Murder at Midnight

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
A smalltown murder.

Submitted: September 27, 2009

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Submitted: September 27, 2009

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A gunshot rings out a death knell. The night is darker than a cave, and on such a morbid night you would expect lightning to strike at any moment, but the skies remain a clear pitch black and, if anything, the air is drier than usual.

The summer heat is in full bloom, and wraps around people's throats like bloodthirsty boa constrictors, squeezing the life out of the whole town.

No one walks the streets, preferring instead to remain inside their air conditioned houses, safe and cool. So when the shot splits the night, ten thousand times as loud as a normal gun shot would sound, amplified in the deathly still town, people wondered what happened. Wondered who would have been outside, why they would be driven to brave the heat-soaked outdoors. No one got up, not even to call the police, because they wondered if they had really even heard it. It had lasted only a second, after all, they told themselves. Just one second. It could have been anything. Thunder, they reasoned. It was only thunder, and any moment the heavens would open up and rain would come down to quench their fears.

But the rain didn't come, and their fears stayed with them all through the night.

They were good people, in a good town. They gave blood when the hospital asked for donations, they encouraged their children to do well in school and to get a college education, they held fund raisers for the local animal shelter. They were good people, but they were only human. They would see what they wanted to see, and if something didn't quite fit, then they turned a blind eye and exclaimed over how wonderful life was.

And the gunshot definitely didn't fit. It was a jagged edge in their world of soft, rounded corners, so when an officer was finally informed, it was in the daylight of the next morning, called in by a concerned neighbor who 'thought there might have been a wild raccoon who had found someone's garbage can lid', because that explanation was one that she could understand, it was one that made sense in her safe world.

In this town there was crime, after all, nothing is ever perfect. Mostly it was just small time graffiti, done by young children going through their rebellious stage, and it was tolerated in general silence until they grew out of it. But murder. Murder had never touched this town.

The officer, Officer Sherman, had been on the force for twenty-seven years, and liked to think of himself as a man who wasn't squeamish. Blood was blood, right? and everyone had an abundance of it. The problem is that blood usually stays inside people's bodies.

When Officer Sherman drove up to the area he'd been told the raccoon was heard, he was expecting to find nothing. Generally speaking, raccoons aren't stationary creatures, so chances were that it was long gone. He had been out of town the night before, visiting his sister and her husband, who lived around half an hour away, and had gotten back after three in the morning. He hadn't heard the gunshot. He knew nothing of it. The officers back at the station hadn't said a word, hoping that they had dreamed it up, that it was just a product of overly active imaginations. No one talked about it.

Officer Sherman felt nausea swell up in his throat and his face turned green. For a couple of minutes he couldn't even move. Never in his life had he seen anything like the scene that lay before him.

The town had recently built a memorial statue, a white marble angel, in the middle of the park. It was in honor of a three year old little girl, Lisa Simmons, who had drowned the year before.

The family, her father, mother, and twelve year old brother, had been devastated, and the whole town, being a tight knit community, had grieved beside them. Lisa had been the epitome of the golden child. She had had hair like spun gold that curled about her face in charming little ringlets, and dimples in her cheeks that people joked were permanent because she was always smiling. When the statue was finished, there had been a service given for Lisa and the whole town had attended.

Now, Officer Sherman sat in silent horror. The blood. You could not miss it. The entire statue was stained scarlet, deliberately bathed in the blood. The grass and flowers surrounding it were the same shade of scarlet. Put simply, it was a bloodbath. And then, in front of the angel, lying at it's feet, there lay a single, lily white rose, plucked of it's thorns.

The body, spread out face up before the angel, was well known to Officer Sherman. Every person in town would recognize him. It was Johnathon Simmons, little Lisa's father. He had been overly fond of his alcohol, but he was a wealthy man and was considered to be a valued member of the community.

His sightless eyes stared up at Officer Sherman. Simmons' tasteful white silk shirt had been ripped open and on his chest were words carved into his flesh that made Officer Sherman's head spin.

I know what he did, it read.

The sun shone so brightly that the dried blood looked almost fresh. In the trees around the tableau, birds sang back and forth. Two squirrels wrestled one another off to the side. A bead of sweat dripped down Officer Sherman's face, one that had nothing to do with the heat. Somebody knew.

A butterfly landed on Sherman's shoulder.


© Copyright 2019 Clarissa. All rights reserved.

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