Evergreen (a suspenseful murder mystery) (8 page)

BOOK: Evergreen (a suspenseful murder mystery)
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“What about Janet?” Elliot said from the back of the room, his anger had subsided into a melancholic sadness.

 

“Janet?” the youngster asked.

 

Elliot sneered at him. “
Janet Patterson
. She just died, and none of you give a shit.”

 

“No, don’t say that. We care.”

 

Elliot shook his head, fired an accusing stare at everyone in the room, everyone in the community. “None of you went to pay your respects. None of you offered to help to move the body. Ian returned home last night to see his wife slaughtered like an animal. He spent the rest of the day surrounded by her blood, smelling her rotting flesh.
None of you
went around there.”

 

They hung their heads in shame.

 

“Ian killed himself,” Elliot said. “Slit his wrists right there next to her. He wouldn’t have done it if any of you were there.”

 

“And where were you?” Patrick asked, stepping forward. “Why didn’t you stop him, why didn’t you help him?”

 

“This is not my fucking fault!” Elliot snapped, felling his anger return.

 

Patrick held his angry stare, studied him in the silence. He turned away, shook his head gently. “This is all of faults,” he conceded. None of us were there.”

 

 

 

15

 

They cleaned the bodies and buried them with their former friends and family. They said a few words and then departed as before -- only this time their numbers were halved.

 

Patrick and Aidan waited by the graveside.

 

“I’m thinking that getting in touch with the police may be the best thing to do after all,” Patrick said disconsolately.

 

Aidan snapped his head sideways to give his friend a bemused and annoyed stare.

 

“They were right,” Patrick said softly. “This
has
got away from us. I think we need to call an end to it. Evergreen has gone, there’s nothing to hold onto anymore. We need to pack up and leave. We need to give the dead some justice, let the police find their killer.”

 

Aidan grabbed Patrick’s shoulder, squeezed tightly, “Evergreen is not dead,” he said sternly. “This is our home. We will find him, we will deal with him, we will give these people,” he gestured around the graveyard, a large proportion of the buried dead had died at the hands of the murderer, “the justice they deserve.”

 

Patrick nodded but he wasn’t convinced. He was confident that he would be next, he hadn’t slept for days and knew it was just a matter of time before he did, at which point there would be nothing he could do to stop him. A part of him wanted the killer to come for him, he had a lot of anger to take out on him, a lot of questions that needed answers.

 

As they studied the resting place of the Pattersons, they were approached by Matthew Anderson, the father of the twins who had witnessed the murderer in action.

 

The Anderson boys were convinced that it was Eddie Ahern that they saw. Eddie had been preoccupied at the time of the most recent murder and the killer had been wearing a mask when the boys saw him, but they were sure it was him. That certainty undoubtedly came from their father, but Patrick didn’t want to question it, they had gone through enough.

 

“We need to get Eddie Ahern and drag him back here,” Anderson said, determined. “He has some explaining to do.”

 

“He’s not going to tell us anything,” Patrick argued. “Not with his family around him. We’ve already tried that.”

 

“Then we need to make sure his family
isn’t
around him,” Aidan cut in.

 

“And how do we do that?”

 

There was a glint in Aidan’s eye that Patrick didn’t appreciate. The same glint that was there when he blamed Murphy and burned down his caravan.

 

“You leave that to me.”

 

***

 

Patrick dreamed that someone was standing over him, watching him sleep. They wore a mask and a cloak of darkness that covered every inch of their face and their form. He cracked open his eyes, sticky and stiff, and saw them above him -- he could practically feel their breath, their heat.

 

He lay in rigid horror, watching and waiting for his turn to die. Then he closed his eyes, embraced sleep once more. When he woke and emerged from his sofa to splash water on his face, he recalled the image of horror. It felt so real, he could still see them, still feel them.

 

He shrugged it off, checked around his caravan -- finding nothing -- to soothe his niggling doubts, and then went outside to Aidan who was waiting in his van with a few of the others. It had just gone two in the morning, most of the community was trying to sleep their demons away, others were drinking theirs away in the pub under the guidance of an insomniac bartender, whilst the rest were waiting inside Aidan’s truck, ready to do something else about their demons.

 

Their drive to Willow Park wasn’t punctured by drinking or talking. They drove in silence, barely anything more than a cough to echo in the silence of the van.

 

That deathly silence continued when they arrived. They rolled the van into the park at a steady pace, bumping softly over the grass. They filed out, one by one, into the night -- their midnight attire blending perfectly into the blackness.

 

They stopped outside one of the caravans. Patrick looked across at Aidan, waiting for his cue. The older man cradled a baseball bat, holding it both hands across his stomach. He looked at each of the eager faces behind him and at the one who had taken up a seat behind the wheel. He nodded, then all hell broke loose.

 

He kicked the door hard with his heel. It popped free from the lock, crunched against the hinges and then flew open, slamming against its stopper before juddering hard. Patrick ducked inside first, a bat held out in front of him. He scanned the living room, then headed for the bathroom, seeing they were both empty he joined the others in the main bedroom.

 

Eddie, alerted by the sound but sluggish from sleep, had tried to scramble out of bed but had become caught in the covers, crashing to the floor and injuring himself before the stream of Evergreen yobs rushed him to complete the job. Aidan beat him hard, whipping the bat against his shins. The bone cracked and split under the force of the strikes, a shattered tibia punctured the bruised skin, and poked out of his flesh. He instinctively threw his hands towards the pain, putting them in the path of the bat which crushed his knuckles.

