Subtle, that's the best way to commit a crime, subtly.
People wouldn't pass a glance as he stalked by, coming into his shifty gaze. They didn't care for his long coat, or stubble forming around his chin. Why would they notice such a man when he appeared not different to them? He did not tower above their height, or limp in such a way that his left foot dragged. He was normal.
People stared as he lumbered by, their glares coming to his fearful gaze. They looked for the default in his right leg, the scars covering his face. Anyone who saw him often would notice he always wore a bloody blue. But no one saw him often.
So it was in this fashion, with one being stared at and the other ignored, that the two men passed each other on the street. Neither noted the other, one scanning the crowd for suspicion, the other trying to hide his sight. Nor neither would ever remember this passing, for at the time, they were just strangers on the street.
Streets can be busy things, or they can be quiet. You can do anything you want on a street, just as long as you find the right one to suit your needs. This street was a small one, an alley really with one door at the end that led to an apartment above. Only one person ever walked along this street. Lights dampened in from the road before it, but it created shadows that flitted as moths enjoyed their surfaces. Anything could happen in this street, and none would be the wiser.
Not unless the inhabitant was watching from his window above…
There were only two people who heard the scream. One the causer, who was already bounding out. The other was the man, sitting solemnly with a book in his hand. The girl, that was found with a trail of blood, was already deaf to the pain when the sound emitted from her mouth. She was dead by the time the man had passed down the stairs.
The police rounded up their doings, swift questions asked.
"Did you see anything?"
"No, I just heard it."
"A scream you say?"
"Yes, I did say that."
"When you came down, did anything look odd?"
"Nothing apart from her."
"Has there been any suspicious activity around here lately?"
A pause, a twiddle of the mind. "Thank you sir, we'll contact you if anything comes up."
He grabbed the policeman's arm. "Her name?"
"We believe it's Margaret Langhem. Do you know her?"
"No." As the policeman walked away he didn't hear the small breath of whisper. "Not yet."
As the man that night, contemplated the stubble on his chin, he put his mind to work on the girl. Margaret Langhem. Quickly, before the police had arrived, he had taken in her appearance. Short wispy hair had surrounded her head as a halo, a stark blue eye staring out in coldness. The other eye had been closed. To close one eye but not the other, to die in that fashion. Maybe it had been hurt. But no blood or bruise had surrounded it. There had been a stab wound in her chest, he had heard a murmur of a severed vein. Right above her heart.
As the man splashed water over his scars, he thought of the act he had done. The knife he had left in the street, let them find it, it was safer than it being seen with him. A simple girl, an easy act. And she had screamed. A smile contorted across his face, and it stayed there, whilst his mind trickled over the pretty face. Let her die pretty he had thought, and so he let her neck remain untouched. But she had closed her eye, making it not so. There was a twitch, he had noted, one that flickered past the left eye. An instinct that let it be a final act. It did not matter though, the act done. He had stabbed her. Right above her heart.
In the glimpse of the morning the man set out, passing over the already clean street. The men had done their work quick, leaving not a trace for the public to see. He stalked to the station, coming face to the receptionist politely.
"Hullo. I'm here to see Detective Couter."
"Your name sir?"
"Mark," he paused. "Mark Scohn."
"Is he expecting you?" he facade was flawless, not betraying notice to anything.
"I don't believe so. Look, I meet him last night, it's about the murder of a young girl I think I might have something."
She directed him down the hallway.
Seated before the detective he could examine him properly in the light. No bags under the eyes, chin neatly shaven. This was a man who put meticulousness over time. Yet he would miss the details in others.
"It's good to see you again Mr Scohn, what is it you have?"
Seemingly excited he began to blurt it out. "Her left eye, it was closed, but not bruised."
"She had a twitch sir." Already bored he leant back into his chair. He thought it was another lonely man, concocting ideas which he thought were new out of his solitude.
"Oh right. Well the stab wound."
"We found the weapon, a knife."
"Yes, but think about it, how many times? It's odd it's that amount."
"Only one stab wound."
"Ah." He leant back, as if defeated, but only for a second. "He must have lured her in, where would she be going?"
"She was going to visit her father. Sir, we value what you have to say, but don't you think we've already covered it. We're professionals here."
"Of course, right, well." He slapped his knees. "Thank you for seeing me, you must be busy. I'll show Away in the open air, he brushed through his mind. Thanks to the detective he now knew a few more facts about the girl.
"Opps sorry." Not paying heed a scarred man had bumped into him, leaving him tottering. He didn't get a chance to say a word before he had picked up his speed.
