Precaution For The Blameless

When Grace is notified that her ex-husband, Trey, has escaped from prison, she tries to avoid him at all cost. However, Trey blames Grace for all his mistakes and wants revenge...

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1. Precaution For The Blameless: A short story

The child started crying again.

Dragging my arse out of bed, I stumbled and glared at the clock. 5.08. Oh for fucks sake. Staggering along the landing to Jesse’s room, however, I was frozen with shock as a hard rap at the door echoed throughout the empty house-except, of course, Jesse’s wailing. Being a single mother with no relatives and local friends, a knock at your door at 5.08 in the morning was not going to be good news. Pausing, I wondered whether I should answer it or not.

Coming to a quick decision, I quickly rushed downstairs, flipped on the outside light, and twitched my curtains slightly. In the process of doing so, I knocked a pen off the sill, and it slid under the settee. Shit. Before I could recover it, however, I straightened as I noticed the person at my door. It was, in fact, a cop, and I sighed in relief. Probably something to do with a burglary up the road or a stolen car-the problem was, what the hell were they doing, knocking at this time? Surely it could’ve have waited till late morning-9am at least? Groaning in frustration, and at Jesse, still wailing, I unlocked the door, and flung it open. I was about to snap at the cop, or at least show him my best scowl, when I realized just how serious he was. The cop was around my age: mid-twenties with a hard, sharp look about his features. Dark eyes buried deep into his slim face, and a small, pursed mouth did nothing to compliment them. In fact, these characteristics made him look even more like a drowned rat. He surveyed me with grim eyes, and I suddenly realized I was dressed in nothing but a night-shirt, and probably looked like a complete mess. “Officer?” I asked, tentatively. “Would you-uh...like to come in?”

He completely ignored my act of kindness, since it was raining pretty hard, and instead said, “Are you Miss Grace Wallaby?”

Completely shocked, all I could do was nod slowly.

“I’m afraid we’re going to have to bring you down to the station.”

*

With Jesse in my arms, fully dressed now, I allowed the cop to ‘take me down to the station.’ He told me his name was Mike West, and he promised me that I was not in trouble, not really, unless I co-operated when we got to the station. After a flurry of questions from my part, Mike shook his head, saying he was forbidden to give anything away and ignored me the whole drive there. The second cop-the one driving-was a woman and didn’t even acknowledge I was there; only snapping at me once-“shut that kid up.”

Questioning me took place in a small, dark room. Jesse was taken from me, and I was left alone, before a tall, blonde-haired man came in and presented himself as Detective Kyle.

“Well, Miss Wallaby, what I want you to first understand is that this is not an interrogation, nor are you being questioned for some sort of crime. This is merely a...precaution.”

“Precaution?” I asked incredulously. “You drag me from my house in the middle of the night, for what? A precaution?”

Kyle scrutinized me, and then said rather sternly, “Believe me, Miss Wallaby, I’d rather not be here myself. I am, in fact, on holiday, but as I was the main detective that led the case of Trey Warrick, I had no choice but to come down to the station and demand you come down too. Now, Miss Wallaby, as you see this is not merely a precaution, but essentially for your safety. Sorry for my choice of words before. Now, maybe you won’t snap at me so.”

“T-Trey?”

“Yes, I’m afraid. I’m sure this must come as a big shock to you, but to our dismay, Trey Warrick has escaped. As you can see, your husband being one of the most notorious killers of the 21st century, we are very concerned about the safety of our city, as well as his relatives and people who he was close to. So-“

“No,” I said, surprised at how steady my voice was.

“Pardon?”Detective Kyle asked, sounding quite shocked.

“Ex. You called him my husband. He’s my ex-husband. And that is something I regret deeply; that he was ever that in the first place. He killed my parents. If you’re going to ask me if I know where he is, I don’t. I never knew Trey.  He just gave me Jesse. That’s it. He means nothing to me.”

Kyle eyed me. “Are you sure? You know not of any place where Trey might be? A place he enjoyed to visit, maybe? Or-“

“Trey never told me anything,” I said sharply. “Our relationship was non-existent, save the physical side. That was all I ever was to him. A toy.”

