|Posted on August 3, 2010 at 7:48 AM|
An accident? Or a murder? A murder? Or an accident? That question had been weighing heavily on Travis’ mind for a long time, and it was still there. He had tried to call her on her mobile, but heard nothing more than her soft sweet voice on her answering machine, ‘Hi, it’s Helena Hunt. I’m not available at the moment. Please, feel free to leave me a message and I‘ll call you back asap.’ The tone had rung out endlessly until a unfamiliar female voice answered at the other hand.
‘Who is that please?’ ‘I’m Suzy Parker,’ she had told Travis in an agitated voice.
Who was that woman? Why did she have his wife’s mobile? ‘Relax! Just take a deep breath, Travis.’ He told himself. ‘Everything is all right, nothing bad has happened,’ He needed to reassure himself despite his calm manner which had hidden an inward panic. Suzy had carried on but not for long, only a few more words were spoken, before Travis hung up.Within seconds, he was seated behind the wheel of his car and drove off, racing through the narrow snow-covered streets and lanes of the town. Travis was used to car chases, it was part of his job and, he had had to deal with much worst weather conditions on many occasions, so a layer of snow on the road was the least of his worries.
‘Please, God! Help us. Save her. There are a lot of murderous criminals out there, and they still breathe the fresh air of freedom,’ he said to himself, while he started to approach his destination. About half and hour elapsed by the time Travis pulled over to the side of the road, sliding on a few meters with a screech of tyres. Behind him, there was a car parked on the side of the road. ‘It was almost certainly Suzy Parker’s car,’ he thought. Hardly had he got out of his own vehicle that he started running as fast as the snow had allowed him to, screaming at the top of his lungs. ‘No! Helena. Helena.’
The two police officers who were standing at the back of the ambulance questioning Suzy, whirled round at the sudden shout. His voice was an anxious sound reverberating through the still of the night.
‘Let me go in.’ Travis shouted. The two police offices barred his way.
‘Get out of my way. And open that fucking door!’
‘Mr Hunt?’ an officer asked.
‘It’s my wife inside.’ A police officer knocked twice on the door and it opened at once. Travis pushed the two police officers aside and jumped into the ambulance. For a second or two Travis froze in shock at the sight before him – he bit his trembling lower lips so as to force back the tears. Travis was staring at the stretcher, at the white cloth covering the whole body, lost in what must be a bad dream. ‘I’m dreaming. It’s just a bad dream. I’m going to close my eyes for one second and once I open them again, it will be all over.’
‘Mr Hunt? Are you all right? Mr Hunt?’ the paramedic said louder.
When Travis opened his eyes, he was struck by the stark reality that it was not a bad dream at all. Once again, he stood transfixed until he came back to his senses. ‘I’m all right. Can I...Sir?’ The man hesitated for a moment, wondering if he should ask him the question, ‘Do you really want to...?’, or not, but feeling Travis’ intense gaze upon his face, he said nothing and pulled back the sheet of cloth. Her chocolate-skinned face was already paler as it had ever been, and her thin lips were almost frozen. There were cuts and dark bruises over her swollen left cheek covered with blood stains, that spread down her chin. Unable to restrain his pain anymore, Travis broke down in tears as he went to wife’s side and began to stroke her hair.
‘We’re very sorry Mr Hunt. Unfortunately, when we arrived it was already too late,’ the paramedic said, breaking the mournful silence.
‘Do you know if she had suffered?’ Travis leaned forward and kissed his wife on her forehead, before he turned around.
‘Hard to tell without the autopsy report Sir,’ he said tactfully. Travis nodded slighlty at the man, and dried his tears as he got out of the vehicle which promptly drove away.
‘I feel terribly sorry for what happened Mr Hunt,’ Suzy said as she came to him. Travis just looked at her but said nothing.
‘You’re free to leave now Mrs Parker,’ a police officer said. ‘Thank you for your cooperation, and don’t forget to come to the station tomorrow to give us your statement.’
‘Just one more moment Mrs Parker, please,’ Travis said, and he caught up with her as she was walking to her car.
‘How can I contact you?’ Suzy looked at him with a puzzled frown on her face. ‘But I told everything I knew to the police officer.’
‘I know but you see, I only trust in myself.’
‘I understand. I gave them all my contact information.’ Travis smiled a faint smile and while Suzy retraced her steps toward her car, He went over to the police officers.
‘Here’s your wife’s handbag, Sir. We’ve taken care to put all her belongings inside.’
‘I’d like also to have the accident report, pleases.’ Both police officers exchanged a look of surprise.
‘I beg your pardon, Sir.’
‘You may go now but before you do, give me the accident report,’ Travis said firmly.
‘Under whose authority?’ one of the two officers asked.
‘Under the authority of New Scotland Yard. Detective Inspector Travis Hunt..’
The conversation went no further and Travis left the scene, the accident report in his hand. It was half past nine when he got back home. His parents, who had come over to keep an eyes on their granddaughter, had been waiting impatiently for his return. During all that time, it had been an awkward task to reassuring April, who had really started to get worried about her mother, that everything was all right, and it had been a while before they finally succeeded in getting her to sleep.
The sound of an engine faded as an approaching car slowed down in the cobble-stone driveway. It was Travis. Emilia and Andrew rushed to the door. A simple glance at the empty passenger seat told them that the worst was to be expected; then a look at their son’s face and the curtain fell down on them. At once, Emilia threw herself into her husband’s arms, crying like a baby.
Sitting around the kitchen table, Travis told his parents all he knew so far about the tragic events of the evening, while Andrew was doing his best to console his wife. Outside, the snow had stopped falling and the moon bathed the borough in a sliver light. For the next hour, all likely scenarios of what might have happened were suggested and discussed over and over again, but for Andrew it was time to leave as Amelia started to doze off.
Once his parents had departed, Travis crept upstairs to his daughter’s bedroom. He gently pushed at the door and poked his head around the door frame. Tears welled up in his eyes as he looked at her sleeping soundly. How will I be able to tell her that she will never see her mother again? He had no idea nor did not look forward to it, and the worst was still to come.
Back downstairs, Travis went to the garage and pulled out a bottle of Jack Daniel’s from a loose wooden plank in the bottom of an old bookcase used to store tools. He went back into the living room, poured himself a straight glass of whisky and sat in his comfy, wingback armchair by the crackling fire. The accident report in hand, he began to read it over and over again, shifting his gaze from the paper to his glass. Suddenly, all the emotion he had stored up flooded out and, in a fit of rage, he grasped the glass, brought it to his mouth and paused, thinking. He knew it – just one gulp and two years of hard work would be evaporated in the space of one second. Never mind, he emptied its content with one thought in mind, ‘find out what really happened tonight and, if it had been a murder so be it, but he would leave no stone unturned until he had discovered the truth about his wife’s death.