Night had fallen
“Sometimes you just want someone dead. Even if you know it’s wrong, even if you know it’s a sin.”
The words echoed around the empty warehouse, bouncing off the cold, concrete floor; cold, corrugated iron walls and the misted glass of the windows. The woman’s eyes appeared as frosty as the night air, blue pools, frozen over by thick ice; the kind North American children ice- skated on in winter. Her voice rang with that same wintry touch.
“I’m not going to ask for why,” the man responded. He was shrouded in shadow, enveloped in blackness by the lights that shone into her eyes around him. No matter how hard she tried, she could not see his face. “All I need to ask is can you afford this?”
“How much are you asking?
“Twenty-five thousand dollars. Unmarked, non-sequential notes of varying denominations. I’ll also need a photograph of the target, and basic information. Name, age, address, workplace. Can you provide all of this?”
I’ll need a week or so.”
“Fine. The same time and place next week. Bring the money, or you’ll never find me again.”
One week later she was back. She waited, patiently and quietly as he laid out the notes, counting it carefully. Finally he turned back to her, she saw the silhouette of his head nod.
“Do you have the information?” He asked calmly.
As with her handbag filled with cash, she slid a plastic envelope across the table to him; he looked at it in the blinding light behind him that kept her from seeing his face.
“Samuel Durham. Thirty-eight years old,” he read, and then looked across the table at her. “Next thing you hear about him will be his death. Now leave and do not let me find you at this location again.”
Andrea left, and walked along the street to the main road. A police car drove past, and her breath caught in her throat. Did she look guilty? She continued to walk, attempting to look nonchalant, and the police car continued, the two officers paying no attention to a woman walking along the footpath. As she reached her car, she pulled the keys from her pocket. A breeze blew, flinging her brown hair into her eyes; with a toss of her head, she turned her face to the stinging wind to keep her hair out of her face.
The key slid into the lock, and Andrea was grateful for the refuge from the cold Hobart weather. Turning the ignition, she slowly pulled the red celica away.
From the shadows, the man watched her. Smiling to himself, he whispered, “goodnight, Mrs Durham.”
He turned, and slithering into the shadows, crept back to his hiding place.
Andrea pulled into the driveway.
A shadow rose against the fence as she stepped out of the car. She turned, and took a fearful step backwards.
“Sam,” she breathed.
“That’s right Andie.” God, how she had learned to hate that name! “Missed me?”
“How did you find me?” She knew she should scream, run, do something to get away, but she was frozen in shock. She didn’t even move to adjust the hair blowing in her face.
“Come on Andie, you know you still love me.” He leaned forward; she could smell the stench of cigarettes on his breath. His hand reached out to brush her hair behind her ears; she cringed at the touch, but still made no move.
“I…I’ve pressed charges. The police are looking for you.”
“Let’s go inside, Andie. It’s cold out here. We can sort this out.”
Andrea’s emotions were screaming at her, but she simply nodded her head and led him inside.
The following morning, she examined the swelling of her left eye, the bruises on her arms and breasts. She could feel him, the man she once loved, and now hated. She knew he had been inside her, and yet, as she looked in the mirror, examining herself, she felt nothing. Over the ten years she had been married, it had become a part of her life. She was used to it.
She searched the house, but he was gone. All that remained was his stench, it stung her nostrils, and a couple of cigarette butts extinquished in her favourite coffee mug.
The realisation of it all hit her as she picked up the mug. With an anguished scream, Andrea hurled the mug across the room where it crashed into the plaster, cracking the wall and removing the handle from the mug. Andrea dropped to her knees.
“You’ll die, Samuel Durham,” her voice was cold, tinged with evil and filled with hatred. “And I will have my happiness.”
A key turned in the lock.
A gloved hand, black leather, lifted the doorhandle, and in almost silence – no more than a soft ‘click’ when he pulled the door closed – the black figure slid into the driver’s seat. The key slid into the ignition and turned only far enough to unlock the steering. Tyres crunched over loose stones on the paved driveway, and the black mercedes slid silently inot the street. Now, the engine started.
With the motor idling, two eyes peered up at the house from under a black balaclava. No lights, no sign of an alarm being raised. The mercedes pulled away from the curb.
Samuel Durham walked through the street.
Pen in one hand, a newspaper, folded over for easier writing, glared up at him, teasing him with the clues of the crossword. Samuel chewed the end of the pen.
“Thirty-six down, ‘Homicide.’” He mused around the pen, then laughed, and the pen dropped to the paper, filling in the letters for the solution. He stepped out onto the road; a puddle broke its glassy formation under his foot.
The man in the car watched. Under the streetlight he saw the yellow sweater and then made out the man with the crossword. Easing out the clutch, the accelerator pushed itself down under his plastic-shrouded boot. No evidence, no implication. The mercedes lurched forward, picking up speed quickly. Fifty. Sixty. Seventy. Eighty.
Samuel Durham looked up, just in time to see the car that hit him. A limp body flew into the air lik a rag doll discarded by a five-year-old who had lost interest in it.
The car continued driving, back to the house it had been stolen from. The key rested once again on the hook by the back door.
The body landed, a cracking sound as the head hit the pavement. Blood flowed freely. The newspaper fell to the ground, the half-written answer to thirty -six down prominent with a line across the page where Samuel’s hand had slipped on impact.
Andrea sipped her coffee.
She should disappear. She knew this as she watched the news report on television. As usual, the media were not privy to the name of a murder victim, but she knew. In her heart, she could feel his absence.
She should feel something, anything, but nothing came. No happiness. No joy. No relief from the pain he had caused her. She felt as bad as she had that morning when she awoke. Only now, she had no one to direct her anger at.