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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic

A short story set in London with a realistic, yet fictional approach to the dark ways of the world and what can go on behind closed doors.






October 11th 2010

The strong scent of coffee stung Detective Inspector Lacies nostrils the moment she walked into the police station like a stale stench. Bodies were buzzing around the offices, moving in zigzag shapes with piles of paper work trying to dodge each other. Phones were ringing all around like an out of tune orchestra.  Jeanette Lacie was glad she now had to spend minimal time here in the station where for a few years it was her second home. Slipping through an office door, she was secretly relieved she had escaped any false small talk conversations.   ‘Ah, Jeanette!’ Greg Lawson bellowed as he came from behind his desk to greet her. ‘No need for that Greg, it’s only me.’ She muttered, ‘I was just thinking how lucky I was to have a quick escape in here before bumping into Rick and the boys.’ She threw her bag to one side and casually took a seat. Greg Lawson had been Jeanette’s boss for nearly seven years but she could only tolerate him in small doses. Greg was a bulky man with a bursting personality but it was his opinions that always seemed to irritate Jeanette ‘I am heading over to Holloway prison Greg. I want to speak to her, Maria Taylor.'Greg’s eyes darted up sharply towards her. He knew she was being serious. Gently, he dragged himself up from his desk and over to his glass cabinet. Unlocking it, meant only one thing: a Bowman’s whisky. Greg had a Bowman’s whisky moment a bit too often. ‘Give it a rest,’ he finally grumbled, ‘what more do you need? In fact, what more do you want?’

Jeanette sat in silence.

‘Go by all means’ he continued, ‘but the woman is being done for murder. Cold blooded murder.’ He swallowed his whiskey in one whilst he stared out his window at the city of London beneath him.


Just like police stations, Jeanette wasn’t fond of making prison trips either. What a silly job to have then, she thought to herself.  As she entered the courtyard, she stared at the gothic and intimidating grey building painted with thumbnail windows full of lost souls. Some deserving to be locked away like beasts, others not too fortunate. She could not help but think of them and how they had wasted their lives, some were mothers with families, some just young, naive and addicts. After showing her identity card to more than four wardens that looked half of her age, Jeanette headed to a secure interview room. Maria Taylor was currently the most talked about female in the media all over the United Kingdom. Jeanette hesitated before entering the room; she had not anticipated this moment. She thought about how every journalist in the nation would kill to be in her position right now. Although, she could not help but feel guilty that part of her felt as though she was about to meet a celebrity. Only in the eyes of the media, after the night of October 2nd Maria Taylor was branded as the modern day Jack the Ripper. Taking a deep breath Jeanette turned the metal door handle.


Maria Taylor was sat bolt upright with both hands in front of her. She looked just as plain and desolate as the room that surrounded them. Maria’s frame was petite and fragile, but the sternness of her up right posture was as though she expected Jeanette to enter the room screaming orders. Her plain grey t-shirt fell off her shoulders in cascades similar to a five-year-old playing dress up in her father’s clothes. As Jeanette got closer, she sensed the weakness in Maria, ghost like as if she were translucent. She was not like the pictures in the newspapers or the Television that Jeanette and the entire country had seen day in and day out. She was no vile or vicious looking monster. Maria’s ash blonde hair was scraped away from her skeletal face into a ponytail, draining any and all the colour from her complexion. At thirty-one years old her natural beauty was still striking, however her worrying paleness exaggerated the dark rings hanging beneath her eyes.

