Being inspired, maybe – 51
A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like. For instance:
And, then, the words:
I was running without a plan.
There hadn't been time.
All I knew was that I arrived home at half past four in the afternoon, a half hour before I usually did, went inside, as I always did, through the door from the garage to the passage that led to the kitchen, and unlike every other time, I stopped dead in my tracks.
You would too if you saw what I saw.
A dead woman laid out on the kitchen bench with three knives in her torso, and blood pooling beside her head, and dripping down onto the floor.
A woman who was not my wife, who was not someone I knew. I'd never seen her before.
The shock of seeing her like that robbed me of five minutes clear thinking time.
Then, as the initial shock wore off, the first thing that came into my mind was to call the police. I even reached for the phone.
I stopped just before I put my hand on the receiver. A voice was screaming inside my head, consequences.
Well, son, you're obviously the first person to find the body, those knives the killer used, you use them all the time, whose fingerprints do you think are on them?
Jesus Christ. The cops were going to think I did it.
Unless the killer was stupid enough not to use gloves. No, he took the trouble to killer her in my house, this killer wasn't stupid.
The house was empty, Mandy and the children had gone to her mother's for the holidays, to help her recover from a serious operation. It was just me, and I'd stayed in the city the previous night, and I sometimes did, to get an early start the next morning.
The killer had to know I wouldn't be home.
The neighbours! They will have seen me arrive home. Especially that busybody across the street, Mrs Jones. Someone told him she made notes of movements in the street, people, cars, trucks, anything out of the normal.
I closed my eyes, hoping the whole scene would be gone when I opened them again.
That voice was in my ear again, screaming, run.
But I didn't do it.
No, who do you think will be at the top of their list of suspects?
But I didn't do it!
I didn't go any further, just turned around and retraced my steps to the garage, got in the car, opened the garage door, reversed out, stopped and exited till the door closed, then sedately drove off. Like I had forgotten to go to the market on the way home.
Nothing unusual about that. Mrs Jones would have nothing to report.
Inside, I was anything but calm. I didn't know what to do, or where to go. I thought of calling Mandy and decided against it, then my brother, who was a criminal lawyer but decided against that too.
By that time I was on the open road, just opened after the last heavy snowfall, and in the half dusk, the snow was still piled next to the road, and trucks had carved tread tracks through the underlying ice. The roads were treacherous, and with night falling, ice would soon be a factor.
My haste to get away had been slowed down by the conditions.
Two hours out, I was slowed to a crawl behind a snow plough fighting a losing battle against the steady snowfall. The temperature had dropped below freezing and the road was slowly freezing over. The car had slipped several times, and it was time to pull over at the next town.
Then the phone rang.
The shrill sound of the ring tone pierced the inside of the car and scared me half to death.
I looked at the screen.
Nothing. No caller ID. I ignored it.
A minute after the ringing stopped, it started again.
Could be someone from work.
Mandy? What was she doing ringing from a phone with no ID? Perhaps the battery in her phone was flat, again. She was hopeless at remembering things like that.
"You need to talk to your brother."
"I think he's done something ..." I could hear what sounded like the phone being snatched off her, then another voice was speaking.
"I've got myself into a little mess. Sorry, but I think you've been dragged into it."
The body in the kitchen? My brother was not a killer.
"Dragged into what Phil?"
"Have you been to your house?"
"No." No point admitting I had. Not yet. "Why?"
"Some people I know have left a package there."
A package. It was more than a package, it was a dead body.
"What do you want me to do about it?"
"I suggest you go pick it up before anyone else goes there. If you don't, then, God, I'm so sorry David. It was not meant to happen like this."
The line went dead.
I couldn't believe my ears. The dead body belonged to my brother? Or was a result of something he did? Impossible. The man was as straight as a die.
I was distracted for just a second, time enough for a moose to wander onto the road, and stopped dead in front, mesmerised by the headlights. I slammed my foot on the brake, but ice and motion didn't want to play their part.
The car veered, just missing the moose, but heading straight for the ravine on the side of the road. No amount of pressing the brake pedal was going to stop this car, or me, from going over the edge.
Last thought, just before the car hit a tree, if I died, someone else would have to sort out my brother's problems.
© Charles Heath 2019