We All Have Secrets

Wendy Williams stood in the kitchen waiting for the evening’s vegetables to finish steaming when she heard the news report on the radio cut right into the middle of a song.

“We’re sorry to break from the programming, but an emergency news report has been received. We will return to out normal schedule following this announcement. Thank you for listening to 103.4 Strand FM, your local radio station”

This prerecorded broadcast didn’t really catch Wendy’s attention as much as it was intended to. However, the unprepared voice of the news reader Normal Anderson did. “The police have just confirmed the discovery of another body in Normandy Park. While no official details of the case have been released at this time, the police, in conjunction with the local government authority have implemented a 8pm curfew and a no entry zone around Normandy Park. Both take immediate effect and anybody found to be on the streets after this time will be taken into custody for further questioning. I repeat, an 8pm curfew has been enforced across the whole town, and nobody is to enter the Normandy area. Anybody found breaking these protocols will be arrested and taken to the Lenderton Police Station for further questioning.  That concludes this announcement and we will now return to the Album Top 500 with your host Michael Dulles.”  The radio went silent for a few moments before the Bon Jovi came back to the stage, in the same place he had been previously.

Wendy head the steamer announce its completion and so she dished up the dinner and walked through into the dining room where her family waited for her. Her husband Bill and their eldest daughter Joanne were in the middle of what appeared to be a rather entertaining conversation when Wendy arrived.  She didn’t ask what it was about. Those two had a close relationship and their jokes were often lost on Wendy.

“I just heard on the radio that they found another body in the park.” Wendy said as she sat down. “I hope that Nick is alright.” She added unnecessarily.

Nick was their youngest son. He was 17 and worked the evening shift at the local supermarket.

“Another one. That makes it what… nine now?”  Bill answered her. “They’d better catch that guy quick.”  He spoke before taking a bite of his steak. “That reminds me, I’m going to be late home tomorrow. I have a couple of things that I need to take care of at the office.”  He smiled at his wife as he chewed.

“Ok, but be home by eight, because there’s a curfew in place.”  Wendy warned. She said very little else because she knew that Bill was lying to her.

Over the last few months he had suddenly started having to work late. He had become grumpy and always seemed to be on edge. He was drinking coffee, something he never drank before, and in large quantities. Wendy had thought nothing of it until three weeks before when she called him one evening at the office to ask if he could pick up some cat biscuits on the way home. Nobody answered, and when she tried calling Jeff, Bill’s best friend and co-worker, having suspected they had left to grab a beer. She was surprised to learn Bill had hadn’t been in the office all week.

They rest of the evening passed in the same fashion as always. The pair sat on the sofa, watched tv, read for a while and then headed up to bed at around 10pm.

Sleep normally came easy to Wendy. Tonight however, was a different story. Her head had grown accustomed to the accusations of infidelity. But now a new thought bounced around inside her skull. It rattled around like an electron on supercharge and she knew it was only a matter of time before the bubble the housed it burst.

The murders had started around three months ago. Not long after that Bill had become irritable and on occasion downright unpleasant. A week or so later he had started working late. 

”It’s just a conincidence’ Wendy told herself. She hadn’t believe it when she thought her husband of twenty years was having an affair, and she believe it even less now.

A feeling of cold dread swept over her. She looked over at her Bill. He was on his back, his breathing was deep and peaceful, yet now, for the first time since… ever, Wendy wondered about what rage lurked beneath the surface.

Was it her? Did she cause him so much grief and stress that he had to beat and strangle strangers. A myriad of troubling thoughts swam through Wendy’s mind, cascading over one another they lurched forwards; an emotional tsunami. When sleep finally took hold of her, the dreams she had were anything but pleasant. She was in the park, in was after dark and echoing all around her was the wet smacking sound of a fist and face meeting. These were followed up by screams that brought a chill over Wendy’s whole body. It sounded like the howl of an injured wolf calling to the night air for help.

When she woke, it was with a start and Wendy found her bed covers on the floor, the duvet on one side of the bed, and the cover on the other. Bill was nowhere to be seen.

He had left her a note saying he was heading to the office early for a change, and that he hoped it would mean he could be home a bit sooner.

‘Before the curfew and the police patrols in the park.’ Wendy thought to herself. Her heart ached as the pull of emotions threatened to rip her apart.

