"It doesn't make sense. . . it just doesn't . . ." A sobbing mother glances at the scrawled note left by her son - "I'm sorry? Sorry for what, he was a good kid, he never did anything wrong?"
The detective mounting his enquiries was unmoved. He'd seen suicide many times, nothing unusual about the overly pink and bloated body in the Holden Commodore, now quiet in the Steadman's garage. The house surrounded with Coroner's tape and nosy neighbours peering across the street at the commotion. The young man's body zipped, locked and loaded into the bland coroner's van.
"Mrs Steadman, we're sorry for you loss but this looks clear cut. There's no sign of interference, no fingerprints other than your son's and husband's on the car. The note unclear but in his hand."
Poor solace for a mother who has just lost her only son. Adam Steadman takes his distraught wife by the shoulders and steers her gently into the bedroom.
"C'mon love. Take this, it'll help you sleep. Nothing more to be done now. We'll plan the funeral later."
Malcolm wasn't the suicidal type. He was not only an adept student but a practised and up-and-coming Moto-cross star. Already sponsored by KTM he was a keen and aggressive competitor. If anything was going to kill him, it would be the risks he took. The jumps and acrobatics he performed, his love of speed and the adrenalin rush. Suicide just made no sense at all. Yet there it was, a life snuffed out, a soul released into the ether, gone.
"You're wasting your time Grant. There are real crimes to solve out there. Pull it down. I've got more pressing cases for you to attend to."
His commander had grown impatient with Grant's obsession and it was time to move on.
"One more avenue, Sir. Just let me investigate a little further, something doesn't add up."
Grant was a thorough investigator and his superior knew it. But he was a valued resource and wasting time on a bunch of young adult suicides wasn't a productive use of his time.
"Two weeks. Two! Then it comes down and into the archives."
"Thank you sir." Grant returns his gaze to the board in the noisy crime room. Fumbles through his filing cabinet and withdraws dossiers on each victim. What has he missed?
He was reluctant to let her know where he lived. Not to be dissuaded from her one true love, she conjured scenarios for his evasion. Perhaps he's embarrassed about his house? Perhaps he's immersed in some creative project. Perhaps he's cautious and wants to meet on neutral ground. Whatever his reasons, they were accepted. She had decided he was for her. His words had been gentle and encouraging until recently. He was right, always right, she wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed, he was right to criticise her the way he did, helpful to correct her when she was wrong, concerned enough to help her address her flaws and improve her intellect. He was a creative and intellectual warrior, enforcing right and amending wrongs. He would be her teacher, mentor, lover, companion and the focal point of her world. Indeed, in her mind, he already was.
"Leis? You OK." After his previous shellacking he wasn't game to enter unannounced.
"Piss off!" She' yelled at the closed door, "Just go away." More sobs followed her abuse.
"Did he hurt you? Did he say something hurtful? I'll beat the shit out of him if he did."
"No, no it's OK. He's right, he's always right. I'm stupid, I don't get shit. I'll be fine. Just . . ."
Carl couldn't wait for permission and barged in to find her face down, her head in her pillow, mascara staining the pink floral fabric. He positioned himself beside her and began to stroke her hair.
"He's not worth it honey. He's just another jerk."
She turned as he lay beside her, their faces almost touching.
"But I think I'm in love with him Carl. He's amazing, interesting, charming. I'm going to Brisbane. I'm going to see him, see if it can work out."
Carl contained the building rage and stroked her hair.
"That's not such a good idea. You'll be alone, he could do anything. I'll come with if you want. Just in case. I'll be in the background, you can call if you need me."
The closeness of his breath, the warmth of his body and the fragility of her emotional state surrendered to Carl's embrace. He kissed her warmly, deeply and she responded. His hand slid from her breasts to pubis and slipped easily between her legs. Slender fingers working to a crescendo. Her moans, almost involuntary, gave way to an explosion of pleasure. But it wasn't Carl she was imagining. He'd had his day, his moment in the sun. It was Lou's breath, Lou's hand bringing her to arousal. Lou's words that caressed her ears.
"So, I can come?"
Leisl, is resolute. This has to be done alone.
"No Carl. And no more of this. We're done. It's over. I don't love you that way any more. It's me and Lou from now on. I'm sorry, but that's the way it has to be!"
Another invisible barb pierces her brother's heart as he rises to leave. This time, he steels himself against the pain, hardens himself against the hurt, resolves that this Lou, would not steal the only love of his life. She is his, and always will be.
Continued in Running Flind In a House of Mirrors