Luke stared sourly at the corpse of the young blonde woman. Her tongue looking like grape flavored bubble gum stuffed in her mouth. Her eyes had rolled back in her head. Faint green irises arcing underneath the top lid. The crown of her head was all soft and mushy from being banged against the wall – “banged” being the operative word. Disturbingly it was all post-mortem damage, including her badly broken neck. Luke didn’t realize he had been holding his breath and slowly let out a long sigh. Another brutal murder to deal with.
The victim’s hands had been bagged which was standard practice, and her feet too. Water had a nasty way of washing things away or diluting them which made a wet crime scene a much more challenging task. This is what Luke had trained for, had spent his rookie time dealing with. It’s not that he had wanted a murder to happen, but of course he obviously wanted to use his skills to the best of his ability. It made him wonder if he had made the right choice about coming to a small town. You could run but you couldn’t hide. We all are what we are and it stays with us. He gathered his thoughts back to the damp blonde cadaver in front of him. Strangulation seemed the most obvious cause of her death but ultimately that ruling would be up to the medical examiner. Maybe the broken neck did it – although his experience indicated that this was not the case. The bruising was in the front of the throat, over the larynx. Even though you could see by the angle and movement of the body that her neck was broken, there was no haematoma in the area of the break, no blood was flowing when this injury happened – no blood – no heartbeat – no life. Maybe she had drowned… doubtful. Bruises gathered like ominous storm clouds around the front of her throat, the odd finger impression amongst the bruises. The injury to her head hadn’t created much blood also due to the fact that she had been lifeless at the time.
Luke desperately wanted to punch something. Not with that spiraling, hopeless kind of flail, but a punch with a fist holding a knife into this piece of shits’ eye kind of flail.
The bastard had worn gloves and some kind of body suit too – a cycling outfit? A wet-suit? Gloves, balaclava too, this guy was good. The only evidence found at the crime scene was a few black fibers which could be something and nothing. The lab would try to identify them although the fiber content was minimal. Unfortunately there were so many different and common types of fibers and they could come from anywhere. Fortunately though, a database has been maintained and added to continuously since the 80’s of every fiber that has been located to easier identify them on databases, so that was a bonus. It was a long shot ultimately but you always had to try, always.
Luke needed to take a mosey around the house. He paused in certain rooms, obscenely aware that he didn’t want to make up the story of what happened – he wanted to read it from the crime scene.
Firstly, there was no obvious break-in point, no smashed window or jimmied doors. Did she know the guy? A window was open off the patio side of the home, but it had been hooked up on its sash. Would a killer take the time? It made him safer if he did bother to replace things and make things look normal. Nothing out of place. He’s a pedantic prick too, thought Luke, feeling an awkward twinge as he recognized the same characteristic in himself. All the doors were still locked. He must’ve just strolled on in – no effort, no break-in, no leftovers – nothing. The woman’s’ body – really the hands and feet were all they had to go on. If there was anything to go on. He wandered around the empty house, for she had been long gone. The voices of the forensic team in the bathroom where she lay became fainter as he walked further down the hall. He saw the phone and headed towards it, wondering if there were any messages left on it or potential threats or indicators – any fucking thing would be gratefully accepted. No lights were flashing on the answer machine – no new messages. Luke didn’t want to start pressing buttons even though he had gloves on. If there was anything on there it was going to be located by forensics. He flipped carefully through her phone book with a pen, which was resting on a small table near the phone in the hallway. He leapt out of his skin as the phone began to ring – a startling, brash sound in the uncomfortable hushed house. It rang four times and then switched to the answer-phone. Leanne’s voice from the past echoed through the sad house.
“Hey there, sorry I can’t take your call. Please leave your name and number and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can…” She was going to take a while in getting back to anything.
Vibrant and alive, she was not.
“Hey it’s me – it’s seven-thirty-something and I just wanted you to know I’m on my way. We can drop your car off before we go to the bank. I hope you’re not answering because you are ready and waiting for me outside – on time for once. Unless of course, your date was super successful and you’re being a dirty stop-out! Bye. “…. beeeep!
