This is fiction. Any resemblance to any persons living or dead is coincidental. The events outlined have never to my knowledge occurred. Some of the locations are real.
As a warning, there is a brief depiction of cruelty to an animal. There is naturally the usual cruelty to humans.
Of course it had been an accident. He hadn’t even pushed Glen Collier off the raft. Well not technically anyway. It wasn’t Daz who made him lose his balance on the home-made raft, well he might have rocked it a bit, but Glen fell in. Glen could easily have climbed back on board, he even held out the plank he had been using as a paddle to help him climb back on. It was an accident he hit Glen over the head with it. Besides, Glen shouldn’t have threatened to tell his dad about Daz and Glen’s sister, Carly. And nobody was more surprised than Daz, when Glen went under and didn’t come back up. He spent a long time, minutes or less, calling out for Glen. Of course he hadn’t gone in after him, the flooded quarry was supposed to be bottomless. Besides, he didn’t want to get tangled with the old crane that reached up to just below the surface. He could have told Glen’s parents or another adult, but they would have blamed him and confiscated the raft. He had spent a lot of time making that raft, at least half as much as Glen had and he had made it work. So it was all Glen’s fault really. Anyone could see that…
Daniel “Daz” Copeland killed his first human being when he was fifteen. He had begun his murderous apprentiship on vermin, birds, rabbits then moved onto cats. Even as a child he took particular pleasure in torturing cats to death. But these were just practice for the cruelty that would become Daniel Copeland’s stock in trade. A dispassionate individual might well have concluded, that it would have been better to have drowned the child at birth. It would have at least prevented such misery in the future.
He was born in Andover to a weak, alcoholic and occasionally skunk-addicted girl of sixteen. His father was a soldier from the Tidworth garrison, who really didn’t want to get involved with the girl, particularly in view of her drug taking, but she was now pregnant. Her parents kicked her out when they found out and to be fair to the reluctant father, he agreed to marry her, thus providing her with a home, rather than any hope of a long-term relationship. As a small child, Daniel Copeland could clearly remember his father’s absences and his mother’s penchant for having open house in the grotty married quarter while he was away.
When the time came for Private Copeland’s regiment to move to Germany, his wife point-blank refused to pack up home like, as she put it, a camp follower. She left her husband when Daniel Copeland was nine and moved in with a travelling community. Private Copeland was less than devastated when he heard the news his wife was gone.
Daniel’s mother was drawn to the burling neon and the tacky glamour of the travelling fair, specifically a dark-haired Lothario who told everyone he had seafaring roots, but had actually been born in Melton Mowbray, the son of a vicar. They toured with the travelling fairs and Daniel came to love the rough and ready life and the fact he seldom went to school. While they were mainly rough and ready, many were kind hearted and looked after this stray and her growing son. Daniel could read and write and was taught basic but necessary arithmetic in caravans. He was expected to help with setting up and dismantling the fairgrounds and he grew up worldly wise and very strong. He learned how to look after himself and where necessary, he used his fists to establish his place in the travelling hierarchy.
All could have been well, but for his amorality and sense of cruelty, none of which was helped by a feeble mother who caved in to his every whim. Unfortunately, Daniel looked to the wrong men as his role models. Puberty also established another of his traits, an insatiable growing sexual appetite, enabled by the lifestyle, and the myriads of free and easy girls lured to the fairs in search of a bit of excitement. And at fifteen and with a tumescent libido, Daniel, or “Daz” as he now preferred to be known, was only too happy to oblige.
In the long stopover for the Tavistock Goosey Fair, Daz made the acquaintance of local, little hard-nut called Glen Collier. Glen had been hanging round, watching them putting up the rides and stalls and Daz went over to tell him to piss off. But Glen was sixteen, as big although probably not as strong as Daz and he didn’t feel like pissing off. They compromised and started hanging around together, because Daz didn’t want to get involved in a fight he might not win. And as a result, Daz met Glen’s sister, Carley. An achingly pretty girl with the body of a voluptuous woman and what Daz wanted, he took. Unfortunately, Carley had just turned fourteen.
On the Monday, the day that fair folk took off, Glen called on Daz on his bike and asked him if he wanted to help him finish a raft he was building. Intrigued, Daz borrowed (without permission) a bike. They peddled north on the Oakhampton road and turned off down a small, overgrown lane. After about half a mile, there was a high fence on their left with warning signs: Danger. Quarry. Keep out. The fence had gone or had been torn down in one place, which had been extensively used by local builders and traders as a fly tip. The boys pushed their bikes through the gap and stashed them in the new trees that had grown up. Daz followed Glen until they arrived at the disused quarry that was now flooded due to runoff from the moors and the proximity to the River Tavy. It was a beautiful October late-morning, blue sky and a tiny breeze that put catspaws on the surface of the water.
