Chapter 4

Written by: Rosemary Wakelin

Annie slurped the last of her soup. It was, as usual, watery and tasteless but she didn’t mind. Food was food. And home, as scruffy as her small unit was, was home; a haven full of familiar smells and familiar belongings. 

She took her empty bowl to the sink. Halfway, she grabbed onto her weather-worn couch, rubbed her back and then continued. When she reached her sink, she found it full of more dirty soup dishes. “One more to the list,” she said, cackling. Tomorrow she’d do those dishes.

 Maybe.

Someone knocked at the door. Annie jumped. No one knocked at her front door.  Except that one time when some high and mighty politician…. 

Another knock sounded.  “Who is it?” she yelled out, her throat suddenly dry and scratchy. 

No answer. 

Another quick knock followed.

Annie swallowed hard and hobbled to the window. Had someone tracked her home from the police station? The boy had told her not to say anything to anyone, not even the police. She promised she wouldn’t… until she saw the boy hit by a car only moments later.

And Annie knew it had been no accident.

Was she right in telling the inspector lady the little she knew about the boy?  What was the inspector’s name? Simvic? Simovic?

Annie hid behind her dusty curtains and peered through a decent-sized hole in them. Cars streamed up and down the busy street as normal. What did she expect to see? Some shady character in a hat and trench coat leaning against the lamp post staring back at her? She wanted to laugh but she couldn’t. 

Annie pictured the boy. After all the noise he’d created banging and yelling down the hall from her place, Annie had to see what all the ruckus was about.  The boy appeared tidy, clean and well-dressed. So why was he in a place like this?

Turned out his uncle lived in one of the units. 

Turned out the boy left a parcel in the hallway and that parcel had disappeared. 

Turned out the boy had noticed Annie peering from her door.  “Did you see my parcel?”

She nodded.

“Did you see who took it?”

She hadn’t. 

“If you remember, please for your own sake, say nothing to anyone, not even the police.”

Loneliness and a lack of belonging had haunted Annie for some time.  When the boy, Thom, she later discovered, was hit by the car, it was her time to shine. 

The knock at her door became more insistent.

***

Chief Inspector Karen Simonivic poured herself another coffee. What was the count now? Six? Seven?

Her doctor would have issues with that.  

She returned to her laptop where she continued watching the CCTV footage from the gallery. How long had she been watching it? And still nothing. She sipped her coffee and watched, watched and sipped.

And then….

She ditched her coffee, sunk her hand into her right drawer and soon poured a small whiskey.

“Bingo,” she said.

Comments

Your use of active language gives the chapter energy and keeps the reader's eye gliding along the page. The description of Alice's dishes was really revealing and conjured up an image of her and the way she lived in a sentence or two. We don't need anything more to get a sense of the person. I like the way you planted a seed by telling up the boy's uncle lived in a nearby unit.
Keeping two scenes going without confusing the reader is a sign of good plotting. (KNowing where to stop and how to start the second scene) Add to that the sense of wariness in Annie and the totally different sense of boredom followed by sudden excitement in Karen, I thought this was a skillfully written chapter. I liked this a lot.
Small point - Annie was changed to Alice.