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Amelia`s Body (the ending)

by acwhitehouse 

Posted: 11 November 2007
Word Count: 1776
Summary: Amelia has been chasing her good-for-nothing boyfriend all over town, trying to explain to him why he needs to exit stage left - and sharpish. The man he tried to double-cross has found them all out. What she doesn't know is that the mysterious Mr Garcia is someone she already knows, and he's following her.
Related Works: Amelia`s Body (1st sex scene) • Amelia`s Body (2nd sex scene) • Amelia`s Body (3rd sex scene) • Amelia`s Body, revised. • 

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Content Warning
This piece and/or subsequent comments may contain strong language.

Item 24: A wound at the throat, sliced with an extremely sharp serrated blade, is so deep that the girl’s head is almost completely severed.


The man stalked her as she limped awkwardly to the phone box, and watched as she dialled the first number. She appeared surprised when the call was answered. Her head jerked up and she spoke urgently, briefly. He couldn’t hear what she was saying – the glass muffled her words. Then she sat in the bottom of the box and waited. The box had a light inside and was by a main road. He couldn’t touch her there. He would have to wait.

Not long after, a taxi pulled up and a youngish man got out. He was dressed in black denim and had spiky light brown hair, or maybe blond. He opened the door of the phone box and she fell onto him, crying. He held her at arms length.
‘Why are you being so dramatic? he asked. ‘Don’t you know by now I couldn’t stand your hysterics?’
She calmed down a little – enough to speak clearly. ‘I’m not crying because you were at Rebecca’s when I called. I couldn’t care less about that. I’m crying because I think I was almost killed just now and I needed you to come here and save me. Now I’m crying because I realise how stupid that was. You can go. I’ll call Caroline.’
‘I can WHAT?’ he exploded, backing dangerously close to where the man crouched, watching. ‘You drag me out here in the middle of the fucking night and now I can just GO? Four pounds-sixty it cost me to get here! I’ll never get another taxi in this godforsaken place. Is this because of the pregnancy? Are you threatening me? Are you going to tell Rebecca about it?’
The smallness of the things he worried about was so absurd that she couldn’t help but laugh. ‘Crazy bitch,’ he said. He turned and left, striding away from her toward the road with his arm out hopefully.

The man took a few steps forward but the girl returned to the phone box and inserted another coin. He couldn’t have her scream, or worse: say his name out loud, while she was on an open line to god-only-knew-whom. He stepped back into the gloom of the wood.
That was why the Marić boy had died. He had been enjoying himself in the VIP area of his half-brother’s club, shabby though it was by the standards of Rome or Monte Carlo or even London, but he didn’t want to hurt Barry’s feelings. He had sat there with a too-fizzy beer and a cheap brandy and chatted with all the eager tarts that Barry beckoned past the velvet rope. He had been drinking, laughing, talking, drinking some more, beginning to enjoy himself, when he noticed that he was being stared at from across the reverberating dance-floor. He had looked up, looked away, looked up again, and the pleasant haze had cleared from his mind as the threat was processed and understood. He wasn’t simply being watched, envied for his VIP status, or unknowlingly fondling the knee of some poor loser’s girlfriend, he had been recognised.
He had risen to his feet, and the other man, the skinny, Eastern European-looking one, had started to cross the floor. He had something in his hand. A piece of paper perhaps? No. A photograph.
Attack, in order to defend, his adoptive father had taught him. Never take chances.

The man couldn’t hear what Amelia was saying inside the box but this conversation was evidently longer. It ended. She hung up, her head bowed in disappointment. She walked away from the phone box toward the road, and he thought she must be looking for her boyfriend, but perhaps he had found a taxi after all, because she slumped down on the kerb, hugging her knees, her head resting on her forearms – defeated.
She stayed like that for what seemed like an age, until he was tempted to take the risk of just overpowering her and pulling her back toward the trees. There weren’t many cars going by at that time of night but then she moved, looked up, and at first he thought someone else might be coming for her – that her teenage senses had detected a sound he hadn’t – but all she did was to shift her position so that her hands were placed behind her and she dropped her head back, staring up into the heavens. Perhaps she thought she was safe. Perhaps was past caring. She had made herself vulnerable, and that was when he took her.
He crept forward. He picked his moment carefully, straining his eyes in both directions for the glint of oncoming headlights – there were none. He grabbed. Something metallic clattered to the ground but he heard the roar of a motorbike engine coming up behind him and he didn’t stop to look for what had fallen.

