Mystery Flash Fiction: Across A Knife Edge By Harris Coverley
Harris Coverley has short fiction published or forthcoming in Lovecraftiana, Schlock! Webzine, and Speculative 66, amongst others. He lives in Manchester, England.
At approximately 3pm on the 4th June, Darren Clifford left the court house a free man, unanimously ruled not guilty of the murder of his business partner Sean Tyndall, and amidst the crowd of journalists and well-wishers, was greeted and hugged by none other than the murdered man’s daughter herself, Louise Tyndall.
After a few questions answered to reporters from The Sun and the Evening Standard, they both got into the same taxi and made their way back to Louise’s house.
Arriving after a short drive, Louise instructed her daughter Carey to make her and Darren a cup of tea each, before asking her to go out and see one of her friends so they could get on with their catch-up in private.
Louise had Darren sit in a backless chair, facing her armchair across the coffee table.
As they drank their tea, Darren made it clear how eternally grateful he was for all of her efforts, for without her, he would surely have been in prison at that very moment, looking down the barrel of a life sentence. For it had been her and her alone who had spearheaded the direction and funding of his defense team with her deceased father’s funds, not to mention a most glowing campaign asserting his virtue and purity in the media.
When the prosecution pointed out all of the evidence of his presence in the house at the time of the murder, the defense convincingly showed he was too frequent a visitor to the house not to have left such a deep physical memory of his company. When the prosecution argued that Darren’s alibi was weak, the defense was apt to retort that the defendant was by his very nature a private, solitary, quiet individual, and that it would be a terrible injustice to hold this against him.
But the great saving grace had been the lack of the murder weapon: the knife that had been thrust into Sean Tyndall’s body no less than seventeen times was nowhere to be found. This absence was the unassailable core of the defense, and had guaranteed the jury’s ruling, them having been unable to convict beyond reasonable doubt.
When the prosecution pointed out all of the evidence of his presence in the house at the time of the murder, the defense convincingly showed he was too frequent a visitor to the house not to have left such a deep physical memory of his company.
Yes, the judge had grumbled to the effect that the jury had been duped, and that he would have taken a far more ‘straight-cut’ and ‘reductive’ approach to a person like Clifford, but he passed the judgement like the good civil servant he was.
Louise had always made claim to Darren’s innocence with a strangely fiery passion, but as she finished her tea, she had become more calm and passive. She had, as she told him, through this whole affair acted purely on the grounds that what she was doing was the right thing to do, and it would have been what her father would have wanted, rest his soul.
With their tea depleted she asked him if he wanted anything stronger, and Darren, being partial to a spirit, and having been remanded in custody away from any pub or lounge for nearly five months, most thankfully requested a glen whiskey, on ice if possible.
As she walked behind him to the drinks cabinet, Darren couldn’t help but smile to himself. Of course he had killed Sean Tyndall, and only an idiot couldn’t see it. Tyndall was going to shut down all of the joint enterprises and ruin him out of spite. What else could he have done?
But he had to admit to himself he had also found it pretty enjoyable to have permanently taken the smug bastard’s grin off his face as he had stood over the body, knife in hand. And to think he had gotten away with it! And all because of his daughter no less! That Louise had always liked him personally—for whatever reason he couldn’t really fathom—had been an excellent stroke of luck.
But he had to admit to himself he had also found it pretty enjoyable to have permanently taken the smug bastard’s grin off his face as he had stood over the body, knife in hand.
But there was one thing that still puzzled him: where had that knife gone? He was certain that after hastily leaving the scene of the crime that the weapon he had there left in a panic would be his downfall, but it had simply vanished.
Darren still pondered the thought as that very knife entered his back and pierced his heart. He slumped forward with a grunt and landed flat on his face. He consciously tried to suck in one last breath, but as his blood pressure approached zero he gave up and closed his eyes to the light.
As Louise stood over the body of her father’s killer, she had known that vengeance would be sweet, but that this was almost too much…
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