Let Justice Flow Like Water.
Disposing of a body was always the difficult part; or so he had read. He looked down at his very dead wife lying on the bathroom floor. Peter couldn’t even bring himself to feel any remorse. No longer was there a living being in front of him just an encumbrance; something which, if discovered here, would mean an arrest, and inevitably, prison. It would be the end of a respectable, comfortable life and he wasn’t going to let that happen, thank you very much.
Peter and Suzanne had been married for seven years. The first three had been as happy as any two young people could be; finishing training, finding jobs, buying their first home and enjoying guilt-free sex. But as the years advanced they had found themselves moving apart. They had discussed children but Peter , a maths’ teacher in a local comprehensive, had seen what little monsters they could turn into and had been reluctant to start a family. Besides, Suzanne had a good job working at the NatWest Bank and they would find it a financial struggle even if she went back to work.
The rows between them had escalated. Peter had joined a football club which saw him out at the weekends on top of the evenings which he devoted to planning and preparation. Suzanne had felt neglected and took to spending more money. They were both drinking more than was good for them and their love life had suffered.
“So where have you been all day? You know I had this Saturday off. My first weekend in weeks and you bugger off to God knows where!”
“You know I always play football on a Saturday afternoon.”
“So? It’s 11.00. What happened to the six or so hours between the game and now? I thought we were going out for a meal? I’ve been sitting here like an idiot, all dolled up and nowhere to go!”
“You could have rung me.”
“I did! Seven times. I kept getting voicemail. You bloody switched it off, didn’t you?”
And so their quarrels would end up always in the same way; Suzanne screaming and Peter slamming the door and retreating to his shed in the garden which doubled up as his study.
The evening before her death had been no different except that Peter didn’t have the chance to quarrel with her. It had been the first Friday of the long summer holiday and Peter had gone out to an Indian restaurant with his school colleagues to celebrate six weeks of freedom. He eventually returned home past midnight to find that Suzanne had put the bolts on the front and back doors and that he had no access to the house. He was forced to return to the shed to bed down for the night. In the morning, cramped, cold and furious he saw Suzanne making an early cup of tea in the kitchen and he banged on the window until she let him in.
Without a word said, Suzanne retreated back upstairs and to her bath, which she had left running. Her habit of taking her mug of tea to the bathroom was another idiosyncrasy that irritated the hell out of Peter. He started shouting at her but, receiving no response, began to feel more and more frustrated. How dare she treat him in such an ignominious way? He wouldn’t stop her from going out with her friends; if she had any! Peter began to work himself up: shouting and yelling at an unresponsive Suzanne. He couldn’t believe that she was even singing along to the music which she had turned up, drowning out his voice, as he heard her settle into the water. Charging upstairs he threw open the bathroom door.
Suzanne cringed slightly, “Oh, look what you’ve done. I’ve spilt my tea. Get me another. It’s the least you can do,” and she thrust the mug towards him. The red mist descended and Peter walked over to his prone wife, grabbed her by her knees and pulled her under the bath water. There was some splashing as her head slid down and under the foam. She tried to struggle but Peter just held her head under the surface and kept her there until there was no further movement and no sign of life. It had been so easy.
When his temper ebbed away he was stunned at what he had done and sat crouched; just staring at what had been a living, human being. Then his instinct for survival kicked in and he began to plan what to do next. If he could dispose of her body successfully then who was to know whether she had just left him or not?
Peter went into the bedroom and rang Suzanne’s friend from work, ” Hi Jane. Pete here. Suzanne woke up with a hell of a migraine and I’ve suggested she spends the weekend in bed. She won’t be in for work so could you let them know? ……… Thanks. …….. Oh, one last thing. I’m off to see my parents in Somerset for a few days so could you do me a great favour and call her on Monday and check on how she is?…….. I owe you one.”
His next phone call was to his parents: “Hiya Mum! How’s Dad? …… Look, can I come down for a few days? Suzanne’s not off work until we go away to Spain so I’ve got some time on my hands………No, she won’t be coming with me this time……..Actually, she has a migraine and has opted for a silent weekend with me out of the house…… That’s great! I’ll be down early evening……. See you then.”
