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Crime Friendship Teens & Young Adult

I broke into the Poison Garden on a dare. It’s always a dare with us. Something to break up the tedium of being an only child and completely neglected by parents who are trying to keep a roof over my head and don’t have time for childish games, thank you very much. Wallace is bored for other reasons. But I suppose you’ll question him later. Suffice it to say, he dared me to break in, so I did. At night. Alone. Well, not completely alone. There was somebody waiting for me there. As you well know. 

Of course, I wore gloves. I’m not an idiot. There are warning signs and little skulls on black plates everywhere you look. Not that I could see very well. It was dark, as I said. He dared me to collect a sample of Brugmansia. I’m sure you know it. It’s intensely poisonous – despite its common name, Angel’s Trumpet. It has those lovely, dramatic flowers that are shaped like little trumpets and come in shades of peach and pink and gold. They smell quite pretty, too. But all in all, a boring choice given my options. You can get Brugmansia at any descent garden centre. Anyhow, that’s the one he selected, so that was my quest.

I climbed over the gate, and dropped lightly down onto the path. It was easy. The gates with their ominous lettering and heavy padlock were more for show than any real security. Would you like to know the most difficult place to sneak into? It’s not a bank, with their huge glass windows, or even an airport. It’s certainly not a garden. Well? Any guesses? A convenience store. Those things are bolted up within an inch of their lives. They don’t care how scary they look to their customers who may walk by at night when they’re all chained shut. No one is sneaking off with their chocolate bars. Well, almost no one. I’m not confessing. This is all just conversation.

I passed the hemlock and periwinkle, with their delicate purple blossoms daring you to pick them. I saw nothing by the foxglove or Christmas rose. Even the belladonna’s black berries looked untouched. It’s not a very big garden. I suppose the only reason I didn’t see him right away, holding out a blossom like a medal ready to be strung around my neck, was the dark.

There he was, grinning from ear to ear. He had never made such a big deal of me completing a dare before, so honestly, I was a bit confused. I took the blossom, wrapped it in a paper bag and tucked it into my pack. Then we sat on the fainting bench and had a snack. I took off my gloves, to avoid cross contamination, and ate an apple. It was Wallace’s idea of a joke. Apples being traditionally used in poisonings. At least in fairytales.

I had never seen him so giddy before. It was off-putting. It’s like watching your mother cry. It’s unsettling and I’d rather not be around when it’s happening. I finished my apple and told him I’d like to leave, but he shook his head and told me we can’t. I assumed he was about to do a double dare. Where you add on something at the last minute to up the ante. Like, I dare you to climb that tree…and once you’ve done it, I dare you to shake loose that hornet’s nest. It’s not technically against the rules, but it shows poor sportsmanship. In my opinion.

Wallace shifted from side to side, with his hands shoved under his bottom to keep them in place. He looked like he wanted to tell me a great joke, but wouldn’t. I got frustrated and eventually demanded, out with it. He leaned in close, buzzing with excitement, and whispered, “We’re not alone.”

The body was under the bench. Whoever it was, they were curled up, holding their knees, so I can be forgiven for not spotting them right away. No, I couldn’t say how they died. But given our surroundings… I’m not trying to be smart. All I’m saying, is that they were not stabbed, or garroted, or shot, or some other gruesome thing. They were just there. Slightly blue, and very cold. It looked like someone had decided to take a nap in a very strange place, and simply died.

I didn’t suspect Wallace. Not really. Not at first. He’s not a hands-on type of person. But then, poisoners typically aren’t, are they? Never mind me. I’m not accusing my best friend of murder. And if he accuses me, then he’s just scared, and you can tell him I said so.

Yes, I know now that it was a security guard. The night watch, whose presence would have made my visit more inconvenient, but surely, that isn’t a reason to kill. Wallace had never stepped in to assist with a dare before. Why do it now? And for something as quotidian as Angel’s Trumpet? It doesn’t make any sense. Unless, it was just for the thrill. Murder is certainly not boring. Not even to Wallace, who is otherwise bored of everything. I’m sorry. I’m stealing all your questions. Has anyone contacted his next of kin?

I didn’t want to move the body. It looked heavy. I put on my gloves, not for any concern of fingerprints, mind you, as I knew I was innocent, but he was a bit grubby. I didn’t know how long he’d been there. I didn’t want my fingers pushing in to anything they shouldn’t. I’d be cleaning my fingernails for weeks. I scooped up the arms and Wallace took the feet. I think I got the raw deal, since I was closest to his face. It wasn’t just blue. I could see the webbing of veins under his skin. And his tongue, sliding out of his mouth like a purple side of meat. Wallace just had to hold onto his socks. Oh yes, he wasn’t wearing any shoes. That was odd, wasn’t it?

We dragged him to the river, and dumped him in. I know. It wasn’t the right thing to do. We might have washed away some crucial bit of evidence. Something the murderer didn’t want you to see. I was scared. I thought if I just go along with the plan and make it home, I’ll call the police. Which I did. First chance I got. I’m not looking for adulation, and I’m certainly not saying Wallace is the murderer. He’s just a boy. What does he have against a security guard making his wages at a tourist attraction? It doesn’t make any sense. Ask him that, will you?

That’s all I really have to say. I suppose it will be a while before we talk again. Wallace and myself, I mean. I wonder if he’s had dinner? I haven’t, and I’m famished. I’m looking forward to a nice jacket potato when I get home. Melt some butter on that, a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of chives. Hits the spot. Just watch out for the green ones. Those things are deadly. Am I free to go?

August 08, 2023 17:22

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