Max, less than half a mile away, walking back towards town, thought he heard a muffled cry and turned back in the direction he had come. He didn’t run. He walked, cautiously toward the sound of voices.
‘I don’t understand,’ he heard Amelia say. ‘Barry said it would be okay. What do you want from me?’
‘If you can’t give me my sim card, and you haven’t got Stefan’s file, then there is nothing I want from you,’ the man said. ‘I don’t suppose Barry will ever stop trying to reform me. He ought to know by now that it’s far too late for that.’
‘But you’re brothers,’ she says, wondering how they could be so different.
‘Half-brothers, yes. Mother’s shameful little secret, that’s me, farmed off to a barren sister in the poorest little one-horse town in the whole of Spain. Raised by an alcoholic whore and an old soldier, who still thought he was fighting the civil war. That’s why I let Barry launder the proceeds of my business dealings through his crappy little club – he owes me.’
‘Your business dealings?’ she asked. ‘Stefan believed it was your cousin…’
‘There is no cousin, you silly girl. Antonio Garcia was my father – not the man who impregnated our mother – my real father, the only one I’ve ever known. He died when I was twelve, but I’ve lived my life by the lessons he taught me. I even took his name.’
‘You killed Hassima,’ she said, already certain of the answer.
‘Stefan killed Hassima,’ he replied. ‘Stefan concocted his little dossier and came looking for me, wanting her back in exchange for his silence. I would have let her go in a few more months, if he hadn’t forced my hand.’
‘How did he find you?’
‘That, I don’t know,’ he said. ‘I don’t see how he could have tracked me to the club, even if he had somehow linked me to Leicester. He could perhaps have followed the money, or maybe he actually found one of my… clients… and got them to talk. I doubt it. I think they are all sufficiently afraid of me to keep their mouths shut once they get where they want to be. Unless I find his dossier, I will never know. He carried me photograph with him though.’
‘He didn’t have a photograph. No one did.’
‘Oh yes he did. Barry made sure it was taken from his pocket before the ambulance arrived – he isn’t completely useless, my brother. Heaven knows where he found it. It was of poor quality and badly out of focus, but he carried it everywhere with him. He looked for me everywhere he went, I think. The poor man was obsessed.’
‘What can I do?’ she asked. ‘I swear on my life I’ll never tell anyone. You can leave, and I won’t say a word.’
‘You won’t,’ he said, and she saw the blade flash.

Fifty yards off, Max Taylor saw it too, and ran.

