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I Was There

I know exactly what happened

By GK BirdPublished 4 months ago 17 min read
Top Story - January 2024
53
I Was There
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Peter

“I was there. I know exactly what happened!”

“Please state your name for the record.”

“Peter Loganbaum.”

Peter sat stiffly, squinting as he watched the reporter scratch something on her notepad. She was pretty, he’d grant her that. But he knew you couldn’t trust them. None of them. Especially the pretty ones.

“Thank you, Peter. And how did you know David and Evelyn?”

“David and I worked together. We used to carpool and hang out together after work. We were best friends, you know?”

He glanced up at the cameraman. He was glad this was being recorded. He did not trust this woman not to twist his words in some way. This was important. The world needed to know that vile woman murdered his best friend.

Josephine

“I was there. I know what happened!”

“Can you please state your name for the record?”

“Josephine. Josephine Bartlett. No, sorry, that’s not right. Josephine Farrar. Bartlett is, was, my married name. I don’t use that anymore. I’m sorry. I’m a bit flustered right now.”

“You’re Evelyn’s sister?”

“Yes. David was my brother-in-law.”

Josephine pushed a strand of loose hair behind her ear and shifted uncomfortably in her seat. She picked up a pen from the table in front of her and started clicking it. On, off, on, off, on, off. Hopefully, this wouldn’t take too long. She was going to throw that bastard under the bus. He was not going to get away with killing her sister. Not on her watch.

George

“Where was I?”

“Would you mind stating your name for the record?”

George looked at the young lady sitting across the table from him. She’d asked him something just now, but his mind had wandered, as it did so often these days. She smiled at him and repeated the question.

“Oh, I’m sorry. George. George Anderson. I can’t remember your name though. Did you tell me? Is it Caitlyn? You look like a Caitlyn.”

George barely heard her reply. His attention was captured by an orange and black butterfly outside the window. It kept bumping against the pane. Bump, bump, bump. He sat mesmerised by its frustrated fluttering. That was how he felt sometimes. Beating his wings against an invisible immovable barrier, unable to get to where he wanted to be.

“You’re David’s father, aren’t you? You lived with David and Evelyn?”

“Hmm?” said George, dragging his focus back to the woman in front of him. “You are very pretty when you smile, if you don’t mind me saying so.”

The woman thanked him and gently asked her question again.

“Oh, you mean David?” George replied, hoping this pretty lady would keep smiling at him. It made him feel young again. He remembered Edie smiling at him like that that day in the park. Was that yesterday?

“David died,” George said with a frown. He would not tell this woman about Edie.

Harper

“Yes, I was there.”

“Please state your name for the record and tell us how you knew the Andersons.”

“Harper Blackwood. I did some cleaning around the place for Evelyn. She paid me cash. They were both very kind to me.”

Harper sat very still, watching the reporter check her notes. She was worried that if she moved at all, she would start to think about her pathetic life. No job, no skills, no home, and, since Evelyn’s death, no money, and no help. The food and the bit of cash from Evelyn had meant she could eat more than a few times a week. She hadn’t needed to resort to dumpster diving again just yet, but time was running out just like the cash.

“I’m getting paid for this, aren’t I?” Harper blurted out, glancing up at the reporter, then quickly dropping her gaze again.

A greasy black strand of hair fell across her forehead, covering her left eye. She lifted her hand to brush it away but her hand was shaking so much that she just let it fall back into her lap. Light-headed, she watched her hands twist and twine in her lap as if they belonged to someone else. If only she could sleep.

The reporter’s movement caught her eye and Harper watched her pull two fifty-dollar bills from her pocket and push them across the table. “One hundred cash. As agreed.”

Harper snatched up the cash, shoved it into her pocket, and stared at her hands again. She thought about what she should say. She didn’t want to sound weird. It had been bad enough telling the police.

Jack

“Hello, Jack. Can you tell me your full name?”

“Jack Cooper. I live at 453 Wellspring Avenue.”

“Well done. How old are you, Jack?”

“I’m five. I’ll be six very soon. Yes, I will.”

“Do you remember Mr and Mrs Anderson?”