“This is really cool,” Daz said, wide-eyed in almost-forgotten, childish wonder, “Where’s your raft?”
“Over by that caved-in shed. Come on.”
The raft was two pallets lashed together with six empty, black, medium-size metal drums with: Gypsum Products, Dental Plaster, labelled on them.
“Trouble is, they’re too loose,” Glen said sadly.
Daz picked one end of a pallet up and lifted. Immediately it buckled in the middle.
“You haven’t tied it diagonally to each corner,” he said, knowing a thing or two from constructing rides and stalls, “It needs cross-bracing. Where’s some rope?”
They scoured the quarry for suitable ties and strapping. Daz showed him where to tie the ropes. After all, it was Glen’s raft. After an hour’s endeavours, the raft was relatively sturdy and ready for launching.
“We need to christen it,” Daz told him and proceeded to piss of one of the drums.
“I name this ship…”
“SS Collier.” Glen finished for him, giggling.
They carried the raft to the edge of the water and launched it. Without their weight on the pallets it seemed to float very well and was high up in the water.
“We’ll need some paddles,” Glen observed and went rummaging for two planks, of which Daz took the heavier.
They cautiously got on board and if they kept low by kneeling, the raft was stable. After a few tentative strokes, they got the hang of keeping the raft moving in a straight line. The water had a peculiar greenish-blue shade and was clear down for about ten feet. In the middle of the quarry, they peered down into the depths and saw the derrick of a crane reaching out of the blackness, up to a couple of feet under the surface. Weed festooned the structure, which gently waved in unseen currents. It was a mournful and eerie sight, looking down on the abandoned machinery.
“When they had finished with the quarry, they just left the crane, coz it wouldn’t start and was knackered anyway. And then it flooded. There are all sorts of things down there. It’s really deep.”
It was tiring paddling to keep the raft on an even course, so they had a rest, bobbing near the middle of the quarry. Daz had some cigarettes, which naturally he had pilfered. He gave one to Glen and lit them with a Zippo lighter.
“Where’d you get the lighter from, Daz?”
“Found it on the waltzer, must have fallen out of somebody’s pocket. Finders keepers,” Daz told him. He had carved DAZ on the body of the Zippo so it was properly his now. He could have given it back to the man, because he saw it come out of his pocket, but the man was with two pretty girls and he hated him for it.
They passed the time in a companionable silence, enjoying the warm sun of an Indian summer. All would have been well had Daz managed to avoid showing off and crowing about his sexual conquests, but because he was a sociopath, he was unbound by normal social contracts.
“Hey, Glen, guess what.”
“I fucked your sister on Saturday night.”
Glen Collier stared at Daz. He dropped the cigarette in the water and it went out with a slight fizz.
“You shouldn’t have done that, Daz.”
“Why? She loved it, panting like a little dog she was.”
“She’s only just turned fourteen, you dirty bastard!”
Daz shrugged and stood up, “Well what you going to do about it?”
“As a starter, I’m going to tell my dad and he’s gonna fucking kill you, Daz.”
Glen went to stand up and as he was off balance, Daz started to rock the raft.
“You bastard, Daz. Stop it!”
The raft was rocking alarmingly now and Glen slipped. As it pitched violently the other way, the boy gave a slight cry and went into the freezing water. He gasped involuntarily as his body reacted and swallowed water. He went under, his parka dragging him down. Glen struggled upwards and broke water.
“Tell your fucking dad now, you prick.”
Glen tried to reach for the edge of the raft, but Daz struck him in the face with the makeshift oar. The drowning boy’s mouth was an O of surprise and without a sound, he slipped into depths, his parka open like a useless parachute. The blackness swallowed him on his journey to the quarry floor.
It took Daz an age to row back to the bank on his own, but it gave him time to get his story straight. He dismantled the raft and scattered the components far and wide and then Glen’s bike joined its owner at the bottom of the quarry. He tried to think who might have seen him leaving the fair with Glen and invented a covering story that he had left Glen because he couldn’t cycle up the hills and fell behind, while Glen went on ahead. Not brilliant, but it would do.
