Evergreen (a suspenseful murder mystery)

BOOK: Evergreen (a suspenseful murder mystery)
6.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub





Copyright © David Jester, 2013



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Twitter: @DavidJester







[email protected]































Sheila Haynes woke that morning to a feeling of dread in the pit of her stomach, the place where butterflies and insecurities wander. She hadn’t drunk the night before, hadn’t eaten anything that might have given her a suspect stomach.


She walked to the bathroom on high alert, tried to recollect her dreams as she showered -- hoping for a memory of something that could have put her in such a state of anxiety. It didn’t occur to her until later, after she’d dried, dressed and prepared for breakfast, that the root of her unease was her daughter, Siobhan.


She usually woke to the sound of the fifteen year olds music, or the chatter of her teenage prattle on her phone as she kept her friends up to date on how little each of them were doing. The bass of the music or the sound of her voice penetrated through the two-bedroom mobile home like rain on a tin roof. Sheila was often forced to listen to the latest trending tune or to her daughter’s newest celebrity crush. That morning she hadn’t heard a whimper.


She made herself some toast, trying to enjoy a breakfast in silence but feeling incredibly uneasy about it. Her daughter was a pain, most teenagers were, but she loved her. She was a loving child, showing more compassion, empathy and respect than many girls her age. Yes, they had their rows and yes they had their fall outs, but they loved each other. They’d been each other’s rock ever since her father, the bastard with the unfaithful eyes and wandering penis, walked out six years ago.


She made Siobhan a slice of toast and a cup of tea, took it to her bedroom with a smile on her face.


Siobhan wasn’t there and their home was small, there was nowhere else for her to be.


The bedsheets were ruffled, disturbed, but it wouldn’t be the first time she hadn’t made her bed. Her clothes from the previous day were still strewn across the floor.


She put the plate and the cup down, held a hand to her uneasy stomach. She checked for Siobhan’s mobile phone, she would never leave home without it -- she would feel like she’d lost an arm if she didn’t have it stuffed in her back pocket or clasped firmly in her hand.


The phone was under the bed, dropped to the floor and kicked underneath. Sheila took it out, checked the messages for a clue, a sign. There was nothing of note.


She began to feel worried. Her heart was thumped in her chest, she could feel her pulse in her neck as her blood threatened to leave her body. She mumbled a small prayer, made the sign of the rosary and left the house, deciding to quiz the neighbours.


She stopped on the doorstep, her heart caught in her throat.


Siobhan was on the ground, twisted like a discarded doll at the foot of the steps. Sheila made a noise, a half-scream, half-shout. She toppled forward, her legs giving way. She bounced and rolled down the three metal stairs that led to her door, stopped on the dewy grass beneath, managed to remain upright on wobbly legs.


Neighbours heard the noise and began to filter out from the surrounding caravans, swarming out of the densely populated park where everyone’s garden was everyone else's. They stopped when they saw the body, some shuffled forward, others moved back. Some beckoned people to the scene; others wanted, tried and failed to make it to Sheila to comfort her.


Sheila screamed until her throat ripped raw; until her lungs expelled their last, exhausted breath; until the blood of those watching ran cold. The noise would be her last, torn by grief she would never utter another word, wouldn’t be able to summon the emotion, the enthusiasm, to offer anything more for anyone else. Her screams would live on in the nightmares of those that had heard.


She dropped to her knees. The pale flesh on her pointed kneecaps dug into the soft mud, the sucking sound of the impact audible in the aftermath of the faded torment. She reached for her daughter’s head, held it in the crook of her arm like she had done so many times before.


She was cold, colder than she’d ever been. Her face was hers -- the same face that had grinned many a cheeky grin; smiled many loving smiles and kept her proud mother happy -- but it was colder, whiter, emptier. A small trickle of blood seeped out of her blue lips; Sheila wiped it away with a thumb, kissed her cold lips and then dragged her head close, burying her silent sobs into the withering, blood-stained locks.






Patrick Ryan looked at the fading sun, an early end to a fading summer’s night. Winter was coming; the days were getting colder, shorter. A blanket of grey, a plume of fog, was settling in over Evergreen, wrapping the three dozen caravans in a smoggy embrace.


He regarded the sea of faces gathered around him. A thick sense of unease hung over them, exhaled by each anxious mouth like the cancerous smoke from Mrs Byrne’s pipe in the corner, or the intoxicating wash of hairspray and cheap perfume from the Brady girls who had shoved and barged their way to the front as usual.


“We need to go to the police,” Aileen Brady chirped in her high pitched squeal.


“She’s right,” called Elliot Thomson from the middle of the crushing cluster of bodies. “What if this happens again?”


Aileen gave an exaggerated nod. “Exactly, exactly,” she said, turning around to give the speaker an appreciative smile before staring daggers back at Patrick who stood before the pulsating throng. “What if it happens again? We could be at risk, we’re the same age as Siobhan,” she noted, gesturing to herself and her equally malodorous and heavily tanned sister.