Jack’s demeanour changed and he frowned, swinging his legs freely under his chair but not looking up from the drawing on the table in front of him. He swept the red crayon in wide wild arcs over the black stick figures until they could hardly be seen.

“Mrs Anderson looked after me sometimes. I like Mrs Anderson’s dog. I sometimes pretend that Swifty is my dog. He hunts sticks and brings them to me, like gifts, you know?” He looked up at the lady. “I miss Swifty. Do you think he could be mine now?”

“He sounds like a great dog.”

“He is. He’s the best,” Jack said with a smile that faded as he looked back at his picture. “But even he couldn’t stop the monster.”

Peter

“I found them, you know. I was first on the scene. It was sickening! Sickening, I tell you. I’ll never get that picture out of my head. This whole thing has traumatised me, you know. I’ve had to seek therapy. And I’ve had to take unpaid sick leave from work. Nothing about this has been pleasant.”

Despite his words, Peter’s mouth twitched upwards slightly at the corners. He vividly remembered how it felt in the days directly after the ‘incident’. People at work who’d never before given him the time of day sought him out. With each small embellishment, he’d become the oversized hero of his own oversized story.

His mouth thinned into a straight line as he recalled being told he had to take time off. Peter had argued, but his boss was adamant. Said there’d been complaints about his 'stories'. Utter rubbish.

“Why were you there that night? The Andersons were having a Christmas Eve party, but I don’t believe you were invited?”

“That’s nonsense. Who told you that?” Peter’s face radiated heat as a red flush bloomed on his cheeks. “Of course I was invited. David told me about the party. If he didn’t want me there, why would he have told me about it?”

“No one at the party remembers seeing you. You seem to have shown up for the cleanup, but not the party itself.”

“It was Christmas Eve. I went to Mass first. I’m a prominent member of our church community, you know. I’m not really a party-goer, but I didn’t think it would be over by the time I got there. But I was happy to help with the cleanup. David and I were best friends.”

“Your wife recently left you, didn’t she? So, you had no one to go home to?”

The reporter met his eyes and Peter stared, unblinking. “That is no business of yours! Nor does it have any bearing on David’s death at the hands of that, that … shrew!”

Josephine

“I was cleaning the downstairs bathroom. It was disgusting. You know how bathrooms get after parties.”

“Where was everyone else?”

“David and Evelyn were in the kitchen,” Josephine swallowed and dabbed at her eyes with her handkerchief. “They were doing the dishes and putting the leftovers away, that kind of thing. Peter was out the back. I don’t even know why he was there. No one liked him. Evelyn told me that he gave her the creeps, the way he was always watching David and trying to hang out with him. He showed up late. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’d sat across the street in his car and deliberately waited until everyone had left so he could have David to himself.”

Josephine shook herself as if a chill had just run down her spine. She kept clicking the pen. On, off, on, off, on, off.

“George and Jack were in the living room. George moved in with David and Evelyn a couple of years ago after his wife died. Jack was bundled up on the couch. It looked like his mother wasn’t coming for him, so George was reading him a bedtime story to make him feel better and settle him down for the night.”

“Did Jack sleep over often?”

“More than he should have,” Josephine confided, leaning in slightly. “Jack’s parents have a … difficult relationship. Jack’s often caught in the middle, poor kid. Evelyn babysat Jack whenever she could. To get him out of that toxic environment. She wanted kids of her own and had been trying for ages. She told us that night that she was pregnant. She was so happy.”

“What about Harper Blackwood? Where was she?”

“I’m not sure,” Josephine said, frowning and sitting back in her chair. She leaned forward again. “I warned Evelyn about that girl. I told her to make sure she locked her valuables away, but Evelyn wouldn’t listen. She was too kind-hearted for her own good.”

“Harper stole from your sister?”

“I caught her taking food from the fridge once. She claimed Evelyn said she could. But these things start small, don’t they? Today it’s a pork chop, then before you know it … well, your cash and jewellery are missing.”

George

George stood up abruptly. He couldn’t stand it any longer. He stumbled over to the window, slid it open, and let the butterfly in. It seemed to want in so badly, as much as he, George, wanted out. He wanted to be with Edie again. It wasn’t fair that he was stuck here – wherever this was – on his own.

