🦋 – a short murder mystery for the Christian reader – Part 1 🦋
The steel doors closed behind Brenda Stanton with a clang. It was only a few nights ago that she and her husband, Charles, had celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary. A few hours later he was dead, killed by his own revolver at close range. That’s what the coroner had said.
A prison guard stepped ahead of Brenda. ‘Move along. Don’t dawdle.’
Brenda moved one foot in front of the other, oblivious to the handcuffs that dug into her wrists.
The guard unlocked another heavy door. ‘Your lawyer’s here to see you. You have half an hour. Don’t waste it.’
The door opened with a creak and Brenda entered. A table and two chairs were the only furniture in the small room. The door slammed. She shuddered with the echo.
Frank Davies spoke solemnly as he stood to greet her. ‘Brenda, please sit. You look pale.’ He sat opposite. ‘I’m sorry about this. I’m working on an appeal for bail.’
‘Why am I here, Frank?’ Her eyes stung but no tears came. ‘I … I want to go home. I want to go back to the way it was before,’ she gulped.
‘You know that can’t happen. He’s gone. If you didn’t do it, please, let me find out who did. You have to talk to me.’
Frank sat with his right leg crossed over his left; his face expressionless. He just watched her. Waiting.
She shivered. Nothing seemed real to Brenda except the coldness of the interview cell.
‘My life was complete Frank, before I found Charles lying motionless on the carpet soaked in blood.’ She covered her mouth with both hands and dry retched.
Frank’s face contorted and handed his client a large handkerchief. ‘Take a deep breath.’
He sat back and waited again.
‘Keep going, Brenda,’ he said calmly and took a pen from his coat pocket. ‘You haven’t told anyone anything. Not even the police. Tell me what happened before you found Charles? What happened after you found him? I need to know everything. It’s important I have all the facts.’
Brenda wiped her mouth and tried to gulp away the lump in her throat. The handcuffs bumped her chin while trying to blow her nose. She stared momentarily at the metal bracelets on her wrists and the chain that hung between them.
Taking a slow deep breath she finally continued. ‘I don’t think I want to really know myself. I just want…’ Again, she breathed deeply. ‘Charles got a late night telephone call. It was unusually late, but it does happen with international clients.’ She paused and looked up at Frank. ‘From what I could understand from Charles’ side of the conversation, a contract fell through.’
‘All right, back up a bit. Do you remember the time of the call?’
‘Yes, we had just arrived home. I remember because we both looked at the clock when the telephone rang. It was almost ten minutes after one.’
‘Who answered the phone?’
‘Did you recognize the caller?’
‘No. But it was a man. He was impolite and demanded to speak to Charles.’
Frank wrote in his notebook before looking up. ‘Did you stay in the room while he talked on the telephone?’
Brenda looked at a spot on the wall behind her lawyer and concentrated before speaking again.
‘I had answered it at the bottom of the stairs – in the entry hall. Charles nodded and pointed to the study. I waited until Charles picked up before I hung up. Charles turned to face me, smiled and signaled me to go upstairs and … blew me a kiss.’
Brenda sniffled quietly before continuing. ‘When I got to the top of the stairs, Charles’s voice raised something awful. I waited a moment but he seemed to have calmed.’
‘And you didn’t hear anything more?’
‘Nothing. I shut the bedroom door and put some music on.’
Frank tapped the notebook with his pen. ‘How long was it before you realized he hadn’t joined you upstairs?’
‘Well, I had a shower and … oh wait, I think it must have been almost two. I had just set the alarm clock for seven. Charles had a meeting at nine.’ She paused and studied her wedding ring. ‘I didn’t wait any longer. I just went downstairs.’
‘After the incident, the police said you were covered in blood and your fingerprints were on the gun. How can you explain that, Brenda?’
Brenda bowed her head and pushed her fists into her stomach. ‘I saw Charles. I saw blood and the gun near his hand. I just froze… I couldn’t speak.’ Her voice faded. ‘I just wanted him to be alive.’
‘And after you realized he was dead,’ Frank pushed on. ‘You called the police?’
‘No. Not immediately. I guess I should have. I didn’t want Charles to leave me. I tossed the gun aside and held him. He was gone. His eyes were open … staring.’
Suddenly the floodgates opened and Brenda sobbed uncontrollably into her hands.
Frank closed his notebook with a snap. ‘I believe you. I’ll get your bail organized.’ He packed up his notes and placed them into his briefcase.
Sniffles replaced sobs. Brenda tried to wipe her eyes and nose on Frank’s soggy handkerchief without success. Looking up at her husband’s solicitor she apologised for not remembering much more. ‘What happens now? Will the authorities believe me?’
Frank nodded. ‘They will. We’ll find answers and get you cleared.’
‘I just want to go home, Frank. I just want to climb into bed, pull the covers over my head and hope I wake up from this horrible dream.’
She drew her feet up onto the chair and put her cuffed hands over her knees. It was only then Brenda realised she was still in her bedclothes and bathrobe.
Frank stood and picked up his briefcase. ‘I’m sorry things won’t be as they were before but I hope you can move on.’
He walked quickly around the table and stood behind Brenda, hesitated momentarily, then placed his hand on her shoulder.
‘Everything will be OK,’ his voice almost a whisper.
With the interview over, Frank Davies called the guard.
© Chrissy Siggee
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
🦋 A note from the author: I hoped you enjoyed Part one, a short introduction to Memory of Dread. Part Two will be posted next Friday at 10.30am Sydney time. -Chrissy