I looked down at my gently trembling hands, which were satisfactorily covered in blood. Small droplets fell romantically from the end of the blade, splashing in star like forms on the laminate flooring that I had once helped lay.
The young man lay lifeless before me, the beats of his heart long since ceased. His dark eyes staring at some far off object, now lost of all focus. His strong, powerful arms showed off years of exercise. When his time came, however, no amount of sessions pumping iron in the gym could have saved him. It was the element of surprise that was his downfall. Surprise and the arrogance that he could not lose the fight.
My own heart beat steadily and I focused on my breathing, willing my lungs to take in air slow and steady. The tremble that was in my hands was slowly abating. Having a highly stressful job did have its advantages when you learned the techniques required to deal with what life threw at you. For all the things I have had to deal with so far, what was coming now would test my resolve unprecedentedly.
The pounding on the door arose my senses as realisation of the enormity of what had happened over the course of the last hour came rolling into my head. Yet I remained in position, hand holding tight to the kitchen knife’s worn handle, eyes on the multiple stab wounds that had been created over the last sixty minutes.
‘POLICE! OPEN THE DOOR!’
I remained motionless as the banging continued, the screams increasing with every shout. A few minutes passed before I heard the sound of wood splintering as the police entered via a battering ram known as ‘The Big Red Key’. Heavy footsteps came from behind and powerful hands pulled me to my feet, the knife dropping point first, coming to almost comical stop as it stuck vertically on the floor.
My hands were roughly pulled together behind my back, handcuffs forced around my wrists and I was dragged out of the house. My last vision from the house interior was of a framed photograph of my daughter and her now deceased husband, hung to the hallway wall. The photo was taken during their honeymoon in some far off paradise island, during happier times I didn’t doubt.
One of the officers placed a hand firmly on top of my head and pushed me into the back of a patrol car. The evening sky was lit up with the blue lights and I could see an ambulance coming, but the paramedics would be too late to be of any use to my dead son in law.
I was taken to a nearby police station and the desk sergeant took down my particulars before I was led to a holding cell. My shoes were taken from me along with my belt to prevent me from ‘hurting myself’. I had no intention of hurting myself, I still had work to do.
I sat on the hard bed and stared at the peeling paintwork on the walls. Dark stains rose from one of the corners, a reminder of the caliber of ‘guests’ that the room had previously entertained. I reflected on my situation, but for now remained calm, focusing once more on my breathing.
It was not long before I was taken to an interview room where a senior detective and an eager junior officer started the interview process. I had already waived my right to legal representation, being a fully qualified lawyer myself. After the initial formalities for the benefit of recording of the interview, the questions began.
‘Do you know why you are here?’
The question was stated in a manner that took me by surprise, almost blasè. It was a question that may have been testing my mental wellbeing. My response was candid.
‘Because I’ve just killed my son in law.’
I sensed the detective was in unchartered territory, that he was expecting to have to wear me down, search for the answers, dig for the truth. I did not want to play any games here, I was willing to give him what he wanted.
‘So you admit that you killed Christopher Tyler, your son in law?’
‘Yes, I did.’
The junior detective was getting restless, she too perhaps keen for the situation to play out like some kind of sordid television drama. I knew fine well that real life was somewhat different and they would not intimidate me.
‘Why?’ The question was out her mouth before she could stop it. The senior detective, if annoyed by the question, showed no emotion.
‘I beg your pardon?’ My response was overly polite. I knew what she meant but I thought I would increase her discomfort for my own perverse satisfaction.
‘Why did you kill your son in law?’ The words came out without stutter, but lacked the conviction one would expect under the circumstances. I decided to move on from my little game.
‘He hurt my daughter.’ It was a simple response and the truth. I was asked to elaborate further.
‘I first noticed light bruising on her wrists, but that quickly escalated to other parts of the body. I knew what was happening, but of course she denied it. She then had the inevitable walk into a door or a kitchen cupboard. I tried to help, pleaded that she leave him and come back home but there was always a reason why she had to stay. The violence took a sinister turn earlier this evening, she came to see me and explained the sickening act he had performed. So I did what any father would do, I dealt with it and I do not regret for one moment taking that demon’s life.’
‘Not every father, I would imagine.’ The junior detective had got her own back and I gave a small smile in acknowledgement.
More questions followed, but at this point I knew it was just a formality. I knew the law, I had defended a number of the city’s most evil men, all claiming innocence and I got many of them off on a technicality. I was not planning the same trick for myself, I would be going to prison, possibly for the rest of my life…
The trial produced a media frenzy, the victim’s family fighting to clear their dead relative’s name, whilst my supporters were campaigning for a lenient sentence on the basis of the abuse my daughter suffered. None of this mattered to me, I just wanted the trial over and to start my life behind bars proper.
I chose to represent myself, not for any egotistical benefit, it was that I knew exactly how this was going to go. Standing before the judge, I once again focused on my breathing as the charge against me was read out to the court. Without hesitation, I entered my guilty plee and heard a short yelp from the viewing gallery, which undoubtedly came from my daughter. The trial must have been painful for her, made to listen to what had gone before and I was relieved when it was all over.
I was given a life sentence as expected, but know that I may be released in 15 to 20 years. I am only forty eight years old, so there may still be some life for me to live in the future. I’m financially secure and my spread of investments will be waiting for me when I do come out. I made sure that my daughter had full access to the portfolio, to manage it to the benefit of both our futures. For now, I will keep my head down and try and avoid any trouble during my stay.
Fortunately for me, a few of my ex-clients have arranged protection for me, so my life should be relatively safe here. One of them even came to the prison to visit me. He pointed me in the direction of one of his contacts and gave me a valuable lesson on how to stay out of trouble with both the inmates and the staff.
Now I sit in my prison cell, cold, alone but at peace. My lasting memory of the trial was being led out of the court and looking up to the gallery and seeing my daughter. Her mascara stained cheeks highlighting the floods of tears shed for what I had done. I looked at her and gave her a reassuring smile before I was taken out of court to the awaiting prison transportation.
My daughter has her life to live now, and hopefully one day she will recover from what has happened and maybe meet someone who will look after her as I did, who will love her and protect her. Yes, she will have to live with the fact that she killed a man. She will have to live with the fact that her father tampered with a crime scene to take the blame. She will have to live with fact that her father represented himself to ensure he got the guilty verdict.
But perhaps, that’s what fathers are for.