Raising Dave Chapter 11

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With my head in something of a whirl, I went to the kitchen to get Victor.

He’d put a bowl on the kitchen floor and was filling it with mincemeat.

A black cat was running round him, meowing. As soon as the bowl was full, it thrust its face into the meat and began devouring it hungrily.

“I didn’t know you had a cat,” I said.

“I don’t” he replied. “He’s a stray. He’s been hanging around the garden lately, so I thought I’d feed him. He’s a friendly little fellow.” He stooped and stroked the animal’s back as it ate. “You’re enjoying that, aren’t you Moloch?”

“What did you call him?”

“Moloch.”

“How did you know that’s his name?”

“I didn’t. The name just sort of popped into my head and I decided that’s what I’d call him.”

The cat looked up at me for an instant. Swear to God it gave me an evil grin.

 I felt faint and had to force myself to concentrate on the job in hand.

“You better leave the cat for now, Vic. Come with me. I need to show you something.”

I led him into Dorothy’s bedroom.

She was lying on her bed, of course. As soon as Vic saw her, he sat down and burst into tears.  His back heaved with fretful intakes of breath.

“There’s no time for that, victor,” I told him. “You have to help me clean her up then we need to call the doctor.”

“Clean her up?” He asked in between sobs. “What do you mean?”

“We have to make sure that there’s no evidence she didn’t die of natural causes.”

An expression flitted across his face as if he’d just smelled something he didn’t much care for.

“I see what you mean,” he said.

I got some wet wipes, a toilet roll, and a bin liner.

“Help me turn her over,” I said.

Between us we managed to get Dorothy on her stomach, then I lifted up her nightie and cleaned her backside with the wet wipes, throwing the used ones in the bin liner as I went along. Nauseating.

We removed the soiled nightie and dressed her in a clean one, then sat her up in bed as best we could.

Her head was lolling to one side, and her mouth was hanging open, but other than for that, she looked little different to the way she’d looked before I’d killed her.

 “I’ll call the Doctor now,” Victor said after he’d composed himself. “I’ll tell him I found her like this, and that she must have died during the night.”

“Wait,” I said. “We have to do something about Dave.”

“About who?”

“Sorry, I meant about the corpse in the spare room. It’s beginning to smell. The Doctor’s bound to notice it. He might even go into the spare room and find it. We can’t risk that.”

Victor looked worried by the prospect of the doctor finding anything amiss.

“What can we do?” He asked.

“We need to move it to the cellar, open all the windows in the house, and give the place a damned good airing before he arrives.”

“I suppose you’re right.”

We went to where we’d stored Dave. There was a rank sweet smell around him; the smell of death. It was escaping from the body bag. The zip must have been faulty, or maybe there was a hole in it somewhere.

Dave had been refrigerated in the mortuary, so he hadn’t decomposed much.  In the cloying heat of the bungalow, which was maintained at temperatures suitable for the old and infirm, he seemed to be decaying at an alarming rate. At least, that’s what I gathered from the stench.

We’d left him bagged up on the floor.

I grabbed an end of the bag.

“You take the other end,” I said. “Okay. One, two, three, pull.”

We dragged him out of the room and up the hall to the cellar door, which I opened. Behind it there was a steep flight of wooden steps.

“Okay,” said Victor. “What next?”

“We slide him down there,” I said. “Help me push it.”

The bag was made of a smooth, plastic material. It practically glided down the steps, disappearing into the darkness below. There was a fleshy thud when it hit the cellar floor.

I switched on the light.

The bag had burst open, and Dave had fallen out of it. He was lying in a pool of fluid. It looked none too pleasant and nor did he. I hoped he was still in one piece.

“Come on Victor.”

I turned on the light and we descended the staircase. My face brushed cobwebs on the way down. That wasn’t pleasant.

After I’d examined Dave’s body and reassured myself he was still in one piece, I had a look around to work out where to put him.

The cellar was roughly twenty foot by twenty foot of dingy windowless gloom. The concrete floor was dusty and the brick walls were covered in grime. The pendant light in the middle of the ceiling didn’t produce nearly enough light to see clearly by.

“Christ almighty,” said Victor when he saw the remains of what had once been Dave Carrion. What happened to him?”

“Never mind all that. Help me. We can’t leave him here.”

I got my hands under Dave’s armpits. They were slimy. Victor took his feet. We strained our utmost to pick him up and headed for the middle of the cellar, bent double with the weight of him.

“On there,” I said, nodding at a table.

We both made an all-out effort and heaved him onto it.

I did my best to arrange him in a dignified position, lying on his back with his arms folded across his chest.

“We can’t leave him exposed to the open air like this,” I said. “We’ll have to get something to keep him in.”

“I suppose you’re right,” said Victor. “We ought to give him a good home, even though he’s dead. What do you propose doing?”

“I don’t know. I’ll think of something.”

As the body bag was no longer fit for purpose,  I kicked it to one side and we returned to the ground floor. I taped the gap around the cellar door with duct tape I found in a kitchen drawer.

Then I opened all the windows and sprayed air freshener everywhere. When the smell had subsided Victor called the doctor.

It was two hours before the Doctor arrived. Apparently, he prioritised tending the living ahead of tending to the needs of the dead, so we were his last call of the night.

He examined Dorothy and began filling out some kind of official death form.

Victor left the room but I stayed with the Doctor, because I was concerned about what he might find. I thought I might be able to tell from his face whether or not he noticed anything suspicious about Dorothy’s death. But he gave nothing away, so after a while, I decided to broach the issue with him to set my mind at ease.

“How do you think she died, Doctor?” I asked.

“You can seldom be certain with a death of this nature,” he said. “Working out the cause of death in these circumstances is as much an art as a science. Dorothy was old, her health was failing, and she had a number of problems. But it looks as though her heart gave out, and that was what killed her.”

“Maybe it’s good it happened that way. It’s a mercy that it was quick, if you see what I mean. I haven’t known Dorothy for long, but even I could tell that her dementia was getting worse.”

He looked up from his notes.

“She didn’t have dementia,” he said.

“She didn’t? What do you mean? What was wrong with her?”

“She had a form of locked-in syndrome.”

“Locked-in syndrome?”

“That’s right. She could see and hear, and her brain could function normally. In other words, she had all the mental capacity of a healthy human being. But she had only a very limited ability to control her body. She could move her limbs, for instance, but she couldn’t make them do what she wanted them to do. ”

I began to get a sick feeling.

“You mean, she could understand everything that was happening around her? Like, if she was still alive, she’d be listening to us now, and she’d be able to understand everything we were saying?”

“That’s exactly what I mean.”

“And feel pain and fear?”

“Yes, she could feel pain and fear, just like you and me.”

My sick feeling got a hell of a lot worse.


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