The Tortued Artist

This is an old story that I have no real intension of continuing. I hope you like it so far but just so you are aware this is a story that will probably not be updated anytime soon. If I do continue with any more chapters though, I suspect this will not be a story for those who are squeamish.

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1. Released

The car seemed lonely and silent without the usual noise and chat of my kids...Though they weren’t kids anymore, it seemed like yesterday that they were playing eye spy in the back seats, grinning at them through the wing mirror from ear to ear. She sighed and tried to shut her head up with the local radio. Some teenagers had vandalised a war memorial near town, a big name bank had been robbed and something about a duck. Nothing interesting really! Again, her mind wandered to her kids. Lizzie was the youngest; blond, lively and excitable. While, Amy...What could I say about Amy? She was quiet, thoughtful with her head in the clouds. Lizzie went to clubs and pubs with mates. Amy read and wrote all alone in her bedroom. Because the age difference between them was so little, everyone had assumed it would be a disadvantage yet as soon as Lizzie was done with her fashion studies, she moved straight out of my house and into a small flat with Amy. It was a small flat on a horrible council estate. I could have got Lizzie a far better flat; I had told her that already but she’d refused and moved in with Amy. I wasn’t being horrible not offering my oldest the same because it was pointless. She was so independent compared to her sister who was still living off my work wages even now. Then again, that’s what I’d have done if my mother had ever offered such a thing. But no, she’s kicked me out when she knew I was having his baby...Amy was so like her dad...I stopped myself before my mind would continue this rambling nonsense! Their dad was long gone and good riddance to him! I thought once again about my work wages. They were stable but with my house being done up for an easy sale (it was too big for just me) and Lizzie’s want for money, well. Still I had to think positively or else, who knows. I might go mad like...I needed to stop myself thinking about him, he was with me even now. But that was stupid; he was locked away for good now. No matter how young he was when it happened, he was away and good riddance! I breathed out and sighed before turning into the police department car park. My space was marked with a plaque which said clearly, “MARIA KING, CHIEF OF POLICE”. I’d been so proud of that gold square the day it went up, the day I was promoted above the rest. Now it was just a bit of metal covered in bird shit. The years had taken its toll on me; physically and mentally. My kids hadn’t noticed and there was no one else in my life to care. It still didn’t feel right to date because of anything over the years. I’d just kept myself very busy and pretended not to care. But no one would want me, no matter how much make up I used. I grabbed my papers and locked the car. I assumed my officers wouldn’t all be in as it was a Sunday. Nothing happened on a Sunday and if it did then I’d call them in, no questions asked. But this Sunday was different because I could hear the chatter of the staffroom before I’d even got to Reception! There was the occasional hush of voices as if they were listening out for something. I thought hard about what they could be up to. It was no one’s birthday in the office and Christmas wasn’t for a few months... Weird! I expected to be greeted with the usual “mornings” and “Hiya chiefs”, I usually got each morning but then a hushed silence seemed to fall inside the room. I was right outside now and could hear the ‘buzz’ of the old radio (I really must get a new one!) but no other sound. Curious, I opened the door to find nearly the whole of the police force huddled around the noisy radio, listening hard over their cups of tea. A few faces turned towards me but other than that, all was still through the small room. “And our top stories tonight once again are a war memorial has been vandalised by a group of suspected youth near Easton, a source states that a big name brand has been robbed but the store wished to be named anonymous until further police interrigation and a special announcement just in...” I’d heard these stories just now in the car but what was so important that the whole force had skipped their day off? All bodies in the room seemed to tense at the radio station’s special announcement but why should they? What was so important that they’d all be in? I stopped thinking to listen to the radio presenter’s voice as it begun to speak. “...a well-known murderer, named the ‘Tortured Artist’, has been let off his charges of murder as of today. The judge ruled in the opposite direction as he had over 10 years ago after the local police authorities captured the killer. Though the defendant was thought guilty; the age of the man accused at the time and his reportedly good behaviour whilst imprisoned have supposedly helped him in his trial to prove his innocence. That’s all for today, catch up with us on the website. Goodbye