New On Old

Entry by: Tauren

19th January 2018
Cynthia found the “Swifff, swifff.. swifff, swifff” of the roller as she ran it up and down the wall quite therapeutic. She`d always hated the mauve Robbie had painted his living room, found it unsettling in fact, and when she`d asked why he`d done it, all he could manage was a shrugged, “Dunno, just felt right.”

She had wanted to do the clean up as well, but George had said no, “There`s specialists for that kind of thing!” he`d insisted.

She`d been surprised, not by the fact he hadn’t wanted her to do the clean-up, but that he`d said no, he`d never refused her anything in their eight years together. And when she`d persisted he`d rounded on her, “I said no damnit, you’re not going near that bloody place until it`s been professionally taken care of.”

This outburst had shocked her more than the refusal, he was the most placid man she`d ever known, that he had snapped at her like that showed just how upset he really was.

But now three months later, three months and four days she corrected herself, she was still counting the days, she supposed that would stop in time; here she was applying the third coat of magnolia sure that this time the old colour would be obliterated once and for all.

She thought back to that day, the phone call from the police, a kind almost sympathetic sounding woman, identifying herself as, “Constable Dawkins,” asking her if she knew a Robert Simmons. Of course she did he was her brother, her only brother as it happens, a stab of fear biting into her heart.

“I`m afraid there`s been an incident,” the constable said.

“What kind of incident?” Cynthia heard the panic in her voice, making no attempt to suppress it.

“It`s best not to discuss it over the phone, if you could come down to….”

But Cynthia had already hung up, grabbing her car keys from their hook by the front door as she hurried out.

There were a pair of squad cars parked outside Robbie’s cottage, an ambulance pulling away from the gate, no lights, no sirens, travelling within the speed limit, it was in no hurry to be anywhere.
When she tried to go through the gate, an officer, who`d been deep in conversation with a man in a tweed jacket, reached out and held it closed, “Sorry Ma`am,” he said, sounding anything but. “This property is off limits.”

She vaguely remembered telling him she was Robbie’s sister, that she wanted to talk to him, and if he didn’t get out of her way she`d…..

It was then the man in the tweed jacket, its leather elbow patches reminding her of the way her mum had sewn patches onto her own fathers jackets, always muttering, “I dunno how he does it, every flippin one of em,” as she did. Said “Might I have a word Ma`am.”

Then to the officer in uniform as he passed through the gate, “It`s alright Bob I`ve got this,” making sure to pull it shut after him as he did, and taking her by the arm led her away. Not forcefully, no, but there was a gentle insistence in his grasp. She wanted to protest, half turned as if to go back, but he was an irresistible force and she was no immovable object, made easily manoeuvrable by dread.

“What`s happened to my brother?”
She wanted to know, and yet wanted to be lied to, wanted to scream, “Tell me he`s alright,” even as she knew he wasn’t.

He told her a little, leaving out the gruesome detail, that iota she would discover by accident, overhearing two of the officers by the gate as she lurked, sucking on her third fag in ten minutes.

“Christ what a mess,” said the one who wasn’t Bob. A young, thin man, he`d just come out of the cottage, face chalk white, looking like someone in desperate need of fresh air. “Can you imagine what it must’ve been like, to take a knife and drive it into your own throat, dragging it across like…”

He stopped when officer Bob grabbed his elbow, fingers digging into the joint, giving a, “Owww, what the fuck?” as he did.
“That`s his sister,” Officer Bob hissed, and they both looked at her, standing there, one arm tucked under her breasts, other arm resting on the fist, hanging straight out in front of her, smouldering cigarette held loose and forgotten between limp fingers.

Afterwards came the questions. They` d found a plain clothes female detective to interview her, a pretty brunette at least five years younger, and three stone lighter than her. she read her questions from a prepared list, never looking up, never making eye contact. Delivering them in a bored monotone, the tape deck on the desk between them recording everything they said.

“Did he do drugs?”

Cynthia admitted he`d been known to smoke a joint or two, there`d been no point in lying, they were bound to have found his stash by then.


“Only occasionally.”

“Did he drink?”

“Now and again, never to excess.” Another lie.

“Was he on any medication?”

“Not that I was aware of.”

“Had he appeared depressed recently, talked about suicide?”

“No. never.” She shook her head to underline the point.

