The Body In The Dressing-Room

The police officers' disgust hit James like a physical blow. The tallest one looked him up and down, wrinkling his nose as he took in the streaks of puke that stained James' shirt, at the rain and muck that were splattered over his trousers, at the black panda-eyes where make-up had run in tears and rain. James felt like he might be sick again, wondered what the man's reaction would be to having his shiny shoes sprayed. Not good.

"Which of you is Arthur Goodfellow?" his female colleague asked, business-like. 

Daisy stepped forward a bit, drawing himself up to his full height. James, who'd been leaning against him felt himself sway and had to clutch at the wall for support. Horrible horrible, like being drunk and hungover at the same time.

"That would be me," he heard Daisy say.

I shouldn't have drunk so much, James thought. Lager, tequila slammers and wine before I left the house too, oh God! Hard to believe he'd been celebrating. He thought he remembered having a couple of cocktails too. Everything got hazy then. People had been buying him drinks. More and more had appeared in his hands, together with congratulations. Yes, everything got pretty hazy, right up to the moment he'd stumbled in through the dressing room door.

That, that scene wasn't hazy. It was brighter than bright, floodlit and clamorous, burned onto his eyelids so that every time he shut his eyes...

Don't think of it! He told himself as his stomach gave another lurch inside him. Don't go there!

Blood everywhere, bright scarlet glossy, glowing. Spots of it, sprays of it up the wall, a pool of it on the floor...

He was aware that Daisy was walking back into the club and that someone was speaking to him. It was the woman police officer, rain beating heavily on the brim of her hat. He could barely feel it himself, but he was glad of it for being cool and wet, the rhythmic drip sort of calming in a way, felt nice on his hot, pounding head.

"Are you alright?" she was asking. "James Threadgold isn't it? I understand you were the one who found...You're in shock I expect, that's natural. But you'll need to make a statement. You'll follow me inside?"

Inside, his head aching, James slumped down in the first seat he found. No one was allowed to leave, apparently. But the lights were on, blinding and showing all the ruin of a long night; the glasses everywhere, the litter, stains and puddles where people had spilt drinks, various items of lost property, some of it crushed into fragments. With the music off there were sounds of low conversations, heavy police feet in hard shoes walking about, chairs scraping, and the hollow, empty roar of a nightclub with no music.

Statement, he thought. They have to take a statement.

"James?" someone said, easing onto the chair next to him. "James, are you ok?"

"Do I look ok? No, I'm bloody not!"


The End

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