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Miss Sommers` Lost Chance - 3 - Showcase

by  Xena

Posted: Thursday, October 21, 2010
Word Count: 1800
Related Works: Miss Sommers` Lost Chance - 1 • 

Chapter 2

Next morning Joan stood up as soon as she opened her eyes. She decided not to push her luck, but to get ready and yield to her fate.
She went to the bathroom. That was when she looked at herself in the mirror for the first time since her ordeal began. She was flabbergasted with what she saw. Her face was swollen and had an unhealthy blush about it. Her eyes were red and watery. She looked like an alcoholic. At least that was what she used to think about women who looked like this.
She took a shower and went back to her bed to dress up in Sarah’s clothes.
She slipped her feet into Sarah’s shoes. They were too loose. None of Sarah’s things fitted Joan properly. Sarah was much taller.
Red face, glaring eyes, somebody else’s clothes – what a perfect combination to make a good impression on the police officers. Joan raised her head wearily. There was nothing she could do about it: she looked rough and she had to accept it.
She couldn’t remember her journey to the police station in detail. She had a lurch of shame when the police officer helped her into the police van, but otherwise she was so deep in thought that she hardly saw the world around her.
The first face she distinguished among many around her was the face of a bearded middle-aged man in a suit. He came close to her and introduced himself:
‘Patrick Sweet. I’m a duty solicitor. I understand you have no legal representative. I will be happy to act on your behalf if you don’t mind.’
‘I don’t mind,’ said Joan absent-mindedly. And then she added hastily: ‘Thank you.’
‘Follow me, we can take the interview room.’ He gestured.
She followed. They found themselves in a small room with a large table and a lot of chairs. On the table Joan saw a tape recorder and a jug full of water with two glasses next to it.
‘I had a chance to look through your papers,’ Sweet said when they sat down. ‘I must say the evidence against you is overwhelming.’
‘What have I done?!’ exclaimed Joan.
Sweet looked at her with astonishment.
‘I’ll read it out to you,’ he said. ‘Yes… here… ‘…struck the victim on the head twenty times with a sharp object…’
Joan widened her eyes.
‘Twenty times!’ she blurted. And then she asked with more composure: ‘What sharp object?’
‘It’s not clear from the description…’ mumbled Sweet fumbling through the papers. ‘We will ask for further disclosure,’ he finally said. ‘You will be interviewed now. I will be present. If you want to ask me something at any time just stop the interview. You’re allowed to.’
They remained in total silence for a while. Then the door of the room opened and two officers entered. Joan recognised PS James and PS Martin.
PS Martin had a bundle of papers in one hand and a black bag in the other. When he sat down he placed the bag on the floor next to his chair and the papers on the table in front of him.
‘All right, let’s get on with it…’ said PS James putting a tape into the recorder. ‘This is an interview with… could you please state your name,’ he said to Joan when the recorder was on.
‘Joan Sommers,’ responded Joan.
James continued:
‘This interview is being tape-recorded in an interview room at the Harrow Police station. Also present…’
PS James’ introductory speech was so long that it caused Joan to lose her concentration. Joan had never been interviewed by the police before, but from James’ polished phrases she realised that he was going through a routine, repeating exact words he had used countless times in the past on many unfortunate detainees before her. An acute feeling of hopelessness overcame her.
‘What were you doing on the estate on the night in question?’ PS James finally came to the point.
‘I was visiting a friend,’ replied Joan. ‘I don’t usually walk around places like hat so late at night. But she made me. She invited me, she wouldn’t let me go, and when she finally did, it was too late. And I’d missed the bus...’
‘Could you, please, pause for a moment,’ James interrupted her. ‘What friend are we talking about here?’
‘Pat Thomas. She lives on the estate.’
‘Alright. Why wouldn’t she let you go?’
‘She wanted me to stay for longer,’ said Joan and seeing that she wasn’t making much sense she continued: ‘She wanted me to meet her new boyfriend. She was so proud. And she knew I don’t have anybody… This is the thing about Pat… She wouldn’t let me go making one excuse after another, promising she would drive me to the station. But in the end she didn’t, and I had to leave on my own.’
‘So, you left Pat’s place,’ James said, ‘and you tried to catch a bus. What then?’
‘I missed it and it was the last bus that night. So, I had to walk to the station. I was very scared and then I heard someone following me.’
‘I don’t know. I never looked back. He was chasing me… that man. I had to run. Then I fell and I don’t remember anything else until I woke up in the hospital.’
