Cecilias Undoing

This is a crime fiction story, set in New York. It was written as an assignment for school.

The sun filtered through the dirty glass, into an equally dirty apartment, as the ringing of a phone roused Cecilia Montgomery from her fitful sleep. Stumbling out of the mess of sheets she reached to the bedside table, and brought the phone to her ear.

“Cecilia?” It was John, her partner at the NY Police Station.

“Yes it’s me, what do you want?” A lack of sleep had rendered her cranky, and she put her hand to her temple where a throbbing headache was beginning.

“I hope you’re sober. We’ve found a body, down at Sutton” His tone was disapproving. John looked down upon Cecilia’s frequent and excessive drinking.

“Alright. Fine, I’ll be there soon.” With that Cecilia snapped shut the phone, and began the daunting task of finding clean, presentable clothes in the mess of her apartment.


By the time Cecilia had fought the traffic and arrived at Sutton it was dark and stormy, and the gruesome crime scene was a flurry of activity. Dirty yellow police tape made sure no prying eyes could see the grisly crime that had been committed only hours before.  A man’s body lay flung out under the cover of trees, although Cecilia’s view was obscured by various police officers. The park always smelt of smoke and pollution that was pumped out by the surrounding factories, but that day it was tainted with the pungent smell of blood that was congealing over the man’s torso. Flies swarmed thickly around the victim, the pull of blood appealing to them. A few years ago Cecilia would have felt bile rising up her throat but her stomach had since hardened, and she was able to examine the scene in a clinical fashion. She saw a young detective turn away from the body in repulsion.

“Rookie,” she sniggered


Medical examiners were finishing up, and seeing Cecilia had finally turned up, they rushed to her to give their findings. They had worked with Cecilia long enough to know that if she had a hangover and they worked slowly, it was likely they’d end up with more bruises than the body they were examining.


Trying to clear her head Cecilia listened to the rambling of the examiners, slowly piecing together what had happened.  The dead man was a male Caucasian, between 35 and 40, who had been brutally stabbed to death.  There was no identification on the body, just a tattered note that had undoubtedly been carried around for quite some time. The note was handed to her, and it made even her, cold-hearted, unfeeling Cecilia, tear up. Pink texta covered the page, with a simple message, written in a child’s wobbly scrawl “I love you daddy.” 


Inconspicuously wiping her eyes, Cecilia made her way to a stone bench where a man was sitting talking to John. Cecilia laughed when she caught a good look at the man, whose hands were shaking and face dripping with sweat. She’d been in the business long enough to know that this guy had found the body.


Cutting off John mid-sentence, she began to talk to the guy, knowing she could get the information out of him better than John, or anyone else, could.

“Look mate the quicker you answer me, the easier it’ll be, and the quicker we’ll all be outta this god-forsaken rain. Understand?” The man just looked at Cecilia, obviously shocked, and gave a slight nod of the head.

“Good. So where, when and how’d you find him?’ She gave a quick jerk of her thumb behind her, pointing to where the body lay, under a cold white sheet.

“I was out jogging, and could see…could see his hand. I thought it was a homeless guy sleeping rough, I was going to give him a few bucks. It was dark, even when I was standing right over him I thought he was just asleep. I didn’t realise he was d-d-dead until he didn’t answer me.” The man spoke softly, quickly, traumatised by what he’d seen.

“Do you know him?” Cecilia growled. She was wet, cold and hungry, and the thought of simply going home was alluring. The team could work without her. But that note, still clutched in her hand, wouldn’t let her give up.

“Not, not personally. His name is Tim Northman, I teach his kids down at theBronx.” He was still shaking, looking around nervously, glancing at his watch. It was clear he wanted to be anywhere but where he currently was.

“OK, thanks. Off you go, we don’t need you anymore.” As soon as Cecilia said go, the man took off.


Feeling his eyes boring into her back, Cecilia turned to John.

“Yes? What are you lecturing me about this time?” John had the tendency to act like the mother she never had, and continually scolded her about things that were trivial and didn’t involve him. That made Cecilia like him only a little more than she liked murderers.

“Nothing, god what’s with you? “ Seeing Cecilia’s scowl he changed tactics, “I say we go and find his family.”


Standing on the front step of a dilapidated, dirty house Cecilia rang the doorbell. A young girl, who couldn’t have been more than ten, answered. On her hip was a younger child and they both looked thin, undernourished, and unloved. For a brief moment Cecilia flashed back to her own childhood, to her first home, that was so similar to this house, to her siblings, who looked the same as these children. But she couldn’t let these thoughts control her.  She’d spent her whole life blocking them out. 


“Hello. My name’s Cecilia, I’m a police officer, is your mother home?” The girl looked scared, but hurried off to find her mother. A moment later a large, broad shouldered, hard faced lady stepped out of the room.

“What do you want? Have one of these dumb kids messed up again? If they have, I swear…” She trailed off, leaving the threat hanging in the air.

