St Ives – Jacko’s sister

Waterhouse, John William, 1849-1917; A Mermaid
Waterhouse, John William; A Mermaid; Royal Academy of Arts; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/a-mermaid-149322

Crispin Smythe steered the pristine white speedboat out of St Ives harbour and grinned widely, his knuckles still hurt as he smugly fondled the bag of jewellery in his pocket. This should fetch a bit, Pris’s going to get the shock of her life when she sees what I’ve done to her precious picture, serve you right, bitch.

****

Priscilla Hartford-Jones was a socialite and Crispin had set his sights on her straightaway, she was the daughter of a local businessman and entrepreneur and worth a small fortune to boot. They had met at a prestigious party where she had fallen for his easy charm and good looks, all looked set for him to be on the road to a very advantageous marriage.

There was one fly in the ointment however, a dirty great bluebottle in the form of Jackie Tremayne, a swarthy self-styled artist and boat owner who ran fishing trips for the Emmets when they swarmed down in the summer season.

Pris thought the sun shone out of the little oik’s arse and flirted round him spending many nights drinking with Jacko at the Gaff Cutter, a popular watering hole on the harbour front. Things had started coming to a head when Tremayne had presented her with a painting based on the legend of the Zennor mermaid. True the picture was outstanding, the fishy woman was extremely realistic and her bust pert to say the least. Pris naturally loved the damned daub and gave it pride of place on the wall above the fireplace in her expensive apartment that looked out over the bay.

Crispin had been steadily working his way into her affections and this was a distraction that, in his eyes, Pris did not need. Worse still she had begun to divide her time between both men but after a long argument she agreed to see more of Crispin, allowing him to move some of his things into her home. Despite this, and her assurance that it was just friendship with Tremayne he would often find himself glaring jealously at the picture. You are not ruining this for me my friend, one day you and I are going to sort things out.

“Are you sleeping with that toe-rag artist?” he asked one night after she had returned very late from a girl’s night out.

“I never said we were exclusive my lover,” Pris’ emphasised in a mock Cornish accent, she was quite drunk.

“So you are?” he could feel his anger rising.

“What’s it to you Crispin, you’re only after dad’s money when all said and done?”

“Not that again Pris, I love you, you know that?” the one thing he had always liked about her was her naivety, since when had she become so perceptive? “They’re his words aren’t they?”

“No, but knowing Jacko has made me realise what a conniving bastard you really are!” her inebriated state was making her loose-lipped. Priscilla looked adoringly at the picture. “He’s such a sensitive man and so good with his hands.” She side-eyed Smythe grinning slyly.

“That’s it then, it’s over! I’m sleeping over at my place tonight, you bitch!” he snarled slamming the door on the way out, best go before I do something I regret…

****

Early next evening, Tremayne was coming out of the Gaff Cutter after a quick drink when Crispin approached him in the car park. “What do you want Smythe?” he asked cautiously.

“Are you sleeping with Pris?” he snarled.

“What’s it to you?” asked the artist. “Just because you got a posh voice and a fancy name it doesn’t make you special, you’re just a money-grabbing tuss.”

Crispin enraged, held his temper back. “Why don’t you come with me to Pris’ place then she can tell us face to face who she prefers?”

“Isn’t she out in Penzance tonight?” asked Tremayne.

“No, she had a last minute cancellation,” he lied.

They walked through the back streets to the other side of the peninsula and climbed up to Pris’ apartment. “She’s not here you twat,” said Jacko after stepping inside.

“I knew that you prick, you’ve been turning Pris’ against me!” Crispin snapped.

“What do you want, an apology? Cos’ if you do you can fuck right off.” Jack felt a sudden pang of fear, he had never noticed before how much taller than him Crispin was, or how well built.

“I don’t want an apology I want to break every bone in your body but I’ve not much time so I’ll settle for this!” he punched the artist in the face breaking his nose and knocking him to the ground. “Good with your hands, Pris’ said, well let’s see how good you are after this!” Smythe stamped on each one in turn enjoying the cries of pain from the floor then dragging the artist up by his collar hit him repeatedly until he passed out…

****

Priscilla returned a short time later to find her home ransacked but far worse than that was the sight of Jacko sat propped up in the fireplace, the picture around his neck, his bruised and bloodied head protruding through the ragged hole where the mermaids face had been. “Oh god Jacko!” she pulled off the broken frame and put her arms around him. “Please don’t be dead!”

Tremayne stirred groggily. “Pris I think I need an ambulance.” He looked at his broken fingers. “Bastard!” he exclaimed.

She called 999 then sat down holding him to her. “Who did this to you my love?”

“Who do you fucking think, Crispin fucking Smythe that’s who!” he paused then said in a panicky slur. “We’ve gotta find him quick!”

“We’ll leave that to the police.”

“No we’ve gotta find him before my sister does, she don’t take kindly to anyone hurting family!”

“I didn’t know you had a sister?”

“She lives local. We don’t talk much, she’s a bit odd.”

****

Crispin Smythe or Christopher Smith, as he was known to the police in the West Midlands, was a con man with a short fuse and a history of violence. Smith had liked Priscilla, seeing her as a more than just a mark but now he’d lost it with that little prick that was the end of that. Smith had taken over a thousand pounds the silly bitch had left in a drawer along with two of her credit cards and all of her expensive jewellery. He would have to get rid of this nice boat he had coerced Pris into buying him but hey-ho, he would see what tomorrow brought. Smith was keeping close to the coastline heading north in the falling dusk when he saw something white in the water close to the shore, it was a woman who was obviously in trouble and waving frantically. He thought about ignoring her and leaving her to her fate but decided he had been enough of a bastard tonight so steered towards the pale figure. She began swimming towards the boat and he realised she was naked, the nights looking up he thought as he reached over the side to help her aboard. The face seemed very familiar and he realised that she looked just like the mermaid in Tremayne’s painting then Smith recoiled in shock as she smiled at him baring needle sharp teeth like those of a predatory fish. The creature grabbed his arms and clung to them with a vice like grip as he reeled back in horror half lifting her out of the water.

The shock of seeing her toothy smile was nothing compared to that of seeing her scaled lower half, he screamed as she hissed pulling him into the sea. A golden tail flipped briefly out of the water before disappearing beneath it, leaving the smart white boat drifting alone.

 

© Kyt Wright 2019