The police did call at the fair a couple of days later, with some pictures of the boy. They asked general questions such as if anyone had seen him, but they didn’t question Daz. Because of the cold water, by the time the bacteria and internal gases caused Glen Collier’s body to resurface, it was another two weeks before his gruesome remains were found at the edge of the quarry where it had drifted. The post mortem found a small contusion on the upper nose and forehead, consistent with striking his head during a fall into the water. The Coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death and sagely warned of the dangers of playing by bodies of water alone.
Daz remained with the fair folk for another season, but his presence, occasional violent outbursts and penchant for underage girls was beginning to try patience. By the end of the following season, the fair elders made it clear to Daz’s mother that while her presence could be tolerated, that of her son could not. People in the community were openly speculating that perhaps he might know more than he let on about the disappearance of the boy in Tavistock. But going to the police with their suspicions was not their way. Daz left with no ceremony and certainly no sorrow. Even his own mother was realising what a foul creature she had spawned.
He headed south-west for what he thought would be the rich pickings in the resorts of Cornwall. But winter on the Atlantic coast holds little allure when the holiday bunnies are swaddled up against the cold and the main players are hard-core surfers at places like Newquay. Like everyone and all things Daz envied, he hated and was resentful of these fit youngsters who made riding the waves seem so easy. He spent a miserable winter, but survived on part-time jobs. He was also useful with his hands and could pass for someone at least three years older, so he managed to find work and sometimes accommodation on farms.
Like all sociopaths, after a few years Daz had built up a network of contacts and acquaintances due to his superficial charisma and undoubted skills of a handyman. By now he had gravitated to North Devon, where the winter work was better and more varied. Holiday lets needed constant maintenance and there were the fishing boats as well. Working on the fairground rides and machinery had provided him with a profitable skill set and Daz found he had rather a knack with marine engines.
But Daz well and truly fell on his feet when he was recommended to do some work for a local businessman called Frank Tremain. He was a real mover and shaker in those parts, as well as a major employer in his agricultural supplies business. Daz Copeland was a master at charm, knowing when to butter someone up and exaggerate his credentials, but still making them seem plausible. There was something of the sociopath in Frank Tremain as well, which is probably why he was drawn to this rough-diamond chancer. By the time Daz had finished the work at the large, sprawling house outside Barnstaple, Frank Tremain offered him permanent employment in his business.
It was an offer Daz couldn’t refuse. Frank Tremain’s daughter was a beautiful and slightly vulnerable young woman. He knew she worked in the glass factory at Torrington where one of his exes, Angela also worked. But Angela was a worldly-wise girl who had swiftly seen through Daz’s superficial charm and had a brush with his more unsavoury tastes. Moira was in a different league. She was the daughter of his future boss and Daz decided that what he wanted he would take. The offer of employment was a ticket to future wealth. Daz was almost licking his lips with anticipation. He was going to enjoy the debauchment of Moira Tremain.
And inevitably because of her naivety and the cosseted upbringing she had received, Moira fell for this charming sociopath, hook, line and sinker. He introduced her to a world of danger, a life that was slightly edgier than living with her staid parents. Daz got her drunk, got her high and got her to do things she never knew existed. It seemed so exciting at first. Angela her friend remonstrated with her, knowing how this would end, but Moira was besotted and was drawn into the life like a moth to a flame. But the flame became a blowtorch.
She was staying with Daz for the weekend in his ramshackle house out in the wilds off the A3124. It had been almost derelict when Daz moved in, but at least half of it was inhabitable now and he was slowly doing it up and it had calor gas and a generator. It was set back off the road, in trees up a narrow track. Secluded and perfect for what he wanted.
Moira was more than a little drunk and stoned. Daz had been drinking and had taken some weed as well, but he was more used to it. He only wanted to do one thing now and sat next to Moira.
“Let’s fuck, Mo.”
“Is that your idea of foreplay, Daz?” she asked and giggled.
He pulled up her t-shirt to feel her breasts and she pushed away. He grabbed her hair and tried to kiss her, but she turned away,
“Daz I’m too pissed and stoned, not tonight.”
He tried to grab her again but she pushed him away again, harder this time. Daz felt the stirrings of anger because he needed to dominate, to win. He hit her backhanded across the face, but Moira retaliated and caught him across the nose with her nails, the graze started to bleed.
“You fucking bitch!” he yelled and pulled back his fist.
Then she realised and saw in his eyes the danger she was in. She ducked away and ran for the door, then went out running into the darkness and the trees. He followed her to the door and laughed, “Where do you think you’re going, you stupid bitch? I’ve got your coat and handbag.”
