It didn’t matter to him that she was lame. It didn’t matter to him that she only understood what she wanted to understand. It didn’t even matter to him that she had killed someone.
He took her into his arms and gently wrested the poker from her now flaccid fingers. She kept staring at the blood on the floor with eyes that were wide open and blank of any expression. He turned her head away from the carnage and buried it into his chest. Slowly, he lifted her up and carried her into her bedroom. There, he laid her down on the bed, kissed her softly on the forehead and tucked her in. Then, he made to walk away. But, a hand suddenly gripped his wrist and stopped him in his tracks.
The wide staring eyes were looking at him now, a silent prayer in them. He sighed and hung his head. Then, he climbed into the bed beside her and took her into his arms. He wished he could keep her there forever, where nothing and nobody could hurt her. He sighed again and tears filled his eyes. But, before the first drop could fall, they had both fallen asleep.
All three of them- Lucy, Dee and Rudi were sitting in a little room off of the main living room where the body was still lying and now, being examined by the medical examiner. The lead detective was sitting in a chair in front of them and waiting for a reply to his question.
“So many questions!” Lucy thought angrily. “Why can’t they just leave us alone?”
“She’s…” Dee began and choked, “She’s my aunt.” She said finally. “She lives–lived here and was helping with th-the w-wedding. We, me and Rudi,” she pointed to herself and the man sitting with hunched shoulders in the corner seat, “we are getting married this Saturday. At least,” she paused as the full impact of the body lying in the hallway hit her, “we were going to…” she trailed off.
That was how Dee found them- asleep in each other’s arms.
She walked in, felt her tread slip on something wet and slimy on the floor and looked down at a body- bloody and dead. With difficulty, she held her lunch in and the scream that was welling up in her throat. She carefully stepped out of the redness and walked swiftly upstairs and there, in Lucy’s bedroom, she found them. Lucy in Rudi’s arms and both of them fast asleep.
It was not then, that she noticed the bloody poker on the floor beside them. It was not until later that she descried the blood on Lucy’s clothes or that on Rudi’s shoes. Just right then, she was so thankful that they were both alive that she let out that breath, she hadn’t been aware she was holding and gave way to tears. She left them there and made the call.
“And you are?” the officer asked turning his carefully blank face toward Lucy who was sitting between the two betrothed.
“This is where I always am,” Lucy reflected bitterly as she pondered on how to answer the question.
“I’m here for the wedding too. I was to be her maid of honour,” she replied softly, eyes downcast and voice betraying none of the bitterness she had felt in the last one hour and over the last few months, ever since Rudi left her.
“You are the groom-to-be?” the detective turned to Rudi.
“I- yes, I’m the groom-to-be,” he replied dully.
“I take it that you were both in the house when this happened?”
“Yes,” Rudi replied while Lucy nodded.
“Could you tell me in your own words, what happened?”
“I killed her.”
It was the scream that brought him in…straight into a nightmare.
Even as he ran forward frantically, Lucy brought down the heavy iron poker on to the woman’s head. Time stopped for him in that moment and he watched Dee’s aunt fall in slow motion. Next moment, there was blood everywhere, on the floor, on his shoes…more and more blood than he ever knew existed in one body. A fountain of blood, one still body, a piece of paper fluttering out of its hand… and Lucy frozen in the middle of it all.
His eyes sought Lucy’s face; she was staring wide-eyed at the carnage, hand with the poker still lifted above her head and that, more than anything, snapped him back to action. He swiftly walked over to his best friend and gently eased the poker out of her hand. He lifted her small frame into his arms and carried her to her bedroom. He laid her down on the bed, kissed her softly on the forehead and tucked her in. Then, he made to walk away. But, a hand suddenly gripped his wrist and stopped him in his tracks.
When he woke up the after, it was to find himself being ushered into the detective’s presence. That’s when he decided that Lucy had lost enough.
Dee’s head whipped around to face Rudi. Suddenly everything in the room looked sharper, edgier, brighter. It felt as if a curtain has been lifted and the world revealed itself to her with glaring honesty. Yet, she didn’t say anything. She didn’t utter a word, because the emotion swirling in her heart right now wasn’t fear or apprehension. What she was feeling, she recognized as anticipation; anticipation of the one waiting to pass judgement. In her mind, she was the supreme judge sitting in her high chair and Lucy was on trial.