The day passed in a blur, and before she knew it, Wendy looked at the clock and saw it was nearly three. She was sitting on the sofa staring at the same cup of coffee she had made that morning. Still none the wiser, Wendy rose to make herself a new coffee. The sound of the front door slamming shut caused her to jump and spill half of the pot of coffee granules onto the floor.

“Bill, honey, is that you?” Wendy asked timidly. He heart was racing. She was scared. Bill never came home during the day, but only he ever slammed the door like that. Kicking it with his feet as he walked in, normally reading the mail.

“Yeah it’s me babe.” His voice called back. He sounded excited.

“I thought you were working late.” Wendy answered him hesitantly. She heard him rummaging through the small table that stood by the front door.”

“I am, but I left something and I really need it.” He snapped back. A few moments later, having found what he was looking for, Wendy heard Bill open the door to the garage. It was where he kept all of this things. He gathered what he needed and left without saying a word.

Wendy followed him to the door and watched him drive away. Reacting on instinct, she grabbed her car keys and ran down the drive to her old Ford Focus. Her heart was racing as she pulled out into the street and set off in pursuit of her husband.

‘You’re being stupid.‘ Wendy chided herself as she drove. ‘Bill isn’t a serial killer and he isn’t having an affair. You would know. You live with the man.‘ Wendy gripped the wheel with white knuckles, her brow was beaded with sweat as she tried to force herself to accept the thoughts her mind created.

“What about the BTK Killer. He was married. His wife never knew. Or Gacy, he was a fucking party clown for christ’s sake.” Wendy finally snapped. Her voice was high-pitched and out of character.

Up ahead, Bill made the turn onto Chestnut road. The main road that led towards Normandy Park.

“Oh Bill.” Wendy sighed. The tears that she felt refused to flow. Instead all she could feel was guilt at having driven the man she loved to commit such acts. He loved his job, and adored his children. Take that away and Wendy knew she was the only thing left.

Bill parked his car in front of an old block of flats. It was a run down building and boarded not only the park but the river too. Parking his car, Bill jumped out and his a cap on his head and his jacket pulled around his ears he ran across the street the through the unlocked front door of the building just before a police patrol car came around the corner.

Following close, Wendy ran into the building just before the doors to the stairwell closed.

She followed Bill up five flights of stairs before coming to a stop in a run down hallway. The walls were stained and along the ceiling ran a thick line of mold. The stench of stale cigarettes… and Wendy could have sworn cabbage, was heavy in the air.

Wendy’s entire body shook with tension as she walked down the hall. She jumped at every noise and her head began to throb. She strained to listen, fearing that she had lost him. Had he seen her following him and given her the slip. No, he couldn’t have. There was no other way for him to go. There seemed to be only one flight of stairs.

Wendy paused, about to curse herself for being so stupid when she heard a song coming through the walls. It was faint, but it was a country song, and seeing as how they lived in a low-income English coastal town, the chance of there being another country music fan in the area was slim. It came from apartment 17 b, if the numbers were to be trusted. The door opposite was 57 a.

Wendy paused, and they she heard him.

“No, no, no, no, that’s not right. Fuck,” Bills voice roared. There was no mistaking it was him. A heavy thudding sound followed and Wendy felt her world go cold. Her knees wobbled, but just as she was about to fall, a strange and steely resolve came over her. The police had no idea who the killer was. No clues that had led to anything substantial. Besides, she could give him an alibi for any night of the week. She loved him, and together they would get through it.

‘Wendy reached for the door handle as another groan came from the room. She gripped the handle and lowered it. The door pushed open.

Wendy’s heart froze in her chest. She had no idea what to expect when she entered the room. She had prepared herself for blood. Lots of blood. The papers had said that the savage nature of the attached had turned the stomaches of ever the most experienced police officers. She had certainly not prepared herself for what she found inside the small apartment.

It was empty save for a desk. Paper had been plastered all around the walls. Empty pizza boxes, soda cans and chips packets littered the floor and a cloud of tobacco hung just below the ceiling. Bill sat behind the desk and as she watched he punched the desk, reproducing the thudding sound Wendy had heard in the hall. With another groan Bill shook his head and threw his arms wide in frustration.

It was then that he saw his wife, standing open-mouthed in the doorway. He jumped up, knocking back the chair he had been sitting on.

“Wendy, honey, what are you doing here?” Bill was startled, and clearly embarrassed.

Wendy didn’t her him. Her eyes were focused on the open laptop that sat on the desk, and the thick pile of paper that lay before it.

