March 21, 1957
There is blood on the bed. His stomach ripped open, his left eye mutilated, and the side table is lying near the door frame. His wife is bawling her eyes out, and there is a half-empty bottle of whiskey under the bed. The cut on his body shows that he was attacked by a knife, and the incision is so clean almost as if the murderer is an anatomy genius. The mouth of the body is gaping open, and his neck has purple splotches. My friend who is an investigator clicks photos from all angles. With each flash of the camera, I see a clue unfolding beside me. Officer Barn rushes towards me, his eyes speaking of a strange fear; he clasps my shoulder urging me to come out of the room.
I march out and stand near the door frame, my eyes speaking instead of my tongue.
“What's the matter Barn?” I ask him trying to hide the expression on my face.
“We need to hurry. This case is of very high-profile.” He coughs up interrupting himself. “He's not an ordinary person, he is the son of a famous business tycoon, this case is no longer a government record. It’s a public scandal.” He huffs at the end.
“I know he is the son of Mr. Edward, owner of the steel factory, but we cannot hurry it up leaving clues to the rats.” I breathe in with ease.
“ We cannot delay it either.” Mr. Barn speaks up. “We need to fasten our belts and rush our brains before it goes out into the hands of the media.”
I nod my head and once again enter the room, observing each minute detail. I see a leaflet in the vase of flowers. I ask my assistant for gloves. I wear them and take the leaflet carefully from the flowers, it’s a prescription. The ink is fading away in the water, but the logo on the paper is smudged yet noticeable.
“Sir, you can hand it over.” The forensic officer says, pointing out to a plastic bag in his hands. I take the plastic bag from him and carefully put the leaflet in it. I fold the upper corner of the bag and place it on the left side of my coat pocket.
“Sir, the evidence belongs in our department. I beg your pardon, but you have to hand it over to us.” The forensic officer pleads with his eyes and places out his arm.
“Even I have a small lab at my home. I would love to personally investigate in my space.” I boldly put my statement forward.
“I wish you could do that sir, but since the case is high-profile. We have to follow all the orders from our seniors and judiciary. I can't help you this time. I would love your cooperation more.”
I sign in defeat and take the bag from my right side of my coat, and place it in his hand. He bows his head in respect and leaves the place.
I go into the drawing-room where the wife of the victim is present. She has a lilac handkerchief in her hands and is wearing a black dress. Her eyes are red due to the constant crying, and her cheeks are soaked in due to her tears. She's surrounded by her neighbors and friends. I tell them to depart soon, to push my investigation forward.
Everybody leaves and Catherine gathers herself, aligning her back with her body. I sit a few inches apart from her, observing her delicate little hands which no longer has the burden of the band.
“Miss Catherine sorry for your loss. I know the departure of your husband is so unexpected, and I could understand your sorrow.” She sobbed a little and quivered her lips.
“I hope my husband gets justice, Sir. That’s all I want. I want the culprit dead.” Her eyes blazing with anger and deep sorrow.
I take her hand in mine and say to her with a coy smile, “That will soon happen, I promise you.” I could feel the coldness of the plastic in our hands.
A WEEK BEFORE
I could not take my eyes away from the bruise, which was on Catherine's left elbow. The wound itself is telling the back story of its origin. She lifts my chin directing my eyes towards her. Her hands were cold, and her little finger was swollen. Her eyes were dull, with no light or joy.
“You called me here for something?” She questions me with disgrace and disregard.
“Yeah, so I am going to dive in for cooking. You know learning a few basic skills and recipes.” I laugh at my lie and take out the tray of knives.
“So, what are you starting with?” Her voice is cold like ice, and her eyes tired. She has a small brown patch near her eyelid, hinting at her life.
I immediately try to distract myself from the bruise by balling my fists and digging my fingernails into my palms.
“I think with the stomach. Cleaning and cutting will be far easier from here.” I say pointing out to the featherless chicken on the table.
“That’s interesting. So, what help do you need from me?” Catherine asks me.
“Well, I don’t know about the cleaning and cutting. Like, see this butler's knives, it's too big for the work. We don’t need this, but this.” I point out to the medium size scalpel, with a sharp edge. “I think this will do, precision cut and less mess.”