The scarred man, now walking swiftly, hadn't noticed the man suddenly come before him. He was in haste, rushing to get from the crying woman he had left. He couldn't bear the sad tears that had dropped into his hands. He had ran. Later he would return, and she would be in spite for him not staying with her. But the tears would be gone.
It was as suspected when he returned to his wife, the water dried up. Her expression though, in anger at him.
"Where did you go? You've been drinking haven't you?"
He hadn't. "I just need some air."
"Three hours of it! Just stick your head out the window for god's sake if you need some damn air."
"I'm sorry." He attempted to pull her into a hug.
She tugged away. "Aren't you sad? Don't you feel emotion?"
Only he could tell the hint of worry in his voice. "I'm sorry." It was all he would say for the rest of the night. But through his head, was the soft voice that would not leave. "Stan." Both voices so alike.
A single framed photograph rested beside the man's bed. He picked it up, twisted it over, then finally settled his eyes on the picture. A woman stood in front of a looming building, the stone rising as a grey foreground. Dressed in a short blue dress, it seemed to math her eyes, the starkness that stood out amongst the pale face. Short blonde hair was raised in the foggy way she always had it cut, bouncing around her shoulders. By the picture freckled with age he could not see it, but he knew a small bump rested on her stomach. He put the picture back, leaving the image staring distantly at the wall.
He flipped through the small leaf of photographs in his wallet, the final one landing on the sitting woman. A woman sitting on a red velvet chair, hidden beneath the white skirt spread across her knees. Resting on her short bob of blonde hair, a silk veil. Around her neck lay the stark blue necklace, the 'something blue' she had insisted upon wearing. It matched her eyes. He flicked the photograph over, leaving the image staring distantly into blackness.
Pondering thought, Mark strolled across the sidewalk, dipping his foot out of the occasional puddle. Rain had come last night, washing away any remaining traces in the alley. Somewhere out there, he knew the cause of her death remained, maybe laughing, maybe crying. But out there somewhere.
Stan slipped across the sidewalk, this escaping the accusing stares. 'Just go out and have a drink, that's all you care for,' his wife had kept repeating, beating across his chest. He had never been much of a drinker, preferring to listen to the slurs of others rather than his own. So instead he walked, taking in the stares that he knew was directed towards him.
It was on a bench by the brick surrounded park that he sat.
It was on a bench by the brick surrounded park that he sat.
Neither paid heed to the other, neither finding any recognisable trace in the other. It was Stan that spoke first, making a shuffle as he learned back.
"Are you married?"
The other man started a moment, surprised at the question directed to him. A man in a woeful relationship he thought.
"No." He didn't turn away to stop the conversation, just gave a simple answer.
"Right choice, right choice. Never get married I'll tell you that."
He wasn't drunk, he could tell. "I'll keep that in mind."
"They always think you're doing something that you're not, that everything's your fault."
The man was rambling, but it was his replies that kept him going. It wasn't a one-sided conversation. "Maybe it is."
"No, it's her fault, all her fault. She started it you see, when she cheated with that guy."
A hard-built man, Mark felt a touch of sympathy. "She came begging back?"
"No. She came back and pretended nothing had happened, it was years till I found out."
Both men stopped in speech, pondering over their lives. The lives of a lover and of a loved.
"I'm sorry to hear that." A twitch flickered past his eye as it always did when was intrigued.
"She stabbed me once in the heart, so I stabbed her once."
Sensibility stepped in. "Revenge isn't always the right way."
"This wasn't revenge, this was settling the dues. Do you wanna know what I did?" He turned suddenly, as if eager to tell.
He was eager to hear. "Go on."
"I killed her lover's daughter. Do you know how many years I thought she was mine? Too many. The damn woman didn't deserve her to live in that lie."
The statement shocked him, but he did not react. He would not tell anyone of this man's secret. Let him be caught if he must, but not by him. "That's a mighty thing to do," was all he said.
"Getting back at God by playing God."
Silence descended upon them. Neither moved whilst the people mulled around them. Some glanced, seeing the ordinary man in the long coat, and the scarred face in the bloody blue. So it was in this fashion, with one being stared at and the other ignored, that the two men sat together on the bench.
Finally, as night began to break, the scarred man rose. "I should get back to her."
The other man nodded in awareness. "Good luck."
It was these two words that made both men realise what they had done. One, the lover that had brought life to a child. The other, the loved that had brought death to a child.
Both men went their separate ways, returning to the worlds they had created around them, the worlds they both wished to play God over.
Subtle, that's the best way to commit a crime, subtly. But God isn't a subtle creature, and until then, both men would venture around their worlds, taking the causes of their actions.