Authors: Rae Stoltenkamp
Tags: #Crime and Mystery, #Fantasy
eBook First Published in 2012 by Autharium Publishing, London
Copyright © Rae Stoltenkamp 2012
The moral right of Rae Stoltenkamp to be asserted as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All Rights reserved, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Publisher.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organisations, places and events are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
British Library Cataloguing-in Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available on request from the British Library
I would like to dedicate this novel to the memory of my father who died in March of this year. His unfailing support and belief in me is one of the main reasons this novel now stands before you. I have been extremely lucky in the parents stakes as I had a mum who constantly told me I could achieve anything I set my mind to and a dad who reminded me he loved me every single time we spoke even though I knew he thought my current career path was an insanely insecure one.
To my anchors, boulders and earthly tethers:
There are many people whom I would have liked to thank in this particular space: people who have been rocks in my world ever since I decided to go on this crazy adventure of being a full time author. But I think that in this instance they will forgive me not mentioning them. My gratitude towards them is however always in my thoughts and I hope that I tell them often enough in person how much they mean to me.
Besides, the plan is to write many more novels so that I can amply fill all those future dedication pages to the max.
S I X D E A D M E N
“Who the hell is that?” I ask Micky.
“Madie B. Year 10. She’s kinda cute yeah?”
I don’t usually go for Year 10s. They’re always too easy. But she’s something else. She reminds me of a pixie, like one of those pictures I’ve seen in that graphic art book I stole from Brixton library last year. It has this section on fairy folk and she’s just like that.
I'm thinking about going over to speak to her, but I feel a bit unsure. But then I see Micky looking at me, noticing my hesitation. So I lift my eyebrow at him, grin and go in for the kill.
Her friends shift like I'm Moses parting the Red Sea.
When we dance she's all slinky, like a Sade song. A person doesn't learn to move like that, they just know how. We're a ruler's length apart from each other, but if you pass a metal bar between us we'd conduct electricity.
When I talk to her she really listens. Her eyes look into mine and she hears what I say. She knows stuff about art I don’t expect her to know. I’m surprised but chuffed. I ask her if she’s gonna do art for her A Level but she says no she thinks she’s gonna do sociology and maybe drama. My eye catches the plastic wall clock and I’m amazed to find I’ve spent over an hour just talking to her.
It's just gone 11 and I sneak her out past Mr Watson and Miss Jenkins. I'm waiting for Watson to pipe up with some comment or other like "On the pull again Brockwell. Stay where we can see you." But miraculously him and Jenkins are too busy enjoying a shared smoke and I manage to evade them.
She's nervous. Her hand is trembling when I touch it. I push aside her hair half expecting to see pointed ears. They are small, soft and perfectly formed. I let my thumb trace the outer edges of her ear and she shivers.
“No.” As she breathes her answer at me I smell the faintest waft of sweet mango in the air.
When I run my hand down her back I can feel every single vertebra against my fingertips. It’s just like the time Miss Latimer made us inspect a skeleton to understand the basics of life drawing. Suddenly I understand what she meant about needing to remember there’s muscle, flesh and skin attached to the bones because here in my arms is this living breathing person attached to this spine. My fingers tingle.
I lean in to kiss her and realise she's never been kissed before. I feel responsible for the first time in my life. So I kiss her, gently. I don’t want to bruise her. I want her to stay this way but I also want to hold her to me. It feels like she’s melting into me. I let go of her because I want to keep hold of her so bad.
I think about how it would be to draw her curves, to trace them, immortalise them on a page. Isn’t that what really great art does — make her kind of beauty last forever? She could be my muse. Maybe she could make me stop the terrible things I do. I really think she could.
When my father died I was elated. I would no longer have to wear long sleeved t-shirts or jogging bottoms in PE lessons. I could change around the guys without any fears of questions regarding my bruises. I would no longer have to endure the harshness of his hands tormenting my flesh. I would no longer have to hear the derisive tone of his voice when he called me Pretty Boy. I wouldn't have to listen to his taunts about my drawing abilities or see the sneer on his face when he found me sketching instead of watching sport on telly. I felt a rush of adrenaline at the mere thought of the freedom I was about to experience. Then came his funeral and my mother's hypocrisy made a hard knot of anger boil inside me. She stood at his graveside with tears pouring down her face. When I held her in my arms she kept repeating the words, "What will we do now Anthony?" Didn't she realise she was free of him, that she could do whatever she wanted now? I heard the whine in her voice my father used to complain about so frequently. Why had I never heard it so clearly before? I felt an overwhelming desire to smash her head against dad's coffin to help her see sense. I didn't of course.
