Friday, January 9, 2009
The police dragged a body out of the Laver this morning. Felicia and I watched from the bridge on Steepling Lane as they worked. It was a sad little affair. Two police cars (do they still call them panda cars? I haven’t heard that since the seventies) Mister Chambers, the coroner in his diesel guzzling 4x4 and an ambulance, the two medics sitting on the tailgate sharing a thermos cup of tea.*
It was cold, this morning. It was only a little after dawn and the ground was still hard with frost. You could see the breath from the five men as they stood over the body. The coroner will pronounce her as a death by misadventure and have her sent back to the morgue for an autopsy. Poor sod. At least her identity isn’t in question. Mrs. Jean Dawlish, of 45, Pottery Way, Laverstone. She has her driving licence in her purse in the (currently frozen shut) inside pocket of her flimsy jacket.
I took her soul, you see. She was grateful for it, too, having endured fourteen knife wounds to her torso, face and hands two nights ago in the car park of the Old Mill public House. I was the only one to witness the crime, apart from her husband, who had been waiting there for three hours for her to come out. I had advance warning of her death (fornication, adultery, gluttony and hedonism) and he had an anonymous tip-off pushed under his door by a concerned neighbour.
If she’d finished her passionate liaison at, say, 11:15 she’d have got an earful and three days of the silent treatment. Midnight, and she’d have got a slap in the face and a trip to her mother’s for a week or two but three hours in the sub-zero temperature of the car park had turned Jason Dawlish from a mild-mannered wages clerk to a homicidal spurned lover.
The first stab into the side of her neck took her by surprise and effectively silenced her –no-one heard her screams because there were none to hear. The next three cuts were to her hands and arms – defensive wounds, the police like to call them. The fifth stopped her heart and the rest – administered while she watched, since her soul had been ejected – served only to mutilate her torso and face.
“Why?” she asked me. “He’s been having an affair for years. Why’s he so upset that I had one?”
“His ended yesterday,” I told her as I led her away from the scene. “He couldn’t bear to know you were getting what he wasn’t.”
The morning mist obscured the pools of blood until the rain began, washing them all away. It will take a determined forensics officer to find the crime scene now, though the task will be assisted by the amount of DNA Jean had on her body. Unfortunately, it all belongs to her lover, the landlord of the Old Mill.
Felicia huffed at the removal of the body. “That’s a good meal wasted,” she said.
*I hope it was tea. I hope that the National Health Service hasn’t declined so far that ambulance men will drink coffee. Who ever heard of offering somebody a coffee when they’ve had a shock?