Chapter 30, 08:01

At 08:01, on the morning of Thursday 31st November 1995, just over twenty-four hours after Amelia’s body was discovered at Burbage Common, Leicester and Rutland CID are called to the Muay-Thai kickboxing club, where they find the bloated corpse of Darren Gadd. His neck had been broken, cleanly and with no evidence of a struggle. Doctor Hussain estimates that he had been dead for roughly seven hours, putting the time of death somewhere between midnight and two o’clock in the morning.
He had died at about the time the police were escorting the Ana Marić and her family to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation. At about the time Milan Marić had been standing in his ruined home, asking himself when his family would ever begin to feel safe. At about the time the standby unit had arrived from Birmingham, and probably while both Max Taylor and Barry Gadd had been in police custody at the station.
The area around the building seemed to be a CCTV blackout zone, with cameras getting smashed as fast as they could be put up. There were no houses nearby and no one was coming forward as a witness, despite numerous pleas for help in the media.
Max Taylor and Barry Gadd were both questioned, but each had a plausible alibi for where they had been immediately before being picked up by the police. They even questioned Caroline Hatchell and Milan Marić, albeit very gently, as they were the only other people the police could think of, who might have any motive at all for the killing. They came up with nothing. Caroline had been heard by her parents, struggling to get her key in the door – stomping about drunkenly, trying to be quiet – and then snoring loudly in her room, until Detective Sergeant Wright had woken them all up shortly after five a.m. by hammering on their front door. Milan Marić had been inside a guarded house, with a surveillance car parked outside.
No one had seen Milan slip out of the smoke-blackened back door. No one knew that he had read the entire Garcia dossier, and understood a great deal more of it than Amelia. No one knew that he had contacted Bernadette LaCroix himself, and been sent a copy of the same photo that Stefan had. No one considered the military training he must have received, growing up in a country that still had compulsory National Service. And no one else knew how determined Milan Marić had been, that his family would never be hurt again.

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Comments by other Members

Account Closed at 16:23 on 12 November 2007  Report this post
Hi Amy, and welcome to the site!

You need to cut this down to a more manageable size for critting! - normally people upload extracts of between 1500-3000 words - it's just too much otherwise.

I made the same mistake when i first joined and uploaded 8000- no one's got the time to read that much.

Do upload a shorter extract though, i'm sure you'll get some useful feedback then.

Best of luck.


Jem at 10:17 on 13 November 2007  Report this post
Hi, Amy.

I really liked this extract - though agree with Casey it's a bit long for a snippet!
Presumably you've already written the whole book? Have you sent it anywhere?

I loved the opening - the description of the girl and the man together and there's an awful lot of detail in the forensics bit that makes me think you've researched this a great deal.

I did get confused by the POV occasionally, though, which mught be something you might want to address. The first POV is the man's, initially, bt then it abruptly changes to 'we'. This doesn't work for me because I am so into the scene with the man and the girl in which you show us their relationship. These lines are very strong but then you switch to 'telling' us about their relationship, with no evidence for it - it jumps to 'authorial voice'. A scene played out between them which shows he's got the upper hand would work better, maybe.
Then you jump to 'we', which jars, especially as the previous bit has been about a physical intimacy no one else would know about but the couple. Unless someone was watching!

I think the bit between the three girls is a bit over written, compared to the opening. You say 'I do wish I had sisters' after you've already said it in a different way before. I don't know if this is relevant to the story - I can only assume it is.

One of my bugbears - I'm assuming this book is set in the UK? If so - why 'gotten'? If it's set in the States, then apologies!

I'd have liked to stay in that opening scene longer. But I'm intrigued by the story - I particularly liked the 'toe nail' - both as a way of identifying the corpse, and as a way of revealing both her nature and the sympathetic nature of the pathologist.

Feel free to ignore all this, Amy - or take from it what you will. Ultimately, you are the only one who knows how the rest of the novel pans out, so my comments about whether or not something s relevant might just be annoying!

Account Closed at 16:34 on 13 November 2007  Report this post
Amy, you already know what i think of this - really great stuff.

Just to take Jem's point about 'gotten' (sorry not very relevant to the work here, but it interests me!) - I've always thought it a great shame the English dropped it all those centuries ago, because it's makes such sense to use it. But - I've recently noticed a comeback amongst the English - in a little independent prep school I work at. Just wondering whether it'll catch on!


Jem at 23:10 on 13 November 2007  Report this post
Poppy - re gotten: hate it, hate it, hate it!!! If kids are using it it's from the Americans not from the old English. It must be corrected at every opportunity!! :)

Account Closed at 17:39 on 14 November 2007  Report this post
Nooooooooo - but it's so logical. Loveitloveitloveit. Tee hee,Pxx

RT104 at 06:41 on 24 November 2007  Report this post
Dear Amy,

I’ve finally ‘gotten’ around to reading this, been meaning to for ages, sorry. (I must say I’m in the camp who don’t like ‘gotten’ – or rather I found it jumped out at me in your piece, but only because it sounds so very American to me, so it disorientates me to find it in a British book and setting.)

