Celebrating today – 200 posts. Phew!! I still can’t believe it though. Anyway back to the celebrations – and what can be better than a guest post. So, the person who graces the blog today is so many things rolled into one. The best kind of friend there is (I know I am so lucky), a brilliant writer, an amazing dad and just a kind hearted, caring and a great human being (yes, they don’t make them like him anymore); everyone who knows Sid will agree with me. I am so glad that he agreed to write one of his gems for me. If you want to read more from him or still haven’t read him (though I seriously doubt that), head on over to I Wrote Those, and be prepared to be amazed. So over to Sid….
Jane Richards looked at the portly man who had entered the room and addressed her. Dressed in a dark brown tee that strained helplessly to contain his rotund figure and sporting a Poirot-style moustache, the man seemed rather out of place at the police precinct. He slowly ambled towards her and sat down on the other side of the table.
She managed to nod her head weakly, in acknowledgment, as he scanned through the sheets of paper on the table in front of him. Barely looking up from the stack, he asked in a strident tone, “Can I get you something? A glass of water? Or coffee, perhaps?”
Jane shook her head and opened her mouth to start a conversation. But the man interrupted before she could commence. He looked into her eyes that were bloodshot from crying and said, “Ms. Richards, I am Inspector Jayson and I head this precinct. You have my word that I will do everything necessary to locate your kids. But I am going to need you to start at the beginning. Now let’s go.”
She looked at the man trying to find some reassurance in his words. Slowly, she spoke.
“My kids have been missing since yesterday.”
“And when did you see them last?” he asked, scribbling something on a sheet of paper.
“When they left for school in the morning. I had a long chat with James, my eldest. We had even made plans for the coming weekend. But now…” Her voice slowly trailed off, as a surge of emotions started to rush through her. She tried to hold back her tears, but failed miserably as the pearl-shaped droplets chased each other, down the contours of her cheeks.
Inspector Jayson got up and walked across to her. He laid a hand on her shoulder and said, “Ms. Richards. I know this is a difficult period. I just need you to hand over the photos of your children along with any distinguishing marks or other details to the Constable Myers at the front desk. I am sure we will locate them soon. Until then, do try and stay positive. You may go home now. We can talk another day.”
Jane nodded as she wiped her tears and stood up. “Thank you, Inspector.” she said, trying to stifle the onslaught of tears. As she started to walk out the door, the policeman called out.
“Where is your husband, Ms. Richards? On the report here, it says that he was the original person to lodge the complaint. I may need to speak to him.” She trembled as a cold shiver ran down her spine.
“Tom, I mean, my husband, he’s at work. I will give his number to Officer Myers.” she stuttered, as she hastily tried to avert her gaze.
As she walked out of the room, Inspector Jayson slowly chewed the tip of the pen he had used to jot down his notes. He had a nagging feeling that Ms. Richards was hiding something.
As she slowly walked back home, Jane fervently hoped that the Inspector had not noticed the abrupt change in her demeanor. She carefully rolled up the sleeve of her right hand and gingerly touched the arc-shaped burn below the elbow, wincing gently at the pain. Even though it had been days since the wound had been inflicted, it still stung. The skin around the gash was tender and a small amount of puss had started to form around it. Absentmindedly, she touched it again. She needed to feel the pain once more, just to remind herself of what he was capable of.
She was in no doubt that Tom had something to do with her children going missing. But what she lacked was the proof. It had taken every ounce of strength for her to walk into the precinct today for the meeting with the Inspector. She had only done it because Tom had threatened to beat her up again. As a gentle drizzle commenced, she dug into the depths of her bag and brought out an umbrella. She smiled as she spotted a young couple clinging to each other under the protection of a small umbrella.
As she walked away from the couple, images of her first date with Tom formed in her mind. A mutual friend had set them up on a blind date. Though she had been apprehensive about meeting him, they’d had a glorious evening. He had been charming throughout and their evening had been filled with lots of laughter and some blush-inducing flirtation. Their whirlwind romance had soon culminated in a hasty wedding, when they had discovered the she was pregnant with their eldest, James.
Everything changed with the birth of their first child. Suddenly, Tom was no longer the same person who had wooed her. He became aloof and disinterested, often spending more time at work than at home. And then, out of the blue, he started to become violent. It started with minor things like a push here or a slight twisting of the arm. Initially, she tried to ignore them, blaming it on his frustration of an unplanned child. But then the attacks started to get more violent. He would often come home stinking of alcohol, and then throw her against furniture or slash her with a pocket-knife that he always carried. And then one night, she felt him trying to force himself into her. When she tried to react, she discovered that he had tied her wrists to the bedposts and there was nothing she could do except cry out loud.
