No Body, No Crime

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

A short story based on my favourite song (same as the title).

‘She is as guiltless as the day

She sprang forth from her mother.

The only sin upon her skin

Is that she loved another.’

 

— Charles Causley, The Ballad Of Charlotte Dymond

 

 

Este’s a close friend of mine. We meet up every Tuesday night for dinner and a glass of wine. The tradition has been going on for a month; ever since she began doubting her husband, James, on his faithfulness to their marriage. Normally, it just would’ve been a lengthy phone call but in the second week of December, she decided meeting in person would be more preferable.

 

“So, what’s up with Mr. & Mrs. Perfectly Fine, this week?” I say mockingly as we settle down inside a satisfactorily heated Olive Garden. “Well…” She trails off, removing her sapphire blue muffler.

 

“He’s been acting different.”

“Care to tell me something I don’t know?“

“No, like… unusually different…”

“Tell me one time that man acted normal in your three years of marriage. I’ll wait.”

“C’mon, Taylor! Drop the sarcastic act. “

“What? I’m being honest here. No sarcasm intended.”

 

She starts absentmindedly playing with the edge of her muffler, twirling it around her dry fingers as she stares blankly into space. The blackness under her eyes is enough to tell that she’s been losing sleep.

 

A neatly appareled waiter swings by our table, to take our order for wine. “Red or white, ma’am?”

“Red.” I say.

“As of now, we only have Merlot and Pinot Noir.”

“Make it Merlot.”

 

“Merlot… The one on his mouth yesterday wasn’t mine.” She says in a bland voice. “What?” I say, perplexed.

“When he came home last night, it appeared as if he had just made out with someone. And that shade of lipstick wasn’t mine.”

“Anything else, Sherlock?” I say, swirling my glass of wine.

She ignores my remark and looks me in the eye.

“I think he’s cheating on me. I just can’t prove it.”

 

——————————————————————————

 

The next Tuesday evening arrives and Este is nowhere to be found. An electronic, emotionless voice tells me that her cellphone can’t be reached and there’s no sign of her at the florist shop she works part time at. I cycle to her house in a last-ditch attempt. My concern for her is growing by the minute.

 

At first glance, everything looks fine. Just a normal house inhabited by a normal married couple.

 

But the closer I edge, the more peculiar it starts to feel. I notice that the car sitting outside, Este’s car, has got crusty mud on the hood.  What’s even more puzzling is that the tires seem brand-new, like they’ve just been changed... to hide something.

 

All the windows are shut but not carefully curtained, hence providing brief glimpses into the inside of the house. I can see her husband, seated on an armchair, talking to a woman. Not Este. There are cardboard boxes scattered around the place, some even outside the house, with bubblewrap falling out of some of them. I can’t tell what they’re chatting about, but both of them seem suspiciously ecstatic. Just then, her husband gets up and kisses the other woman like it’s his own damn wife.

 

Este was right. And now I have no clue where the hell she is.

 

——————————————————————————

 

Next morning, I am greeted by two people. One is my cat, performing her customary, face-cleaning ritual and other being a slightly aged police inspector. He doesn’t look very happy about having to be in the same space as a cat.

 

“Miss Taylor Sarafin?” He asks in a monotonous tone.

“The one and only. In this town at least. What brings to my doorstep, Officer…?”

“Inspector McGraw. I am here to get inquiry for a matter regarding a friend of yours. I hope I’m not intruding.” He says it like someone’s forcing him to and he won’t get his paycheck if he doesn’t.

 

‘Intruding’ would be too strong a word, honestly. More like, ‘wasting-his-own-damn-time-inquiring-at-the-wrong-house.’

 

“As of yesterday, Este Hughes, has been filed as a missing person and is there anything you can tell me that might aid us to finding her? When you last saw her, for example?”

“We met up frequently.”

“Can you tell me exactly the last time you two met?” He says, growing more exasperated with his notepad in hand.

“Last Tuesday.”

“Ok. Can you think of any reasons why she would go missing all of a sudden?” He says after a short moment of scribbling.

“If you want an answer to that, inspector, you should be inquiring her husband, not me.”

“Whatever could you mean by that?” I don’t know if he’s genuinely surprised, but if he is not, he’s doing a damn good job of faking it.

“She was having problems in her marriage.”

“And...?”

“And if you wanna find that girl alive, you should be looking everywhere but my house.”

“Excuse me?”

“Excuse you what? Enlighten me on something, inspector, who told you where to look for me?”

“Well, Mrs. Hughes’s spouse was kind enough to provide us with a list of names we could interrogate.”

“Who else was on that ‘list’?”

“I’m afraid that doesn’t concern you in the slightest bit.”

 

There is a moment’s pause and then the irritated inspector seems like he’s about to take his leave.

 

“Look, I’ve known Este for an awfully long time and it’s hard for me to process the fact that she just… vanished out of the blue.” I don’t know if he heard me or not. Even if he did, he’s too busy steering clear of my cat like she’s some sort of virus.

 

“We’ll notify you if we are able to get any leads.”

