Rude Awakening

It wasn’t the sound of the sirens filling the night or the blue lights flashing through the curtains that woke me early on that cold January morning, it was a nagging doubt which entered my sleep world and made me aware of them. I have always been a light sleeper but the amount of alcohol I consumed earlier that night sent me into an unconscious stupor. The effects were wearing off fast and I felt my body ache through sleeping in the chair. Looking around, trying to grasp where and even who I was, lit by the flashing lights which were now entering my blurred vision. I stood up unsteadily and tried to maintain my balance. The low table conspired with my dull brain to trip me up and I fell onto the carpet along with the empty vodka and wine bottles. As I crawled forward through this melee I felt or rather sensed that I was not alone.

In the glow of blue light I saw her, reclined on the sofa and I was kneeling by her feet. She was covered in a dark river of blood, which had oozed on to the carpet and all over me. In the dim light I tried to focus on my hand and found it was covered in the thick red stuff. I raised myself onto my knees and looked at her face. “Who was she; what was she doing here?” In fact, more to the point “What was I doing there, in a strange room covered in someone else’s blood?” It was a question I couldn’t answer but I was sobering up fast enough to realise I may be in some trouble if I didn’t have the answer to those questions. I looked at the face of a dead person, unseeing eyes stared back at me and I knew I would get no answers from her. Her throat had been cut and by the way the blood was congealed it had happened a few hours ago. My stomach began to heave and churn but I controlled it and didn’t vomit on what was now, I realised, a crime scene.

The cogs in my brain began slowly to turn and I realised that I had try to make sense of what had happened. There had been no loud bang at the door, no shouting, no crashing and splintering of wood as the door was smashed open. All was quiet and outside even the sirens had been silenced. I stood up and walked unsteadily to the window, pulled back the curtain a couple of inches and looked at the scene on the road adjacent. An ambulance was stopped, its rear doors wide open as two paramedics lifted a stretcher inside. A damaged car and a broken motorcycle stood at the kerb, while vehicles struggled to manoeuvre between, squeezing past the scene, their drivers trying to work out what had happened. The sirens and lights had not been for me.

I flicked a switch but no light flooded the room. I peered through the gloom and the body was seated on the left side of a small shabby sofa and the rest of the room was untidy; lived in but not by her; well not now anyway. She was no longer living. If this was her home then she wasn’t wealthy, by any stretch of the imagination, but it was homely and clean.

I recognised nothing in the room as I viewed things through unfamiliar eyes. Looking around me I took in the entrance door which was bolted and had a strong chain across, so no one had gone out that way. The bathroom door was half-open and I peered inside but it was empty. The other room was a small kitchen and again this was empty, the window firmly locked. I was struggling to come to terms with all this. A woman was dead, her throat cut and I was locked in with her. As I looked around, bewildered, I saw the glint of metal on the carpet near the now broken coffee table. It was a kitchen knife and even from where I was standing I could see it was covered with blood.

Sitting down opposite her I tried to take stock of what had happened but my mind was adding things up and not finding solutions. Could I have done it? No, I knew I didn’t have it in me to murder someone, especially with a knife at close quarters, never. But all the evidence pointed to that, certainly when the police eventually find her I will be the prime suspect. I leaned back in the chair suddenly feeling weary and I felt as though I needed desperately to sleep.

Suddenly I was awoken by the terrific noise of the front door crashing open and two police officers stepping inside. One officer went to the woman and looking at her shook his head to the other policeman who stood by me. I tried to get up but I was so tired it was impossible to move.

“Looks like she killed him” I heard him say. “Then killed herself”

 

© 2012 Steve Cripwell • All Rights Reserved

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