Jane had been left alone the following year, as she fell pregnant again, this time with twins. Tom had gone back into his shell, still being reclusive and inconsiderate towards her. The only marked difference that she had seen was the fact that he was now more attached than ever to the three kids, often going out of his way to spend time with them. However, as the kids grew up, he started to abuse her even more than before. There was something sadistic about the way he attacked her. To Jane, it almost felt like it gave him a lot of pleasure to see her bleed and get bruised. Often, she contemplated running away. But she had never been able to garner the strength to do that. And Tom continued to keep a close eye on the kids, never leaving them out of his sight, unless they were at school. She had once tried to confide in their mutual friend, who had set them up. But he had found out about their meeting and threatened to kill her, if she ever breathed even a word to someone else.
Battered and bruised, Jane had continued to suffer in silence. But on Friday night, James had walked in on Tom slapping her. Though he was only eight, he had known instantly that something was wrong. He had stood there trembling, shocked by the anger etched on his father’s face and the blood on his mother’s lips. Subsequently, James had avoided Tom the entire weekend, and no amount of cajoling, would make him go near his father.
And then, the three of them had suddenly gone missing the day before. Upon contacting the school, she had been told that they had never turned up. In a moment of panic, she had called up Tom, who had seemed unconcerned by the fact that the kids were missing. All he had said was that they had probably gone to a friend’s place and would be back soon. When they failed to turn by nine that night, for the first time since she had been with him, she saw Tom panic. He had rushed to the nearest police station and filed a report. He had even sat up the whole night, waiting for some news on them.
However, today morning, in another bout of anger he had hit her and banged her head against the kitchen table. He had yelled at her for not taking better care of the children and blamed her for them going missing. Had it not been for the call from the precinct asking her to meet the inspector, she was certain that she would have been lying unconscious in a hospital somewhere.
Three days later,
Inspector Jayson paced up and down the narrow corridor outside the hospital, waiting for the lab results. He impatiently glanced at his watch, willing the time to go quickly. He needed the results to be able to hold Tom Richards for further questioning. His thoughts went back to the meeting he had with Jane Richards, a few days earlier. She had seemed jittery when he had asked her about the husband. And though he had not mentioned it then, he had noticed the bruised lips and the deep gash on her forehead. No amount of makeup could have successfully covered those up, and his sixth sense said something was wrong.
The officers from his precinct had been unsuccessfully trying to track the whereabouts of the three children and it seemed like they had disappeared off the face of the earth, without a trace. And then, Jane herself went missing yesterday. Their Hispanic maid had called the emergency line, stating that there was blood all over the kitchen floor. He had rushed to their house and had found Tom Richards, passed out on the couch reeking of alcohol, with a bloody serrated knife in his hands. But Jane was nowhere to be found.
They had taken in Tom for questioning and he had confessed about his abusive behavior towards his wife. However he had refused to admit to the fact that he had killed his wife and dumped her body somewhere. He had continued to maintain that he had passed out on the couch after a heavy night of drinking and had not seen his wife the entire evening. Since the maid, though she only spoken broken English had agreed to testify against Tom, they had managed to hold him for the 24-hour period. However to strengthen their case, he needed the results of the blood and hair samples from the forensic experts.
The technician peeked out from behind the heavy-set white doors, addressing him. He nodded his acknowledgement, as she took off her mask. “We have emailed a copy to the precinct as is the norm, but here is a print out for you. The blood found on knife was a match with Jane Richards’ and so were the traces of skins, retrieved from beneath the suspect’s fingernails.” she said, handing him the report.
Inspector Jayson thanked the technician and glanced through the report. All of this would be enough to charge Tom Richards with the murder of his wife. Of course, the lack of a body would be against them, but he was sure that eventually Tom would lead them to it. His instincts still tingled, as if trying to alert him to some foul play, but the evidence was against the husband.
‘If only I could go on instinct,’ he mused, as he dialed a number on his cellphone and ordered his subordinate to draft a complete warrant for Tom Richards. He hoped this was going to be an open-and-shut case.
“Abusive Husband found guilty of wife’s murder. Burned corpse of the wife found in the nearby swamp. Dental records confirms identity”.
Alison Thompson smiled as she read the headlines on the newspaper website. She was glad that justice had finally been served. She had been following the case ever since the very beginning.
She watched her daughter, Maria, hungrily devour a cheese burger and grinned. ‘That kid has quite an appetite!’ she thought, closing the web browser. She heaved a sigh of relief as she closed her eyes. She could relate to Jane Richards’ plight. She had been in an abusive relationship too.
Taking out her smartphone, she scrolled through the address book for the number she was looking for. Quickly, she composed a text.
“All good. The psychopath’s gone for good. Hope the four of you are safe and sound.
Lots of love, Ali”.
As she sent the text, she glanced absentmindedly at her secure work inbox.
“Requesting Dental records for crime file number: 44366” said the subject of a new email that had just arrived. She sighed loudly.
“Time to dig up another record”, she said, opening up the government database and entering the crime file number into it.