from us at the studio and more news at 8. Goodbye!” The presenter finally signed off with a ‘Goodbye’ and the usual theme music to accompany it. The whole room seemed to burst to life with a explosion of sound as everyone let out a breath. The officers faces resembled everything from anger to shocked, sadness to outrage. I was all of these and while the chaos erupted around me, I did nothing to try and calm my deputies down. I needed someone to calm me down, for God’s sake! For the first time, since I entered, I had the full attention of all the staffroom. From people whispering at me, their faces screwed up in sorrow, to shouting at me how I should have told them earlier of the decision to let him free! I was just stunned and hurt that my officers thought I could have been involved in the freeing of that murderer! That ignorant little man thinks he can escape and murder more innocent people for fun and sport! Well, think again! I had half a mind to drive to the Judge’s house myself and confront him on the matter, this was serious, not any little game. We were all at risk here; him too! I can imagine the sick, twisted mind that that man had and what he’d do to the Judge for not clearing him innocent the first time...I didn’t want to think! I’d seen him at work before and it was...Was sick, twisted and he got into people’s minds then...Then...I suddenly felt ill. I’m sure there was a nice person inside him, there was in everyone yet it was so obviously deep inside if this is what he wanted for others. And for himself because if he started it up again, he’d be in for it and then probably killed or worse, locked up for the rest of his life...Why should I care anyway? Why should I care about him or anyone else? I had to live my life myself now and no one else could control me! But he could get to anyone if he wanted, even me. I hated being thought of as so small and unimportant. Not being in control of my own life, at all! Then, I came back to earth with a bang as the noise got louder and someone banged into me, hard. I wasn’t ready for it and the motion would have been enough to knock me to my feet. A long arm reached out from through the crowd and caught me before I hit the ground. He held me for a second as he straightened up before grinning at me and guiding me to a chair. He stuck his face near to mine and whispered, “Are you okay, chief?” I tried to pin a name to his face but when I got nowhere with that conundrum, answered quietly. “I think so, err, thanks for that!” He smiled at me and for a second I was glad that he still had his arm round me. Glad he’d caught me and more importantly glad he cared! I looked at his long, strong arm around my waist and he followed my gaze before blushing and removing his arm. I sighed and stood up, wanting to be in control now. “Oyyyy! Yeah, I am talking to you lot! I don’t know why the lot of you are here on a Sunday but get the hell outta my staffroom! Do you lot not have radios at home or something? Now, out all of ya!” I yelled above the noise of their shouting. The room went quiet and I swear I got a few looks of hatred as the room was slowly cleared. The secretaries went back to their usual desks and eventually the room was quiet except for the tapping of keyboards that I could hear from Reception. I sighed and shrank back in my chair, feeling like a cuppa would help with the noise that still echoed my head. A click from the kitchen area told me I was still not alone and I went cold all of a sudden. ‘It couldn’t be’ I thought nervously, my hands shaking uncontrollably. I sat like that for what felt like hours before I felt a hand pat my shoulder in a strangely soothing way. When I finally looked up from my hands, who were eyes to meet but...But...But...I still couldn’t put a name to his face, even now! He had saved me from a nasty bruise from my fall at the very least and I still didn’t know his name! Opps! But I didn’t feel too bad because his smile felt like the first sunshine of the year after a long winter, on my face. It was so long since anyone had looked like that at me. He looked at me with respect and admiration, but also understanding and care. I found myself smiling back at him, which was something that I hadn’t done in a while either. “I’m making a cuppa, do ya want one, chief?” he said, his face wide with a grin. I muttered a brief ‘yeah, thanks’ while I grinned foolishly back at him. Like I said, it had been a long time since I’d felt any kind of care coming from another human being. My daughters loved me when it suited them and I understood that their lives were busy but the occasional look of devotion and love my way wouldn’t have been too hard, surely? When he walked to the kettle, I found myself looking at his bottom! What a stupid woman, I am! But he turned just to catch me at it before I looked away. He gave me such a look then that, well I’m sure I saw a hint of mischief in his eyes. My eyes met his and I caught myself just before I returned his glance. ‘Way too much drama!’ I told myself. Then I swiftly marched out of the room, forgetting my cuppa and leaving him wallowing in my wake.

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