“Alright. Oh, and one more thing,”

“Yes?” He says with a restrained eye-roll, like I wouldn’t notice.

“Are you allergic to cats or what?”

 

——————————————————————————

 

The next surreptitious visit to Este’s house tells me everything I need to know.

 

Grey clouds are gathering overhead. I haven’t got my umbrella. Too bad.

 

As I creep closer to the house to get a better look through the windows, the door flies open and Este’s husband, hair tousled, is towering over me.

 

“Eavesdropping, are we?” He says in an amused tone.

“Oh, please. You weren’t going to provide an explanation, so I thought I’d see for myself. Where’s Este?” I say, trying to sound firm.

“If I knew the answer to that, we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now, would we?”

“I have an inkling that you know exactly what happened to her. You’re her husband after all.” “Well, Ms. Sarafin, I suggest you keep your ‘inklings’ to yourself and get the hell off my property. I do not wish to see you eavesdropping again.”

“Eavesdropping? Me? I could say the same for you. How did you realize I was at your doorstep, huh? We both know I didn’t lay a finger on the doorbell.”

 

I am hit with a wave of gratification as I watch him get caught off guard. But obviously, he isn’t going to give me the full satisfaction of knowing it.

 

He takes a step closer and without ever breaking his ominous eye-contact, says,

“You have five seconds to get off my property. Believe me, you do not want to go down the same path as Este did.”

 

——————————————————————————

 

Rain is battering hard across tarmac as I scramble into the minuscule police station. The person I’m looking for is seated at the very back, running an uninterested eye through a mess of files and paperwork.

 

“Inspector McGraw!” I shout.

I get unpleasant looks from the few people inside but I don’t care.

 

He looks like he’s not able to recognize me. I wouldn’t blame him, though. My hair is wetter than the ocean and my coat seems like it’s been pulled out of a swamp.

 

“For the love of god, what brings you here at this hour?”

I take a minute before answering because my panting from all the sprinting gets the better of me.

 

“Este’s gone.”

“I’m going to have to ask you to be more precise than that.”

“Don’t you get it?! Este’s been fucking murdered!”

“What? What in the world makes you say that?” Again. Fake surprise.

“I had a… conversation with her husband earlier. Just as I was about to leave, he said to me, quote-unquote, ‘you do not wanna go down the same path as Este did.’ What does that tell you, huh? It doesn’t take bloody Einstein to figure it out!”

“Miss Sarafin, I hate to tell you this, but word of mouth isn’t enough evidence to arrest someone. No body? No crime. I thought you were smart enough to know that.”

“Goddamnit! I know it’s him, okay? I always knew there was something wrong with that creep.”

 

After a brief pause he declares:

 

“Well then, I’m afraid there’s nothing I can do about this.” And with that, he goes back to lazily sorting out nondescript paperwork.

 

——————————————————————————

 

The first rays of sunlight are just beginning to shine on the wooden floor of my apartment as I pack my rucksack with all the items I’m going to need for the day.

 

I feed my cat and clear her litter box. She also gets some pets before my departure. It’s only fair.

 

My fifteen-year-old self is beaming back at me from my laminated boating license, which I place carefully in my wallet, along with a rental ticket for a speedboat.

 

There seem to be no signs of rain today, so my umbrella remains on top of my shoe shelf. I grab my car keys, an action I perform on rare occasions.

 

I lock my front door and drive to Este’s house.

 

Este always left a spare key under knitted her doormat for absolute emergencies that only she and I knew about. She never told her husband about it because we both knew he would’ve removed it the moment it came to his attention. He always had a sense of repugnance for people who dared to question him or did something without him knowing.

 

If the key’s still there, it’ll come in handy. If not, then I’ll have to resort to force. When I turn over the dusty mat and see the orange daylight reflected in the silver key, I feel a surge of contentment, just like when I was arguing with Este’s man. I grab it and unlock the door without a second thought. I’ve got nothing to hide today.

 

The house is deadly quiet at this hour. It feels as if it is void of inhabitants. For me, it is.

 

In the bedroom, Este’s husband and his new lover are fast asleep with not a care in the world. If I could, I’d stab them both on the spot but that’d be a hard mess to clean.

 

I inject him with propofol to make sure he doesn’t wake up, but it almost seems unnecessary because he’s snoring louder than my gran’s lawnmower.

 

Getting him out of the house is a laborious process, especially since I have to be quieter than a mouse and he is heavier than I thought but I manage. It’s the least I can do for Este’s sake.

 

Once I’m out, I go back in again to tidy up the enormous rug in the living room that I crumpled on my way out and wipe the door handle with my handkerchief. After all, evidence is all that matters.

 

I make sure to lock the front door and take the key with me. There’s no use for it to be there now.

 

The January fog plays a prominent role in making the drive to the dock pass in a blur.

 

At last, I reach the berth where my glossy speedboat is waiting for me. This area is somewhat secluded, since getting a boating license is not everyone’s game, and at this hour, it’s as deserted as it can be.