He looked around the small kitchenette. Nothing looked familiar. A white bowl, full of water, sat in the sink. In the water an orange and black butterfly struggled feebly to move its wet wings, desperate to reach the side. That was how he felt some days. His mired mind struggling to rise above the fog and get to dry ground.

“George?”

George blinked and saw a young lady sitting at the table. There was a large man dressed in black with a television camera behind her. She was pretty. Pretty like Edie. Where was Edie anyway? Maybe she’d stepped out to pick something up from the shop. Milk, most likely, since he still seemed to be wearing his pyjamas.

The young lady spoke to him, gesturing to the chair opposite her. “You were reading Jack a bedtime story?”

George blinked rapidly as his mind gnawed on what she’d said. “Jack? My son’s name is David.”

Harper

“Where were you?”

Harper looked at the reporter and thought very hard before she answered.

“Upstairs in the guest room,” she said. She wouldn’t admit she’d fallen asleep. “All the coats and bags and things had been lumped onto the bed as people arrived. People were tramping in and out of there all night. It was a mess. Once everyone was gone, I vacuumed and straightened the room.”

“Did you steal from the Andersons?”

Harper stared at the reporter, then looked up at the cameraman. His face was hidden by the chunky camera pointing at her.

“Josephine said that, didn’t she? No. I never stole anything from Evelyn. Evelyn was one of the only people who was kind to me. She was my friend.”

Jack

“I was worried Santa Claus wouldn’t know where I was. Like last year. Mummy and I were staying at a hotel. She told me Santa didn’t know where I was, which was why he didn’t leave any presents. I sent him a letter this year and told him to just leave my presents near my bed this year if I wasn’t there and I would get them when I got back.” Jack frowned. “George told me Santa always knows where the good kids are. Maybe last year I wasn’t good enough? I was extra good this year, but I was still worried.”

“What story did George read to you?”

“Creepy Crayon,” Jack said, glancing up briefly. He shuffled the paper around on the table, surfaced a blank piece, picked up a black crayon and started to draw. “That’s one of my favourite books. But …”

“But what?”

“Monsters come from pictures,” Jack whispered. He stared into the lady’s eyes as he swept his crayon back and forth, obliterating the stick figure he’d just drawn. “You have to be careful what you draw and what you wish for.”

Peter

“I was cleaning up out the back near the pool,” Peter said, starting to speak faster, desperate to get his story out now. “I chained up the mutt. Vicious damn thing. I was chucking paper plates and cups into one of those big black plastic garbage bags, you know? The floodlights lit up the backyard like it was daytime. There’s no way anyone could have come through there without me seeing them. I heard David yell, ‘What?’. Then Evelyn screamed. It was real aggressive, you know? I dropped the bag of rubbish and sprinted to the kitchen.”

“What did you see?”

“They were both on the floor near the sink, in a huge pool of blood. Evelyn was slumped on top of David. I grabbed her shoulder and pulled her off. I knew straightaway David was dead. There was a knife sticking out of his chest and he wasn’t moving. Evelyn had a knife buried deep in her stomach and she was moaning, babbling really. I couldn’t really make out what she was saying, it didn’t make sense.”

“Did you know Evelyn was pregnant?”

“I did not know that.”

Josephine

“David yelled, ‘What?’ and Evelyn screamed. She sounded terrified. I got to my feet so fast I knocked the bucket of dirty water over and slipped, twisting my ankle. I hobbled to the kitchen and saw Peter, covered in blood, dragging Evelyn off David. He cast her aside like a piece of trash. I went to her, but I couldn’t do anything. She died with her head in my lap. My little sister and her baby. Gone. Just like that.”

Josephine bowed her head and held her handkerchief over her eyes, sobbing quietly.

“Did Evelyn say anything before she died? Did she say what happened?”

“She was in a lot of pain and terrified for her baby. There was a knife in her stomach! She said something about a shadow? Something dark? I couldn’t really make it out. Then she was gone.”

George

“Edie and I were talking, like we do most evenings. I must have fallen asleep. That happens a lot these days.”

