“How hard do you think, will I try to persuade you not to kill me?”
“Not very hard, I suppose.”
“Why would you think I won’t plead for you not to murder me?”
“You aren’t doing it.”
1st January 1990
That was the last we had as a conversation. I haven’t seen him after that. I know a lot about him but I still call for evidences. There’s a cell phone in the pocket of a coat that I found on the bed in his guest room. I know that it’s his because I know the password and it unlocked with the same, nevertheless, it has my pictures to cover the ninety per cent of the memory of the phone.
The coat, however is not his. It’s of a stranger. The only people who have been in the guest room are his mother and me. It’s belongs to neither of us. It’s not his, I can tell, because all his coats have the back of their collars stitched twice. He was very vivid about the stitches on his coats being proper. He doesn’t like anything clumsy.
There are no shoes in the room, but there are a used pair of socks in the other pocket of the coat. I know that the stranger did not have a spare one, there wasn’t any luggage for sure.
The stranger wears spectacles. But not clean ones. Neat hands and cut nails. The feet, they are well taken care of, better than the hands, I must say. The coat is a man’s coat.
The stranger, is a woman.
Meet me in two days, at the clock tower.
“What made you invite me here?”
“Have you heard anything from John yet, after the last trial at the court?”
“Why would you ask?”
“How is the divorcé life treating you dear?”
“How is that appropriate here?”
“Had good sex last night, didn’t you? Well, it’s time John replaces the cologne he wears. Tell him it’s extravagant, though.”
There was silence after that. I walked past the clock tower and she followed. Next up, I took the bullet to Victoria station. She kept following. I didn’t say a word. She didn’t say a word. Asked a lot.
I didn’t answer. As we reached the station there, I walked out to go for the lamp post right in the front of station.
“Isn’t it too dark in here dear?”
“We’re standing beneath a lamp post Clare.”
“Would you now take some pain to explain why have I been called to meet you and now, follow you as a stalker when I’m not a pinch of it?”
“There’s been a murder.”
“How did you know that there was a stranger who wore glasses?”
“The murderer is a known person to the dead one.”
“You said it was a man’s coat but the stranger was a woman. How can you know that if the coat was of a man?”
“There is no revenge being taken, it’s a beginning to one.”
“How can you even know that the stranger wears glasses which aren’t clean?”
I started walking and she kept shouting at me for answers. I didn’t give her any yet. As we kept walking, we saw a lot of people down the road at the odd hour of 1.30 AM.
Almost everyone was sober. That was extremely weird. The ones who were high, did not have a single clue about the sober ones being around, that, even Clare could tell.
The sober ones did not hold any significance though. As we kept walking, we reached an apartment. Address – 444D Victoria Station.
The door wasn’t locked. More interestingly, it wasn’t even shut.
We went upstairs and there it was, my doubt converting to reality. A man dead up there. Whilst I watched him, I almost fell to the ground when Clare caught hold of me. It took me around 7 days to get back to the real world.
John was dead. Clare was not a divorcée anymore, she was a widow. I did not have a brother any more.
Seven days later, Clare came up to my apartment, 444D Victoria station. As I met her, she sat there. After a while, she asked a few questions about the e-mail I had sent her earlier.
“Do you even think Clare?”
“Maybe if you could enlighten me to.”
“She carries a man’s coat, it makes her feel comfortable, this one’s just a guess. There were an extremely clean pair of socks in the pocket of the coat, put in there nicely, as though they had just been washed, but they are not dirty at all, yet it’s clear that they are used. All they have as a scent is the shoe polish. She wears glasses, there’s a spectacle cleaner in the pocket. It’s old, but has never been used. Therefore the glasses are always dirty. Her hands are clean, his cell phone has clear fingerprints. They don’t belong to anyone we know of. There’s isn’t a single piece of distraction in those fingerprints. The nails are cut, neat, there is no precision of a nail being touched on the phone along with a single fingerprint. There wasn’t any luggage, she isn’t travelling, she lives here.”
“Why would she leave her coat in there?”
“She wants us to think it’s a man.”
“How could you also assume that the spectacle cleaner was old?”
“I didn’t assume. The date of manufacturing is of three months ago.”
She didn’t say anything after that for around 15 seconds. What amazing seconds of peace they were.
“Who do you think, killed John?”
“There’s a man’s coat in the closet, that doesn’t belong to John.”
“How do you know that it isn’t his?”
“He wears size 42, the coat is 38.”
“Anything else in there?”
“There are two things. First, John’s address, second, mine. Along with that, there is a receipt of Burger King, less money with the stranger, or maybe someone familiar with us.”
“She has our addresses, precise. Not only that she has mine written as 444D Victoria station, it also says, ‘stupid girl never locks the main door’ and that is one thing not many people know.”
“Why is it a ‘she’ again?”
“The handwriting is of a girl. It’s calligraphed. The pen that’s used for writing the addresses, is a gel pen, not a ball point, it isn’t a regular one. The one we get only when placed with an order. There’s an engagement ring in it. A diamond on the top of it.”
She left after a while, later that evening, I went to his apartment again, the police have sealed it down. I had to take Markus with me. He stayed outside the bedroom. I got everything I needed. Two days later, I stood in there with the head cop, in the interrogation room with Markus and Jeffrey tied up in handcuffs on the chairs in front of us and Clare, late.
We waited until she was there. She wasn’t given any notification that I would be there. She was definitely surprised and a minute later, handcuffed with Jeffrey and Markus. As usual, the questions never ended at Clare’s end.
“What are you upto?”
“Why did you not kill him right on the day when you knew he wouldn’t plead of you to keep him alive?”
“I wouldn’t have tracked you down then.”
“What basis have you brought us here on? You do not have any evidences.”
“The coat in his house belonged to Markus, the socks, they were Jeffrey’s but the shoes, yours. How unfortunate you left a mark of your purple peep-toe platforms on the cupboard, that too the ones I gifted you. The spectacle cleaner belonged to John, he had asked me to buy it for him but he never got it because you did. Choosing Jeffrey’s apartment was a big mistake because I had been there a lot of times, you should have known that I could still go in there. I knew someone else had been in there for there are only two keys to his apartment, one was still with me and the other, he keeps in his pocket, 24*7. Even his mother takes it from me if she wants to go in there. Jeffrey played a nice trick hiding on my terrace but forgot that I have my coffee up there every morning.”
I then turned to Jeffrey, told him something and got back to answering Clare’s dumb questions.
“Honey, I ignored you for over two weeks.
Markus’s involvement was tremendous because now you could fool the police too. Markus was in love with Clare, still is and hence, guided her to stay in touch with John and to put him aside forever, then used the trust that Clare had falsely built in John. Jeffrey, however, really loves me. He did this only for the money that Clare would get on John’s death as they were still not divorced in the eyes of law.
Markus’s car key was also left in the coat at John’s place, that was when the game was over.
Good job dropping the key at Jeffrey’s apartment, on the floor to leave it’s mark when it hit the wall at the bottom, Clare.
That gave me the real clue, or should I call it, the key clue!
Have fun in the prison where none of you has the key. Jeff, remember the time we split because I didn’t love you anymore, as the icing on the cold imprisonment.
“I now know, that is why they call her ‘The Sophia Zenrik, SZ.”
“Stop talking to yourself and praising me, Clare.”