Shit! Thought Luke – some poor woman is on her way over to pick up her friend who is non-existent.
Taken by some evil being. Well, there was nothing else to do – this was his job and he had to deal with it. He felt uncomfortable, even when you have done this as many times as he had it should never get any easier. Luke reckoned if it didn’t make you feel like this, then it was time to get out of the business. He became more and more edgy as the minutes ticked ridiculously slowly by. He was jerked into reality seconds later by the tooting of a distant horn. That’s her – he thought, in fact he absolutely knew it was her. She’s tooting to let her dead friend know she’s not far away. He was going to ruin her day – a whole lot of days, possibly her life.
He reluctantly opened the door and walked with purpose down the driveway towards the slowing car. The woman in the car looked already crushed. He could see her face slowly changing as numerous possibilities, none of them good, crowded into her head as to why the coroner and police vehicles were outside her friend’s house. The tape was only just being put up by that rookie kid.
The apprehensive woman wound down the window.
“Are you guys at Leanne’s house? The coroner…? Is it … Did she…?” Fuck, I didn’t know what to ask! Say! DO! I didn’t really have to ask though, did I? As I already knew Leanne was dead. I felt numb but like my body was electrified. The police guy hadn’t even said anything but the dread and fear was like a punch in the heart. I felt pathetic and hopeless. My body retreated into shock and I began to shake. Like only a matter of seconds had gone by but I felt I was cemented in some night terror and that centuries had passed. The detective-looking guy who was standing in the driveway looking at me came closer to the car and hunkered down near my door. The car tilted slightly as he leant on the window.
“I’m Detective Luke Devlin – I’m so sorry to have to be the one to tell you about the death of your friend. You are the person who rang her house a few minutes ago?” He asked. He didn’t like to use words like ‘passing’ as it didn’t often get to the part of the brain it needed to, to register properly. Especially when it was the kind of news that repulsed people, that they didn’t want to hear or accept the truth of. The word, death on the other hand, left no doubt.
I nodded, unable to speak, somebody was making a strange noise. He waited briefly. He put his head down and then looked towards the house, then back to me. I could feel my face turning into a sour lemon look as it puckered up its disbelief. Tears fell out before I even knew I was crying. The weird sound was me. The detective what’s his name let me blubber incomprehensibly for a while, it wasn’t sinking in and he knew that but he needed to ask questions and I wanted to help. My god I didn’t even know what day it was, where or who I was or what was happening. I was falling and spinning, spinning and falling – no one was catching me. That would’ve been Leanne…I’m crushed.
“I’m Sinclair – Leanne’s my best friend….” I choked out. We held hands at playtime in primary school. We discovered the walking paradox known as boys, together. We whispered secrets to each other that no one would ever, not in a million years, find out about. We were blood sisters – we had, with great trepidation, watched as our own and each other’s skin had peeled back from the small incisions we made on our thumbs. We eagerly squeezed the bright blood to come slowly seeping forth. Squeezing the soft skins’ chubbiness to obtain as much blood as was humanly possible. This was big – bigger than Texas and we stuck to the rules – always. When we joined our bleeding thumbs together it was like we became joined at the hip. We knew it meant forever – even though we were only nine. But a detective didn’t want to know all of that.
He had a kind face; I thought, as he turned to look at me – he seemed very earnest and direct at the same time. He cleared his throat and ran a fine-fingered hand through his thick, dark hair. He started to explain what had happened and although I thought I truly was listening, I truly was not. “We received complaints from the neighbours about a loud, repetitive C.D playing. Came to investigate and unfortunately found your friend.” He said, feeling awkward and very unprofessional. This was not the way things went. Luke felt a strange weirdness around this woman.
I was in shock. Leanne was dead! I knew before I rang her that something was not quite right. I had been woken with a strange feeling this morning. I felt sick to my stomach and shaken but didn’t know why. Now I felt like it had been a sign. The fragments of an awful dream that was actually a warning or premonition were tumbling around in my stunned mullet head.