Kyle shook his head. “I don’t think so. It seems Warrick had some kind of perverse love for you. When you filed for a divorce, didn’t he murder both of your parents as an act of revenge?”

I flinched at the bluntness of it all. “That doesn’t matter. How the hell did he escape?

“Warrick was in trouble already after severely injuring an officer whilst being under observation-due to belief that Warrick had intent of ending his life. On the day he escaped, two days ago, he was being transported from Manchester to a court in Liverpool where he was also being tried for a firearms and conspiracy to cause damage with intent to endanger life. Of course, not that that would matter anyway-it’s not like he would ever actually taste freedom again, not after what he had done...”

I shuddered, suddenly, thinking about Trey, his breath on the back of my neck, his hand trailing down my spine. As I shivered, Kyle watched me pityingly. “The prison van that was transporting Warrick was rammed by an armed gang-presumably friends of Warrick-and the driver was forced at gun point to allow Warrick to escape.”

“I don’t know where he could be,” I whispered, cringing at the thought of him out there. “He’s probably trying to flee the country by now...he’s on the run somewhere...”

“Miss Wallaby,” Kyle said, rather sternly. “We have every right to think that Warrick’s next target is, in fact, you.”

*

Satisfied that I was definitely telling the truth when I said I hadn’t had contact with Trey since I’d last seen him in court two years back, and I had no clue where on earth he could be, I was reunited with Jesse, and we booked into a nearby hotel. “Just to be on the safe side,” Detective Kyle said. “He could easily find out where you presently live. Do not take the chance of going back there, not until he’s back locked up.”

Trey was five years older than me. I’d been 19, he 24 when we’d met at a bar in town. I thought I was in love; in the April of 2006 we were married. We were together on and off up until my 23rd birthday when I cut if off altogether. I had fallen pregnant, and was sick of the arguments, his physical abuse, and life with him in general. I had every reason to believe he was a murderer-he would often stumble home drunk in the middle of the night, covered in blood. But I was scared; so scared, beyond belief, that I was convinced if I dared leave I’d be next. When I found out I was pregnant, however, I cut contact off altogether, left our flat and moved in with my parents. Unfortunately, the same night I left, he confronted me coming home from a night out with my friends. I remember it so clearly; the night sky pitch-black, the ground wet and glimmering with rain, the wind whispering to me...I was trapped and he was coming closer and closer. Something silver glinted in his hand, and I wasn’t naive enough to think that he was simply coming to beg back our relationship. I knew Trey, and what he was capable of. I’d been his punching bag for years.

He, however, was interrupted by a gang of teenagers that had rounded the corner at that particular moment, and I was so grateful to them. I’d run to a friend’s house, texted my parents I was fine and slept until dawn. When I went back home the next morning...I realized Trey really was evil-and a murderer. My parents...both stabbed to death. It seemed my mother had been in the shower, while my father ate tea alone in the kitchen. Easy to take both of them; my father was still weak from an operation on his heart and my mother...simply hadn’t stood a chance. I’d never got over the picture of them, lying there...lifeless.

It had all come out then; he’d killed nearly five women since I’d known him, ranging from the age of seventeen to twenty-five. It made me sick that I’d touched him, slept with him...even loved him...

“Miss Wallaby?” Detective Kyle asked, suddenly. He had driven me to the hotel, and was now escorting me to my room.

“Sorry,” I said, moving Jesse into my other arms. He was nearly two now, and getting rather heavy. Thankfully, he was finally asleep. “Day-dreaming.”

He nodded. “We’ll pick up some of your clothes from your house and drop them by later.”

“Detective...”

We were in the corridor leading up to my room now, and Kyle paused and faced me. “Yes?”

“How long? You can’t expect me to hide here forever. I have a job”

Kyle hesitated. “We’re not sure...We’ll take care of everything, I promise. Our priority is to keep you safe. You might feel as if...this is over the top, but bear in mind the safety of your son.”

As Kyle turned around to leave, I grabbed his arm. “How can you be so sure? That he’s after me?”

Kyle scrutinized me, and then stared at me straight in the eyes. “Miss Wallaby, Warrick is a cold-blooded murderer. He is criminally insane. He does not think logically like the rest of us-he will not think to run, or even flee the country. He does not see as we do-he sees us as only objects, objects for him to play with, to pick and choose.