“What’s going on here.” She asked. Suddenly afraid that he was too far gone.

Bill moved forward and hugged her. He held her right. His body was damp with sweat. “Oh I wanted to tell you.” He sounded as though he was about to burst out laughing.

“What are you talking about. What is this place. What are you doing here?” Wendy’s head buzzed with a barrage of new questions. She was already trying to think about how the answers fitted together to make her husband the murderer that had a whole town living in fear.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t help it. It’s who I am. It’s part of me, it always has been, but now, I just can’t hide it any more.” Wendy looked at her husband. He looked tired, exhausted even. His face was pale and his eyes were puffy.

“It’s okay baby. We can get through it together. We don’t have to tell the kids.” Wendy shook as she spoke, not sure if she could really keep to the promise she was making. “But you will have to promise me you will stop. Stop now before it gets any worse. ” Wendy begged. She couldn’t take her eyes away from the paper. His manifesto she was sure. He was building up to something, that was why he had killed twice in three days.

“What do you mean,” Bill stood up and held his wife at arm’s length. “Joanne knows all about it. If it wasn’t for her encouragement I wouldn’t be doing this.” Bill smiled.

Wendy’s mouth fell to the floor, or so it felt. “You bastard. How dare you blame our daughter.” Wendy snapped and before she knew it, she reached out and slapped Bill hard across the face.

 “What was that for?” Bill asked shocked.

“You know damned well what that was for.” Wendy felt hot tears burn her skin. “I was ready to forgive you, I could accept who you were, but only if we could keep Joanne out of it.” Wendy’s rage built.

Bill took a step backwards shocked by his wifes reaction. “Wendy, honey. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Joanne was here this afternoon helping me with something.” Bill stammered.

“Nothing to be ashamed of.” Wendy repeated, amazed at the callousness of her husband. She had expected a reaction but nothing like this.

“It’s only a first draft, I’ll admit, but damn it Wendy, this tale has been inside me since college. I can;t hide it any more. I have to write it down.” Bill cried out.

Wendy felt the room begin to spin, her mind free-wheeled out of control. “What are you talking about.” She screamed, the rage continued to surge out of her.

“I quit my job to become a writer. The company was making cuts, they asked me if I would consider going and I did. They gave be a great severance package, and I decided to finally follow my heart and become a writer.” Bill was sweating more now, as he confessed his darkest secret than he had during the whole exchange the preceded it.

“A writer.” Wendy echoed, “A writer. That’s what has you hiding in strange buildings on the other side of town.” She suddenly had to work hard to fight off a fit of the giggles.

“I didn’t know how to break it to you. Joanne helped me get this place. It’s a dump, but it is cheap that’s all I needed.” Bill smiled and moved to one side to let his wife see his new workplace. 

Several hours later the couple emerged from the writer’s den arm in arm. “I can’t believe that you are writing a romance novel.” Wendy rose onto the tips of her toes and kissed her husband. 

“I can’t help it. It’s who I am. I just needed to admit it to myself.” Bill smiled and the headed out into the evening air. In the distance, the clock struck half past seven.

As the couple entered the stairwell, a door of apartment 57 a opened, and a dark figure emerged, and in his hand he held a blood stained claw hammer.

Why I Love Writing Fiction on Friday

As a writer, there is nothing I love more than sitting down, grabbing a pen or assuming the position behind my keyboard and just writing. Not thinking, not worrying about work or the weather, just writing.

I am sure you will all agree with me, there is no feeling like it.

I try, although do not always succeed, to write a piece of (short) fiction every Friday. When this is done, I post it here and share it around the various promotion links that WordPress accommodate.

One comment that I tend to get on my short stories, is about grammar and editing. Nothing insulting and nothing that isn’t true. Each week my answer remains the same. I do not edit my Friday Fiction pieces. For want of a better word, they are simply free-writing exercises. I start with an idea and just write until that idea is finished. Of course I give it a cursory run through, but I do not do any real editing. Editing isn’t what these stories are about. It is about the writing. If I like the story, I will tidy it up, edit and rework bits and add it to my growing collection for use in the short story anthologies I am working on.

I don’t know if any of you practice free-writing, but it is amazing. Plus, doing so on a Friday just seems to me to be the perfect way to close the week and welcome in the weekend.

Maybe I am foolish for publishing (on the blog) my writing like this, I don’t know, but, I certainly will not change.