The Notting Hill Murders -1
The Notting Hill Murders -17 mins 214 7 mins 214
The Case Of The Notting Hill Murders (1)
X had been wrapping up loose ends of a few closed cases she'd worked on over the summer. They were mostly about finding out a couple of missing teenagers who'd skipped school and gone off on a hike and a whole lot of wives suspecting their husbands of cheating on them because they 'smell like a woman'. X didn't like working on these petty cases but these people paid good money.
It was the first evening off in days. She closed up her office by 7 PM and decided to visit her apartment by the Avondale Park in Notting Hill. She had to go once every month to make sure the taxes and bills were upto date or if there was any important mail. It was about time she attended to this.
X hated visiting the apartment. She had moved out after the fateful accident of '06. The place was haunted by the memories of her parents screaming at each other which had become normal before they finally decided to call it quits. By the end of the next two years, her mother was on her honeymoon with Steve, the drug addict, and her father was living in with his dominatrix. They did make it a point to keep interacting with X though, through infrequent phone calls.
After she came back from college, they'd met her in the apartment and handed her the responsibilities of the property after screaming at each other for twenty minutes.
Before they walked out the door still angry at the sight of each other, X had called out to her parents, smiled and said, "Can you two do me a favour and never try and contact me ever again? I'm tired of you people."
She'd paused and said, "If you're gonna send money, you know my bank account. Honestly, after everything you've done, that's the one thing I expect you to do. The day you stop, I'll be informed of your death and arrange for your funeral."
They'd flinched slightly and stared at her stone-cold demeanor. It was the first time in years they forgot to enter into another screaming match full of abuses and walked out silently. Her father's money had stopped coming at around June of 2014 and X did what she promised to do. Her mother still sends her about three hundred and fifty pounds per month and a Christmas card every year.
It had become ritualistic of her to recall everything on her way back to the apartment. It was one of those days when she hardly noticed the change of neighborhoods all the way from Kings Cross to Notting Hill. But that's because there was nothing new to notice. Thus, as the cab rolled around the final corner, the commotion caught her eye.
X paid the middle-aged shabby and balding cabbie his fare and hopped out. This was practically the neighborhood she grew up in.
Two police vehicles, uniformed men, an ambulance and whispering neighbours outside the Windsor Gardens tensed up this uptown and usually peaceful part of the city.
Despite what the name suggested, the Windsor Gardens was a seven storey building with six high-end apartments on each floor, with a lobby and a parking space on the ground floor. X knew a few people who lived in the building but her life barely existed here.
Walking into the building wasn't quite awkward to anyone, though. Hers was a familiar face in the neighborhood. X crossed the lobby and called for the elevator. The policemen didn't stop her. They knew her too.
Quietly, hands in her jacket, she stepped into the first floor. Three apartments on either side of the corridor, each door sealed with crime scene tapes.
X closed her eyes. What the hell happened here?
She heard muffled voices, urgent footsteps and maddening camera clicks. People in uniforms occasionally bumped into her while running to and fro. They apologized, she nodded.
Dazed, she opened her eyes to stare down the corridor. Street lights coming through the window on the other end, the ceiling bulbs flickering away. She fondly recalled the fair memories of that corridor.
X focused herself again. Timothy Carter was standing in front of her, Officer Timothy Carter. "Hey, Tim!"
Timothy walked up to her, forcing a smile. "Long time, how have you been? Yes, don't worry, I'm aware of your work name, X."
Tim and X had grown up together. He was her next-door neighbour and her school mate, her best friend when times were simpler. They barely saw each other anymore. X came to the apartment once every month but Tim was always at work and never knew when she'd drop by. The two friends hugged briefly. "So, what happened?"
"Well, thirty-six apartments, thirty six robberies, thirty six bodies. It's a horror show here tonight. The building night shift janitor saw the bodies and the blood through the doors left wide open on the first floor and ran out, screaming. A few neighbours gathered, and called it in. We discovered the rest of the bodies on the remaining floors."
Tim paused for a bit. X raised an eyebrow. "What?"
"Uh, remember James?"
"How can I not? Wait, is he...?"
Tim nodded gravely and put an arm around X, patting her lightly on the shoulder. "I'm sorry," he whispered.
"Can... can I? Once..."
Tim looked at her intently. "Are you sure?"
She followed Tim to the third apartment on the left, not knowing what to expect but aware that she must expect the worst.
Silence engulfed X as she looked at the lifeless body of the boy, now a bearded man in a pool of blood, she had a torrid affair with through the last summer of secondary school.
She knelt beside him. A single bullet put through his chest, resting him for an eternity. Undisturbed and peaceful, he didn't know what was coming. Oh, James!
X closed her eyes. Her home grounds sure had nasty ways of tearing her a new one.
A scream pierced the silence. X turned around. It was Meaghan, James' betrothed.
She stood up and walked over to the other end of the living room as the young and distraught crying fiance wrapped in fur and leather struggled to get past the uniform standing guard at the door.
As Tim hurried over to talk to the woman, X looked around the room. The general mess did seem to point at a robbery.
Once the officers took a relatively calm yet sniffling Meaghan away to the Station for her official statement, Tim returned shaking his head lightly.
"Anything?", X whispered.
"Nope. Says she was at the Opera all evening with her Aunt. Apparently, James was supposed to go but he cancelled today morning because something important came up. Anyway, you notice anything?"
"Nothing particular. Can we visit the other apartments?"
"Of course, come on."
Tim and X visited each apartment one by one, all thirty six of them. They each had one man lying on his back in a pool of blood, like James, a clean bullet shot through their chests, in a messy and robbed apartment.
By the time they were done, it was almost midnight. X leaned against the pillar by the elevator on the sixth floor and rubbed her pounding head. It was too much, even for her.
"Well, we'll be sealing the building and heading home for the night. I just talked to the boys, evidence work is wrapped up here, the bodies have been sent for post mortem, relatives contacted, we're done here. Hey, where will you be staying for the night?"
"Uh, the apartment, I guess..."
"You can stay at my place if you want. We can warm up the dinner Sarah's cooked. I'm starving!"
"Um, yeah sure.", nodded X distractedly, still rubbing her head. They took the elevator downstairs and stepped out into the cold night.
The crowd had dissipated. The uniforms and their vehicles were leaving one by one. Tim made sure everyone left the building and then sealed it after talking to the guards on duty. The night was quiet once again.
"Come. My car -"
"I'll walk. Do you have a cigarette?"
Tim nodded and walked over to her, taking his box of cigarettes out of his right jacket pocket. She took one from the open box in his hand and pursed it between her lips as Tim flicked the lighter and held it up for her. X took a long puff and let out the smoke into the night hoping it took some of the stress with it.
Tim looked at her intently. Oh, how time changes people! She still was one of the few he knew he could always count on.
"I'd walk with you but I need to take the car."
"Yeah, I know but I'd like to be alone anyway so it's fine. Don't worry, I'll not lose my way to your place."
Tim chortled, "I know." He patted her on the shoulder and walked to his car. It gently came to life and he drove off.
Cigarette in hand, X started walking. A lot of what she'd seen tonight hardly made sense. One thing was certain - this was no robbery.
(To Be Continued)