Evergreen (a suspenseful murder mystery) (6 page)

BOOK: Evergreen (a suspenseful murder mystery)
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12

 

Edward Byrne was home alone. He lived with his grandmother Martha, a pipe smoking octogenarian who liked to be portrayed as a woman who kept herself to herself but really only remained quiet so she could hear everyone else’s business better. She was at the pub with most of the other locals, another debate on the recent atrocities which she would try to watch and study from afar.

 

Edward had a lot in common with his grandmother -- which wasn’t unusual as she had raised him for the majority of his life -- he also liked to know what was going on, but he liked to get involved, he liked to be close to the action. When they burned down Murphy's caravan, Martha had watched from the back of the pack, throwing an occasional stone or mumbled word towards the chaos; Edward was in the thick of the action, he’d been the one to fetch the bottle of vodka, the one to start the fire. It wasn’t entirely his idea of course, nor was it his fault, Paul Murphy was going to die that night regardless of what he had done, if anything he saved him from the humiliating death of being dragged out of his home and beaten to death by a hundred angry feet and fists. He deserved to die anyway, he may have not been the killer but he wasn’t one of God’s children.

 

Edward had stayed home to play on his new games console. He had picked it up for less than a tenner. It was a few years old and was almost definitely stolen, but he didn’t mind. It worked, that was what mattered.

 

He had amassed a collection of copied disks for the console -- a stack of
DVDs with hand written scrawls on the front. Some of them worked, most didn’t. He cycled through them with a lustful hunger, rarely giving each game more than a few minutes. He had wanted a games console for years, had been promised one for his last birthday -- his fourteenth -- only for his grandmother to deny him it in place of a new jacket, but now he was spoilt for choice and quickly tired of it.

 

The guy who had sold him the console had also sold him a few joints. He decided to spice his playtime up a bit, see if the dope could settle him and force his interest. He opened the front door and sat on the steps to smoke.

 

His grandmother warned him to stay inside and keep the doors locked, but the killer was only after women, he was a pervert, an insecure little man who liked to pick on defenceless women. If he tried anything with Edward he would kick his arse, teach him a lesson or two about not hitting women.

 

After a few tokes -- his muscles immediately relaxed, his mind succumbing -- he heard a noise at the back of the caravan. His immediate neighbours were all at the pub, their blackened windows reflecting the light that spilled out from inside the Byrne caravan. He cupped the joint in his palm, wiped the stoned expression from his face and ventured down the stairs and around the back of the caravan.

 

A football, its stitching worn and coated with a splattering of mud, had wedged itself underneath the caravan. He looked around with a bemused shrug; there was no one else around. The Anderson twins, Terry and Johnny -- two little terrors -- had probably been playing football near the caravan again, scarpering when the ball hit the Byrne home. The last time they’d hit the ball against the bedroom window, nearly giving Edward and his grandmother a heart attack. He’d warned them away but the little shits had defied him.

 

He stuffed the joint back in his mouth, scooped up the ball in his hands and rolled it around in his palms.

 

It was a dark and quiet night, the silence palpable. The Anderson’s were unruly children, their parents were too young, too inexperienced and didn’t really give a toss, that was why their kids were the little demons they were, but letting the pair of six year olds out at this time of night, when a serial killer was on the loose, was something else. He sighed to himself, puffing a pillow of smoke out of his nostrils, squinting his eyes as the burning ember at the end of his mouth spat a spot of fire at the bridge of his nose.

 

He felt sorry for them. He hated them, they were annoying, dirty and would probably grow up to be thugs and bullies, but what chance did they have with parents like that?

 

He gave a mumbled curse, dropped the ball to his feet and took the joint out of his mouth.

 

A soft laugh, a rolling whisper on the silent wind, lifted to his ears. The dope was taking effect, exaggerating his paranoia and his sense of the supernatural, the last thing he needed was a creepy laugh in the dead of night. He instantly felt the hairs rise on the back of his arms; felt a chill run through his body.

 

He kicked the football away, in the general direction of the Anderson caravan. The laugh had come from the other direction, towards his front door, but hopefully the little terrors would follow their football and leave Edward alone.

 

He crept to the front door, trying to act cool and unflustered in case anyone was watching him.

 

The laugh sounded again when he climbed the stairs to his front door. It was different, louder, nearer. He ascended with trembling legs, flicking the joint into the night, keen to end his paranoia.

 

He didn’t see the marks in the grass, the lines of trailing legs and feet leading to his stairs; didn’t see the patches of mud, the spots of blood on the stairs.

 

He felt a great relief wash over him when he slammed the door, but the noise didn’t stop. Now he could hear it better and he knew it wasn’t a laugh. It
had
been when he first heard it, but this was like a chuckle, a sinister, evil patter of heavy breaths. They didn’t sound amused, didn’t sound like they were having fun at all.

 

The sound was coming from his grandmother’s bedroom. His body froze, his heart stopped, kicked and then exploded into a rapid stutter. He clenched and unclenched his fists, turned to the door, thought about opening and running as far and as fast as he could.

 

He was a fighter though, the only male in his household. The protector, the warrior. He felt a surge of adrenaline, a need to be the hero. He moved forward steadily, paused outside the bedroom door and then rushed forward, throwing it open, lifting his clenched fists in front of him and preparing for battle.