First thing to say is, I love your writing – especially the brilliant descriptions, which range from beautiful and evocative to gut-churning.

I can see how you are aiming to build the story up, layered together with these multiple viewpoints, and flashbacks and so on, and I think it’s clever stuff, though a little hard work for the reader right at the start. (I LOVED the way you had the flashback about how Amelia lost her toenail, right after Dr. Hussain has noticed it on the slab.) It does lend the thing a slightly ‘long lens’ feel – like cinematic sections loosely edited together – and the alienating/fragmenting effect of this fits well with the dark genre. The danger with it, obviously, would be sacrificing engagement of the reader with any of the characters at this early stage, but in fact I found that your writing is so warm and vivid, when it wants to be, that I was drawn in – especially to the scene with Caroline, Amelia and Rose. This immersed me completely. You seemed to be going for a similar effect with, e.g. Dr Hussain thinking about his daughter, and the pathologist at the end of the segment thinking how he needs to keep family separate as a refuge. For me, neither of these worked so well – they are such tiny glimpses into these people’s heads that I hadn’t had time to get a feel of the person before you moved on. This may not matter – it may be what you intend – but I thought I’d report how I experienced it as I read.

While I did enjoy the multiple viewpoints, what I found much harder to get past was all the switches of tense. Is it really necessary to move so much from present to past tense? The sections where it was especially jarring, for me, were (i) in Chapter 1, Amelia’s Body, where you switch from past in para 1 to present in para 2; (ii) in Chapter 2, Crime Scene, where you switch from present in paras 1 and 2 to past in para 3 (especially lumpy as it begins with the pluperfect, ‘The usual pathologist had been called..’). Also, from that stage direction-y bit at the beginning of Findings of the Post Mortem Item 1, which is present tense, to the narrative about the three girls, which is past. Personally, I think I’d ditch the whole stage direction bit, and stick any relevant info or description into the narrative proper. It just came across as too ‘gimmicky’ to me. The thing is very filmic already – you don’t need to ram the point home with an explicit reference like this. (But that’s a highly subjective reaction!)

The writing is very rich and original and vivid. I could pick out dozens of little phrases which have me green with envy. The image of the security man mechanically keeping pushing the 9 button. ‘The need to be different, and yet not too different.’ ‘Tattooed in biro with the fleeting passions of the season.’ ‘Captivated by the flesh’ (though – euughh!)

There were just one or two places where my cliché alert sensor sounded. One was the blood in the first scene being ‘like a dark halo’; another was the ‘sliver of ice at his heart’. Both good phrases in themselves, but I fear so well used that it’s hard to have the impact you want with them.

Just to go through it in order and pick up a few small, textual things. The very first line was a bit too long and convoluted, for me, to grab the reader from the off. I liked the trivial, incidental details, I’d keep that detail, but I’d have broken it up. E.g.:
‘The night security officer had gone to fetch a coffee. He was supposed to be manning the CCTV….’ etc.

Tiny little point, but personally, I’d lose the word ‘liquid’ in para 3 and just say ‘a pool of glossy black’. He’s looking at a grainy visual – he’d see it as colour, not texture, don’t you think? Liquid is his inference, whereas I’d stick to what he sees/experiences.

I love the final line of that section: ‘Then all hell broke loose.’ Great punch for the end of the opening scene.

In the scene with Amelia and her boyfriend I thought that ‘as complete a surrender as his peculiar make up would allow’ was maybe a little bit too tell-y. I’m not normally a stickler for the CW ‘rules’, and it’s obviously very hard to say, at this early stage, but couldn’t you wait and show us this about him in less direct ways? I reacted in rather the same way to the bit aboutn how little she deserved people’s love. Obviously you want to get our curiosity going, drop hints about murky depths, etc., but maybe it’s a teeny bit overdone, in just the second scene of the book? I dunno. Just a thought.