I looked up at the house and it just looked empty It didn’t even look like Lee’s house anymore. The front door was open, carelessly I thought. Lee would never leave her front door open like that and why wasn’t there any yellow tape saying: CRIME SCENE – KEEP OUT? stuck over the door. I did see some officer with tape wandering around the front yard but didn’t feel it was good enough for Leanne.
I scrabbled for the door handle in a snotty haze and clambered out of the car. My whole body was shaking so I rested uneasily against the car. This was so bad! My head inside was screaming one long shriek, like a high wire, a razor blade – agonizingly piercingly real. Somehow I felt like it wasn’t happening to me, that maybe it even wasn’t me it was happening to. Was I dreaming? Had I fallen into some ‘Wonderlandic’ hole? I had to ask him something – I had to know.
“How … How was she ki..k..killed?” I ask in a crackly whisper.
I didn’t want to look at him. I didn’t’ want to see the words come out of his mouth and have to hear them too. If they did, I wanted to batter them back into his face and tell him to shut the fuck up – Lee was fine!
”She was having a bath and she was attacked…” This was harder than usual for Luke; he was usually prepared before he had to deliver this horrific news. She was looking at him in a demanding way. She expected more from him – she needed more.
“She was choked to death – in her bath.” He added on. I sucked in a short breath and crumpled. He grabbed me and held me close.
“It would have been quick.” He muttered into her hair. He felt her stiffen and pull away. Her face was all crunched up as she spat out the words to him.
”Don’t you DARE bullshit me! I KNOW that it takes three to four minutes to strangle someone! She went through hell before she died…. Hell … God help me.” She was sobbing now, hysterically, “I can’t get the pictures out of my head – NEVER!” She screamed at him.
He grabbed her and wrapped her tight in his arms – rocking her very gently and stroking her hair while her body convulsed in grief and disbelief. He’d done this so many times to many different shapes, sexes and sizes of people but never had he had the feeling he was comfortable or at ease having a stranger in his arms. Even when she had just been yelling at him – even that felt comfortable. He almost felt like he’d come home. Even though he was supposed to be the comforter, he was being comforted too. This was truly an epiphany for him and a very new experience.
Eventually I managed to move, rather awkwardly, and we walked up to the front door of the house. Detective Devlin held the door open for me, or at least played gentleman as it was already open, but he waited for me. A whole truck load of scary visions flashed in my head. I could feel the murderers’ presence. He hung in the air like a black fog. Poor Leanne – the thought of what had happened to her made it hard for me to breathe. I didn’t want to suck in the same air that the killer may have expelled in this house. I didn’t want to take the air that Leanne should’ve been breathing in. I wanted it to change back to normal – change it back to a living, breathing Leanne. I headed over to the couch and perched unsteadily on the arm.
What if her killer had sat here or touched this arm of the couch – even brushed past it? The thought repulsed me so much I abruptly stood up and instead chose to gingerly stand next to the door frame in the lounge – dazed and fearful. A couple of plain clothes policeman and some uniformed guys milled around, adding bustle and noise to where there was nothing for me – I hated it. The way they touched Lee’s things – putting particular items in zip-lock bags, dusting her already meticulous home for evidence in fibers, hairs and who knows what else.
And then there were the fingerprint guys – more dusting, but this time they were messing up her home. Black powder glued itself to cupboards, doors, frames and windowsills. They were shuffling her ornaments around, moving pot plants to get to window ledges and I wanted it to stop. Lee would not be very happy with this intrusion. I wanted to go home and curl up in my bed and go backwards in time. I wanted to wake up again and for it all to be different. How can you take away someone’s best friend like that? I had wanted to blame God at first and then I found at whose feet the real blame lay. The monster that took her life was the one, and he was much easier to focus on and deal with, even though he was the unknown, he was tangible. Somehow it made it easier because in my own mind I could make him this wicked, evil, ugly person. His face would be scarred and his features distorted. In my mind he stole my beautiful friend because he needed to make himself prettier – something he would never have. He was dark and ugly – as ugly as sin…
LOOKING FOR MORE? PLEASE FOLLOW THE LINK: http://amzn.to/1llzCzg
© Kait King, 2015