 

The beating took Aidan just a few seconds. He was experienced and strong enough to do the necessary damage in a few swings. He grabbed Eddie by the shoulders and dragged him to his feet, the others took a leg each and carried him out of the caravan and into the back of the van.

 

Eddie’s girlfriend had watched her partner’s suffering, screaming into the duvet which she held tightly to her mouth. Patrick stopped to offer her a meek apology but was quickly ushered outside by Aidan’s shout. Moments after the door had been kicked in; before the Willow Park community had a chance to respond to the bangs or the screams, the Evergreen men had completed their job and had driven away from the scene.

 

 

16

 

A bound and gagged Eddie Ahern was thrown through the door of the Dog and Bull. He skidded momentarily along the wooden floors before losing his balance and falling to his broken knees which sounded a dull echo. He screamed an anguished scream through the rag that cut into the sides of his mouth.

 

Aidan and the others followed behind. Aidan reached down and lifted the younger man up by the scruff of the neck before tossing him again, taking joy in watching the beaten Ahern fly across the room like a torn doll.

 

There were already a few people inside the pub and within moments more crowded through the doors. Patrick had phoned ahead, told Seamus and the others they were coming, the others had then told everyone else and now the gathering throng was hoping to witness the trial and demise of the man who had been terrorising their once peaceful community.

 

They spat at him. They hurled insults, curses, coins and glasses at him. He took them all with a wince and a grimace, trying and failing to duck out of the way of numerous projectiles.

 

Aidan wrapped a big hand around his throat, pinned him up high like a wrestler preparing a final move. The others screamed for his blood and Aidan bathed in their calls.

 

“You’re going to get what’s coming to you,” he told Eddie’s bulging, horrified eyes.

 

Eddie tried to say something but nothing coherent escaped his bruised lips. Aidan threw him down again and then tied him to a chair, pulling the ropes taut so that they sunk into his flesh.

 

He raised a hand, gestured for everyone to be silent, and then removed the gag. Patrick stood back and watched him, unwilling to intervene. Aidan was getting what he wanted, he was the executioner and he was having his show. There was no stopping him, even if he wanted to.

 

Aidan puffed out his chest, stretched his shoulders and began to stride up and down, directing his words to the community and to Eddie in turn -- emulating the lawyers he had seen on television.

 

“You’re on trial for the murders of several members of this fine Evergreen community,” he began.

 


Trial
?” Eddie coughed a mocking laugh, spiting a glob of blood on to the floor. “Is this a fucking joke?”

 

Aidan raised his eyebrows. “Look at your legs,” he said softly. “Do you think this is just a joke?”

 

Eddie frowned but didn’t reply, nor did he look at his legs; the sight of the blood and the protruding bone sickened him and would only serve to increase the agonising pain.

 

“We have witnesses who saw you at one of the crime scenes,” Aidan pushed. He looked around, found Matthew Anderson loitering near the back of the room. He flicked his head in a quizzical manner.

 

“They’re in bed,” Anderson called back, meekly. “Been a long day.”

 

Eddie roared with laughter, the cutting laugh rushed out of his pained lungs like the hyperventilated breaths of a struggling asthmatic. “This is a fucking joke,” he spat derisively.

 

“It doesn’t matter,” Aidan said, waving a dismissive hand. “They saw you, you did it. That’s all that matters.”

 

“Kill him!” a small female voice screamed. Everyone turned to the little woman fighting through the crowd. Celia Flanagan, mother of murdered Susie -- apple of the community’s eye, teenage whore to the rest of the town -- emerged at the front of the group. Her face was twisted with rage and a dark desire. “Do to him what he did to my little girl.”

 

“I didn’t touch your little fucking girl,” Eddie spat.

 

“You lying bastard!” Celia threw herself forward, brushing past Aidan and grasping at Eddie’s face. Aidan could have stopped her immediately but he stood back and watched as she dug her long fingernails into Eddie’s face and began to scratch and rip away the skin like she was peeling a boiled potato.

 

He eventually reached forward and held her back, grinning when he saw the damage she had done. Eddie looked like he had been peppered with buckshot.

 

“You bitch!” he screamed, rocking his head from side to side.

 

She grinned, devilment in her eyes, blood and flesh under her fingernails. “You’ll get what’s coming to you.” Aidan released his grip on her when he felt her relax. “
Kill him
,” she said, looking at Aidan. Do it now.”

 

“Kill him!” someone else shouted, before others echoed the same chorus. Eventually they were chanting it and Eddie’s pained expression morphed into sheer terror when he realised he was breathing his last breaths. He looked to Aidan for salvation, hoping for something he knew he wasn’t going to get. Aidan grinned back and then nodded enthusiastically to the crowd.

 

***

 

Patrick couldn’t watch another merciless murder. He didn’t like Eddie and liked to think he had something to do with the murders, but a niggling logic at the back of his mind told him that wasn’t the case. He had agreed with the kidnapping to please a part of him that wanted to be sure even though the rest of him knew that it probably wasn’t. He also wanted to do right for the community, after failing it so miserably.

BOOK: Evergreen (a suspenseful murder mystery)
13.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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