standing well back – and Marlow Ainsley opened the boot to his car and poured daylight onto a naked male who claimed his name was Troy Ainsley and killer of one Nicki Murphy.
“He arrived at my home,” said Marlow with no trace of emotion on his blemish-free face, “in this state – beaten and naked.” He looked at the officers then hastily back at his son. “I assume someone who also takes drugs had set about him.”
One of the officers got Troy some jogging bottoms, a t-shirt and a blanket from the cells, and escorted him inside for further enquiries. He was heard to say that his dad had beaten him up. The remaining officer turned to Marlow and asked, “You didn’t think to dress him, or to let him sit in the car with you?”
“Certainly not! He has shamed me by being a drug user, and I formerly disown him for killing a young lady a few days ago. He is a dog, and you may do with him as you please.” Marlow looked at the officer, “Now if that is all, I’ll be on my way.”
I hope you enjoyed this little insight into what was on the page prior to you reading it. For me, when I finish a book, I look back on it and realise it couldn’t have happened any other way. Thinking about that now, I find it strange to realise that; each tiny decision can warp another ten future pathways. Think about it – I do.
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