The room was surrounded by silence except the awkward scraping of Jeanette’s chair. Whilst calmly introducing herself, Maria remained looking straight past her. Jeanette now noticed her glazed over emerald eyes in detail and the heavy drops waiting to collapse down onto her cheeks. Something in her face reminded Jeanette of an antique china doll, with smooth pretty and innocent features. Jeanette was concerned if she pressed too hard, the doll would fall and smash into little pieces. Over the years, Jeanette felt as though she had come to know the faces of criminals and her intuition had never failed her.  Yet Maria appeared like something she had never seen before, as if from another universe. ‘Mrs Taylor, I understand you’re not speaking to anyone but I was hoping you might co-operate with me today?’ Jeanette began. Silence. ‘Look, before we begin I just want to explain to you I’m not here to intimidate you or try and make you feel guilty. I have been in the force for a long time and as a woman myself; I thought you may appreciate speaking to me.’ Maria hung her head down and began rubbing her fingertips into the surface of the table, almost as though in agitation. This was the first sign of movement Jeanette had seen, except as she watched her own fingertips Maria’s expression remained lifeless. After gaining no response Jeanette continued, ‘If you don’t speak, I can’t help you do you realise that?’  She felt as though she was speaking to a child. Nothing. Jeanette knew this was going to be difficult, despite wanting to help the woman, she wasn’t sure if she had the patience to play games this afternoon. ‘You are looking at life in this place Maria, unless we discover anything different. Why don’t you save us the hard job and explain what happened? Talk to me about the night of October the 2nd.’ Jeanette grew a burning urge to lift up her head and shake some life into her. Instead, she picked up her bag and made for the door, she did not have to spend her day pleading for answers from realistically, an already guilty woman. ‘Do you know what it feels like to look deep into a man’s eyes and watch him die Inspector Lacie?’  Jeanette turned as the timid voice broke the silence.


A memory:

  Maria had found herself waking up in sweats. One night she ran from her marital bed down the stairs and burst out into the back garden of her home as if she needed to be outside to breathe. Gasping for breath, she herself was not aware of this moment until she was already in the garden. Dazed and confused she slowly put herself back to bed careful not to wake him, brushing it off hoping similar and worrying incidents wouldn’t happen again.

The first time Richard hit her, she didn’t really feel it. She was too pissed. She was always too pissed and she was always too pissed so she didn’t really have to feel it. That’s how it worked. As well as this, Maria tended to feel as though if it happened over a drunken dispute it didn’t really count as reality. She was drunk, he was drunk, and it was just a petty fight that they could forget about the following morning. However, things changed when she found herself with a missing tooth and a mouth full of blood one afternoon. She limped up to the bathroom dazed and distressed after waking in a pool of blood that he had left her in by the front door amongst clumps of her hair. She had a cut on the left side of her temple from where her head hit the mirror in the hallway that left its mark for nearly three weeks after that afternoon.

Living in fear became normality to Marias lifestyle. Although it wasn’t something she intended or predicted. Richard used to be everything she had hoped for in a man, despite the seven-year age gap. Even without Richard meaning to, she knew that he had the power to make her behave in ways that were out of her control, and this to Maria was a dangerous man.



October 2nd 2010

Staring at the thick black hands of the clock on the wall, Maria was itching to lock the doors of the launderette and finish up for the night. She hadn’t been sleeping properly for months and could feel herself almost high from tiredness. Scuttling past Elephant and Castle tube station she decided that tonight she was going to take a different turning that led her down to a quiet pub. Maria herself wasn’t aware of what had gotten into her, as she knew what the consequences would be when she got home late from work. Maria hadn’t stepped foot into a pub for nearly five years, she wasn’t allowed to, and the awkward reception she received when entering by the locals reminded her of this. She wasn’t too sure what made her order vodka at the bar instead of wine, she hadn’t drank vodka since it had made her ridiculously paralytic when she was nineteen. She wondered if it was the messages she had found on Richards phone. Messages not meant for her eyes. Regardless, tonight for a while, she was free. The first vodka slipped down nicely, the burn felt good and as the flames came alive in Marias chest she realised it was the most feeling she had had in years. The burn reminded her for that moment of what it felt like to be human, to actually feel something instead of nothing but numbness. Craving for more, one vodka became three vodkas and all were consumed in less than twenty minutes.

After unlocking the front door, Maria was shocked to receive no welcoming of abuse or the start of a screaming match. In fact, it was opposite; the downstairs of her house was deserted. The lights were on and everything was spotless like a show home. Even the television was off. Maria sensed something was not quite right. Placing her bags down on the dining room table, she suddenly heard a giggle from upstairs, a female’s giggle. Shutting her eyes a wave of sickness swept over her. It’s just the vodka, she told herself. However, by the third time the high-pitched giggle met Marias ears, she couldn’t resist and she crept up the stairs as if a burglar in her own home. Pushing her bedroom door quietly open just enough for her to peer in, she saw the shapes of the two moving figures under the cream duvet. One of them was her husband. Marias legs nearly went from beneath her as she held on to the banister of the stairs with both hands for support to hold her up, this was as well as trying to silence the sound of her body urging to vomit. As if she was shutting down, the only noise Maria could hear was her heartbeat pounding loudly through what sounded like a hollow body as well as the desperate gasp of her own pants. Once gradually entering back into the kitchen, she stood and drank nearly half a bottle of red wine from the bottle like it was water.