I’m also a frightful pedant but on a first reading I was thrown by the curve ‘underneath her left breast’. I actually thought for a moment you meant a pregnant belly! I’d have preferred ‘the delicious lower curve of her left breast’ or ‘the delicious curve of the underside of…’ (As I say – pedant!)

I adore the descriptive para which opens the section on Amelia’s body. Fabulous stuff. And I love the Germolene-pink nail polish. And the whole thing about the missing toenail – such an intimate detail about an anonymous body on a slab. Brilliant. Touching and macabre at the same time.

The scene with the girls and the Sylvanians is my favourite of all. I think what I loved is the perfect way you’ve caught the narrator’s fourteen year old voice. A lot of it quite adult, with some sophistication, but lots of beautiful, telltale lapses into naivety and childishness. I liked ‘togged up in layers and layers of their Nana’s knitting’. And the breathless headlong feel of some of it, the way kids talk – e.g. ‘the park and the cake mixture and everything’. And I adore the last couple of lines about how the doctor said it would grow back, and ‘“What do the know”, she said. I didn’t quite get the line about being a transvestite, though. Is Caroline a bit of a tomboy or something? I think I missed the joke there (sorry, very dense!).

The other thing I thought about this scene was…. Dialogue. It’s about the only place in this excerpt where you have any. Of course this is your call, but without it there is a certain distance all the way through (I spite of what Ilve said about your drawing us in by giving very personal thoughts even to characters who appear in snippets). Dialogue is an obvious way of letting us hear the characters speak in their own voices, and letting us get to knw them naturally. There is masses of dialogue in almost every modern novel you pick up. It’s the usual contemporary way – because we are all so used, perhaps, to meting characters not in print but in TV soaps, so dialogue is how we expect to get to know them! Anyway, the lack of it throughout your piece did strike me as unusual. And this scene - where you have a little and where it would be very easy to have a lot more – is the place it occurred to me most.( There are even passages where you use reported speech, which semed to me to cry out to be in ‘live action’.) That’s all, really. Just a possibility that you might want to pursue or think about. Probably you’ve thought about it already and rejected it. (I also think you’d find it very easy and it would come out very naturally. You get the internal voice of Caroline in this scene so very spot on - I’d like actually to have heard her talking.

In the final section, Crime Scene, I liked the snow. As before, with the outdoor scenes, your descriptions, though not long and gushing, in fact very spare, have us absolutely right there. I felt how cold those officers would be. The only description that didn’t quite work for me was the ‘large, fast flakes’. I never think of snow as fast, even if the wet kind (as here) is less slow than the fluffy kind. Also, for me, 'fast' didn’t quite go with ‘hypnotic’, which has a slower feel to it. I dunno.

Anyway, those are just my rambling, bitty and unconnected thought, all of it highly personal/ I do read a fair lot of crime novels, but not on the whole this kind of forensic science stuff, with a chilly atmosphere and focus on corpses, more the mental puzzle, people-centred sort (Donna Leon is my contemporary favourite). So I am hopelessly unqualified to make any judgements, is what I’m saying. But I loved your writing – so sharp and meticulously observed, and creating such a powerful atmosphere so apparently effortlessly. I was riveted.

Great opening, my!

Rosy xx

acwhitehouse at 10:38 on 24 November 2007  Report this post
Thanks Rosy,
Yes, I have murdered some of the 'darlings' that you picked out, since I uploaded this version! I will look at those pesky tenses again. The initial idea was that the 'investigation' strand would be all present tense, keeping the reader in the 'here and now' of the on-going police inquiry. In general, the investigation strand is very dialogue-heavy, because a lot of plot needs to be put across in a relatively small space.