“Any history of mental illness in the family?”

She`d snapped then, would have leapt across the desk between them if George, who`d been holding her hand throughout, hadn’t felt her tense and interjected, “I think that’s quite enough for now. My wife is very upset, she`s just lost her brother, perhaps we can come back and finish this another time.”

The brunette, Cynthia couldn’t remember her name, had looked up from her list of questions for the first time, a look of genuine surprise on her face, “Come back. But we`re nearly done.”

“We are done,” George had said in a cold voice she`d never heard him use before, and had never been more in love with him than she was in that moment as he helped her out of the chair with a soft, “C`mon love, let`s get you home.”

Of course the story had been all over the papers, “Another suicide in house of horrors” being one of the more restrained headlines; she had avoided the tabloids altogether.

She was well acquainted with the story; how the previous owner of the cottage, Gary Thompson, a widower, had murdered his two children while they slept, then slit his own throat with the same carpet knife. The papers drawing grotesque parallels between the two events; making great play on the fact that both he and Robbie having taken their lives in the same room.

Which was how her brother had gotten the place so cheap. There`d been demands that it be demolished, but there had been ten more years on the mortgage and the bank, who had taken ownership by default, refused, and as always money won out.
She`d complained more than once about the chill that seemed to permeate the place and Robbie, seeing how uncomfortable she was had always jokingly claimed the place was haunted. But he`d usually been high or drunk when he did, so of course she`d discounted it.

Cynthia stood back from the wall, studying it for patches; arching her back, hearing it crick loudly, she was unused to such physical activity. No, it all looked fine; she glanced at her watch, nearly twelve. She`d have a cuppa and a bickie, tackle the last wall afterwards. There was a whole pack of fig rolls in the breadbin and she decided she`d earned at least four, to hell with the diet.

While Cynthia waited for the kettle to boil, she hunted through the cutlery drawer for a teaspoon and was surprised to find a breadknife. She`d thought the cops had taken the lot of them away, certainly they`d taken the wooden block, the knife he`d used on himself had come from, that and the rest of the set.

She picked the knife up and saw it was a thin bladed thing with a cheap plastic handle, not one from the set at all. That set had cost him over a hundred pounds in Debenhams, and that had been during their last sale. Heavy bladed, wickedly sharp things with wooden handles, they`d been. This thing, she decided, must have been a refugee from his flat. She pressed her thumb against the serrated edge, finding it almost blunt.

She was about to drop it back into the drawer when she heard three loud thumps coming from down the hall, “Thump…. Thump..thump” and her heart went into overdrive. She stood still, listening, trying to hear above her pounding heart and the rumble of the kettle, then they came again, four this time, “Thump..thump…..thump..thump” it was coming from the living room she was sure of it.

She debated going out the back door, making a run for it, but thought that was foolish, what if it was nothing, besides she`d left her mobile and car keys in there. So with the dull bladed knife held out in front of her in one shaking hand she went back to the living room, pausing when two more thumps erupted from it as she approached.

Holding her breath she sidled up to the open door, peeked quickly inside before pulling her head back again, the room was empty; so what, she wondered was making that noise. Braver now she stepped into the room, waving the knife back and forth ready for anything, or so she thought.

When the thumping started again she gave a small shriek that quickly turned to relieved laughter, it was one of the windows.
She`d opened them to ventilate the room while she painted. They were old fashioned wooden ones on hinges, and one of the smaller ones that opened horizontally had slipped its catch and was flapping occasionally in the breeze.

Relaxing, letting her hand drop to her side she started towards the window then a hand, cold and hard clamped across her mouth, another grabbed her knife hand, squeezing painfully. Eyes wide with terror, her breath escaping her nose in quick “Hhifff, hhifff`s” she tried to scream, but all that came out was a quiet “Mmeeeehh.” Panicking, she lost any ability to think, simply squirmed and kicked, her runners meeting nothing but air, all she could think was, Oh God, Oh God, please don’t rape me, please…

She forgot all about the knife until he forced it up to her throat, his hand still clamped over hers. She tried to pull it away but he was too strong and she stopped struggling, thinking it better to get it over with, hoping it wouldn’t hurt too much. She was still thinking he was going to rape her right up to the moment the blade bit into her skin and he began to saw it back and forth…. back and forth.
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