It Was Him
Sometime later, ten years or so, I used to joke to myself by having a conversation with a pretend jail cellmate. For some reason the imagined cellmate was Jack, another of the account directors at work. I did not know him that well then but to my imagination he must have seemed perfect as a convicted felon. It was just like the movies; talking after lights out, just passing the dark time until the groundhog day of prison started again.
It would go like this. I imagined I would be on the top bunk lying on my back, hands clasped behind my head and I would be bragging to Jack,
“Of course there wasn’t that much blood.”
Then I would do the big pause before finishing in a deadpan voice,
“Never is, when you strangle them!’
And we would laugh and laugh.
Obviously at some point between when it happened and the time I felt comfortable to have such an internal dialogue I decided I would never be found out.
And why not? The hours, then weeks go past and before too long you forget what you were going to say to the cops if they did come; the alibis and the logical reasons why a bit of you or yours might be there on her clothes, on her skin or between her legs. But for some reason they don’t ever find her and soon it is almost like a book you read a long time ago. A book where you so identified with the lead character that what happened to him seemed to have happened to you.
At other points you wonder what will happen if they come, now that you are married with children. When your wife suddenly learns that you can never really know everything about anyone, even your life partner. What is she going to think about those hands that held hers, washed your children and carried her mother’s coffin on a hot and humid summer day with storm clouds building on the horizon? How you almost tripped under the ridiculous weight of the box carrying the body of someone who at the end looked so inconsequential you could have crumpled her up like a paper napkin.
You almost trip because you have just realised you are within two hundred metres of where you put her. And its not just the heat making you sweat, they are starting road works over there. You can see the workers in their reflective safety shirts and hardhats and you wonder how road workers feel now they have swapped coolness and comfort for enhanced visibility and sun protection. Got me thinking.
It’s not what Blackadder would call a cunning plan. But I didn’t get where I am just through flashes of brilliance. Think it through, execute when ready, have a backup and once committed to a course stick to it.
First of all is it possible. Could it stick?
It was and I thought it would, so then I started putting the pieces together.
Give the bad suit boys a shove in the right direction.
Cold case cops love bones
Plant some hidden treasures. There were things that I would miss but I had engaged with them less and less over the years; their potency steadily decreasing as time went by. Like the kit from a sport or hobby given up, their value was now better utilised by others.
Phone an anonymous tip.
Use social media and some basic technology to change some history and muddy the waters.
It took a bit of time. The wife was upset for a while. She thought the extra time away from home and my distraction was because of another woman. She was right in a way.
I am in the toilet when Jack, the account director starts calling my name. He must be standing at the bathroom door and his voice is soft and timid. I know what he is thinking. I would be the same.
Poor bloke is trying to have a nervous shit before our big meeting and here I am yelling at him.
So I go, “ What’s up Jack?” thinking our 10.30 meeting is early.
And Jack goes, “There’s people in reception.”
I know Jack well now, a hard worker but definitely not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
So I think,“ Well dur dickhead,” but before I can say anything he adds, “Marie thinks they’re cops.”
So I yell out “OK, I will be out in a minute,” and as I hear the door shut again, I wipe, stand and get myself together.
I wash and dry my hands, open the door of the toilet. Jack is outside and I smile broadly and pat him on the shoulder. The 10.30 meeting is an important one and I know Jack despite not having the need for a nervous visit to the bathroom like me, still needs a bit of a rev up. We walk confidently to the reception and of course our 10.30 meeting attendees are now in reception as well. And they see us approaching and they stand up from their chairs. But two other men are hovering at the reception desk and they see the group react to our presence and they turn and one nudges the other very subtly. They move forward and separate Jack from me, quick and easy like a mountain man splitting firewood.
Before Jack can really react he is flanked by the men and waiting for the lift. All three are talking urgently and with rising volume and the lift doors open. Our receptionist, Marie looks flustered for the first time ever.
And the last thing I see before the lift doors close and I escort the 10.30 meeting people into the adjacent boardroom is Jack; slow, dogged Jack, his mouth opening and closing, hurried indistinct words flowing out as the men listen blank faced, their shoulders in front of his to block the exit.