BY MARTIN BUENO
Copyright is held by the author.
THE TREMBLING fingers reached for the bottle of pills on the coffee table and spilled them all over the floor. She gathered a few in her hand and ran to the bathroom. Sarah Larson was worried there would not be enough time for these potent pain killers to take effect and ease her migraine. She would have to bare the dizziness as the panic set in. Perhaps she could get away with saying that she did not know the woman found dead in her hotel room. No. She would have to tell the police the murder was a crime of passion. It was certainly a mistake in judgement.
She slipped her clothes back on and took another pill while looking out the window, her forehead pressed against the glass. It felt like a blast of cool on her brow and the icy cold felt forgiving. The leaves were swirling in the windy October day. She did not want to look at the bed again. Suddenly, ropes and chains came dangling down, swaying gently from outside the window. She guessed that they were from the window cleaners. A platform came into view revealing a pair of black boots with wings at the heel. As the body came down she could make out dark-grey leotards, tight fitting black briefs and a cape blowing in the wind. There was a metal rail behind the standing figure attached to the platform by a harness. She now saw the full figure of a muscular man wearing a mask, and helmet with protruding ears. In his hand he held a squeegee and around his waist he wore a wide yellow belt and across his muscular plastic rippled chest was the unmistakable yellow oval with the bat.
It must be nearing Halloween.
Batman stared at her through the window. He looked past her over to the bed. It was too late. Dangling and swaying he could easily see down into the room where a woman’s body lay with a pool of red stain on the sheets that barely covered her. The gun was also in plain view lying on the pillow. Sarah quickly yanked at the strings that shuttered the blinds and pulled the heavy curtains closed clutching them as tight as she could. She took a deep breath as the options raced through her brain. The fact could not be avoided that a window-washer dressed as Batman was the only witness, so far, to her crime. If she could only find him and talk to him. Maybe explain to a stranger who might listen, who maybe would understand. It was not too late to make a getaway. She needed more time to think but when opening the curtains saw that Batman had already started lowering himself with his platform to the floor below.
She sat on the bed wishing that she smoked and could have a cigarette. She looked over to the bed where her enemy lay silent and slain. The eyes were mercifully closed. She could not stand looking at her lover if her eyes had been open.
One last night in another hotel room!
There was no alternative left open to her. She didn’t have the money and couldn’t see any other way out of the possible blackmail. But, of course, Batman wouldn’t know that. She crept over to the bed, gently smoothing the hair from the motionless face, picked up the gun and stuffed it into her large leather purse. She picked up the pill bottle from the coffee table.
Damn, still no relief from the migraine. Why couldn’t the pharmaceutical companies manufacture a pill that would give relief from guilt as well as pain?
There would be no time to check out of the hotel. Fortunately she had registered under a false name as a single occupant. The room service maid would soon be around.
Out on the street she saw the caped superhero releasing the roped scaffolding slowly to ground level. There would be no time for explanations — just one more crime to commit. One murder, two, three or more; it doesn’t really matter. After the first one it’s life imprisonment.
She walked along the sidewalk and then fell into step behind a young mother pushing a stroller. She needed anonymity. She had to walk past him to see if he could recognize her. Hopefully he wouldn’t. She walked stealthily and turned the corner into a narrow laneway strewn with garbage cans. She looked back to see Batman, now on the sidewalk, release the safety harness, throw it on the rail, and drop the squeegee into the water bucket. Piercing eyes behind the mask viewed both directions down the street until he stood still with gloved arms folded across his chest.
“Hey,” she called out stepping into his line of sight. “Could I take your picture for my son? He loves Batman.”
He turned to look at her.
“Let’s take the picture here in the laneway with my iPhone,” she said walking towards him clutching her purse. She stood steadfastly beside him in front of the platform to search the dark eyes behind the mask. There was no expression in them. No sign of recognition. As she unclasped the handbag and reached in for her weapon he suddenly grabbed her wrist with a steel grip and yanked her purse at the same time looping the safety belt around her waist. In the scuffle the gun dropped to the sidewalk. With strong arms he picked her up and hoisted her over the rail onto the platform and in a flash pulled the platform up to between the second and third floor. He left her dangling, suspended in mid air and pacing back and forth, cursing under her breath. People gathered around to watch the suspended woman clutching the rail, shaking it and screeching obscenities. Batman looked straight ahead, folded his arms across his muscular torso, and then let out a loud and sonorous laugh that echoed down the street.