Death Reports

*** On A Dancefloor, part 7

I came back to the precinct as fast as I could. I found Bobby in a dark room. Working on some crime scene photos. Déjà vu. The same scenario happened the day my wife got murdered.

I was at the precinct. Filling up the death reports. Bobby seemed depressed. Down. He kept coming in and out of the room. Slamming the door. Shouting. I brought him a coffee to calm him down. To cheer him up. We ended up talking. Laughing. At the same time, only 10 minutes away, my wife was struggling for breath. My wife was dying. Disappearing.

McNamara didn’t seem very pleased to see me. I felt the same. I knew that he hadn’t killed my wife. But I had some doubts concerning Sarah Petersen.

I’m not a person who tells fairy tales to soften a rival. I say what I have. And leave.

McNamara was apathetic. Yet anxious. He kept denying any relations with Sarah. He played dumb. Stupid. I reached for the paper I had found amongst Sarah’s things. The paper with the phone number. I dialed it. In front of him, looking straight into Bobby’s eyes. I swear, I could hear him swallow. He started biting his nails. Then it started ringing. His cell phone started ringing.

Playing dumb didn’t last long. It didn’t last at all. Not at all. It was obvious that the Peterson girl and McNamara had known each other. I just waited for him to confirm that. To give me a motive. To give me something. Anything. I felt like puking. The room was too small. Claustrophobic. And all those photos hanging and swinging loosely. The crime scene photos.

McNamara broke down. He cracked.

“Alright. I knew Sarah. She was supposed to help me make Alex sell the discotheque. Damn it, Sean, you know me!”

I thought I did.

Bobby lost his imagined, self created advantage over me. He started tearing the photos apart. He knew that I was standing in front of him for a reason. He knew that I was not gonna leave. Not so soon.

“Sean, damn it. I didn’t kill her. I don’t even wear a leather belt. I don’t like leather at all. Not at all.”

I felt like I had paused my breathing. The only sound I could hear was the sound of my heart. It was pounding.

“What did you just say?” I asked stammering.

He looked at me. Furiously. That fierce looking on his face I will never forget. His face expression has stayed engraved on my memory.

“For God’s sake. I photographed both crime scenes. Each part of their bodies. Dozens of photos of the strangulation marks. For crying out loud, don’t you think that I might know what the strangulation marks look like? Jesus, Sean.”

“Leather belt. You said ‘leather belt’.” I talked back.

“It was in the report!!” He shouted, slamming a photo on the desk.

I paused. I was trying to breathe normally. I couldn’t. I wanted to end this. I wanted it so much. It was choking me. This debate was choking me. McNamara seemed troubled. Trapped. He got up. And flounced to the door. Grabbed a knob.

“She bit you, McNamara.” I said looking at his back. Holding my hands in pockets.

“She bit you,” I repeated quietly. To myself.

He stopped. Turned around. Looked straight into my eyes. I shivered.

McNamara was frustrated. Very much. He was still gaping at me, looking pathetic. He broke down. Again.

“Sarah was supposed to help me change Alex’s mind. She helped me sneak in the office. When I got in, Alex was already gone. And she wanted to be a co-owner. Jesus. I lost it. I flipped out. She was just giggling. And giggling. I was sick of it. Of her. Her games. Tricks. I started choking her. But that little tramp bit me. Not strong enough to cause bleeding but strong enough to leave a mark. Damn it. Next thing I know, she was dead. Lying there motionless. A leather belt was swinging loosely in my hand. Like a yo-yo. I didn’t know what to do. I started panicking. God. I made it all look like the same murderer had killed both Sarah’s. Christ.”

I was staring at a photo of my dead wife. Sobbing. Listening to his confession, I became aware of the fact that my wife’s death would stay unsolved. Marked red. For now. I started shaking. Like someone grabbed me and kept smashing into a brick wall. A horrible feeling. A feeling of failure. Once again.

McNamara knew the procedure. He needed to cover his tracks. He knew all the facts. He knew them better than any of us did. He took photos of every single corner, every detail. It wasn’t so hard for him to make it all look like a well planned act of the same killer. He knew that the same pattern of killing usually led to one famous, contagious conclusion – Ladies and gentlemen, a serial killer is out there. A serial killer.

He knew very well that we would make a connection between the murders. That we would relate them. McNamara presumed that we would be looking for a serial killer. And that smugly creature had an alibi for the night my wife died. He had me. I was his alibi. He knew that he wouldn’t be suspicious. And he wasn’t. Until 30 minutes ago. He underestimated us. He underestimated me. My sense of details. My scrupulosity.

“How did you know that she had bitten me? The forensics didn’t find any traces of skin on her teeth.” He asked looking at me pathetically.

“I didn’t, McNamara. I didn’t. It was a shrewd guess.”

I took my military jacket and left.

I stopped at a florist. And bought two red roses. Her favorite flowers. Red roses. For the first time I didn’t feel lost. I didn’t feel astray. I couldn’t stop thinking about her. All the little things that made her special. That made me love her. All the little things we did together. My thoughts were ruined by massive, iron gates. And hundreds of gravestones. A little path led to hers.

I was standing there alone. In pain. Like someone was repeatedly stabbing my heart. I was staring at the gravestone, reading my dedication to her:

“Sarah Burnett, 1979-2005.
All that I am, all that I ever was,
Is here in your perfect eyes,
They’re all I can see.
I love you. Forever. And a day.”

I clutched the roses in my hand. Crying. Hating the world. Blaming myself. I put them down. On the grave. I told her that I loved her. So much. So unbelievably much. I sighed. All of a sudden, I experienced a dreadful mental disturbance. A new vision - a dead boy lying in a puddle, in the middle of a playground…