Being inspired, maybe – 66

A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like.  For instance:

And, then, the words:

This was meant to be a quiet suburban neighbourhood.

That was what I believed it would be the day we were out looking at houses to start our new life together.  That was the dream, meet, get to know each other, get married and move into the place where you intended to spend the rest of your life together.

We both had the same dream and for the first six months, it was exactly that.  A dream come true.
Until the next-door neighbours, a family of husband, Jerry, and wife, Kerry, son, Billy, and twin daughters, Isobel and Lenore, were murdered in their beds, early one morning.

We saw and heard nothing.

It was, quite literally, the quietest neighbourhood we'd ever seen.  The only noise that could be heard was the odd petrol lawn mower because most people had electric gardening tools.

The same went for the neighbours on the other side.  They saw and heard nothing either.

Somehow I don't think the police believed us.  I got that impression from the demeanour of the police inspector, and his assistant, who was now standing in our lounge room, digesting the comment both o and having a had told them in answer to their first question.

"No cars, no doorbell, no knock on the door, no gunshots?"

"Were they shot, then?" I asked.

A key piece of information conceded.  I could see mentally curse himself.

"We are still working on possible causes, and considering all of the possibilities.  It would progress our investigation if you have any information whatsoever."

"Well, something did happen last night though I'm not sure if it's relevant," Jacinta said, looking sideways at me, a glance that was not missed by the inspector.

"Anything could be relevant, no matter how innocuous it seems."

"It was about 2:30 in the morning, I heard something on our roof.  I suspect it was either a possum or next doors cat, which had happened before.  But," she added hastily, seeing a look of scepticism coming on his face, "Jerry had told us when we moved in that their cat sometimes escaped and like running across roofs and ours in particular.  It's possible the cat escaped when the people who committed those murder arrived, which if I'm not mistaken would put the time of death soon after 2:30 in the morning, would it not?"

A reader of detective novels and watching tv shows of a similar genre, Jacinta had the look of an amateur detective.

The accompanying detective wrote a note in his book.

"It's a possibility."

The expression on the accompanying detective's face told a different story.

He said, "can you think of anything else that may have happened?"

Jacinta looked like she was trying to think of more, but I doubted there was.  I knew she sometimes had trouble sleeping, particularly because it was so quiet, which is why she took sleeping pills.  If she had been awake at that time, any recollection would have been hazy at best.  But I knew the cat did get on the roof, I'd heard it myself, followed by muted calls from Kerry trying to coax it back.

"Did you hear Kerry calling out his name?" I asked.  Then quickly added for the inspectors benefit, "Kerry  had a phobia the cat would get run over if it got out, and called out to it if she knew it escaped."

"No, she didn't, which I thought was odd.  It's probably why the event stuck in my mind."  She looked at the inspectors assistant, "That's all, I'm afraid.  Next thing I knew you came banging on our door."
There was a note of annoyance in her tone.  Sunday mornings were the only mornings she got to sleep in, and the inspector's arrival had ruined that.

"Is there anything we should be worried about, have what seems to me to be a random event, unless, of course, you know why they were singled out?"

I had to say it worried me that it could just as easily been us rather than then, except for the fact we had better perimeter security that they did.  In fact, I think all they had was an alarm system that was activated only when the left the house.  Ours worked in various zones in the house and had to be deactivated if we left the bedroom.

"It's only early stages in the investigation.  Do you know if they had any visitors that might have reason to hurt them?"

I looked at Jacinta, who had if anything, a blank expression, the one she had when was getting bored.
"I did hear, some months ago, Kerry's father called him a waste of space, which was none of my business.  I just happened to be littering in the back yard, and they were talking."

"About anything in particular."

"I thought it was about a loan he'd made so they could buy the house, and he hadn't begun to repay it, but I could be wrong.  You know how such conversations can be misheard and misrepresented."

Evidently, the inspectors assistant was under no such illusion and was frantically scribbling in his notebook.

"Anything else?"

"No," I said.

"No," Having a said, then added, as if she just thought of it, "What did the Anderson's have to say?"

The inspector glared at her.  "We are going to interview them soon."

Yet, despite what he said, I got the impression he had already talked to them.

"If that's all, then.  We may need to have some more questions for you."

Another meaningful look at the pair of us, he and his assistant left.

Three minutes passed, three agonisingly slow minutes, before the man came out of the study, gun pointing directly at Jacinta.

"You did well.  Now, all we have to is wait for the police to leave, and I'll be gone.  So, in the meantime, make some coffee will you?"

© Charles Heath 2019


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