George looked around the room. He wondered whose kitchen he was in. It didn’t look familiar and he didn’t remember how he got here. A pretty lady opposite him asked him a question.

“I’m sorry. What did you want to know?”

“That night. The night David and Evelyn died. What happened when you heard Evelyn scream?”

“Evelyn? Yes, Evelyn screamed,” George said, nodding. “Josephine hobbled past the door and that other girl – the one who always looks like she needs a shower? – she came running down the stairs.”

“And what did you do?”

“I thought I was dreaming so I just sat there. Then I heard crying and raised voices in the kitchen. I told Jack to stay where he was under the blankets, and I went to see what the fuss was about. My God, the blood. I’ve never seen so much blood before. It scared me. The girl helped me back to the living room and told me to wait there so I did. Jack and I waited there until the police arrived.”

He would not tell this lady, no matter how pretty she was, about Edie’s shadow, stick-figure thin, sliding along the wall, coming out of the kitchen. He would not tell this lady how Edie’s shadow slithered and slunk, at one point looming large enough to touch the roof and then shrinking small enough to disappear into a crack in the skirting board. He would not.

Harper

“I was coming down the stairs when I heard Evelyn scream. I ran to the kitchen and saw Peter covered in blood, pulling a knife out of David’s chest. Josephine was on the floor with Evelyn. George was just behind me. I thought he was going to faint, so I hustled him back out. He didn’t need to see that.”

She decided not to mention the shadow that she’d seen slink along the wall between the kitchen and the living room. The police had dismissed her account and there was no reason this reporter should believe her either. But that … monstrosity … shaped like a smoky stick figure, still haunted her dreams.

Jack

“I was drawing,” Jack whispered. “I was under the blankets so I couldn’t see the monster and the monster couldn’t see me.”

Peter

“What do you believe happened?”

“It’s pretty obvious,” Peter said, narrowing his eyes and crossing his arms. “Evelyn attacked David with a knife, and he retaliated.”

“Why would she do that?”

“Because she’d concocted this harebrained scheme to move across the country in the new year. She was forcing David to quit his job. He didn’t want to go. He told me. Maybe she even planned it with her sister? Her sister is a man-hater, that’s for sure.”

Josephine

“What do you believe happened?”

“Evelyn and David were so happy about the baby and the upcoming move. They wouldn't have hurt each other. I believe Peter stabbed Evelyn and David died trying to defend them.”

“Why would Peter do that?”

“He couldn’t stand the thought of David moving away. Peter was obsessed with David. In his mind, he and David had some type of ‘relationship’ and Evelyn was in the way. I think Peter thought that if Evelyn was out of the picture, David would stay but he didn’t count on David’s reaction and had to kill him too.”

George

George looked out the window at the grey sky. It looked like it was going to rain. He hoped Edie hurried back with the milk. He was hungry and he didn’t want her caught in a downpour. He smiled, remembering that day in the park when he’d shared his umbrella with her. He’d been the happiest man in the world when she’d said yes to a date with him.

“What do you believe happened?”

He turned and caught his breath when he saw Edie sitting at the table. She was smiling at him. She was so pretty it took his breath away.

“Edie! I haven’t told them. I’ll never tell them.”

Edie smiled sadly at him, stood up, and said, “Thank you for your time, George.”

Harper

“What do you believe happened?”

“I think it was an accident,” Harper said, thinking of the picture she’d seen in Jack’s hands that night. The black stick figure that resembled the shadow on the wall. The picture he’d scribbled over until it was completely unrecognisable.

In her nightmares, the shadow grew until it blocked out all the light and became an oppressive darkness that pressed in on her until she felt she’d implode. Then it shrank and, starting at her feet, it would slide upwards, caressing every inch of her body until it reached her face. Then, it slipped into the corner of her eye and she would wake up screaming.

She really needed to sleep.

Jack

Jack tilted his head as he inspected his drawing. “Mrs Anderson was going to have a baby. We were going to be brothers. But George told me I wasn’t going with them when they moved. I got a bit mad.”

***

“The police remain convinced David and Evelyn Anderson died at each other’s hands in a tragic accident. No charges will be filed.”