That night, while mum lay upstairs in her bedroom grieving for the man who had abused her for nearly 14 years; I strangled the neighbour's cat. It had always liked me. It would walk along the top of the wall with its tail in mast position to maintain balance. Then it would leap onto our top step and saunter over to me. It would head butt my hand repeatedly so that I would continue my ministrations. All of this was accompanied by a deep buzz that emanated through its warm, soft body. All I did was grasp it firmly and then twist the head. I was surprised at how easy it was. It all happened before the cat or even I realised what I was doing. There was a moment when the cat's claws were unsheathed and a sharp talon caught the skin of my wrist. The scratch seared like a burn. I relished the pain, feeling that the cat had passed on to me the anguish it felt in its dying throes. It took a long while for the body to cool where it lay on my lap and all the time I stroked the fur and crooned to the dead cat.
“Mum, you’re wasting my time. Why is it that we have to have the same shit every day? By now you should know when to have my god damn supper ready. I’m going out tonight and I can do without your flaming whinging .”
There’s a sketch sitting inside my head and I want to get it down on paper, but her constant whining is stopping me from transferring what’s in my head onto the page. I draw the pencil across the blank page and a strong line appears. The line becomes another line, a curve, a sweep of graphite, I cross hatch to make a broad shaded stroke. A figure springs out from the page but it doesn’t come anywhere near the one crying out to be pushed from my head and onto the blank paper.
She glances at me from the cooker and I see her eyes turn to the drawing. I know she’s going to comment on the picture and I don’t want her to. She never did when it mattered so there’s no need for her to say anything now.
I screw up the drawing and toss it towards the fruit bowl. She places my dinner on the table and picks up the ball of paper. She pulls at the scrunched up ball, releases the image trapped inside. Her fingers nudge at the paper, the heel of her hand pushing at the creases. She smudges the lines. How dare she? How dare she touch what I've made? So what if it’s imperfect. It still came from me. Before I know it the prongs of my fork have lodged themselves in the firm flesh of her hand. I notice how the skin is blotched with spots and how the wrinkles pool around the prongs, like ripples in a pond. Funny, there’s hardly any blood.
Johnson stood in the doorway to Detective Chief Inspector Robert Deed's office.
“Yes Johnson, what is it?”
“It’s Burry's girlfriend Sir. We’ve brought her in as you asked.”
“I’ll be down in a minute.”
Deed stared at the crime pictures and notes on his desk.
They had found a photograph on Burry's body. Deed leaned towards the picture of Burry and the girl, eyes narrowed in sudden concentration. He allowed his peripheral vision to exclude Burry from the photograph and the young woman’s face to pull in to a close up. She was unusual. Her eyes held his and when he stepped back from his desk they followed him. He blinked like the shutter of a camera and the mind game he was playing stopped. The visual image returned to normal.
He had always been able to do this, determine, just in one meeting or by looking at a photograph whether to call someone in for questioning. He got a feeling in his gut, a sort of queasiness. He had learnt over time not to ignore it.
Deed’s shoulders were hunched as he leaned in and watched the innocuous prime suspect through the one-way glass. Johnson had given her a sticking plaster and a glass of water. She dipped a tissue into the glass and used it to wipe away the excess blood before she began to wrap the sticking plaster around her finger, then mopped up the sprinkling of blood-water mixture from the table top and placed the wrapper in the top pocket of her jeans together with the bloodied tissue. The photograph they had found of her in Burry’s wallet had not prepared Deed for the reality.
Now, looking at her through the one way glass, Deed was even more certain of her guilt. “She’s tidy. With features like that it would be no surprise if she has Stahl's deformity.” he muttered.
“What’s that sir?”
“Pointy ears Johnson, pointy ears.”
“You mean like a fox sir?”
“No, Johnson, think
Lord of the Rings
“Oh. You mean there are really people...?”
“Yes, Johnson. And yes, it does have a special name.”
“Do you think she killed him sir? She laughed when she was told.”
“Nervous tension Johnson. It doesn’t necessarily imply guilt.”
“But you’ve got one of your feelings haven’t you sir?”
“We’re not supposed to mention my feelings Johnson.”
“Right sir, so we’re...”
“Just following the usual procedure of calling in the nearest and dearest. You know that’s how it works.”
“Yes sir.” Johnson had a small smile on his lips.
“Don’t give me that tone Johnson.”
Deed pushed back a smile of his own as he brushed past the young detective and let himself into the interview room.
As the door opened Madison Bricot swivelled smoothly in her seat.
To Deed the air in the room appeared to vibrate and a subtle odour assailed his nostrils. His nose quivered. He paused and drew breath to further capture the hint of scent, but the very action of deepening the in-rush of air pushed the trace away and it was lost. Gone. He felt a momentary bewilderment and sense of loss. Deed mentally shook himself.
“I’m Detective Chief Inspector Robert Deed. You understand that we have to tape this interview as part of our ongoing investigation?”