“In his mind, he is God. People are there for his pleasure-he does not think of us as humans with a mind and feelings. It is all a game to him-and he blames you for his sentence. In interviews coming up to his court case he would refer to you as ‘the bitch’. Warrick would be adamant he had done nothing, and that it was all in your head. He blames you for everything that went wrong for him-all his mistakes.”

I knew that-I’d been questioned myself, as some people had actually thought I’d helped with the murders, due to Warrick’s continuous insistence that it was ‘all her fault’ or ‘the bitch put me up to it’-a complete pack of lies, of course. Not that the rest of the community thought so. That was why I’d moved away with Jesse in the first place.

“Maybe we’re wrong,” Kyle went on. “Warrick might well be on the run. But we suspect he is intent on revenge, feeling angry and resentful, and it as all aimed at you.”

I looked away, not wanting him to see the sudden terror that had flooded through me. Failing not to cringe at his choice of words- revenge, angry, resentful-I bid my goodbyes and slowly walked into the hotel room, clutching Jesse protectively.

When I put Jesse to bed, I bolted the windows, and pushed a chair up against the door where I stayed all night. I woke up in sweats, my neck aching from the alien position. The clock read 6am. Jesus. Jesse really must have been tired; he’d slept through the whole night for once. Though Jesse was nearly two, I still had to wake up at least twice a night to his wails. I would have said it was a nice change, under different circumstances. In this case, however, I felt terrible. At every sound, I would flinch. Every memory, I would shiver. It drove me crazy that I could never actually escape him.

I don’t think I ever would.

*

The days passed. It had been nearly four days and I just stayed locked up in the hotel room, supplies delivered by the cops. Sometimes Kyle would drop by with an update, usually the same-“No sign yet-but we’re trying out best”-sometimes it would be Mike, but he was never one to start a conversation. Other times it would be the woman I saw on the first night, but I never actually caught her name. I was going out of my mind, and knew that I shouldn’t let Trey’s escape stop me from living...Kyle told me, as long as I was with someone and it was daylight, I was free to do as I wanted. But...though I wouldn’t admit it to anyone, I was terrified. Well and truly terrified. I could barely move without jumping at something. I was quickly becoming a nervous wreck and there was nothing I could do about it. All I could see when my eyes were closed were my parents...dead. All the others girls he killed, nothing but bones now in some watery grave. I hated that man, hated him. He was the devil, in my eyes.

On the fifth day, when I was locked tight in my room, Kyle rang my mobile. Letting out a sigh, I gripped the phone tightly. “Good news,” Kyle said. “He’s been sighted in Wales.”                                                                                                  My grip on the phone tightened further, relief crashing over me. “Y-you’re sure it’s him?”                                                                                                                                                            “We’re not 100%, Grace, I will admit, but we’re pretty positive. We caught him on CCTV, outside a pub, and got the side of his face. He has the same features-we didn’t catch his scar, either, as he was facing the other way. Of course, we’re not always sure, and the picture not particular clear, but I’m almost certain it’s him. You can relax for a little while at least. Obviously, he’s not been caught yet, but now you know he’s not going to turn up on your doorstep anymore. Go home and pick up some things. You’ve not been out of that room for nearly a week now...and while its daylight, why not?”

I nearly smiled for the first time in days, nearly sobbing with the sudden feeling of comfort and ease. “Yeah, I think I will. Thanks for everything, Detective.”                                                   I could practically see him smiling. “Call me, Kyle. Oh, and Grace?”        

“Yeah?”

“Still be cautious. We don’t know whether not if it’s definitely him. Still stay in the hotel over night until he’s either captured or we say otherwise.”

When we hung up, I dressed, strapped Jesse in his pram and set off. I was assured by Kyle’s certainty-‘positive it was him’. It had to be, right? Trey was pretty distinctive. Who else had a shaved head, and a long scar down their face? No hair to hide his dark eyes, or straight nose. No; it had to be him. It just had to be. Feeling nothing but bliss, I walked along the street, light, like the world had been shifted from my shoulders.

Free at last.