Caillie ended her report. As soon as Rob switched the camera off, the smile left her face and she and Rob avoided eye contact.

They hadn’t spoken about Jack’s drawing of a black stick figure. They hadn’t discussed the moving shadow on the wall behind Jack. The one that looked like his drawing. How it expanded until it covered the wall and touched the ceiling.

Jack had turned and observed the shadow silently. Then, he’d picked up a blue crayon and dragged it across his picture. As Jack’s black stick figure disappeared beneath the scrawl, the shadow on the wall became smaller and smaller.

fiction
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About the Creator

GK Bird

Australian fiction writer and reader, always on the lookout for good writing.

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  3. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  2. Masterful proofreading

    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

  3. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

  4. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  5. Expert insights and opinions

    Arguments were carefully researched and presented

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Comments (26)

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  • Test2 months ago

    Congrats on the win!

  • Test2 months ago

    Impressive

  • Lisbeth Stewart2 months ago

    Gripping!

  • Caroline Jane2 months ago

    Takeley me far too long to read this excellent story. Really well done. Each character was perfectly on point! Loved it.

  • Harbor Benassa2 months ago

    Great character development! It was easy to keep track of who was who.

  • Teresa Renton2 months ago

    Brilliant writing! Congratulations on your first place 🎉

  • Great job… so happy for your win! I loved the different accounts & biases!🤩❤️✅

  • MatthewKusza3 months ago

    The interview format worked well for me, adding a whirling, chaotic feel to the read and yet, a consistent thread lay within, pulling me closer to the delightfully dreadful, spine-tingling supernatural reveal at the end.

  • Sarah Glass3 months ago

    Oh my goodness! This was a well-deserved win! I was so captivated by your story I almost forgot to go pick up my son from pre-k!! Haha! XD I love creepy stories like this. Great job!!

  • Marco den Ouden3 months ago

    Compelling writing but it left me hanging. Who killed the couple? It sounds like a mystery figure named Edie, but who the heck is Edie? From George's last conversation, it sounds like Edie is the police woman. But George sounds a bit addled. And I don't understand the shadow stuff. A compelling story but didn't seem to have any conclusion.

  • Chloe Gilholy3 months ago

    I really liked this, liked the interview scenes. Really gave me the Cluedo vibes.

  • Novel Allen3 months ago

    Great job on the interview scenes. Well written and engaging story. Congrats.

  • JBaz3 months ago

    Beautiful way of peeling layer after layer away, revealing snippets at a time. Well done wonderfully written and congratulations

  • Bryan Buffkin3 months ago

    This was very well-written. I'm a sucker for different perspectives, and this gives me some solid "Knives Out" vibes, especially with the opening sequence. Didn't expect the supernatural turn at the end, but I loved the development of the characters. Very deserving.

  • Congratulations... great story! I'm not sure I'll sleep tonight! Wonderful how each witness had their own bias etc.

  • Brannan K.3 months ago

    It's always the creepy kid with family issues!

  • Caroline Craven3 months ago

    Really loved the interview technique to tell the story. Fab. Congratulations on your win.

  • I loved the style of this story. All the different perspectives drew me in. You told so much without explicitly telling us certain things, forcing us to use the clues in each interview. Congrats on winning the challenge!!!!!

  • D.K. Shepard3 months ago

    This was in incredibly good!! Loved the interview structure! The characters came through so clearly! Brilliant!

  • Varsha Elizabeth3 months ago

    Very well written. Kept me engaged the whole way. Absolutely brilliant !

  • Babs Iverson3 months ago

    Congratulations on the 1st place win!!

  • sleepy drafts3 months ago

    Wow!! This was incredible! I was hooked the entire way through. Your writing and unique style brought this story to life. Each character has a distinctly different voice and point of view that reveals even more about their character than what they/others were saying. This was amazing to read and well deserving of its win. Massive, massive congratulations! 💗

  • Mark Coughlin4 months ago

    Nice twist!

  • Adam 4 months ago

    Exceptional work! congratulations!❤️

  • Phil Flannery4 months ago

    Awesome

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