My mother was resolute in her not being involved. As if she trusted denial, she refused to admit that she had found a dead man. Miss Lingdstan, clipboarded again, gently reminded me that she was most likely in shock. To that, I nodded, but I wasn’t part of the mystery any longer; something inside me muttered that I could no longer be compelled to sort out the world. There it was. I had lost my lust for being with the living, and the dead could no longer keep me company.
After I while, I left the crypt, entering the booming silence of the nape of the church. Despite the fact that I was duly reminded of Josh and his brave, shining religion, peace began to soak into my soul, rinsing me with a force opposing that of the growing depression and the sense of the loss inside me. Indeed, the pain had begun when Josh had been permanently taken from me; even now, I couldn’t keep him from running across my mind, running from that fierce hand he had been pressed down by. Fairness didn’t exist, and I had leant that fact far too late. Now, I had to pay with the horrible memories that screamed, even amongst the pace of this place.
As I began to feel the draft about my ankles, a uniformed policeman wandered in.
“Wants to talk to me, yeah.”
“Da.” He nodded in a straight-lipped bob, so Russian in his mannerisms.
I trudged back to the damp crypt to see the policemen, ants, spread across the body of the room; with their instruments, they had destroyed what peace I had envisioned here. Police-covers crowded the place, along with the chipped mortar and sawdust-substance beneath their feet. Inspector Simnova and his assistant were kneeling by the fully-emerged body, covering it with another of the blue cloths.
I looked at the bloated, cement-hardened copse with disgust. Interest nibbled at me, but not enough to be happily talking about the process that had created this rotting, half-mummified figure.
“The gas released by the decomposition of the human body creates air-bubbles in the cement-lime, showing us the presence of a body. Quicklime mortar such as this slows the rate of decay on a body. A foolish way to bury someone, if you ask me.”
Now there was no way for Inspector Simnova to deny me a look at the body. The limed corpse had been strangled before the man had been…stored in the vat, judging by the tight red lines around what was his mangled throat, but also, various blue and black bruises were dotted around the torso, especially centred around the ribcage area.
“Oh, my…” I heard myself saying.
“Miss King, you may want-”
“Nope, I’m staying, thank you very much, Inspector. Besides, you can’t take away what I’ve already seen.” I paused to take it all in again. “And, wow, you can’t tell me that there wasn’t a struggle here…”
Inspector Simnova nodded.
“It looks like our murderer of this poor person was someone athletic.”
“They’d have to have been to cause such wounds, especially such direct-to-chest ones.”
“Athletic but without a clue about building-works.”
He gestured for his brunette sergeant to come forward. She muttered some Russian into his ear. He had been examining the body, and it was clear that he already knew.
“Who is he?” I asked, when they had finished their rushed Russian conversation.
“I’ve just been told that this fellow,” he said stoutly, “is a Russian by the name of Don Krumm. Back in his living day he was quite an influential man, as well as a fair politician. Unfortunately, he disappeared mysteriously in the middle of one of his best campaigns over ten years ago. No one understood what could have happened to him. We have our answer here now.”
“It is, but this could also be the connection we need for the Rusav case.”
“Connection?” I pushed myself up and away, feeling sick with the edgy curiosity blooming.
“I have to take every death as linked to another- otherwise my job would be lacking its patterns and interests. I like to see the way that each crime has its place in overall society, as I’m sure you do, Miss King.”
“Agnetha…” I was alerted, by the mumble, to my mother’s presence on the stairs. I uttered a squeak to join hers.
The first thought as I turned to her was worry, especially if she’d seen me on civil terms with the policemen- a sure sign that I’d begun to break away into detective-work. I was afraid of what she’d mutter when she realised that I was no longer her ‘little girl’.
However, she had eyes only for the wall opposite, her ominous shadow floating to it. As if in a trance, her mouth shaped words in silence, and her eyes rolled, as a hand floated to the wall. The same uniformed policeman who had come to fetch me from the church above, jumped up to side, offering a support by his arm.
“Mum…” I began, remaining in my dark patch beside the remains. Inspector Simnova was already beginning to order his men and women to zip that certain body up and transport it to the morgue. He shot me a look.
“Mother, the police might want to talk to you about what you saw.”
“Oh, no! I saw- I didn’t see- nothing…”
I stared her down, in spite of her own sight not meeting my eyes. And there, I began to, as I was often doing it seemed, formulate a plan, my way back, mentally and physically, into the game.
“He’ll want to see me too, you understand?”
Slowly, she nodded.
“I’ll go with them now. And Benny…the police will talk to him, won’t they?”
“We will,” added the man she was resting upon, speaking with his patented nod to her, not me.
“I must go now, mum. Go on with your tours. Get a gin or something.”
The alcoholic remark was a bitter one that happened to slip out, relating to her tea-totallism in contrast to my need for a liquid anti-stressor that she refused me, but still she didn’t notice. That secured my freedom without a doubt.
‘Thank you’ I mouthed to the police-officer. They wouldn’t dare question my brother in reality.
In the epitome of selfishness (I allowed myself some selfishness, despite being of the deadly opinion that I didn’t deserve any), I couldn’t afford to be caring, especially towards the woman with whom a relationship was fraught was maliciousness. I still contained the shell of my doubts cocooning me from the mystery that was the world outside my imagination.