Patrick held up his hands, hoping to calm the group. He had gathered them, called the meeting at the club after Siobhan’s body had been removed and Sheila had calmed down. He was the boss, the unofficial head of the community, what he said, went. He’d been born and raised in Evergreen, had spent every day of his twenty-five years on the old farmer’s field that the community of travellers called home. His parents, Mary and John, were some of the first ever settlers to the community, taking up refuge when Patrick was nothing but a prospect in their eyes.


His father died when he was young. A bare-knuckled fighter even in his late forties, when he prolonged his career one fight too far, took a beating from one of the Ahern boys and died in hospital with a brain haemorrhage. His mother disappeared after that, never to be seen or heard from again. Patrick took it hard, turned to drink and drugs and became a nuisance, a pest, but then he sorted himself out, gained the respect of most.


“Calm down,” he told the group. “We’ll deal with this as we usually deal with things. This is our problem, it’s an Evergreen problem, we’ll deal with it ourselves.”


“You must be fucking joking,” Aileen spat in her youthful drawl. “You’re not going to call the police?”


Patrick shook his head. He heard a few dissenters, saw Aileen glare at him and throw her hands to her hips the way he had seen her mother, Sandra, do many times. She was just as fiery as her mother and always had been, right from the age of seven when she’d faced up to Patrick over his advances towards her mother, promising she would ‘destroy him’ if he laid a hand on her. He never did, but that didn’t stop Sandra laying more than just a hand on the police officer outside the Dog and Bull a year ago. He imagined Aileen could go the same way, end up in her majesty’s service for castrating some unsuspecting guy who tried to get into her pants, but he liked to think she had more restraint than her mother.


“We don’t need to get the police involved. They’ve never done us any favours, you of all people should know that,” he knew he was playing a risky card, but he also knew it would work. Aileen quietened, dropped her head, slunk back into the crowd. “There’s a good chance the killer is one of us, we need--”


Segments of the crowd gasped. “What do you mean!” someone screamed an interruption, incredulous at the insinuation.


Patrick sighed, he’d expected resistance, but he knew that his suspicions were probably correct. From what he could gather, Siobhan had opened the door to her killer at some point during the night or in the early hours of the morning. Sheila hadn’t heard anything so there was a good chance Siobhan had been expecting her killer and opened the door for him before joining him outside.


He had explained this to a few members of the community, had gone over it with Aidan McCleary -- his oldest friend, his mentor and guardian -- who was currently staying away from the commotion, enjoying a pint at the bar whilst the bartender kept an interested eye on Patrick. He didn’t want to explain it all to everyone, they didn’t need to know, he figured there was a good chance that the killer was one of them and didn’t want the killer to know what


“I’m just speculating,” Patrick said. “But Siobhan didn’t know anyone else and we’re fairly tight here, no one comes in or out--”


“That doesn’t mean anything!”


“I know,” he held up his hands defensively. “And there’s a good chance it wasn’t one of us, but--”


“What about the Ahern’s?” Mary Brady, Aileen’s quieter twin sister, piped up. “I bet it was them,” she added with a menacing nod.


An agreeable sound followed her comment. Everyone would love it to be one of the Ahern’s, including Patrick. They had been at war with them for a long time, technically he was related to them -- distant cousins -- but they had been at each other’s throat for a long time. No one could remember how or why the first stone was cast, but plenty more had been cast since and no one forgot about them.


“It’s possible,” Patrick said with a nod, doubting it -- Siobhan didn’t mix with any of the Aherns or their clan -- but keen to calm the room by deflecting the blame.



They gave Siobhan a proper send off, buried her at Creeper’s Gate, a plot of land beyond a spine-gravel path at the back of Evergreen field. It had been used by the Evergreen community since they’d settled
there; Patrick’s own father was buried there.


The police had no record of Siobhan existing, no reason to ask questions when she failed to do so. Sheila was content to see her little angel given a warm send off by the community. She didn’t speak as they put her in the ground, merely sobbed silently throughout the night; her heart broken.





Susie Flanagan was innocent;
as pure as gold and as sweet as sugar
was what her grandmother used to say. She was the perfect teenager, everything a mother and father could hope for. She took care of her two little sisters, cleaned up their endless streams of sick and shit, took them for walks around the park, cuddled them when they were tired and soothed them when they were ill. She sat by her grandmother’s bedside when she was sick, practically watched her die -- a slow and tortuous passage from this world to the next. She was loving, caring, adorable. That’s what her parents believed, that’s what everyone in Evergreen believed, but that was far from the truth.


Seventeen year old Susie had a wild side. What her parents didn’t know was that she often snuck out at night and had been doing so for years. She had spent many weekends at clubs, house parties or just hanging around on the street, getting drunk, meeting boys. The other girls didn’t go out to the clubs -- rarely left the community for fear of being stigmatised, abused as a ‘gypsy’ as outsiders tended to do -- but Susie fit in so well that no one knew she came from Evergreen. It wasn’t that she was ashamed of where she came from, she adored the culture, it just didn’t mix with the life that she wanted. The travelling community that she had been raised in stuck to fundamental ideals of no sex before marriage, it was a male-centred world where the job of a woman was to get married, have kids and spend her days cooking and cleaning. Susie wanted fun, drugs, boys and sex.

BOOK: Evergreen (a suspenseful murder mystery)
6.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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