Daz thought about getting his powerful spotlight and going out into the night after her. But he ran the options through his mind. At the moment he could pass any “awkwardness” off as a lovers’ tiff. But he knew that if he found her, he would beat her into a coma or perhaps kill her, because nobody should ever dare to defy him. That would be harder to explain. There were lots of lonely woods in this part of the world and the idea of torturing and killing her became more attractive. But there was Frank Tremain and the financial mother lode to consider. Daz could milk that for years to come, so he settled for rifling through her handbag, taking the cash out of her purse, throwing her coat and bag out into the yard and trampled them into the mud. He went back inside and tried to extinguish his seething anger with three-quarters of a bottle of Jim Beam.
Moira fell over several times but made it to the main road. He didn’t follow her but she could hear him continuing to rage. Eventually she flagged down a passing car, heading for Torrington. The elderly female driver was concerned.
“Is everything all right, dear?”
“Could you please take me to Torrington?”
The lady driver could smell the drink and another, cloying odour, “Well….”
Moira looked frantically over her shoulder, “Please, I’m in trouble.”
“All right, but the police station is closed.”
“It’s OK, I can go somewhere.”
The worried lady dropped her off in the town, but seemed reluctant to leave her, “Are you sure you’re all right?”
“Positive and thank you.”
Moira walked to the glass factory where the night shift were working, freezing in just jeans and a t-shirt. It wasn’t cost effective to shut down the kilns and furnaces overnight and there was a skeleton shift that tended the furnaces and prepared the materials for the following day. She splashed water on her face and drank what seemed like gallons, then put her head down to sober up. She woke at five with a monstrous head ache and fortunately had her car keys in her jeans pocket. Her car was in the car park where Daz had picked her up last night. Moira didn’t want to, but she had to go back to get her handbag and coat. She would risk it because she guessed that Daz would be sufficiently out of it, to allow her to creep into his house. She left the car halfway up the track and sneaked towards the house. In the pre-dawn light she saw her belongings lying trampled in the mud.
“You bastard,” she murmured to herself, picked them up and crept back to her car.
When she went through her purse she saw that about thirty pounds was missing. Moira called him a bastard again and drove home, still well over the drink-drive limit. She reckoned that thirty pounds was a small price to pay for the narrow escape she had had. She wouldn’t tell anybody what had happened, because she couldn’t bear their “told you so’s.” Moira would say that Daz had been seeing someone else, which wasn’t so far from a lie, because she was pretty sure he had been. As she drove, Moira cried bitter tears but by the time she got home and crept into her parents’ house, she was grateful that Daz Copeland had been exorcised from her life. She and her future family would find out just how wrong she was.
Daniel Copeland dismissed Moira Tremain from his life. She had been given a chance and had blown it, which was rather a pity for her. She was frigid anyway and frankly, not worth bothering about. There were plenty more fish in North Devon’s pool and Daz Copeland moved through the ecosystem like a pike. And it was true, there was no shortage of girls drawn to this big, curly-haired charmer with an easy wit and who always seemed to have plenty of money to throw around. He certainly knew how to show a girl a good time, if you could put up with his violent, sexual urges. Many could, but a few would not.
Nobody should ever defy Daz Copeland. Glen Collier had been stupid enough to threaten him and he ended up at the bottom of the quarry with his bike. Which was a pity, because Glen’s bike was a good one. A couple of punters at the fairs had tried it on with Daz a couple of times, but a tyre brace in the shadows soon sorted them out. It was all a question of respect. Daz had built up a following of a few good men and true who shared his partiality for living life to the full and taking what they wanted, as long as it was all right with Daz. True they weren’t the brightest bulbs on the tree, but they were useful and Daz called them his posse.
After Moira there had been Tina. A fair handsome mare she was too and she had her own flat above a surf shop in Westward Ho! She had a liking for the odd joint or three, which suited Daz down to the ground, plus she could be incredibly dirty when the mood took her, which was often. She could have been almost perfect if it wasn’t for her cat, Tilly. Tina and Tilly, bloody ridiculous, Daz thought. Dirty thing jumping up on the kitchen surfaces and hissing at Daz, but Tilly was Tina’s baby and it made him fair sick to the stomach to watch her and how she spoke to it. But the damned cat was a small price to pay for Tina’s dirtiness, her remarkable ability to get her hand of quality weed and her own place. Who needs Moira fucking Tremain? He asked himself.
But Tina made a mistake. She defied him. It was in the spring before the hordes of Grockles descended on the beaches, still too cold and windy, except for the hard-core surfers and kite surfers. Stupid twats was Daz’s opinion of kite surfers. Tina had a cold, which had gone on for a few days. She was complaining that her joints ached, stupid fuss about nothing was Daz’s considered opinion and he knew just the thig to perk her up, his new interest in all matters carnal, a spot of auto erotic asphyxiation.
