Every Friday, without fail, we’d see him out there, washing his car and cleaning the interior. After every rainfall, he’d be there too, with his chamois leather, carefully removing each and every raindrop. He also had particular parking spots he prefered, not the ones near the bushes in case they’d scratch his paintwork. We always assumed he was parking illegally, for he looked hunted when he saw anyone in the car park. I genuinely believed he was expecting us to march over there and tell him off for his illegal use of the visitors spaces in our car park.
But it turns out, we were all wrong …
The other day, the sirens and flashing blue lights weren’t racing past us on the main road, they were flung at crazy angles all over our car park. Trying to get any of them to move so you could get out of the car park turned out to be wasted energy. There were more police crowded into our small car park than I thought existed in our neck of the woods, let alone all the people on their mobile phones. Sure, a small number were apologising to friends for the delay in their arrival and making arrangements for alternative transport, but most were videoing the scene, or ringing everyone they knew to tell them there was some sort of incident on their doorstep.
It took a while, but they got round to each of us in the surrounding properties, one by one. What did we know about the man with the grey car who lived in the corner house with his elderly mother? Had any of us spoken to him? Did he work? Did he have any friends? You know the sort of thing. Of course they told us nothing in return, except they were cordoning off our car park and none of us were to move our cars while they carried out their forensics analysis. The police’s well-known manpower shortage meant only one thing – it had to be serious – so was it terrorism, was it a sex-related offence … or was it murder?
Eventually we got our car park back after they towed his car away. One of the neighbours reported he’d been taken away in one of those cars with the blue flashing lights under cover of darkness while the rest of us were in bed. You could tell he considered us amateurs for having slept while there was juicy gossip to be had. But when it came right down to it, that’s all he had too. He’d tried ringing the doorbell, but although he could hear the old dear moving about indoors, she didn’t answer. Then, just as he’d gathered a little crowd of us, a police car pulled up again – no siren and no blue lights this time. A female police officer got out, rang the bell and was permitted entry. About 30 minutes later, she emerged with the old dear, and they drove away.
They only just beat the hounds of the press too. Hordes of them were soon shoving their microphones and cameras into our faces, interviewing all and sundry. To be honest, they were a right pain. Their vehicles were crammed into our car park and as, most of us were receiving more visitors than usual – it being the site of the latest local excitement – tempers got a tad frayed. Eventually, having milked dry the very little we knew, they left.
Things returned to normal pretty quickly thereafter. A couple of months later, a For Sale board appeared outside the house. That guy – the gossip-monger – visited the estate agents, but they were either really professional, or they knew nothing.
Finally it broke. The story, that is. The reason he was so fastidious about cleaning his car was he’d been using it to transport dead bodies – quite a few dead bodies actually. Dectectives were still trying to figure if he was a serial killer … or a sad dupe.
Fairly soon thereafter, quite a few more For Sale boards appeared – it seems people don’t like living near any sort of a crime scene. Suited me, I was able to snap up a couple of properties for the price of one, and that got my little property portfolio started. I target neighbours at local crime scenes as a matter of policy now. They like the notoriety at the time, but the idea of living there afterwards … not so much.
© Debra Carey, 2019