When I arrived home, I practically skipped through the door, inhaling the smell of my house, the smell of my absence. It was all familiar and with a spring in my step, I slipped Jesse into his high chair, and ran up stairs to collect together some of my things...one more night back in the hotel wouldn’t hurt after all. Just to be sure...just until he was definitely in his cell back in Strangeways. Sprinting back downstairs, I went to check on Jesse in the kitchen, for once not crying...but he was gone.

Jesse was gone. Where the fuck was he? It’s not like I’d misplaced him for God’s sake...Jesus. As panic set, I desperately searched the interior of the kitchen, before dashing into the hallway and up the stairs. A wail echoed through the empty house, and I gasped. Jesse. It came from downstairs. Sighing in relief, without even thinking, I ran down the steps and just as I turned the corner from the stairs, something slammed into my head, hard, and for a while I was in a pit of darkness

*

Drowsily, I sat up and looked around, wondering what on earth had happened, and why the hell I was lying on the living room floor, with only a dim lamp in the corner of the room for light. The curtains were drawn, and it appeared to be dark out, as no light flitted through the gaps. Jesus, how long had I been out for? And where was Jesse? Jesse had been in the kitchen...then he’d disappeared. Jesse missing...crying...something hitting me. What the fuck?

I must have passed out somehow, I realized with shock. Forcing myself awake properly, I stood up, swaying. I was in the living room. How the hell had I got there? Hadn’t I been in the hallway? Jesse...where the fuck was Jesse? Jesse-

 

Something moved then, something hidden in the shadows was stirring. How had I not noticed it before? The darkness, the silence...someone guarding the door, the only route from the living room to the outside world...no escape now...

I let out a sob and scrambled back, pressing by back a far against the wall as it would go. “NO! No...”

The man stepped forward, and into the light. As he did, I let out a strangled cry. “Where’s my son, you bastard?” I cried, struggling to stand up straighter. “Where the fuck is he?”

Uncontrolled shakes racked my body and I could barely stand, my heart turning to ice with fear when he spoke-“I think you mean our son.” That voice, that deep, scratchy voice, like crackling paper, piercing through me...

“My son, my son,” I cried, as he stepped nearer, and I pushed myself as far away as possible. “What have you done to him, you bastard?”

He didn’t answer and I let out another sob. “You better not have touched him! You fucker, if you’ve touched him-“

I was cut off as Trey strode forward and struck me across the face, and when he spoke spittle flew from his mouth and all over me. “Shut up, you bitch,” he hissed. “I’ll fucking gut you like a fish, if you don’t shut the fuck up.” The smell of BO, bad breath and decaying flesh hit me, and I recoiled away from him in disgust. He still wore a lurid green and yellow jumpsuit. His hair, once shaved, was now long and straggly, covering his scar, and I caught a mad glint in his eye...the same glint I saw the night he’d tried to kill me, and all those other times when he used to throttle me...

Those times never involved my child.

“Where the fuck is he?”

Trey bounced away, and paced up and down the length of the room, ignoring my question. I slid down the back of the wall, searching the room frantically for a phone, or sharp object, but it seemed Trey had removed them all before I woke. There would be no way I could get passed Trey; he’d positioned his self right in front of the door. Screaming would be useless; in the off chance that someone would actually heard me, Trey would have slaughtered me before I even have the chance to get a reaction from any neighbour. There must be something. But it was then I noticed it: the lid of a pen, sticking out from under the chair. Of course, I’d pushed of it off the side by accident the night Mike had knocked on my door. I’d never gotten around to picking it up.

Trey was still muttering to himself-“better off, better off-“and rubbing his head as he paced.

“Trey,” I whispered tentatively. “Trey, please-“

He swung himself around to face me, and that angry, mad glint was back. He stayed where he was, glaring at me. “This is your entire fault,” he hissed. “Your entire fucking fault. He’s better without you.”

“No-no, Trey, please, please-“

“I said shut up,” he growled, and continued pacing. This was my chance. Still on my position on the floor, I slipped my fingers under the chair to grab the pen. It wasn’t exactly a knife, but it was all I had. Twisting the top off, I held it tightly, then jumped on him. Trey, though shocked, reacted too quickly for me. Within seconds, he had me on the floor, straddling me, hands around my neck, cutting the air from my lungs. Chocking, I realized in horror that these might be my last moments. I would never see Jesse again...my last moments, looking into the eyes of my merciless killer. No, no.