The 'post mortem' strand is past tense and very filmic. Each little snippet is different; some are monologue/dialogue, some are diary extracts and some are recounted memories; but nearly all feature either Caroline or Rose. It is through those characters that we find out what Amelia was really like. A big criticism I've had is that Amelia barely gets to speak, so people feel that they don't know her and don't have any sympathy for her, but I'm afraid I'm so set on keeping it that way, that I'd change almost anything BUT that!

Thanks for reading, I really appreciate it.

susieangela at 21:03 on 10 March 2008  Report this post
Hi Amy,
Obviously I can't comment on the plot because it's the last scene and I don't know what's happened before this, but here are some thoughts on words/grammar/sense etc. (I'm being rigorous about small details as you are sending off shortly):

limped awkwardly

Tautological? If you limp, you are being awkward?

or worse: say his name out loud,

Maybe a comma rather than a colon. The colon seems to create too much of a break.

That was why the Mariæ boy had died. He had been enjoying himself

Bit confusing as to who the 'He' is - the Maric boy or the stalker?

I felt that the conversation between Amelia and her killer felt too rational, given that he had 'taken' her - presumably with a knife, and physically. Surely he wouldn't have allowed her to speak, would have covered her mouth or threatened her in some way with the knife? And wouldn't he have pulled her into the woods, away from the road, so they wouldn't be spotted?

Also, given that she's just said to Max:
I think I was almost killed just now and I needed you to come here and save me.

it seemed odd that she then:
slumped down on the kerb, hugging her knees, her head resting on her forearms – defeated.

Wouldn't she be scared, if she'd just almost been killed?

How did Max hear the cry at half a mile distant? And how did he hear all that was being said without being seen?

There are some POV things (I know, I know - but you asked!)
The second section begins in Max's POV, then we're in Amelia's head:
‘But you’re brothers,’ she says, wondering how they could be so different.

Small typo:
He carried me photograph

Again, POV:
You won’t,’ he said, and she saw the blade flash.

In the final section, the tense changes from present at the beginning to past for:
His neck had been broken

Hope this is helpful, and hope JM loves it!

ireneintheworld at 21:25 on 10 March 2008  Report this post
hi amy. i've had a quick read and it's difficult to comment on something i know hardly anything about, so i'lll just mention the bits that halted me.

'god-only-knew-whom' was rather an awkward mouthful that grated on me.

The smallness of the things he worried about was so absurd that she couldn’t help but laugh.

this is in her pov

three paras begin with 'the man' and it is used so much that it is very noticeable. i realise that you want to keep his identity secret but it sounds strange, to me.

and you say that max is less than half a mile away; half a mile is an enormous measurement, and if he heard a muffled cry he'd have to be less than fifty yards i would imagine.

not sure what help i am here amy, all i've got is nit pics.

irene x

Brady at 11:23 on 11 March 2008  Report this post
Hi Amy

I've no clue about your plot or previous chapters so am only looking at this in isolation. I felt quite tense reading it which I presume is the intention Like the others I've only nit-picking comments:

she limped awkwardly
lose awkwardly

but this conversation was evidently longer
could you just say that it was longer - evidently seems unnecessary and sticks a bit for me

he thought she must be looking for her boyfriend
Should this be 'she must have been looking for her boyfriend'?

She had made herself vulnerable, and that was when he took her.
Why do you tell us that he took her and then describe him taking her in more detail in the next few lines?

‘But you’re brothers,’ she says, wondering how they could be so different.
POV change from Max to Amelia. The POV seems to change abruptly a few times throughout the piece; perhaps it's intentional but I found it jarring.

He carried me photograph
my photograph?

Other than that I enjoyed it - well as much as the murder of a teenage girl can be enjoyable

I agree that the conversation between Amelia and her killer seems very rational, albeit informative, for the situation they are in? Is there some way in which you could convey her fear more strongly?

Well done on finishing.

acwhitehouse at 14:43 on 11 March 2008  Report this post
Thanks everyone. I know I don't deserve it, considering the amount of critting I've done since JM emailed for the full! I'll make these changes asap.
Thanks again.

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