 

I put James at the very back and start out into the cerulean waves.

 

——————————————————————————

 

“Where the fuck am I?” Calls out a half-baffled, half-drowsy voice from behind.

“Morning sleepy-head. I was starting to think you’d never wake up.”

“Taylor? What the- “

“Yeah, yeah, I know. I know I’m the last person you want to see first thing in the morning. But alas, we meet again.

“Excuse me? What kind of prank is this? I swear to god- “

“This ain’t any kind of prank, James. This is your destiny. You brought this upon yourself.”

 

 

He looks like someone just asked him to calculate the mass of the sun in his head. Meanwhile, I get my pistol ready. I’m going to need it, regardless of him using force or not.

 

“Did you murder Este?” I ask him in a neutral tone.

“What the hell? You know that I’m not- “

“Yes or no?”

 

I hold the pistol to his head.

 

“Whoa there! Put the damn gun down!”

“I’m only going to ask this one more time. Did you murder Este?”

 

He hesitates and for a second, I think he’s going to jump out of the boat.

 

“I did. I stabbed her and discarded her in the woods. And made sure to change the car tires afterwards so as to not be traced by the tracks.”

 

Even though I expected it with every fibre of my being, actually hearing it from his mouth leaves me stunned.

 

“Listen, Taylor. This won’t bring anyone back. What’s done is done.”

“Shut the fuck up.” I say, still astounded.

“Tell me, James, how could you do something like that to your own wife?”

“I loved someone else.”

 

I let out a low, humorless chuckle at the irony of his statement.

 

“I mean, you’ve got some nerve, man. Killed your own wife because she found out about your affair and then reported her childhood friend to the police?”

“Este knew?”

“Yes. Her suspicion about your infidelity started in December. And for me, it was confirmed the day she went missing.”

For a moment, there’s a glimpse of remorse in his eyes but it’s long gone before he takes his next blink.

 

“Why didn’t you tell the police if you knew it was me?”

“Oh, I did. But guess what? That son of a bitch inspector couldn’t care less.”

 

He looks like he’s about to say something, but I interrupt him before he can speak. I don’t need to hear any more from him.

“Anyway, I haven’t got all day so let’s get on with this.”

“Get on with what?”

“You’re going to pay for what you did to my one and only friend.”

“Wait a minute- “

“Don’t you get it, Mr. Know-It-All? Today is your last day on this planet. Any last words?”

“You do not want to do this, Taylor. Just think of all the evidence you’ll leave behind.” His voice is as composed as it can be.

“Good thing I don’t plan on leaving any.”

 

BANG!

 

There’s a tremendous splash as James hits the water and as he goes down, dense bands of scarlet red come up to the surface. I open my rucksack and pull out a bottle of Lysol and scrub clean the bloodstains with a tattered cloth. The smell is alcoholic and pungent, but it works like a charm.

 

As far as I can see, the dock is still devoid of people. Good for me. The less eyes, the better. I dispose of the bloody cloth by setting it on fire and then throwing it in a dumpster.

 

And then, I carry on with my day like nothing happened.

 

——————————————————————————

 

“By Jove, two consecutive disappearances within the same household and not a mark left behind.” Says McGraw, as he loudly chews on his pink-sprinkled donut.

 

I don’t really know what to say, so I just nod my head. My input doesn’t matter anyway.

 

“So you’re telling me, the last time you saw him was day before yesterday and then he just vanished into thin air?”

“If that’s how you want to call it, then yeah.”

“Dear lord. I don’t even know anymore.” He sighs.

“Do you have any possible suspects?”

“Um… yes. His… girlfriend could have had the motive of obtaining insurance money but then again, no solid evidence, so we can’t necessarily pin it on her.”

 

My cat treads towards the weary inspector and he flinches away. This guy really needs to do something about his phobia of cats.

 

“Anyway, inquiring acquaintances doesn’t help anybody so I’ll take my leave. Have a good day.”

“You too, Inspector.” I say, with an innocuous wave of my hand.

 

Going grocery shopping never felt better. The sun’s rays are vehement as ever, the breeze feels like walking through a pristine sea and the first signs of a vibrant spring are visible on the barren trees.

 

As I enter the near empty store, a familiar face standing near the fruit’s aisle gives me a vile glance. As she edges closer, I get a better look at her disheveled red hair and stained overcoat. She looks like she hasn’t slept in ages.

 

“What did you do to my lover?” She says in a tremulous whisper.

“He wasn’t your lover, sweetie. More like, a guy whose life you ruined just by setting foot into it.”

“I’m asking you, what the fuck did you do to him?!” She hisses.

“Nothing, madam.” I say with a guiltless flutter of my eyelids.

“I know you did something to him. I know it! Just you wait. You’ll be arrested any minute now.”

I let out a hearty chuckle at her hollow threat.

 

“I'll tell you something. I had to learn this the hard way, unfortunately. People can’t be arrested without firm evidence. No body? No crime.”

 

——————————————————————————

 


Submitted: May 24, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Deli. All rights reserved.

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