An Alternative Explanation

Entry by: jaguar

16th March 2017
It seems obvious, doesn’t it? Even I can see how it appears in your eyes. There’s blue lights outside, almost comic, except their flash is relentless, they knife the night. Then there’s the tied-tight heroine, roped to her chair, all lip-gloss and fatalism. And in the mirror above her dressing table I see me, gun in hand, cartoon criminal.

Let’s alter the angle on the dressing table mirror until you can see my dog-collar. Does that change your view of me? It’s just a label I’ve chosen to wear. I might still be a villain but you don’t often hear about an evil vicar. So are you ready to reconsider a couple of other angles?

Mel’s tied her-self in that chair. Not literally, she got a friend to help, one who’s just gone home to a distant country and may never realise quite what a part she played. A friend Mel’s cultivated for years for her efficiency and total lack of imagination. Behind her, in that enormous bed, is Mel's dead husband. Two bullets in the brain so the bedclothes are red bandages.

Yes I’m holding the gun that killed Mark but mine are the second pair of hands to hold them tonight and even if I did kill him, commit that mortal crime, I might have had justification. Although I look at him now, seeping out of himself and I can’t remember why I might have wanted him dead, he was such a good man and who am I to judge the quality of a life?

Not the bullying monster you might be expecting, no wife beater, no committer of awful crimes. He was a pillar of the community, a big business owner but he was also humane, funny, a man who delighted in other people’s talents. His company was often given awards for innovation, brilliance as well as being one of the biggest British exporters. He was, in short, a genius and the kindest of men.

I came to love him although he didn’t believe in what he called my creed. I also loved her, Mel, his wife. When they asked for my help it didn’t occur to me to say no. I wanted to be the kind of vicar who offered real, practical help. I wanted to be someone who pushed huge, moral debates on.

Now your doubts make me look down on those blue flashes and wonder if I was a bit naïve. Mark wouldn’t have survived for more than a few years. Motor Neurone’s is hideous and he was always such a powerful, decisive man. There’s no doubt in my mind he wanted to die. There’s also no doubt Mel would have been charged if she’d killed him but could our solution really work?

It was me who called the police. I’d come to the house as usual to counsel Mel. Couldn’t raise them but the gardener had a key. We walked upstairs together as Mark was, by this time, bed-bound and I pretended to be concerned he'd fallen. We found Mel tied and gagged in the bedroom chair, Mark already dead in the bed. No sign of anybody but I picked up a discarded gun. The gardener saw me find it, drop it and pick it up again.

Which was a good excuse for my prints on the gun. I’d held it at a funny angle for shooting someone the first time round. We thought the police would assume the professional shot had wiped their prints before I picked it up. We thought it was the perfect crime, done out of kindness and no one to pay the price. As long as both Mel and I hold our nerves no one will ever know who actually killed Mark. It might be a bit of a waste of police time but it wouldn’t trouble my conscience.

Except I’m thinking how this looks superficially. I'm remembering a row I had with Mel once about my faith. Her screeching at me for thinking everything was preordained, telling me I was a fool and she’d prove it to me. I’m staring now at her eyes wondering what will happen when the policeman takes the gag off. I’m not absolutely sure I have a clue what she’s going to say.