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Suspense

I love new gadgets. With these cameras fitted to my house I hope to feel safer – a widow needs to take all the precautions she can. Now these cameras allow me to see my garden, and even down the road. It is dusk, and I can’t wait to see what my garden looks like at night. Wow, I can even see into my neighbour’s bathroom window. I will ask the technician to set that camera a bit lower, after all, I do not want to be a voyeur. They have a nice big bath. I like the tiles. Uh oh something is going on there.

I try to zoom the camera in, but no, it gets fuzzy. My neighbour, Mark, has carried his wife into the bathroom. She is fully dressed and I can see her head lolling like a rag doll. Is she unconscious? I’m not sure. He is lowering her into the bath – he is going to drown her.  I can see her hand reaching out. I want to scream. My heart is pounding, but I just sit paralyzed. He straightens up and dries his hands on a towel, but I can’t see Vanessa – she does not emerge and my camera can’t see into the bath. Oh dear god, has he drowned her? Is she dead? There might still be time to save her.

I am now in a complete panic. I run to the door. No. What am I doing? Am I going to confront him? Can I demand to see his bathroom? I must phone 911. Where is my phone? I am running around trying to find my phone; it’s not on the kitchen counter, I empty my handbag – no phone. I rush to the door just in time to see Mark’s car pulling out of the driveway. I must note the time he leaves, I know that is very important, but how can I tell the time without my phone?

I must save Vanessa. I run out of the house, leaving my front door wide open. I bang on her door. ‘Vanessa!’ I shout, ‘Vanessa!’

I know that I am wasting my breath. I have to get into that bathroom, but the window is far too high. I look around frantically, Mark’s garage door has been left open, and there I find a ladder. Fortunately, I am quite big and strong, unlike Vanessa who is so petite that sometimes I think that she is anorexic. I lean the ladder against the wall and clamour up, but my troubles are not yet over – I can’t get through the burglar bars, and I still can’t see into the bath.

“Vanessa” I shout – but I am met with silence.

The silence is shattered by the wailing of police sirens. At last help has arrived.

“Come down slowly,” a voice shouts.

I descend the ladder far too quickly and turn to find three police officers pointing their guns at me.

“Put your hands up.” They are all shouting at the same time. “Lie on the ground.”

I am so startled that I do what I am told, and I find my hands cuffed behind my back. I try to tell them that Vanessa is drowned in the bath, perhaps there is still time to save her – but by now I seriously have my doubts. No one is listening to me. They think that I am trying to break into the house in broad daylight, although now it is already becoming quite dark.

Eventually I calm down, and as I know that there is no hope of finding Vanessa alive, I just sit and sob. It is horrible to cry with your hands cuffed behind your back; I have to keep wiping away the snot and tears with my shoulder while the police take a statement from the neighbour who thought that I was a cat-burglar.

Mark chooses this time to arrive home, and he acts all bewildered. Yes he knows me, I am his neighbour. No, he can’t think of any reason why I should be trying to enter through the smallest window in his house. He actually has no idea why I should want to enter his house. No he doesn’t want to press charges, he is sure that there must be a reasonable explanation.

At last they come to take my statement; they even take the cuffs off my hands.

“He drowned his wife in the bath,” I shout pointing to Mark, “and I was trying to save her.”

“When did this happen?”

“Just now. That’s why I was trying to get into the bathroom.”

The policeman pages through his notebook. “Mr, um, Bridges says he was out all day, and we saw him arrive home.”

“I couldn’t tell what time he left because I couldn’t find my phone. That’s why I couldn’t call 911, and that’s why I tried to save her myself.”

At that very moment my phone starts ringing in my pocket. The police officers look at each other, and then look back at me while I fumble with my phone.

“You say that Mr Bridges drowned his wife in the bath,” says the youngest police officer.

“Yes. Go and see for yourselves.”

We all troop into the house and up the stairs to the bathroom. I linger out in the passage, I can’t bear the thought of Vanessa’s lovely face all bloated by drowning.

A police officer comes out: “There is only a duvet soaking in the bath,” he tells me.

“No.” I scream. “He drowned her I saw him do it.” I rush to the bath and see an innocuous duvet soaking. “What did you do with her,” I ask while trying to lift the soaking duvet to see if it is not covering her.

“Calm down,” says the officer, “I’m sure that it is just a big mistake.”

“Where is Vanessa? What have you done with her?” I am sobbing again, but this time out of frustration because no one believes me. ‘Take a sample of the water. Test the duvet for DNA.” I know that I am blabbering, then I have a brilliant idea. “He must have thrown her in the river; that’s why he left after drowning her in the bath. Look in the car, I am sure you will find damp marks.”

Again the officers look at me as though I am crazy. “Mr Bridges, do you mind.”

“Not at all,” says Mark, and leads us to his car.

The interior is perfectly dry.

“Mr Bridges, where is your wife?”

“She left this morning for a two week conference.”

“Please contact her for us,”

Her phone goes to voice mail.

“She can’t answer if she’s dead.” Now I sound crazy even to myself.

“The lady is a bit unstable,” says Mark shaking his head in mock sorrow. Then, to my utter amazement, he says: “Her husband died under suspicious circumstances, I think there is more to that story that needs investigating.”

“I could kill you with my bare hands,” I say through gritted teeth.

After conferring with each other, the police officers load ME into the police van.

As we drive off, I turn to see a superior smirk on my ex-lover’s face.

November 11, 2020 12:00

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