I called the police. That’s what you do when you find a body, isn’t it? The detective novels seem to make it seem quite common place but figuring out which information line to call took me a while, after all it wasn’t an emergency – that much bone showing, he must have been dead for months.
The nice police sergeant who’d come to see me when I was in hospital came out with a woman who was young enough to be my daughter. They looked at the body and made a call on their radio. Soon there were lots more officers there, then an ambulance, and after a while, reporters. I made everyone cups of tea and coffee. After all, they were sort of guests and because they were doing it, I didn’t have to deal with the body any more.
After a while my nephew, Paul, turned up. My sister’s boy. The only member of my family in his generation. Ever since I woke up in hospital Paul has been trying to convince me that I’m not safe in my own home any more, giving me brochures for local retirement villages. I’m fifty, not ancient. I go to work every day and when I come home I want to play Nickelback, Toto, Skyhooks, Cold Chisel and the 1812 Overture as loud as I feel like, not keep it down for the seventy year olds on the other side of the wall.
“I keep telling you, Aunty Ell,” scolded Paul, “It’s not safe for you to live here alone any more. Just give me the word and I’ll arrange everything for you.” He’d gone on and on like this just after I got out of hospital all those months ago, turning up when it was good gardening weather and dragging me inside to look at those blasted brochures. I was on the point of losing my temper about it when he got the message and stopped coming around. By then the winter rains had set in and it was too late to do all the serious tidying I’d had planned for the garden. Now it was spring and I only had a few weeks to get everything I wanted done. May be if I was lucky, the police would pull out the rest of plectranthus looking for clues? Now that would be a silver lining.
“Getting knocked around like that must have really taken it out of you,” Paul was carrying on in his usual fashion, “Just look at all the weight you’ve put on this winter, you’ll be hard pressed to get down to the shops soon with your creaky joints. Now Cardamon Gardens has just opened a nice new independent living section where you can prebook for their supported services-.”
“Paul,” I interrupted him, “Did your mother drop you on your head when you were a baby? I’m fifty, not seventy. I walk to the station every day. I have fifteen productive years of working life in me yet, and I like living in this house. I’ve worked hard for this place. I’m not moving.”
“Aunty Ell,” Paul put on a voice that made him sound as if he was trying to be reasonable with a small, spoilt, tired child, “There’s a developer making a really good offer for the place, we’d make a bundle and we’d be silly not to take it.”
“Who’d make a bundle?” I let my voice raise. “I paid for this house, on my own. I’ve paid off the mortgage on my own. There is no we.”
“It’s all going to be mine when you’re gone, isn’t it?” I thought that was a damned stupid rhetorical question, after all if there’d been nothing else, I could always have made the RSPCA my beneficiary and not Paul. “And back in autumn, if you hadn’t stuck the carving knife in that bloke who attacked you, it would have been, wouldn’t it?”
“I beg your pardon?” Frankly, I was stunned. That was not what I had expected...at all. I walked over to the police sergeant and said, “Excuse me but my nephew has just told me that if I hadn’t stabbed my attacker with the carving knife, I’d be dead.”
He looked at me uncomprehendingly for a moment before his memory kicked in. It had been eight months, after all, and he was in the middle of dealing with a body. “Did he?” He looked over my shoulder in Paul’s direction. “Isn’t that interesting? Hutchinson, Singh.” Two officers looked around at his low voiced commands.
Paul ran when he realised that three police officers were moving towards him. They caught him before he reached his car. Sally and Phil, his parents, are upset of course. Not as upset as Mr and Mrs Keel, the parents of Tyler Keel whose body was in my back garden for eight months, are. It seems Paul hired Tyler to kill me and make it looked like a botched burglary “or something”. Tyler took the “or something” option. I was unconscious on my kitchen floor for two days before Sally found me when work couldn’t contact me. Tyler had called Paul for help and instead of taking him to a doctor or a hospital Paul had taken him to a storage unit and pulled the carving knife out then let him bleed to death on the floor. After I’d been found and my place had been searched, Paul brought Tyler’s body back and dumped it in the plectranthus. By the time I was out of hospital and able to garden again, it had been covered over. Paul’s interminable gabfests on the joys of retirement villages were to keep me out of the garden as well as convince me to sell up.
Paul’s mistake was that the police and I didn’t tell anyone that I’d stuck my carving knife in my attacker.
Paul, bless his cotton socks, still thinks he’s going to inherit. Someone must have dropped him on his head when he was small. That or he’s too vain to wear glasses. I’d love to see his face in a few weeks, but I’ll be busy. He really should have left well enough alone.
People aren’t naming babies Theodore again, are they?