“Come on, Tina, it’ll put the colour back in your cheeks… Or perhaps not,” he chuckled.
“There’s no way, Daz. I feel like shit. No sex and certainly not that bloody strangling bollocks.”
But Daz had been walking round with a semi all day and he was in need of relief. He wheedled, coaxed and eventually threatened, getting angrier all the time. But what amazed and infuriated Daz was that her angry defiance was growing. This wasn’t supposed to happen, so he overpowered and took what was his as a right. She fought him despite her weakened state and started to scream and he was just forced to cram her pants in her mouth to shut her up. It didn’t last long and thank god he hadn’t tied the bathrobe cord around her neck. While she was in the bathroom being sick he made inroads into his post-coital Jim Beam.
Tina had shut the cat in the spare room out of the way as soon as Daz had barged his way into the flat earlier that evening. She remained in the bathroom, sobbing until she heard him snoring from her bedroom due to the effects of bourbon. She pulled her aching and bruised body to its feet and headed for the kitchen where she opened a utensils drawer.
Daz was lying on the bed on his side, snoring slightly and reeking of bourbon. The meat tenderiser hit him on the side of his head. It was just as well Tina was in an exhausted and weakened state, because it was a metal tenderiser with a nasty, serrated surface. Daz opened his eyes, his temple throbbing.
She hit him again before Daz could raise himself out of the alcoholic stupor and then a third time.
“You fucking piece of shit!” she screamed at him, raining blows on his head.
Daz raised his arms in protection, so she landed a good one in his groin. The semi had long gone. He fell off the bed and vomited bile and foul-smelling bourbon on her carpet.
“You filthy, stinking bastard!”
A blow to the back of his head made him see stars and he fell face down in the puke. Daz was mortally afraid and he knew he had to get the hell out of there before she killed him. He pulled himself up, the quilt slipping off the bed and into the puke. Tina caught him again between the shoulder blades and on his right kidney. Panicking now, Daz headed for the door to the stairs. He was half running, half falling down them and she caught him a couple more times before he was able to wrench the door open and fall out into the street and the early hours, wearing just his boxer shorts. Tina slammed the door behind him and double bolted it. Shaking with anger and fever, she went upstairs to wreak havoc on his clothes and boots with a carving knife. Daz had been extremely lucky she hadn’t decided to use it on him. When they looked like they had been put through an industrial shredder. Tina threw them out of the window onto the street below. That night she slept on the spare bed, cuddling Tilly, who had been as frightened by the commotion as Tina had been.
“What the hell happened to you, Daz?” one of his posse asked him the next Tuesday in the pub.
“I got into a bit of bother outside a nightclub in Exeter,” Daz told him, “Fucking marines from Lympstone.”
“You got done in by baby marines?”
“There were three of the bastards and two of them won’t be doing the assault course this week.”
“You never told us you were heading to Exeter for the nightlife this weekend. I thought you were seeing Tasty Tina?”
“Miserable bitch had a cold and Christ, did she go on about it. Got fucked off with it, so I’ve blown her out. Listen, Paulie, can I borrow your car for a couple of nights, my Ute’s playing up.”
“Err OK, Daz, so long as you don’t use all the petrol.”
There was nothing wrong with his 4×4 utility vehicle. He wanted a car that Tina wouldn’t recognise.
She could sense there was something wrong the moment she opened the door to the flat upstairs. Tina delved in her bag for the pepper spray and made a cautious ascent up the stairs. She listened for a long time outside the inner door, then cautiously opened it. Her flat had been trashed, cushions and pillows slashed but what made her wail and sob in desperation was the sight of her cat Tilly, who had been nailed to her bedroom door. Next to the clearly dead cat was a crude, handwritten note.
YOU DIFIED ME YOU STUPID BITCH AND NOBODY DIFIES ME.
YOU TELL THE FUCKIN POLICE IF YOU DARES
BUT PEOPLE WILL SWEAR I WAS WITH THEM
POLICE WONT BELIEVE A JUNKIE LIKE YOU.
IF I DO GO AWAY IT WONT BE FOR LONG
WHEN I GETS OUT ILL BE LOOKING FOR YOU
AND YOULL END UP LIKE YOUR FUCKIN CAT.
NOBODY DIFIES ME YOU BITCH.
Tina began howling in impotent grief.
© Blown Periphery 2018