“No, of course not Mrs Northgate. I’m sad to inform you, but we found your husband inSuttonParkthis morning. A passing jogger saw him and, well, he was deceased.” Cecilia’s words were kind, but she delivered them harshly, the image of the unloved girls still burnt in her minds. Mrs Northgate’s eyes went wide, her face bone white.

“No, no it can’t be, that’s impossible.” She wasn’t talking to Cecilia, she was muttering to herself in disbelief.


Cecilia had been told she was untactful when she dealt with people, but she didn’t care. She was a cop, not a salesperson. If she needed answers, she was going to get them. In her blunt, impersonal way she kept pushing Mrs Northgate, but soon left the house frustrated when it became clear Mrs Northgate was incapable of answering her.


As she was leaving the house, something caught her eye. The two girls who’d answered the door, along with three other scruffy looking boys, sat in a dirty bedroom quietly talking.  Not wanting to disturb them, she quietly slipped into the room and gave them her business card.

“Call me anytime,” she softly whispered, before tiptoeing away.


Back at the police station everybody was in motion, trying to work out, figure out what had happened to this hard working father of five.  Looking up at the corkboard dedicated to the case, Cecilia saw just one suspect, a serial killer who was currently at large inNew York.  The MO’s matched and Cecilia was already reviewing the details from the previous cases that she could remember. Stabbed to death, that matched. Murdered in a park in the early hours of the morning, that matched. No identification on the body, that matched.


She demanded the files be delivered to her desk so she could review them. They were there in the time that it took her to pour a coffee. She smiled slyly, knowing the juniors in the office were wrapped around her little finger. They were all as scared of her sharp words and violent outburst as they were the criminals they investigated.


Later that night Cecilia went out to the bar, wanting to drown her troubles in a bottle. Seeing those kids had reminded her of her horrible childhood, where she’d never heard a word of praise, of encouragement, of love. She knew that being hung-over tomorrow wasn’t a good idea, but sitting through one of John’s lectures was better than being alone, wallowing in self-pity.


The next day was sunny and warm, the type of day Cecilia would usually take off. Instead, she dragged her tired, protesting body into the station and rang Stephanie, a friend who had been working the New York serial killer case.  Only moments after Cecilia had left an angry message demanding Stephanie ring her back, the phone rang again. When she picked up, a young, uncertain voice started talking. Fast paced and quiet, Cecilia strained to hear, not daring to interrupt. Just as she opened her mouth to speak the phone cut off, the line dead.


John turned to Cecilia expectantly, wanting to know what had caused her shocked face.

“John, has the guy’s wife been interviewed? Does she have an alibi?” Cecilia’s voice was frantic, her eyes wild as she decided what to do.

“No, nobody has spoken to her since you have. Why, what’s wrong?” John was confused, he’d never seen Cecilia so worked up, he couldn’t work out what the person on the phone could have said to change the case so suddenly. 

“Those kids, if she gets angry…” Cecilia was muttering to herself, trying to find her keys on her desk.

“Cecilia! Slow down, what’s going on, who was on the phone.” John tried to take charge, to get onto the same page as Cecilia.

“It was Tim Northgate’s eldest daughter, Faith.  I saw her when I spoke to his wife. She said that the night before the murder her mother and father had a fight. He went to a bar, and she followed him.  That morning Faith went to wash her mother’s clothes, and they were covered in blood.” Cecilia was still rushing around, and her voice was jumpy as she explained the situation to John. “Faith said she was gone all night, because the younger children had to sleep in her room. And a large kitchen knife was missing from the knife bock.”

“Are you saying that his wife killed him?” John was dazed, he didn’t believe the case was going to end up like this.

“Yes, that’s what I’m saying!”


At that moment a junior detective, new to the job, tentatively walked up to Cecilia.

“Uh, Miss Montgomery?” he stuttered. “Something’s just come up.  The night before Mr Northgate was murdered he had reported his wife for abusing their children.”

At the revelation of this news both Cecilia and John were utterly staggered, but it was Cecilia who composed herself first.

“Well now we have motive, a murder weapon and she has no alibi. That’s enough for an arrest!” With that she rushed out of the room, hair streaming behind her, as John and the junior detective stared at each other in disbelief.


By the time John reached the Northgate home, Cecilia already had Mrs Northgate locked in the front room, her Miranda rights read, hands cuffed behind her back. The oldest of 5 children, a girl John assumed to be Faith, was talking to Cecilia, who was simultaneously comforting a younger boy.


Cecilia untangled herself from the weeping boy, and marched purposefully towards the front room. Within five minutes she emerged, her face set in not quite a smile, but in grim satisfaction.

“She confessed the whole thing, from the abuse to the murder. John, go ring social services…”

Just as the word left Cecilia’s mouth a looming figured raced towards her, and felt her jaw being punched with outrageous force. Knocked to the ground Cecilia looked up, and saw John wrestling to subdue Mrs Northgate. Faith and her siblings raced to Cecilia, looking horror struck. Stars were flashing in front of her eyes, but Cecilia smiled. Mrs Northgate was going away for a long time, and she wouldn’t be able to hurt anyone else.






The End

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