She nods her head and a slow smile rises across her square face, “Even I think so.”
I loved the way she smiled, always.
“By the way have you read the 10th chapter of Volume 1 of anatomy?" I ask her with my eyes focused on the scalpel.
3 WEEKS EARLIER
“I always flunked chemistry. Thanks to you, otherwise I would be a technician in a hospital.” I pass a gentle smile to Catherine.
“I don’t know about the academics chemistry, but your reaction with women was always volatile.” She taunts with me her gentle smile.
“Not all, only with one. But that reaction became highly toxic for everybody.” Hearing my sharp words, her smile disappeared.
“I hate for causing an explosion in that research, if I had focused on one chemical, then my life would not have been so volatile.” Her voice sounded disapproved.
“I miss my compound too.” I sigh with disbelief.
She turns away from her face and wipes her tears. I know it's so tough for her, to gather the courage daily and to chalk out the plan. I try to lighten the mood surrounding us.
“The moviemakers are so hypocrites?” I shout.
“What?” She turns around but does not see me in the eye.
“They always show that when you place the chloroform on someone's face, the person instantly passes out. But it's not true, a person at least requires 15 minutes of continuous exposure for passing out to its fullest.”
“Movies are for entertainment not for knowledge.” We say in unison. Out timing makes me laugh, and she laughs seeing me laugh.
“By the way Catherine, I want to say you an amazing fact. Do you know, Whiskey and chloroform have the same taste.”
She finally sees me in the eye and smiles.
“Now I know.” And laughs like a small hyena.
4 WEEKS EARLIER
The church is calm and the benches are clean. It's Monday, hence the absence of people seems relevant. I smell the candles burning and could hear the faint sobbing from the room of confession. I walk towards it and open the stall. It was empty, but the nearby stall wasn’t.
I rotate my head around to see anyone's presence and finally steps in. Feeling the presence of my space the sobbing discontinued.
“It’s the result of my sin. If I hadn’t cheated the person who loved me the most and did not break his heart, this would have never happened.” Her voice breaks down, and through the thin mesh. I could guess her marble hands wiping the tears away from her face.
“The result or the outcome of your sin depends on the Lord itself. It's you and me who have the final decision. I have forgiven you already, but what about the devotion and love you offer him? Is his response appropriate? Does raising hand on your wife courageous?” I sigh in dismay.
“But what are we going to do? Do you think your plan is proper?” She questions my intentions.
“The law won't help us. His hands are long and their pockets are full with his money. It's not about how I feel, it's about the justice you need.” I face her across the mesh digging my fingernails in my palm.
“I won't lose you because of somebody's treatment.” I choke down my tears.
She stands across the mesh placing her hand on it. I do the same.
A MONTH AGO
“Sir, there is a woman. She is stating emergency and needs urgent observation. Will you come soon?” The nurse hurried her sentences.
“Can you call another doctor, I have completed my hours?” I pack my suitcase and turn to leave.
“She says it's matter of life and death, Sir.” The nurses exclaim.
“Okay fine, only 15 minutes. Then transfer her case to Dr. Edmund.” I wipe the sweat on my forehead and put on my white coat. Sometimes the Hippocratic oath becomes the death of me.
I go to the patient's cubicle. I am in no mood to observe the patient. I remove the board placed near the bed and read the symptoms taken by the nurse.
Internal bleeding in the cervix
Bruises on hand and near the eyes
Lower lip cut
Fracture on the wrist
“Miss, when did this happen and how can we aid you,” I reply bluntly. My energy is on brink of exhaustion and pushed to my limits.
A pale cold hand catches my wrist, and a humble voice reaches my ear, “Just forgive me, will you?”
My ears recognize it and when I see her face, the blood in my body stills. I catch her limp hand and shout, “Catherin.”
Tears were flowing down her eyes and her face had lost the life and sunshine she had. All she could do was clasp my hand with more force.
I kiss her knuckles and run my fingers lightly on the bruises. Seeing her in this state, my mind rattles, I clench my teeth, and tears of anger rush down my cheeks.
“Who did this to you?” I ask her trying to mask my anger.
She gathers herself and with the last courage within her, utters.