The Evidence Suggests
The bedroom had that before dawn stillness to it, the sky was light but the moon hadn’t gone yet. The net curtains stirred slightly, moved by the minutest of breezes, even though the windows were wide open. Peter’s wife slept on next to him, unaware that her husband was awake. They slept naked, on account of the summer heat, and only kept a sheet over them for warmth.
Peter watched his wife’s chest rhythmically rise and fall, her soft red locks strewn all over her white pillow. He savoured these moments, waking early before anyone else, everything felt still and fresh, undisturbed. It was his own little momentary world where he was king.
He padded quietly out of the room and relieved his bladder. He then began his daily routine, methodically washing his face and hands in the wash basin. He always washed his hands three times, out of superstition, slowly and carefully, every morning. Wetting his hair, he slicked it back with his comb and liberally added Brylcreem so it stayed where it was. Putting on a pair of trousers, he padded into the kitchen.
The house was a modest affair, your typical Colonial Australian home, built on stilts out of painted timber with a corrugated iron roof, where the possums lived. He stoked the stove and put water on for his tea and grabbed some ham from the larder. While the water boiled he stepped outside for his first smoke. He drew in the first puff with relish and relief.
Leaning over the veranda railings he looked up and down the street, Bungey Lane. He spied his neighbour, Patrick, walking his Rottweiler down the road. The old man didn’t need to put his dog on a lead, as the animal was always at his side, nearly as old as his master and loyal to the end. The lane had seven houses, three on one side, four the other. All the same colonial style, fit with picket fence and endless blue sky.
Today marked the day that the reopened case would be reviewed, and all prior evidence examined again. He sighed and rubbed his temples, his cigarette nearly gone. The bloke was poisoned, by one that couldn’t be identified. So where the bloody hell did he get that from then, or who killed him with it, as murder had to now be taken into consideration.
It was a mind boggler and make no mistake, where to goddamn start he thought. Hearing his wife getting up and about, he made his way inside to eat his breakfast, boiled eggs and cold ham with a slice of buttery bread. Lost in his thoughts as he bit down on the warm food, his wife crept up behind him, her nighty loosely hung open revealing her nakedness underneath. She placed her hands over his eyes and started to kiss his neck.
‘Ah, love, I gotta get to the station, there’s that case I need to review this morning, it’s the potential murder one and I better get going.’ He said as he turned and embraced his wife.
‘Lighten up Tim, I just wanted to steal a quick kiss and maybe have a fumble in the kitchen, jeez, case hasn’t even started and you’re as tight as fly’s arse,’ She stared him right in the eye with a knowing look on her face, making sure she hid her nipples in an act of symbolic resignation.
‘Sorry Mary, please don’t start, this one feels different, we don’t have many possible murders in Somerton and this one is the first of its kind,’ He stroked her hair and kissed her forehead.
‘Go and get dressed and I will make your lunch, even though you don’t deserve it, copper’ she teased.
He laughed and went to put his shirt and shorts on, summer uniform, no sane man would wear thick woollen trousers during the summer in South Australia. Walking into the bedroom that still smelt of sleep and timber, the first drum tattoo of the crickets could be heard from the amphitheatre of the bushes.
The throb of their beat was constant as he made his way down the front steps, brown paper sandwich bag in hand and hat on head. Walking underneath his house where ancient cobwebs, broken tools and red backs lived, he got his dark green Healing bicycle and tied his lunch to the back.
Walking the polished bike to the street, he looked up at the sky and momentarily got lost in the blue. The day was already hot and the heat was unforgiving. He swung a tanned leg over his saddle, revealing paler thighs and pushed off, wheels spinning over warm bitumen.
He rode through the streets with polite hellos and nods to those who greeted him. Somerton had the sleepy dream like quality of a country town, streets lined with Banksias and Acacias standing opposite each other on wide streets. A few schools kids were playing a couple of overs of cricket at the local oval before the school day began. He smiled at the scene, twenty years ago he would’ve been doing the same, maybe even skipping the whole school day to go swimming and fishing up by Patawalonga Creek.
Nostalgia took him all the way up to front gate of the police station, its red brick almost sweating under the onslaught of the sun. Above the front door read in white stone Police Station 1902. Locking his bike up to railings of the steps he made his way inside, passing Sergeant Alessandro at the front desk with a curt nod.
He stowed his sandwich in his desk and made his way into the boss’ office as the ceiling fans whirled overhead.
‘Just in time, Tim, we were about to go through the list of evidence taken from the unknown man,’ welcomed Detective Inspector Williams.
‘Glad I could join you.’ Quipped back Tim.
He joined Williams and the other detective working on the case, Larry Patterson and began the briefing.
‘Well I think you both are well aware of the deceased gentlemen’s circumstances and how he was found etcetera so we will move on to the more substantial stuff now….’ Started up the good inspector.
A fly buzzed in circles above his head, distracting Tim from the words coming out of William’s mouth, who was still droning on about how they should move on a look at the evidence. He imagined the insect flying down the throat catching the Detective Inspector mid-sentence and him coughing a gutful.
However this didn’t happen and the evidence was listed.
‘Let’s begin, the man was wearing an expensive suit, so we can assume he was somewhat prosperous,’ Williams coughed at this point, making Tim think the fly had done its work, but alas, no.
‘The deceased also had a classy British cigarette behind his ear and another half smoked nestled between his cheek and collar, he had a whole packet of smokes on him, but interestingly a different brand altogether to the one he was smoking, another thing to note is that they don’t sell these Brit smokes here in Australia, so he had made it look like he was smoking cheaper, local cigarettes.’ He looked up at his two detectives and both were now listening intently, so he carried on, sweating beading in his grey moustache.
‘Now not as interesting, was found a box of matches, a used bus ticket to Glenelg and an unused train ticket to Henley Beach, which he may or may have not bought on the day of death.’ Sweat trickled down the speakers back.
‘So the man’s stats are: 5’11 with green eyes and redish blonde hair. He was a very athletic man but had no signs of labouring, such as callouses on his hands, so he may have been a runner or a ballet dancer.’ Concluded a quickly becoming hot and bothered police officer.
Tim turned to his partner and whispered,
‘Maybe we got a love triangle between rival dancers!’
Larry snorted quietly but their boss had seen and raised his voice,
‘The evidence suggests…’ Inspector Rhys Williams continued.