“They ATE me? They ATE my body? That’s why I can’t find my body, because it’s… it’s sewerage!”
Linda’s not impressed.
She punches my wall, and her hand goes through without breaking anything – then she clenches her jaw and rips electrical wiring and insulation out through a large hole when she pulls it back out. Something fizzes, and the lights dim and go out.
I sigh. Somehow I get the idea that telling her to calm down wouldn’t be a brilliant move.
“I’m sorry, Linda,” I say helplessly.
She collapses into a little heap on the floor, and heaves with sobs.
I kneel down next to her, and put my hand on her shoulder in a weak attempt to comfort her, but my hand goes straight through – she’s completely insubstantial.
I have no idea how to comfort a woman who I can’t hug, or kiss, or even touch. So I hover uselessly, a couple of tears of my own welling out of my eyes. No one deserves this kind of crap, but especially not Linda.
“Fuuuuuuck!” she wails.
Eventually she gets up, and she’s got her bottom jaw jutted out in a way that tells me I’d better only get in her way if it’s a matter of life and death – and probably not then, either.
“I want to see them.” she says.
“Laz and Geordie?”
She nods, and her bottom lip quivers a little as she thrusts out that lower jaw just a little more.
“You want me there?” I guess, since she hasn’t popped out of view.
I sigh, and call another cab.
Linda’s standing in their lounge room, looking lost. Looking betrayed. Geordie and Lazarus are speechless in front of her, pole-axed by shock and guilt. It’s like they knew Linda was around, but never thought she’d find out what they’d done to her, and never thought about what they should do if she did.
“WHY?” she demands, and starts to cry. Big, ghostly tears well up in her eyes and roll down her cheeks.
Geordie, never one to be out-dramaed, starts to sob too.
“I’m so sorry, Lindy-love!” he chokes, “We never meant – we didn’t know – it was -”
God. All the emotion in this room makes me want to blubber myself, or down a couple of stiff drinks. Except I don’t think that doing something as trivial as making a drink would be a brilliant idea right now. And besides, it seems disrespectful.
“It was what?”
“It was Mike,” Lazarus says, looking straight at her for the first time, “He told us what he’d done, that it was too late, you were dead… and that you wouldn’t want him to go to prison. We didn’t want him to go to prison. He said it was an accident… we didn’t realise til his mates came round that it might not have been. But – we’d already…”
He falls silent, and stares at the carpet.
“You ate me, you arseholes!” Linda yells.
They nod meekly. Geordie sniffles, and digs in his pocket for a hankie.
“We didn’t know,” says Lazarus, and sighs, “I know that’s not much comfort, but… we didn’t know, it was just a barbecue Mike invited us to. He told us as if it was a big joke, that we just ate his ex-girlfr-”
He breaks off and buries his head in his hands.
Linda is starting to look more angry than teary.
“Do you want to make this up to me?” she demands.
They nod slowly.
“Go to the police. Tell them everything.” she says.
“But -” starts Geordie.
“No, she’s right,” says Lazarus, smiling sadly, “If we go to jail for this, we deserve it – but we owe Linda closure, darling.”
“Too fucking right!” says Linda.
“My last, grand gesture!” Geordie says in a small voice, and stands up. He wobbles a bit as he searches his pockets for another hankie. “We’ll go, Linda – we’ll tell them everything!”
“Everything?” I query him and Linda, wondering if she really wants the whole story to get out – wondering if he would ever stick to it.
She nods, decisively.
“Everything!” she says, and disappears.
I call yet another cab, and shepherd the boys into it.
“Police station, thanks.”
“You ate her?” the police officer looks shocked, appalled. The murder part of the story she listened to without losing a smidgeon of the ‘nothing you say can shock me’ look. Her look met its match, I guess.
“Yes! We ate her!” says Geordie loudly, and bursts into tears. Again.
The police officer sighs and motions her junior to go get more tissues. This has been a damp interview.
“Do you need a break?” she asks.
Geordie shakes his head and looks brave.
“I just want to get this over with,” he whispers, and sobs.
The junior gets back and thrusts a tissue box at Geordie. He grabs a handful and honks loudly.
“I’m so sorry,” he says, “it’s just…”
The police officer nods understandingly, her professional persona back on. The junior is looking as though he may just run back out of the room to vomit, given an opening.
“Mr Smith – you were at the same barbecue? You… umm… ingested the victim’s body too?”
“Yes, I was – I did,” Lazarus answers calmly. His mouth is quivering, but he’s refusing to cry.
“Right. And Mr French – this man, Michael Reynolds, told you that he killed Ms Stevens?”
“Yes, he did,” I say, “although he claimed it was an accident.”
She writes a bit more, then tells the recorder that the interview is finished.
“Would you mind staying around, gentlemen? We’ll need to get individual statements, now that we have the bare bones.” she says.
We all nod, and the junior goes out to get us each a crappy instant coffee in a foam cup.