Volume 1.8: 'A Nice Cup of Tea'
I didn't know how to dispose of a dead body, but it was too late to start worrying about that, given what was on the kitchen floor. I'd googled “how to dispose of a dead body” on my phone but halfway through the first article, I realised what the police would make of my search history.
My next search was “how to hide internet searches from the police”.
It wasn't supposed to have happened like this. My plan had been to make Kara sick slowly, not drop her stone dead on the test run. It was supposed to give me ample opportunity to mull over the consequences of killing my flatmate and stop if it didn't seem like a good idea. It wasn't supposed to end with a dead body and no plan.
Considering the severity of my current difficulties, the cyanide salts were surprisingly straightforward to get. The internet is wonderful for all sorts of things. It'd gotten complicated when I'd had to get the package back from the Post Office. First, I'd lost the little card they'd put through the door when I'd been out and then I couldn't find any ID. It turned out Kara had 'accidentally' thrown a magazine – 36 pages, 2 staples - over the top of both. Then the car wouldn't start.
I mean, you'd think that in this day and age you could collect parcels with a thumbprint or a retina scan, but no. They wanted a driver's licence. They wanted a passport. Without them, the fat man behind the counter will argue until you want to murder him.
But no. One murder is quite enough.
I'd realised that Kara needed to die when she borrowed my “BEST ESTATE AGENT IN THE WORLD” mug without asking. It was made just for me, for my birthday: sea green with white text and a happy cartoon house. It had three chips in the upper rim and a small crack where the descending curve of the handle met the body of the mug. One day, it would need to be fixed with an application of superglue. She didn't realise that the mug was as fragile as a butterfly's wing and it was really her unthinking barbarism that led me to my fateful, fatal decision.
It seems drastic in retrospect, but she wouldn't take a hint! Along with the mug, she kept leaving her dirty dishes stacked up like it was my job to wash them! What else was I supposed to do? I'd asked several times and left a very polite note. I'd exhausted all the options left to a civilised human being! The mug was really the last straw; killing Kara was practically self-defence.
I poisoned the water filter on the big American-style fridge she'd bought; she was at it like a hummingbird at a feeder so she could get her '8 glasses a day'. It didn't take long to slit the white plastic and spoon in some crystals. They'd dissolve whenever she filtered new water and hey presto! Gradual cyanide poisoning.
It had been very hot today.
She'd drunk surprisingly often, given her size and build.
It's also possible that I might've overdone the dosage quite a lot. Maths isn't a strength of mine.
She fell down dead almost immediately, which suggests a calculation error.
First thing's first. I stuffed Kara's body into the pantry cupboard and shut the door with a pleasing click. It'd restrict my access to soup, but I needed to consider my next steps without distraction. Just because Kara didn't think through the consequences of her actions didn't mean that I had to fall into the same trap.
The washing-up gloves went on with a pleasing smack of retracting rubber but the green liquid detergent bottle only wheezed asthmatically. How like Kara not to tell me that the washing-up liquid had run out!
I finished her dishes as well as I could: two highball glasses - frosted around the bottom third, two plates – salmon pink with a faded corn sheaf motif and two breakfast bowls with glutinous cereal stubbornly stuck at the bottom. When they were all neatly stacked, I could breathe again.
There was a slump and a thump from the pantry as the body slid into a new position.
That was annoying.
Everything went quiet again; finally, I could focus.
I made myself a mug of green tea: water just cooler than boiling, 3 minutes, no stirring and absolutely no use of the cyanide-laced water from the fridge filter. I had to use tap water instead, which had an unpleasant metallic taste, but it was a necessary sacrifice.
The tea was acceptable and I served it in my personal mug, which was clean and now without blemish or stain. Now...how did they dispose of dead bodies in films?
There was a knock at the door and I sighed. There was never enough time to do things properly.
When I opened it, I saw what's-his-face. Kara's boyfriend. Dark maroon jacket with a silver zip, threads hanging from the wear on the right cuff where he leant on it: I'd know him anywhere.
“She's not here...uh...” I started, trailing into awkward silence.
“Mark,” he said.
“Yeah...Mark. She's not here. Goodbye,” I said, but he stuck his size 10 black leather shoe into the closing door. I'd had trouble with him before: he lacked manners.
“She said she was home,” he replied, tapping the silver ring on his right ring finger with his right thumb three times.
“No,” I replied politely. “Go away.”
He pushed past me into the house. Rude. People like that always got their comeuppance.
“Kara?” he called. “Shana is being weird again. Come on! The film starts in half an hour.”
The house was silent and still. Lovely.
“Not here, Mark. Go away,” I repeated. A sudden germ of anxiety began growing in my gut. If Kara's body shifted again, everything would get very disorganised.
“Kara texted me at the police station and told me to meet her here straight after my shift,” he insisted. Those dangling threads at his cuff swayed against his wrist. I itched to cut them short.
There didn't seem to be any way for a polite person to deal with a situation like this. After all, I had asked him to leave several times and he hadn't. Wasn't that a crime of some kind? As a police officer, shouldn't he know better? I couldn't call the police, though - not with a dead body in the pantry. How could I resolve this situation? Ah.
“Of course!” I said reassuringly. “She's just gone to the shops. Why don't you have a cup of orange squash while you wait? There's freshly filtered water in the fridge.”
His eyes narrowed, but I retreated to the toilet to avoid any other questions. I stayed there, breathing slowly and evenly until I heard a loud thump on the floor of the kitchen. Quiet again.
Of course, he'd spilt his orange squash all over the kitchen floor when he fell. Typical. I couldn't even start mopping until I'd stuffed his body into the pantry with Kara's. There was absolutely no access to soup now, so clearly that couldn't be a permanent arrangement.
If he'd still been alive, I could've told him about the consequences of rudeness. His loss, really.
Eventually, I managed to mop the floor clean, wondering all the while how it was possible for dead people to be so disorganised and messy.
The house was quiet and still and clean once again. Time to finish my green tea and really give this corpse problem some thought.
There was a knock at the door.
“Kara? Mark? We're still waiting outside for you. If we don't go now, there'll be no room left at the car park,” a familiar voice called through.
It's Chas or Davie or something but when I opened the door, he had another friend with him: a lady who wore three silver rings on her left hand, one inlaid with copper. I recognised them both as police officers too; both had seemed polite enough when I'd seen them around with Mark.
I was starting to think that maybe killing Kara for using my mug might have its own unintended consequences. Action, reaction: that kind of thing.
The only solution here was to sit down once it was calm and think everything through quietly, anticipating all the consequences and plan things properly. That meant getting rid of these two.
“They've just gone to the shops,” I said brightly. “Please...have some tea while you wait. The tea bags are in the left cupboard and there's filtered water in the fridge.”