 

His grandmother was on the bed. She was the one making the sounds, it definitely hadn’t been a laugh. Her eyes bulged out of their sockets, she looked like she was in a state of extreme fear. Her pipe had been stuffed into her mouth, down her throat, the end from which poked out like a second tongue.

 

The skin around her mouth was cut and bleeding, her thin lips had been reduced to burnt blisters. She was gurgling, trying to splutter a few desperate pleas, but Edward couldn’t decipher them.

 

The door behind him slammed shut with a windy thump. He turned, startled just as the bat came down, clipping him on the forehead, spinning his world into a chaos of black, red and blue; a cataclysm of nothing, blood and dancing stars.

 

He hit the floor hard, shook the caravan on landing. He was unable to move, unable to stop his attacker from preparing a second blow. His eyes stared up at the bed as he waited for his end, he watched his grandmother struggling for her finals breaths, kicking her limp, muddied and bloodied feet lazily into the air; her hands, bound behind her back, grasped at nothing. She looked like a beached mermaid, flopping madly on her side and losing life with each passing second.

 

Then he saw the faces outside. They were faint, with the light on inside the room and the world outside black, most of what he saw was a reflection of his own impending doom -- the bat now raised in a fatality position above his head -- but he was sure he made out the horrified expressions of the Anderson twins as they witnessed Edward’s final breath.

 

 

 

 

 

13

 

The Anderson boys were terrified. They barely spoke, just stared off into space as if unable to shift the recollections from their minds. They were too young to have witnessed something so horrific, but they had seen it and they had gotten out alive. They were the only ones who had seen the killer and lived to talk about it; Patrick needed them to talk to him.

 

“It was very hard for them,” their mother said, as if an explanation was needed. She had her arm hooked over the pair, their eyes were red and sunken, they hadn’t slept and had been crying all night. Their parents hadn’t slept either; mother, hugging them tight and close in case the bogeyman came back; father, sitting on the other end of the sofa looking to exact revenge on whoever had forced his kids to witness suck sickening acts.

 

The alarm hadn’t been raised until morning. No one went out at night anymore. There was a time, just a few weeks ago, when the community still buzzed in the early hours of the morning. No one really worked and everyone liked to drink and socialise, so the closely knit houses were like college dorm rooms. Now no one paid any late night visits to their friends and neighbours for a drink, and not just because they didn’t want to step into the unsafe night, but because they didn’t know if their neighbours’ houses, or the neighbours themselves, were safe.

 

“I know it is,” Patrick said, trying to catch the boys’ eyes, to give them a pleading and sympathetic look. “But, I need their help, we all do.” He stared at them a moment longer, they didn’t look at him didn’t seem to blink.

 

He sighed and sat back in his chair.

 

He had gone to the Anderson house alone. He had been disposing the Byrnes’ bodies when they called him and told him. The Byrne’s didn’t have a funeral, didn’t have anyone willing to help or to offer their condolences to the dirt, so the work had been harder and had taken longer. Aidan helped, but the pair hadn’t exchanged a single word.

 

“Did they say anything?” Patrick wondered hopefully. “Anything at all?”

 

“They said he wasn’t a big man,” the father piped up, surprising Patrick. He had been sitting, stewing and grinding his teeth until that point. Patrick had expected him to explode or storm out on a mission of vengeance.

 

“Excuse me?”

 

The father nodded. “They told us last night, we thought they were playing games, maybe were a little scared--”

 

“We didn’t let them outside,” the mother chipped in, to absolve herself of blame. “We told them to stay indoors, we’d have never let them out at night, not after...well, you know--”

 

“They snuck out,” the father said. “We told ‘em off, figured they were just acting out when they started telling us what they’d seen. We figured it out last night, didn’t know what to do.”

 

“I wanted to call the police,” the mother said, raising an alarm in Patrick.

 

“I told her not to,” the father said, batting Patrick's attention back the other way. “I don’t think what you did was right, we should have told them from the start, but now it’s too late, isn’t it? After we buried the bodies, got rid of the evidence. They’d lock us all up.”

 

Patrick nodded.

 

“So, anyway,” he continued. “We told ‘em that the big man wouldn’t get them--” he paused, one of the youngsters shivered at his words. “They said it
wasn’t
a big man.”

 

“He was skinny,” the shivering kid piped up. “Smaller than daddy.”

 

His father was less than five foot ten, just an inch or so shorter than Patrick.

 

“You’re sure of this?” Patrick asked the child, but he didn’t respond.

 

“They seemed pretty sure,” the father chimed in. “After all, I don’t think they’ve been able to forget a single thing about last night. Do you?”

 

Patrick shook his head, offered his sympathy by looking towards his feet, a sullen expression on his face.

 

“I reckon this guy has to be strong to do what he did,” the father continued, leaning forward and lowering his voice. “I mean yeah, he used weapons, but still...it takes guts and strength.”

 

Patrick looked up, nodded in agreement.

 

“He’s skinny, fairly short. He must be pretty compact. Muscular.”

 

Again Patrick nodded. The father leaned closer still, his eyes flaring, the vengeance in them burning.

 

“I don’t know about you, but I can only think of one guy that fits the bill. Short. Slim. Strong. Devious. Someone who has something against Evergreen.” He paused, and then asked, “Do you follow me?”

 

BOOK: Evergreen (a suspenseful murder mystery)
4.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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