‘Nothing at all?
‘If you don’t remember anything, maybe there was no man… You didn’t see him after all.’
‘No, there was! There was… someone… a heavy man… a fit man… I could hear him breathing! I heard him behind me!’
‘But didn’t see…’
‘Didn’t see,’ repeated Joan.
‘Miss Sommers, do you realise that you were not sexually assaulted? Neither sexually, nor in any other way. That’s what your medical report suggests. You had some bruises on your body, but they are consistent with your fall… Falls…’
‘What falls? Did I fall more than once?’
‘If what you’re saying is correct then you fell at least twice.’ James heaved a sigh and asked: ‘Miss Sommers, try to remember in what circumstances you met Julia Knoss yesterday.’
‘I didn’t see her yesterday!’ snapped Joan. ‘Not yesterday, not on any other day! I have never seen her in my life.’ Then she added quietly: ‘Well, if I did see her yesterday, I can’t remember it.’
‘Miss Sommers, your medical examination detected no causes for your memory loss. You didn’t sustain any injury to your brain. There’s absolutely nothing to make a case for your amnesia…’
‘But my doctor said yesterday…’
‘Your doctor had told us that he had to take your word for this. It means that you have absolutely nothing to support your claim, not a shred of medical evidence.’
Joan sad nothing, but couldn’t look away. Her wide open eyes were peering at James.
‘That’s why I’m asking you,’ continued PS James, ‘try to remember. It’s in your interests.’
Joan began to cry, no longer hysterically, but very quietly. PS Martin poured water into the glass from the jug on the table and offered it to Joan.
‘Thank you,’ she said taking a gulp. ‘Unfortunately, I won’t be able to help you… you or myself. I won’t be able to help anybody. I have no memories of that night.’
‘Alright,’ said PS James resolutely. He looked at PS Martin and the latter held out the black bag towards him.
‘Alright,’ repeated PS James plunging his hand into the bag. ‘If you don’t want to speak, I will tell you the story. You attacked Julia Knoss not far from the bus stop. You hit her on the head not once, not twice but twenty times in total with this…’
He threw on the table in front of Joan a transparent plastic bag with a heavy object inside.
Joan recoiled. When she brought her face back closer to the table, she discovered with horror that the object inside was one of her shoes – those silvery shoes she had only recently spent a fortune on, and the exact shoes she had been wearing that night on the estate. They had long metal heels which made them very heavy and for that matter uncomfortable.
The problem was they were not exactly how she remembered them. They were badly stained with something brown. Only gradually Joan came to realise that this was blood on her shoe. A lot of blood…
Joan felt an acute ache in her backbone.
‘I didn’t do it…’ she stuttered, and then again: ‘I didn’t do it. I couldn’t… No! No! Ask anybody…’
‘Miss Sommers,’ the officer continued. ‘You were found next to the body, unconscious. Your shoes were also nearby on the ground. Your dress, jacket and your bag were all covered in Mrs Knoss’ blood. Here, have a look…’
And he recovered more plastic bags from the black bag. They contained all the things Joan was missing. On them the red of the blood was still clearly visible.
The sight of these objects made Joan sick. She hastily reached for the glass given to her earlier and swallowed all the water in it in one go.
‘Take it, take it away from me,’ she gasped reaching for the jug to get more water.
Somehow she lost her breath as though she had been racing. It took her another glass of water and a few moments to come back to her senses. As soon as it happened PS James continued:
‘What do you say to this?’
‘I don’t know what to say,’ Joan shook her head looking down. ‘I can’t say any more than I’ve said already. I’ve never seen Julia Knoss. I don’t even know what she looks like. Ah…’ she suddenly looked up. ‘Perhaps you have her picture, so I could look and maybe recognise her face…’
‘Yes, we have a picture.’ With these words PS James pulled out a small booklet from the middle of the pile on the table, opened it and threw it in front of Joan in his usual contemptuous manner. PS Martin widened his eyes and even jerked forward, but stopped short of rising from his chair.
Joan carefully looked at it. There she saw a photograph of a woman. A photograph of a kind she had never seen before. A chill rising in Joan’s chest slithered to her brain with a terrifying message. The woman in the photo was dead. It was impossible to identify her age, she was almost beyond it. There were no traces of violence on her face, not a drop of blood, not even a scratch. It was horrifying in its cleanliness. Her pale swollen face was more than lifeless – it was incompatible with life, it was contradictory to it, it was a threat to anything living…