Staring down at her husband’s body Casey felt her breath catch in her throat. Tears slipped from her eyes, falling unheeded passing several double chins and onto the fake sheepskin carpet. Hands shaking, she picked up the phone and dialled 911 with her sausage fingers. By the time they answered all she could do was squeak out ‘help, it’s my husband’ before her breath failed. Sinking to her knees she dropped the phone.
‘Mam, mam? Hello? What is your emergency? What happened to your husband?’ That was the last thing she heard before the world turned to black.
At first she thought the operator was still calling her but it was a concerned looking paramedic, leaning over her he rubbed his knuckles along her breastbone. It hurt like hell, bringing her around quickly.
‘Ow! What are you doing?
‘Sorry mam. We thought you were injured or had a heart attack or something. Can you sit up?’
Both paramedics pulled hard to get her to a sitting position. Casey realized where she was, glanced at her husband and started to wail. Oxygen and a mild sedative helped her keep quiet.
Once the detectives arrived, Casey explained that she had been out shopping and had come home to see her husband lying on their living room floor. Dark blood pooled around his head and she couldn’t see where it came from. She couldn’t bring herself to touch him with all the blood. Tears flowed again.
Detective Poole called to scene, stared at the woman. He wondered if she was capable of murder. The woman was gigantic. As she spoke her double chins emphasized her words as if nodding in agreement. What was left of her chewed nails kept going into her mouth, a habit which detective Poole detested. She walked painfully and could barely get around. He doubted she had it in her to overpower her husband who was smaller but fitter and stronger.
Her shopping bags lay by the front door. The ice-cream dripped onto the grimy floor, cementing her alibi. Poole was sure the coroner’s report would agree with the timeline. Poole was an experienced detective but was not well-liked or respected. He was judgmental to a fault and the other detectives felt it clouded his vision. He particularly abhorred fat people. Men, women, old or young it they were fat he despised them. Gluttony was the worst sin.
Turning his attention back to the whale, he asked ‘Do you know of anyone who would want your husband dead? A work colleague? What work does he do?’
The questioning continued for some time until Poole noticed that she was exhausted.
‘Have you got somewhere to stay tonight?’ several chins nodded, causing Poole’s stomach to turn. He sent a female policewoman upstairs to help her pack and arranged for her to be dropped off.
Poole turned his attention to the body and searching the house while Casey was taken to her friend. The case was perplexing. Nothing was stolen, it seemed personal. Poole had years of experience with murders and usually had a hunch on which direction to take, but he was struggling.
He took the cigarette from behind his ear and put it into his mouth sucking the end lightly to taste the tobacco. He craved it but couldn’t smoke and abhorred the chewing and spitting of it.
‘You can’t smoke in here’ the coroner said, pointing out the obvious while kneeling over the body. Poole noticed her toned legs and smiled.
‘I stopped smoking years ago. I just like the feeling of the cigarette in my mouth’ he said. Shaking her head she smiled and went back to work.
‘Whatever floats your boat detective.’ Finally they locked up for the night, knowing tomorrow would be a long day.
The coroner’s report was done early impressing Poole, he read through the report and notes. No surprises.
Summary 1 bullet wound to the back of the head.
Death would have been instantaneous.
Distance between gun and wound, not more than 15cm.
.22 used, no shell casings found.
There was more but that’s all Poole needed. It was personal. Nothing was stolen. They made sure that the wife was away so either they cared about her or were lucky she was out. Poole doodled while he thought, it helped. He wondered if the victim had a girlfriend. He certainly wasn’t heading up the corporate ladder so didn’t feel that a work colleague would be a contender.
He spent the next few days going around in circles, feeling as frustrated as hell. It was unusual to have no leads. Time to talk to the wife again. He called the officer who took her to her friends and asked her to pick her up. Casey hadn’t been able to fit behind the steering wheel of a car in years apparently so didn’t drive.
After 4 hours of interrogation nothing jumped out at him and he wondered if this would go cold. He rang to get a policewoman to take Casey home but had no luck. Some riot taking place had all the officers tied up and Poole worked hard to hide his irritation having to give Casey a lift.
He walked at her pace to the car resisting the urge to hurry her up, it would be rude. She heaved herself into the car which listed to one side. He barely managed to stop himself shaking his head. Her elbows dug into his side and he resigned himself to an uncomfortable drive.
‘Corner Old Main and Gordon in Shellyvale.’
‘Your friends don’t mind you staying for a while?’ she shook her head and nattered on and on about her friend until Poole tuned out. The drive didn’t take long but seemed like it to Poole. Heaving herself out of the car she waved goodbye and he couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
Pulling away he looked in the rearview mirror which Casey filled side to side. But as she turned he saw who was in the doorway. It was a man. Maybe the friends are a couple he thoughts to himself slowing down. Casey turned and walked up the stairs battling until he put his hand out to help. Poole noticed him put his hand low on her back, too low for a friend and alarm bells went off.
He slowed and watched her kiss her friend hello and go inside. It all seemed way too familiar. He turned around and parked outside, his mind working overtime. Surely the whale wasn’t guilty? She couldn’t be having an affair? Who would sleep with her? He had to find out.
5 minutes later he was seated with a cup of tea, closely watching the interaction between the two. They were too familiar.
‘So how do you two know each other?’
‘Bill and I met at the supermarket. We both like sweet white wine and got to chat.’ She looked adoringly at him and the penny dropped. Either they, she or he did it. Wiping his hand down his face he realized that he let his prejudice get the better of him. Just because he wouldn’t sleep with a huge woman he assumed that no other men would either, apart from a husband maybe.
‘Can you both come down to the station for an interview later today?’
‘Why do you need to interview me?’ Bill asked. Poole kept his voice neutral, ‘just to tie up some loose ends.’ But he knew, today was the day this case would be closed, if he could help it.
2 hours into the interview with Bill, the case broke.
‘So Bill, you like the ladies?’
Poole tried again. ‘I like the ladies too, but they got to have some meat on their bones. No skeletons for me.’
Bill smiled. ‘My momma was a big girl and sexy as hell. Gotta have some booty.’ Poole realized that he not only liked Casey, he found her attractive and felt sick at the thought.
Bill never admitted to killing Casey’s husband, but the gun was found hidden in a false bottom in Bill’s cupboard. The striations matched. Grubby clothes with gunshot reside were found in his hamper and Poole blessed the fact that he didn’t do laundry regularly. Bill never thought he would get caught obviously.
Poole vowed never to let his prejudice get in the way of his work again.