The worst chore of the morning was wrapping Suzanne’s body in the tarpaulin he had in the garage; it wouldn’t be used for covering the garden furniture this winter. Touching her body was repugnant but he managed to move her onto the waxed sheet and then parcel it up with duct tape. As he was engaged in the task he ran through the conversation he would have at his local police station when he returned:
“I would like to report a missing person…….My wife. Suzanne Moore. Age 30. Blonde hair, blue eyes, petite………..When did I last see her? Last Saturday. I went down to Somerset to see my parents for a few days…….. No, she couldn’t come with me as she had to work on the Monday and she wasn’t well….She sometimes suffers from migraines……She decided to stay at home……Did I have further contact?…….Sort of, I phoned home on the Sunday to see how she was and the phone went to voicemail. I assumed she was either still in bed or she’d gone out……When did I return? Yesterday, Tuesday and she wasn’t in the house but I thought she’d be at work. Then I had a phone call from her friend, Jane. I’d asked her to check on Suzanne on the Monday and she was ringing me to say she hadn’t heard or seen from her. She wasn’t at work……Could she have visited her family?…….Well, no. Her parents died fairly recently and her brother lives in Australia and they’re not close. Missing clothes?….I did check and her mobile phone has gone and a small suitcase but most of her clothes appear to be still hanging in the wardrobe….Transport? We only have the one car and I had it……Suzie caught the bus in to work…….Happy marriage?…Well, we had our ups and downs like any married couple but we were going to Spain together at the end of July for two weeks and she was really looking forward to that…I am sure there was no other man.”
Convinced he could play the puzzled, frantic husband on his return, he carried the body through the house to the garage. He’d reversed the car in so that she could be placed straight into the boot without anyone being able to see from across the road. A small suitcase with some underwear and toiletries was shoved on the back seat along with Suzanne’s mobile phone, which he had planned to throw into the sea. So, by the time he had washed, changed and packed a small suitcase for himself it was mid-morning and time for him to set off for his parents’ home. Allowing for a couple of diversions on the way, he should be there by late afternoon.
One diversion was to the perfect place to bury a body. He remembered, as a teenager, fishing along the banks of a small stream not far from his boyhood village. It was fairly remote but some of the willow trees growing alongside it had formed cage-like structures in the water with their roots. He parked as close as he could to the spot he’d remembered and, stripping down to his underwear, he pushed and pulled the body of Suzanne into the stream, lodging it between the roots of a gigantic willow. There was no need for the ropes he had brought with him as the body was jammed in tightly and, thanks to the bank and the foliage, it couldn’t be seen from above. Suzanne’s body could stay there and rot and no-one would be any the wiser. He wiped himself down with the towel he’d brought with him and arrived at his parents’ house in time for a drink and a meal.
Peter knew that, despite anyone’s suspicions, there was now no body to link Suzanne’s disappearance to him.
The phone call from his parents came whilst he was watching, “Match of The Day”.
“Hello Darling. Your Dad and I wanted you to know that we are quite safe.”
“Why, what’s happened, Mum?”
“Haven’t you been watching the news? We’ve had terrible rain here and most of the village is flooded. Luckily our house is just high enough to escape the worst . Don’t worry about us. Find a news channel and you’ll see us all on the TV! Here’s your Dad, he’s got something gruesome to report.”
“Hi son. It’s been so bad. Most of the Levels have flooded. Remember that quiet stream where we used to fish? Well, it turned into a torrent yesterday and now the police are there as it seems the excess water threw up a body wrapped in tarpaulin. Must have been trapped for years. Must go, speak again soon. Are you there, son? You’ve gone very quiet.”
Peter stared at the phone until the words made sense to him. He knew the questioning would start all over again but, this time, they would have the starting point of a body. The front doorbell rang. He knew it was all over and that justice would be done.
Some poetry inspired by the Nottingham poet, Becky Cullen……
On the bus to Nottingham
The warmth of the i4 bus
hits me as I clamber on
with bus pass clutched in my gloved hand.
The driver, a known, friendly face,
wishes me a “Good morning”,
and I turn to find a space for my ageing body.
Today, there are plenty of seats and
the selection becomes a puzzle.
Do I sit next to the middle-aged woman
clutching her handbag like a shield?
Do I wander further up the aisle and
sit on my own with extra leg room?
I find myself on a seat near the front
as the bus starts suddenly
and my balance comes into question.
I am squashed next to a man whose face
I dimly recognise.
He looks at me, smiles, and then
returns to look out of the window.
It’s only when he asks me to move at the hospital stop
I realised he had lived down our road in the
dim and distant past.
But there’s no time to talk or apologise for my rudeness.
Behind me a couple talk about Skegness, the death of a friend
and I hear the platitude: Life goes on.