I’m back home and this story has been sitting on a back burner for a few months, waiting for some more to be written.
The trouble is, there are also other stories to write, and I’m not very good at prioritising.
But, here we are, a few minutes opened up and it didn’t take long to get back into the groove.
Nothing good ever comes of snooping
Ever had the heart-stopping feeling when you’re in the wrong place, and someone has interrupted you? Especially if you shouldn’t be there, or that you have no right to be there.
I stood quietly in the corner and hoped whoever the visitor was would go away. No answer meant no one was home, didn’t it?
I heard a key in the door, and it turn in the lock.
I moved quickly to the other side of the door so I would be shielded when the person came into the room. Too late to get out, I was of two minds what to do. Hit them over the head and flee, or ask them what they were doing, before they asked me that same question.
Until a few seconds later I heard a voice, a man, say, “Jan, you’re back. How was the visit to Philadelphia?”
Hand off the handle and moving away from the door. “Sad, as all funerals are. Now, we are left with the house, and my father’s stuff, a huge collection over the years. Seems he never threw anything out.”
Jan? Did she live here, with O’Connell?
“Yes, “I’m a bit like that.”
Another tenant, or the building super?
“I made sure Herman was looked after while you were away. I don’t think he missed you at all?”
She laughed. “He’s a cat, Fred. We belong to them, not the other way around.”
“True. Your friend has not been around for a few days.”
“I know. I was just going to make sure everything was OK, before going upstairs.”
“I could if you want?”
“No. Thanks anyway, but last time I was here I left a jacket behind. Thanks, Fred.”
A moment later I could hear his footsteps heading away, and Jan moved back to the door and opened it.
I heard the light switch, and then, suddenly, the room was filled with bright light.
The girl was unassuming, stepped into the room, and closed the door behind her. Before she could take a step, I put a hand over her mouth and an arm around her neck and started squeezing.
Instinctively she started to struggle and call out for help.
I whispered in her ear, “I mean you no harm, but if you struggle it could turn out very bad for you.”
We had been taught how to subdue people without killing them, but that always didn’t go to plan. There was that instinct to fight back in everyone, and it was sometimes hard not to apply excessive pressure which could, depending on the severity of resistance, see the target asphyxiated.
She was still struggling, which mean I had to exert more force.
“Stop fighting me or you will harm yourself,” I said, this time in a more forceful whisper.
It had an immediate effect, but I don’t think it was her obedience that caused it. I gently lowered he to the floor. Unconscious, not dead.
Then footsteps outside the door.
What else could go wrong?
Then knocking on the door. Short and sharp.
And again, followed by, “Jan, are you in there?”
The building super. What did he want?”
Another knock on the door, this time more urgent.
Damn. O’Connell’s flat was like a busy store.
I looked around for an escape, there would be no going out the front door. Not unless I had to disable another person, and I assumed the building super would not be a small man so it would take greater, and noisier, effort to subdue him.
A fire escape?
I went over and checked the windows and found it.
The window needed a little force to open it, but the sound of a key in the door motivated me.
Out the window, close the window again, I made it down the stairs just as I heard the door open, and the expected reaction.
That was close. Too close.
© Charles heath 2019