The Witness

“Look, I told your people all I can when they first turned up at the scene. I don’t see what good it’ll do going over it all again. And it’s not as if I can give you anything useful, anyway.”
    Beside Carl, his guide dog shifted, possibly sensing his master’s irritation. “That’s how we do things I’m afraid,” replied the officer sitting opposite him. Carl might have found this rather patronising, but he just wanted to get out of there as soon as possible, so didn’t make any further fuss. Instead, he began his story again.
    “Well, I was waiting in line with my sister. There was somebody further towards the front kicking up a fuss, it sounded like it was about a discount or something. Then it turned into an argument with a lot of shouting; somebody screamed and then it was just chaos. That’s all I can tell you.” “And you’re sure you didn’t catch any of what was being said?” the officer asked. Carl sighed. Did he think he had super hearing or something just because his eyes didn’t work?
    “No. There were several people shouting at once. And it’s not as if I go round listening in on everyone’s conversations, you know.”

After a few more questions they were finally finished and the officer helped Carl to the main doors. He still had a good ten minutes before his taxi would arrive. But the weather was nice and besides, he didn’t much fancy being patronised by the staff in there any longer.
    As he stood there, Carl’s thoughts drifted back to that day. Funny how you could just assume something like that would never happen to you. But it had. In the space of a few seconds he had gone from an anonymous member of the public to an eye witness in a murder investigation. Eye witness. The term still made him grin. Some eye witness he was, when he couldn’t even see the light of a torch shone full in his face. Still, they had to question everybody present. At least they hadn’t just dismissed him on the grounds that he hadn’t actually seen anything.
    The main shock had been discovering that he knew the victim. It turned out to be the dentist he had been going to since he was a teenager. Of course he hadn’t known him well; as well as anybody can get to know somebody they only see for five minutes a couple of times a year. But he had always treated him normally, not like ‘the poor disabled guy’ as some people tended to do.

What could drive someone to pull a knife and kill another human, just because of a disagreement over a discount? Whoever it was, was either a psychopath or had never heard of the concept of right and wrong.
    And there it was again. Stronger this time. He still couldn’t put his finger on it. A nagging feeling somewhere deep down that there was something wrong somewhere. Somewhere in those confused sounds was something he had missed. Something his subconscious seemed to have registered, but his conscious brain was refusing to accept. He concentrated on the memories. Yes. It had got something to do with the argument, just before the stabbing.
    The voice. That was it. For some inexplicable reason it sounded… familiar. He shrugged. He had known the victim. He had simply recognised his voice, that was all. It just hadn’t registered at the time. But why then did that feeling keep on nagging at him?

He was roused from his reverie by the sound of footsteps approaching. “Hi, Carl,” said a voice. “Hi,” he replied automatically. He didn’t recognise the voice, but then, that was often the case when he bumped into people outside the usual context.
    “Been in trouble?”
    “Nah, just ‘assisting the police with their inquiries’. A bloke got stabbed at the cinema the other day and I happened to be there…”
    He froze. All of a sudden it hit him. It hadn’t been the victim’s voice he’d recognised… it was the other voice. And, he realized in that same instant, it hadn’t been reluctance to dish on a friend that had made his brain refuse to let the knowledge surface fully. It was the fact that his friend should have been doing time in a secure psychiatric unit for attempted murder. He had to get back inside. Tell someone…
    Abruptly he turned, yanked his guide dog, who had been basking in the afternoon sun up onto his feet and made to go back into the police station. A hand on his shoulder and something hard and cold at his neck stopped him in his tracks. “I don’t think so,” said a soft voice by his ear.

Prompt: A dentist is stabbed while he waits in line at the movies.

Copyright © Rainbow

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Posted by on Friday 22 May 2015 in Flash fiction, General