So, she didn’t utter a word and in her silence, all that needed to be said was spoken.
Lucy didn’t realize that she had stopped breathing; not until the silence stretched until its loudness was the only presence in the room. In that silence she heard the detective’s shock;
She understood Dee’s judgement; but, most of all, she recognized Rudi’s sacrifice and from a depth she didn’t know existed, a scream emerged.
“So, this is your plan?” the words stopped Lucy in her tracks.
“Excuse me?” she turned to face Dee’s aunt.
“I never did like you. But, even then, I didn’t imagine you would stoop so low!” the older woman hissed.
Lucy’s face remained confused. Until, the old lady whipped a piece of paper out from behind her back and shoved it in her face.
The young girl’s eyes widened and she made a mad grab for the paper. But, Dee’s aunt snatched it back a moment too soon and she was left clawing at the air.
“Where did you get that?” Lucy gasped, “Give it back to me!”
“My dearest Rudi…Rudi, my love…I love you, Rudi…” the old woman sneered, “How low can you get? Propositioning an almost-married man! Shameless!”
“Give it back!” Lucy yelled.
“Is it because you’re jealous? Is that why you want to ruin my niece’s wedding? And in the guise of a friend too! Even if you want to, did you think you could steal away her man? Why on earth would he pick you? You! Can’t walk but with a limp, can’t hold a candle to Diana’s beauty…just who did you believe you were?”
Angry tears were pricking Lucy’s eyes, but she refused to let them fall.
“Give-it-back-to-me!” she bit out through gritted teeth and lunged forward.
“Get back, you freak!” the woman screamed, “I’m going to give this to my niece and to the groom so they can see the kind of friend you are. Shame on you!”
Lucy’s heart stopped. “No…Dee can’t see this…Rudi! Rudi can’t see this! I never meant for him to see this! She can’t do this! No! I can’t let her…” In a daze, Lucy grabbed the poker from the fireplace and lifted it…
Red…there was a lot of red…blood red…like when she and Dee had dressed up as bloody Snow White and bloody Prince Charming for Halloween…like she had always imagined lining the walls of Dante’s Inferno…yes, blood…it was blood…oh! What had she done?
“What have I done?” words can’t seem to get past the screaming in her head.
“Rudi! No!” her hand shot out and grabbed his wrist, “Don’t go!” the screaming in her head would drive her insane without him.
He got in beside her, put his arms around her and drew her close.
“It’ll be ok; Rudi’s here. It’ll be ok,” she closed her eyes and willed her mind to stop screaming, “Rudi’s here…Rudi’s here…Rudi’s here…”
Lucy screamed and screamed and screamed. Her throat went raw, her tongue parched and her gut wrenched. But, Lucy still screamed.
The detective moved first. He caught Lucy by the shoulders and tried to shake her out of it.
Rudi could have told him that never worked with Lucy. But, he didn’t.
Dee could have told him that she wasn’t going to stop screaming. But, she didn’t.
Lucy could have stopped screaming. But, she couldn’t.
Not until, Rudi put his arm around her and pulled her into his chest. Not until Dee took her hand in her own and gently squeezed it. Only then did Lucy feel the scream leaving her; felt sanity coming back to her. She snapped her eyes open and pushed Rudi away in one fluid movement. Turning to the detective, she snapped incisively:
“Don’t believe him! He’s stupid and thinks being a hero will get him out of the mess he made of his life. I killed that woman. I’m sorry about it; I wish I hadn’t done it. I didn’t mean to. But, it happened and I killed her.”
“Two killers?” his junior suggested to the weary detective.
The three friends were locked in separate interrogations cells and he was just getting a cup of coffee.
He shook his head, “It’s the girl,” he stated.
In the end, it was the girl.
That night, a songbird was singing for its missing mate; the waves were gradually building up to a coming storm; the moon was hardly a sliver and hidden behind a smoky cloud and Lucy, best friend to Dee and more than a best friend to Rudi, was handcuffed to be escorted to prison.
Final chapter coming up soon.