Note- Sudden senseless ensemble. Brought on by a great day at an international trade fair.
Merry didn’t know where to start. So much had happened and so fast that Merry could easily let it all pass for a trick of the mind. Only the bloodstained carpet and the cold corpse of a young woman Merry had caught in his arms held him, frozen to the spot, with flashing lights and police sirens all around him.
Now that the corpse was taken from his arms into a stretcher, brutally zipped under yellow plastic and the bloodstained carpet photographed from every inch and dimension known to man, Merry found himself a prime witness. He had never been much of a prime, and Merry was having a tough time.
The policeman assigned to take Merry’s testimony was getting irritable. He was twitching and sighing and looking out of the dingy stall a yard away, at the real action at the crime scene. While Merry noticed all of these things, the things he was really supposed to have noticed moved further back in his memory… much to his comfort, but only short-term.
Merry played it over again… it was a crowded place… A Saturday at the Trade Fair usually was. There were buyers, wares and noisy sellers all around… And there was the woman. She had been standing, watching something at a stall nearby… doing nothing, just watching… and all of a sudden, someone had come from behind Merry, even banged into his shoulder, walked on and pulled the girl by the arm with force…. and the next thing Merry knew, there was a bang and the girl was falling… into his arms….
The next thing Merry knew and inhaled sharply on remembering…
925 people were being held in suspicion at the moment, with a shoddy description Merry had provided. Blue sweater, dark hair and a husky voice. It being winter, almost all males in that pavilion were taken into custody right away.
No wonder the police was in a frenzy. They weren’t prepared to hold 925 people for so long.
“Sir, let’s start at the time when the man banged into you? So.. what were you doing then?”
The dismay in the policeman’s voice was clear to catch. Of all the things that could be done out there, the poor man in charge of an unresponsive witness. And the Only witness, so there wasn’t much of a choice for him.
Merry was thinking. What was I doing? I was watching her… I was standing next to an air vent, so that the cold Air Conditioned pump blew air under his ear. She was calm, but he was itchy. He had wanted to talk to her. She was a pretty girl, she seemed a sweet girl.
But then the cold air was right in his face as he was pushed in front of the vent, and a man stumbled away, causing the disturbance. His hair was dark… and his sweater blue… and… nothing…
Merry cursed internally. Nothing new. It always broke off at exactly that moment. Merry couldn’t even give them a height, because the other man too had crouched after the collision. And after that, he had been swallowed by the crowd, only showing his pause in front of the girl and yanking her from her stillness.
“Sir? Okay… what about after the bang?”
After? After the bang, Merry had covered three paces without knowing it, and his hands were full with the weight of a body. She had fallen with a blow, crashed against his chest, and he had been frantically asking her if she was okay, when he realised she wasn’t. She was dead.
“So, after the shot… did you see the blue sweatered man?”
The man? No…
She had been there, lifeless, falling… he had a corpse in his hand, a corpse that was a pretty girl a minute ago, a person… a calm, breathing human. Now… nothing…
But the man? He didn’t feel the gravity of that fact, Merry knew. Else he wouldn’t have vanished in the crowd. He couldn’t have. He was cold.
“Okay. Let’s take a break. I’m gonna go out and get some coffee. You want some coffee?”
Merry nodded no.
The policeman rushed out, desperate for leave from a pathetic job.
Merry slipped lower in his seat.
He played the scene again, trying to find something, anything… anything that would put the police on a goose chase after the cruel man…
“Anything Dell?” Merry heard someone say outside the stall.
“No sir. It’s a clean slate. Can’t it be that he just didn’t see anything?” Merry recognised the voice of the policeman he had been with all this time.
“It can be. But I’m not gonna give in to that just yet. He’s our only witness. We need something, or we’re basically letting this murderer walk free.”
“Damn… I wish the girl was alive. Flesh wound or something you know… then, we could just ask her.”
Merry agreed. He wished he could.
He wished to just ask her.
Of the 925 in holding, who killed her, Merry wished he could ask her.