Marias mind was blank as she was trying desperately to scrape together an explanation as to how her life had grown into this mess. Running to the sink, she finally fiercely threw up and blurry with tears she could see the sink now covered in the deep red fluid. As the floorboards creaked above her, she knew the house well enough to realise that he was coming down the stairs. ‘Oh, so your home then.’ Richard muttered, as he opened the fridge in his boxers and scouted through like a hungry cave man. ‘Yes I’m home.’ Maria whispered still lunging over the sink with the support of both hands. Set back by Marias sharp response, his head darted in her direction. ‘Have you been sick? Have you been drinking?’ Richard demanded as he slammed the fridge door shut and aggressively turned her around to face him. A wave of disgust came over her as she spat in his face. ‘Get your hands off me’ she hissed through her teeth, ‘I mean it, I am fucking gone Richard.’ She felt his hand bounce off her left cheek as the power of the hit flew her back over the sink. She wasn’t sure what came next, the pulling of her hair or the ache in her arm where he twisted it back so hard she felt as though it would simply snap like a twig. The second punch hurt just as much, but made her delirious. By the third, she was close to black out. The power of his fingertips pressing into her throat was making her cough and feel sick again. Was this really it? Suddenly the interruption of another female scream brought Maria back to reality, as she saw the mystery woman who was just lying in her bed now on her husband’s back throwing her fists like an erratic animal. Richard flung the woman off him like a rag doll, as she fell she hit her head on the marble breakfast bar leaving her unconscious. By the time Richard turned back to Maria, the sharp edges of the green wine bottle had pierced fiercely through his skin as she continued to stab him anywhere she could over and over.


When the neighbour found Maria she was kneeling on the kitchen floor in a sea of red with a body of a man and a woman either side of her. As she leant out for him with her hands painted thick with blood, she looked into her neighbours eyes as if a desperate lost child and sobbed, ‘Don’t you see I had to do it?’


Jeanette was now the one stunned to silence. ‘Do you know what; in that moment when I watched him die before my eyes Inspector, I had never felt so alive in my whole life.’ Maria’s voice had returned to a soothing whisper. Staring at the floor she continued, ‘When it was all over, I cried for the first time in years. I sat there on my kitchen floor and I wept like a baby. Not because of what I had done, but I cried for me. I cried for my hurt, my pain, my life over all those years, it just finally flowed out of me like the blood from his body. But what people forget, is that I did love him.’ Jeanette saw the tears finally roll down her delicate cheeks. ‘I had no idea that he had killed her until after. I didn’t realise how hard she had hit her head. Despite the affair, that woman saved my life.’ Jeanette pushed out from her chair and stood up quickly and paced around the small room. She was livid; she needed to focus, as she couldn’t believe what she was hearing. ‘Maria, listen to me why haven’t you said this before?’ Jeanette looked over at her in confusion, ‘You are being charged with two murders and apart from me, not one person knows why. There are things we can do.’ Jeanette was taken back by the sarcastic laugh let out by Maria. Shaking her head she smirked, ‘What could I possibly do now Inspector? What is there to do? Yes, he killed her but he took my life too. I may be the one that’s left breathing, but I am as good as dead. I have no strength to fight a losing battle.’ Looking back over at the table where Maria was sat, deep down Jeanette knew she was right. She was already a ghost.


Jeanette hung up the phone to Greg Lawson in rage and lit a cigarette. After pacing up and down her living room, now decorated with empty coffee cups and what felt like every law bible in London, she finally sat down in defeat. Jeanette and no one else could do a thing and she was itching with agitation. Switching on the television, she was greeted by the image of Maria Taylor. Not the face of a monster, but of a woman simply chewed up by one. The BBC news announced that Maria Taylor would serve a life sentence in prison. Slamming down her glass of wine on the coffee table, she sat forward and placing her head in her hands she snarled, ‘You bastard.’


Submitted: May 19, 2012

© Copyright 2021 xljcwx. All rights reserved.

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