The pen, the pen. Weak as I was, I managed to lift my hand up, and dig the pen right into his eye socket. Trey let out a howl of rage and pain, and thankfully let go of me. Struggling up, without even seeing where I was going, I stumbled into the kitchen, where I wrenched open the drawers. Panicking, I realized that they’d all been removed. The bastard! He was right behind me, I could hear him...

Without even thinking, I grabbed a bottle of Lye, which he hadn’t abolished, ripped off the top and threw it in his general direction. Howling in pain again, I guessed it had flown right into his face. I left him behind, staggering down the hall way, heaving at the front door and realizing it was, in fact, locked. Shit. I had to find a fucking knife or something. I was going to kill this bastard whether it was the last thing I did. If he’d touched my son then-

“Grace,” he called, and he stumbled along the corridor. “Gracie, I’m coming...”

As I dashed up the stairs, I caught a sight of his face. One eye was completely mangled, the other red-raw and bloodshot, the rest of his skin pink with burns. He could barely see where he was going as he shuffled along. Good.

Slipping into my room, I hurried behind the door and grabbed the phone on my dressing table, ringing Kyle. He answered with “Hey Grace,” just as I heard Trey’s sing song voice, “Gracieeeeee, I’m coming to find you.”

“He’s here,” I whispered.

“What?”

“Kyle, listen, it’s Trey. He’s here, at my house. You have to get down here, he’s got Jesse!”

“Grace-“

“No! Get your fucking ass down here, Kyle!”

I hung up, glancing wildly around for something. Something he hadn’t seen, something, anything I could use to protect myself...Perfect. A vase, an ugly white thing my mother had given me when I’d first moved in with Trey. I doubted Trey could see anything; he was still teetering and doddering up the stairs, screaming out insults. “I’ll cut you open, Gracie!” he yelled. “Slice through your flesh...”

Dashing on to the landing, just as Trey reached the top, he lunged towards me, but not before I hit him right across the head, sending him unconscious. He crumpled to his knees, and for a second, in slow-motion, he slowly fell, grunting while he went. I held my breath, hoping he wouldn’t move. He didn’t.

I dropped the broken vase and sprinted downstairs. Emptying the draws, I found a knife that I’d used to cut mean with all but three weeks ago, and bounded back upstairs, breathing hard. For a moment, I observed his sleeping form. I thought about what he had done to my parents. Each night, when he’d stumbled in drunk and I’d been his punching bag. He’d never shown any remorse. I thought about Jesse, and feeling sick to my stomach with the thought of what was left of my son now, I plunged the knife in deep between his shoulder blades and his deep, even breaths were no more.

Turning around, I crumbled to the ground and sobbed.

But something stopped me

Because a sound of hope echoed through the house, and my cries were promptly stopped as I stood up sharply

A long wail, a child’s cry, broke the dead silence.

*

In my story, I told the cops that when throwing the Lye into his eyes, I’d grabbed the knife and ran upstairs. I told them that I’d hit him with the vase, but that he had not knocked him out completely and when he rose, I then stabbed him, with the knife or ready in my hand. I was in no trouble-in the eyes of the law I’d done nothing but act in self-defence. Or so my story went. The fact that he was unconscious when I’d stabbed him didn’t exactly sound like self-defence, but I wasn’t going to mention that to the cops.

As it turned out, the man they thought to be Trey was actually a guy called Joe and had never been outside of Wales. His record was flawless and he’d never been done for even a parking ticket. He didn’t even have a scar; that part of his face hadn’t been shown on the CCTV.

Also, Jesse was perfectly fine. Apparently, he’d been asleep in his room the whole time.

Due to investigation, the house was off-limits for at least another week, so I was to spend another few nights in my hotel room. Now, at least, I could sleep in peace. As I climbed into the car, Kyle asked me something nobody had since the police had arrived. “Are you OK?”

I looked into his friendly eyes and smiled. “Yeah.” And I meant it. “I’m fine.”

 

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