Archive for January 18th, 2012

18th January
2012
written by amber

Homicide is Where the Heart Is

White picket fence, pots of geraniums lining the cement walk, gingham curtains at the window, two cats peeping from behind the fabric. I felt as if I was walking into a 1950’s sitcom. Except for the dead body lying just inside the front door.

Blunt force trauma is never pretty, but in this charming home it seemed especially ugly. The instrument of the trauma lay next to the body. A shovel.

“The wife’s a witness,” my men told me. “She’s waiting next door with the neighbour. She’s pretty shook up.”

As well she might be, I thought.

I took my time, wandered through the house, finding nearly everything clean and orderly other than the crime scene. Little plaques with verses about love hung on the walls. Dishes were washed and drying in a rack next to the sink, three pet dishes sat ready in the back porch, labelled ‘Frizzly,’ ‘Soxsie’ and ‘Nibbles.’ The bathroom was sparkling, the shower stall damp but all the towels dry and neatly folded. In the bedroom, the bed had been made but lain on afterwards, the small garbage bin next to the bed heaped with wadded tissues.

I stepped outside. I’d noticed the garage open and the car parked halfway down the driveway when I’d arrived. Now I saw that the hood was badly battered – more blunt force trauma.

“What does the wife say?” I asked one of my men as he escorted me to the neighbour’s house.

“She says there was an intruder. She was in the bedroom and heard a commotion, came out and saw a young man with a scraggly beard and dark shadows beneath his eyes, ‘like someone who doesn’t get enough sleep,’ she said. He was beating her husband with the shovel, which she identified as their own, normally stored in the garage. When he saw her, the young man ran away, grabbing her husband’s wallet before he ran.”

The wife sat at the kitchen table in the house next door, the neighbour holding her hand, an untouched cup of tea in front of her. Not a young woman, but not as middle-aged as she appeared, I surmised, in her lank unstyled hair and shapeless pink track suit with a cartoon kitten on the front. I expressed my condolences, then began asking questions.

“Why was your husband home at this time on a work day?”

She answered promptly. I was not the first to ask this question, nor would I be the last. “He got ready to go, then didn’t feel well. He told me he was going to rest for a while in the living room. I lay down on our bed, I wasn’t feeling well either. Maybe it was something we ate.”

“A stomach upset?”

“Yes.”

“Can you speculate on why the intruder would have responded so violently to your husband’s presence in the house?”

Again she did not hesitate. “Well, of course, he didn’t want anyone to see him robbing our house.”

“So, why then do you think he ran when you appeared on the scene?”

This gave her pause. At last she said, “Because…I had a gun. I took my husband’s gun from his side of the bed and brought it with me. I aimed it at that boy.”

I looked at my man. He shook his head. I asked her, “Why didn’t you mention this before?”

“I forgot all about it. I put it away before, I mean after I phoned for help. That gun frightens me. It’s the first time I’ve ever touched it.”

I thanked her and walked back to the house with my man. “Have them dig up the back yard,” I told him.

“What – do you think there are more bodies buried?”

“Yes. One. The body of a cat. And book her for murder.”

“Why?”

“She killed him with the shovel he’d just used to bury the cat he ran over. She loves her cats more than she loved her husband.”

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line or topic suggestions in the Comment section of any story. If you’d like me to use your name in a story, I’d be happy to do that.