Missing Christabel

Episode Five here

 

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Six – I killed Christabel!

 I trudged down the street, my feet eating up the distance with slow, heavy, weary steps.

My drooping body felt heavy with raw aches, soreness and dried beads of sweat. I must be stinking… I could smell myself reeking nauseously.

The interrogation had lasted hours. I can’t exactly tell how long – maybe three, four hours of recurrent visits from Detective Davies to the Interrogation room.

Well, the room had turned out not to be as ghastly as my terrified mind had imagined. There were no spikes or rods or thorns hanging from the wall. The room had been semi-lit, bright enough so you can see the face of your interrogator and dark enough so you couldn’t really make out the colour of the wall or if it was painted at all. I daresay it wasn’t coated in blood in any case.

I’d sat on a not-so-comfortable wooden chair and there had been a wooden medium-length table in between two chairs; the other, Detective Davies used when he wasn’t hovering over me, grating out menacing words into my face.

I hadn’t been tortured! Not physically at least. Detective Davies had not laid a hand on me. He’d struck the poor, helpless table repeatedly – harder and louder each time, but he never touched me.

But I’d been made to either sit crunched against the wall, or bend hands-over my head on the table or stand on my toes not flinching or swaying as torrents of questions and accusations were rained on me from whatever end of the room the Detective was at a particular time.

When seated on the chair, I had to extend my hands either sideways or forward, not touching the table or anything else. And I daren’t falter as I answered questions I most often didn’t have answers to.

Someone passed me and greeted. I jolted out of my reverie and turned to see the curious eyes of Lukman, the provision store vendor down the street. I mumbled out a response, not even sure what I’d said. I just wanted to get home, dive under the shower and then slump down on my bed, blocking out the horror of this day.

Before I could knock on the door, it was flung open and a hysterical babbling Lola flew into my arms. I winced, more out of a self-consciousness of my reeking state rather than pain.

She dragged me inside and shut the door with so much force, it rattled.

“Oh my God, what did they do to you?” The question tumbled out of her trembling mouth. “Did they beat you? Torture you? Give you urine to drink?”

The last question made me shudder – did they really do that? Give suspects urine to drink? And whose urine? Not for the first time I was thankful that Detective Davies was at least a civilised Police officer.

“No… yes… I don’t know, Lola.” I stammered fatigue washing over me. “I just need to go inside and have a bath please.” I nudged her aside.

But she grabbed me by the arm. “I can’t go through this.” She blurted out.

Her eyes were wild with terror and brimming with tears. Her lips trembled as she bit and released them. She was shuffling from one bare foot to the other.

“I can’t bear to be arrested… to be jailed and tortured.” Her voice hitched as she spluttered out the words. “I don’t want to be taken in for questioning.” She wailed a tear escaped her filmy eyes.

unbelievable! I’d been kept for long hours in a Police Interrogation room, made to go through mental torture and I had to come placate a panicky woman, damn!

“Lola, you will not be taken in or arrested.” I grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her. “The Detective only took me in because I’d lied about how well I knew Christabel. It doesn’t mean everybody around here is going to be arrested and taken in from now on.”

Lola let out a low whimper. “No Elvis, I don’t want to be jailed o.” She dropped her head against my chest. “I can’t survive prison cell o. I can’t survive it o.”

She chanted the words like some incantation, tears pouring down her contorted face now. I felt exasperated. This was the last thing I needed now – a panicky, hysterical wife. I just so badly needed to take a bath and just blank out.

“Lola!” I shook her again, harder this time. Her tied back hair shook like a rag doll. “Get a hold of yourself. I’ve told you, no one is arresting you. You haven’t done anything. You’ve told the Detective what you know and I’m sure now he’s convinced I don’t know anything about Christabel’s disappearance, he’ll take his search somewhere else.”

The words poured out of me,loud and harsh. But Lola was shaking her head from side to side, whimpering and muttering. I couldn’t get what she was saying or even why she was crying so unrestrainedly. An alarm went off my head.

“Lola, what did you do?” I shook her again, the dread inside of me making me furiously impatient. “Eh, did you lie to Detective Davies too?”

She continued to shake her head from side to side, stamping her feet, one after the other, and crying more vehemently now. She was slapping her hand against her chest, muttering incomprehensible words over and over.

I went into full fledge panic. What had she done?

“Does Christabel also have your number?” I screeched out. “Did you see her after I’d left the house that evening?”

The possibility of that just occurred to me. I’d gone out after dinner that evening. The new Electricity Company, whatever they are called, had struck and because I had no fuel to run my generator, I’d gone out to watch my match. Had Lola confronted Christabel in my absence… because of the what she’d seen through the kitchen window?

“What did you do? Lola? What did you do?” I was shouting now.

“I killed Christabel! I Killed Christabel o.”

My hands dropped. My eyes popped out of their sockets. My jaw dropped wide open. I was staring at Lola, my heavy banging head trying to understand her words.

“I killed Christabel.” Lola repeated falling to the ground and shaking against the wall.

“What?” The word exploded from my mouth. “What do you mean, you killed Christabel?”

I bent over and hurled her to her feet. I wanted to slap her. Had a desperate need to just shut her irritating sobs and wails with a swipe of the back of my hand across her face. But I squelched the urge. For one thing, I don’t believe in going that physical with a woman and above all, I knew somewhere in what’s left of my sane mind that I needed patience not violence to get her to make coherent, sensible speech.

So expelling a ragged breath, I managed to rasp out in a low, testy voice. “Lola, what do you mean you killed Christabel? You can’t have killed her, Lola.”

I wanted that to be the truth. I needed her to reassure me that she hadn’t meant it that way. “What actually did you do?”

Lola raised her eyes to look at me piteously, pleadingly. “It was a mistake. I didn’t mean to.” She moaned. “I never meant to kill her. But I… pushed her and she fell and… just wouldn’t move… she died.”

She crumpled over again, racking sobs shaking her body. “I didn’t mean to kill Christabel o.”

I stared down at her… my eyes empty, bewildered and far-sighted. Colliding images of events… people flashed through my mind, howling and roaring, as they crashed into each other and then came tumbling down. A  horrifying end to life as I once knew it.

We are finished!

 

Episode Seven here

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