Offender Of The Faith
The gloved hand was steady, confident and sure. Controlling a razor-sharp blade, it smoothly sliced through skin and flesh. Barely a drop of blood spilled as deft fingers carefully probed and peeled back surface tissue to expose vital organs.
As if watching a road crash, Alex squirmed, with his eyes locked on the unfolding scene.
“I really enjoyed the lasagne and I'd like to keep it down. This isn't really the most appropriate after dinner viewing,” he complained, his tone unable to disguise his distaste.
“Alex you're a six- foot- four, fifteen stones brute of a man not a six stone weakling. I didn't have you down as being squeamish. It's not as if you don't see plenty of blood and guts at work.” Sandra shook her head. “Change the station if you have to.”
“Precisely my point. We need to deal with more than enough death and mutilation on a daily basis; it hardly makes the most entertaining recreational viewing. I'd much rather see a good drama or even a mediocre sit-com.”
With care, Sandra lowered herself onto the couch next to him, leaned across for the remote and scrolled through several channels before settling on a repeat showing of a Big Bang Theory episode. “Is this more to your liking, oh great master?” she asked while cosying in close, smiling contentedly.
“Perfect,” Alex replied, circling his right arm around her shoulder while tenderly stroking the distended bump of her formerly trim abdomen. He then added, “First class comedy; we want to ensure this young lady is given the best start in life.”
Sandra laughed for only a second before a frown darkened her face, “Will you be really disappointed if we have a boy?”
“Of course not. I just meant…” Alex started to reply but any reassurance he was planning was interrupted by the shrill ring from his mobile.
It was now Alex's turn to frown when he glanced at the screen before swiping to accept the call. “Yes Phil, What's up?”
“Evening Boss. Sorry to break into your free time.”
“I guess it must be something serious. Okay, forget the pleasantries and let me know what's happened.”
“Yes, Sir. Unexplained death, almost certainly murder. Not far from you, Waverley Gardens, just off Minard Road.”
“You're right. It's only a five-minute walk from my flat. Just as well I don't need to drive as I've had a glass of Rioja with dinner.”
“I'm sure it beats the drivel they call coffee from the office vending machine and I suspect it's not too safe to drive after drinking that stuff either,” said Phil.
“Too bloody true, but that's hardly the point. What more can you tell me?”
“Yes, Sir. Young Asian girl, late teens maybe early twenties, battered and strangled or so it seems. We've still to get the doc's opinion to confirm the cause of death. Boyfriend came home from work and found her lying there. So he says. He called it in.”
“Any sign of sexual assault?”
“Can't say for sure yet. She wasn't naked or anything like that, but her clothes look badly crumpled. We didn't want to disturb anything until Scene of Crime have checked everything out. They're on the job now.
“What about the boyfriend? Where is he now?
“Sanjay's talking to him. From what I could tell, the boy seemed really distraught, so either he's innocent or a bloody good actor.” He looks to be a similar age and he's white. This could be a delicate one because of the multiracial aspect so we thought we'd better let you know A.S,A,P. Sanjay's taken charge so far. He asked me to fill you in.”
“Thanks Phil; you've done the right thing. Give me the flat position and number and I'll be with you in a few minutes.”
Alex noted the information then disengaged the call. Turning to Sandra he asked, “I take it you picked up on that?”
“I caught enough to know Phil called, there's been a major incident and it's put the knackers on our carefully planned, nice, cosy evening,” Sandra answered.
“Sorry, Love, you know what it's like?”
“Yes, I think I've been in the job long enough to understand how duty calls.” Then glancing at her bump, Sandra added, “If it wasn't for this little one confining me to six months' desk work, and now maternity leave, you'd have had to tie me down to stop me being involved.”
Alex nodded gravely, “You can't be too careful, particularly after the miscarriage last year. I know being restricted must be really tough for you, but it won't be long now, only a couple of weeks hopefully, and it will be worth it.”
“I know, I know. We've talked it through a thousand times, but it doesn't make it any easier. There's nothing I want more than to have a healthy baby, our baby. I know I have to be careful, but it's hard having to sit around doing nothing.”
“You're not doing nothing,” Alex said but seeing the look on Sandra face, he knew better than to offer more platitudes. “Listen, I'd better get going.”
Sandra stood to see Alex out. Moving down the hall, she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror sitting above a photograph of her and Alex when they'd started dating. The contrast was startling. Over recent months, she'd let her hair grow out of the page-boy style she'd previously favoured and added highlights detracted from the severe jet black. Having a naturally slim, slight stature, the large baby- bulge made her look misshapen. Sandra frowned and ran her fingers through her hair. “I'm not surprised you can't wait to get away from me. I'm fat and ugly.”
“Don't be ridiculous. I think you're gorgeous and you're not fat. You'll get your figure back in no time after the baby's born. Alex pulled Sandra into a brief hug, his arms straining to fully encircle her.
“I thought you promised never to let anyone come between us,” she joked before adding, “I'm really okay. I was only feeling a bit sorry for myself because I'm bored and frustrated waiting to get past this stage, but I'm really happy too, if that makes any sense.”
Alex smiled, pecked her cheek then slipped on his jacket, “I'll be back as soon as I can,” he said, then he sidled out of the door.