Friday, 14 August 2015

Murder




I guess it was murder that afternoon, trying to get to the coast on a train; despite the thunderstorms, flash floods, delayed trains and everyone dealing with it in their usual patient ways. 

Even though the Heavens had opened up and released enough water to get Noah slightly worried, it was still extremely warm. I had run to the station thinking I was late, only to find that it was the train itself that would be 25 minutes overdue.  

So I did what I normally do in these circumstances, I picked up one of those free newspapers, a latte, a can of cola and made myself comfortable.

There were people arriving to board the train that was after mine and the platform was struggling to hold us all. As my train came in, I could see that it was everyone for themselves. Those who had arrived early for the next train had decided to board mine.

There seems to be a rule on the railways that those who are getting off at the first few stations take all the seats, and those of us who have a two hour journey to the coast are left to stand and fend for ourselves.

As it happens, that was the least of my worries. With one side of my face firmly squashed against the train door due to the number of passenger standing, I managed to dive into my briefcase with a move that would have impressed Houdini, I pulled out a can of warmish cola, which, I decided, would do marvellously in these circumstances. 

It wasn’t easy attempting to extract liquid when my arms were pinned at waist height. Yet I had some sort of success, and by the time we had stopped at the fourth station most of the standing area was empty and I was free to finish off the can at my leisure.
As was usual, on those trains, there was nowhere to put my can and newspaper – so I wrapped one in the other and left both at the corner of a seat.

Not the most environmentally friendly thing to do, I admit, but I had reached my destination and was ready for a day by the sea.
Life was good for the next week or so, until the morning of the following Friday when there was a knock at my door. It was two policemen and ‘would I mind if they came in’. My first thought was that something dreadful had happened to one of my family members. 

Apparently that wasn’t the case. The policeman wanted to speak to me about a murder which had occurred a week or so ago at the seaside.
It was indeed the day I had been visiting that place myself and yes, I had been in that area but surely they couldn’t think that I could be responsible for taking someone’s life?

But apparently they did.

Wasn’t I the Mr Andrews who had been caught shoplifting the previous year? I explained to them, as I had to the court, that it had been an accident and that I had forgotten about the chocolate in my coat pocket. I was carrying too many things at the time. The court had understood and dismissed the case – at the time the police had taken a DNA swab and had assured me that if I was found not guilty my records would be destroyed.

Yet they hadn’t.

But the kicker was this: there had been a can of cola found next to the dead body and both the can and the body had traces of my DNA.
And no, I couldn’t give them an alibi for that day. I was lying alone on a beach trying to forget the trials of life for a few hours.

What can I tell you dear friends as I sit here contemplating my future? Whoever the murderer was, must have lifted the can I had left on the train. He or she had got lucky in that my DNA was on record and tried to pin the murder on me. Someone they had never met – or perhaps they had watched me get off the train. Who knows?

Next time, dear friends, if there is a next time, I will make sure I throw everything into its rightful place. 

bobby stevenson 2015

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