Thursday, June 2, 2011
His heart feels like it's going to explode and he didn't realise how heavy a 5' Asian woman could be. Being inconspicuous, getting her into the vehicle is a nightmare as he struggles with the limp carcass now wrapped in a heavy woollen blanket covered with a Sulo bin liner. He tries to disguise the thing like a roll of carpet since he knows even under the cover of darkness, prying eyes could be upon him as he lumbers with her in his arms. She's still fucking warm and it creeps him out.
He's already opened the tailgate but trips on the pavers almost dropping the dead weight before regaining his balance. He's sweating. He never sweats. He's one of those people who could sit for half an hour in a sauna and barely feel it's heat. But this time there's a profusion of glistening beads decorating his forehead and half shaven top lip.
He lugs his cargo into the back. There'll be law enforcement out tonight being a public holiday, and double demerits. He remembers he's unlicensed but has to take the risk. Locks his front door. No wait, it's her front door, how could he forget? "Get a grip, need to focus." Looks around the complex. It's dark except for artificial moonlight shone by solar markers in the driveway. Nobody seems to be watching as he slips into the vehicle, leans his elbows on the steering wheel and puts his hands to his head; he takes a few deep breaths. "Fuck . . . fuck, fuck!" he can now enunciate without being heard. "Gotta think quick, this wasn't supposed to happen." His lack of calm uncharacteristic.
The SUV glides silently towards the chasm, only the delicate sound of crushed stone beneath its tyres betray its presence. He hasn't got a disposal plan but time is precious. He needs to get rid of 'it' and quick; then think up an alibi. He's smart enough to do that at least as he stealthily edges towards a point in the darkness where she'll never be found. He hauls the roll from the rear of the vehicle and kicks it carelessly into the black and brackish water below. She's a lightweight, even blanketed and barely makes a splash.
He returns to the four-wheel-drive, engine still running and screams along the dirt track back towards the highway. "Gotta think, gotta think quick." The voices in his head a stark contrast to the quietness on the roads as his heart rate slows, he has time to think and hatch a course of action to cover his tracks.
He'd been bitter since they separated and had only gone over to her place to whinge about her not paying the phone bill before she left. His bitterness was disproportionate and a fury was raging long before he knocked upon her door. She'd lied to him, kept the secret to herself until after she left. He didn't mean to fight but it escalated as it always does. Screaming matches between them characteristic of a volatile relationship. He can't recall ever having a civilised discussion or a rational exchange. "You're not the first you know . . " she'd thrown that missile at him in the heat of battle. "You never asked so I never told, you just assumed. But I fucked him long before I fucked you! And I'm fucking him now, long after I've left you!" It wasn't that she'd been with another man, it was that she'd been with his best friend and both had held their liaison close. He'd suspected of course, but having it in the open was more than he could bear. The rage within him rose and he'd hit her hard against her face with an open fist. She'd fallen, groggy as he grabbed the lamp - a demon took him over and he smashed her face beyond all recognition. She barely murmured, just lay there bleeding and still.
It's not felt like Charles' house since he retired. A corporate director, lost without his business kudos and adoration of his underlings in a home that she controls; a kitchen she possesses. He misses the validation of a high-flying position and has resorted to the bottle. Not in a violent way, he's a gentle man but gets sozzled in an armchair and blithers his way to bed, bouncing, uncoordinated along the corridor before crashing on plush pillows and snoring incessantly. She's loved him for 30 years but the snoring drives her mad. Only when she chooses to avoid the night-time ruckus and moves into the spare room, does he realise there's a problem. He swears off the drink. "Fine!" she isn't convinced, "Pick me up from work, at least it'll keep you off the scotch." He agrees, he knows and he really doesn't mind. It's a short drive, 10 minutes and the roads are quiet at that time of night, he does it four nights a week, a doddle really. At 10:10pm he reaches for the remote control and douses the late evening news, retrieves the keys to the Honda and heads for the door. Combs stout fingers through his silver hair, tucks in his shirt and leaves to pick her up.
She's dreaming, or thinks she is. The faint sounds of sirens swim within a subconscious brain. She's half aware of the front door opening. It's late. The children are asleep. She's in that betwixt and between world of dozing that makes her leg twitch and jump as she wakes with a start. "Liz?" it's a whisper but a familiar voice as she dusts the dog off the bed and peers above the quilt, "Annie? What? What the hell are you doing here?" Her sister's shadow in the doorway is undetailed and dark, she isn't alone her brother-in-law is close behind. "Something's happened to mum," her sister's voice quivers, on the brink of tears.
"There's been an accident, a bad accident. Frank's at the hospital picking up Dad." It's hard to describe that feeling, that cold wave, heart-thumping moment of dread and foreboding. Why had her father called her brother and not her, she lives next door? What had happened? Were the sirens real? She had it, that sickly surge of panic. She didn't want it. "Is mum alright?" Her sister doesn't answer, she's not sure what to say but the tears give it away, "I don't think so, we're waiting to hear."
They chat happily in the car on the way home, her all in white, excitable and talkative. He loves the way she looks in her nurse's uniform, pristine and professional and he recalls how proud he was when she achieved "Midwife of the Year. He'd protested about her going back to work and studying but it had paid off and made her happy. He wanted to see her happy. She prattles on about difficult deliveries and arrogant doctors. He listens and smiles, feeling good that he's not had a drink, doesn't need a drink. Until the flash of white light blinds him. The four-wheel-drive aims and is barreling towards them at speed and with purpose. Instinct makes him swerve to the right. The sound of twisted metal deafens as the huge vehicle collides with the passenger side of his car. The mechanical scream pierces the silence of the night as everything slows down; the exploding glass, the unearthly noise, the spinning, their movement, her gasp and the trickle of blood from above his eye.
As the ambulance speeds the injured into the darkness, a calm man is interviewed at the roadside. He's unhurt, a little shaken but not from the accident. He caused it, he meant to. What better alibi than being interviewed by the police at the time he was disposing of her body 25kms away. What better way to deny involvement. What better way to separate yourself from a crime of passion than to cause a minor incident, a diversion. He's smug as he casts his lies and spins his tale. But they didn't come down with the last shower, his body language is wrong, his calmness uncharacteristic and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out what's gone on. He's arrested, first for dangerous driving, then for manslaughter, then for murder. Small comfort for two evil deeds.
For the midwife, it's too late. Tuberculosis as a young nurse claimed half her lung, the collision claimed the other. A man is widowed, children motherless, grandchildren will never 'know' their Nana.
A lie becomes a murder. A crime requires a diversion. A diversion becomes a death. A death becomes a trial. A trial becomes a truth. Too late for the mother that four held dear.
Posted for The Tenth Daughter of Memory "Mother Dearest"