Backseat Driver **Short Story**
From the collection Out of Darkness.
By Jody Klaire
I looked down at the body in my car. I can’t believe it’s happened again. That’s three, three times now, three. I mean, who ends up with three dead bodies in their car? It all started when I was a kid, you see I forget things. Well, I forget a lot, entire periods of time—and there’s still a dead body in my car. Crap.
On the two previous occasions, I’ve managed to work around it. Last time, I was ten minutes late for the meeting with the new clients but no one discovered I had just buried a body, so, I guess it worked out okay.
I think this body has been, you know, dead awhile. The skin is all glassy like a waxwork. I’m pretty sure I’m the one who’s killed him, I mean, I must be, he’s in my car, right?
I’m in the parking lot of one of those swanky hotels, the ones with a guy at the entrance and a ceiling so low that you feel like you’re in a horror movie. I keep thinking some zombie is going to start groaning at me from the shadows. Car parks freak me out. I’d tell you why I’m parked here but I don’t know. The first thing I remember is finding the body.
I could pretend and say that I’m some international jetsetter. I could but I won’t. I’m pretty ordinary really… that’s if you don’t count the body.
Thing is, I guess that’s why no one has ever found me, police wise, I keep expecting them to turn up at my door.
“Open up! We have a warrant for your arrest. You do not have to say anything…”
They don’t though. The only knock at the door I get is from the double glazing salesmen or people trying to sell me lagging. Ugh, those people bug me. Hey, maybe that’s who the guy is? I’m not really sure about my salesman theory. I’m in an underground car park, in a hotel. I am pretty certain I don’t live here. I must have one hell of a nasty temper though. Must be the red hair.
Either way, I must be pretty good at it— Y’know, murder— I commit the perfect one each time and I get away with it too… at least so far. I’d be good on the witness stand, wouldn’t I? I could quite honestly say that I’d never seen the victim alive and that I didn’t know what happened. It would all be the truth.
I close the door on him for a second. No one is around. Did I kill the parking attendant? I can’t see any cameras either, guess I should make my getaway.
I have no idea what city I’m in. It’s pretty big and oh— wait, there’s a red bus. Waterloo, must be London or was Waterloo in France?—Hell, I can’t remember but now I have a song in my head. It’s bucketing down though, it’s got to be London, France isn’t this wet, is it?
Okay, so where do I go? Where the hell am I going to put Mr Unfortunate? London is a bit on the urban side and I don’t think I could dig a hole in concrete. Oh, wait, there’s a graveyard… No one about… I swing the car in. How nice, they even have an open grave.
Now, I know what you’re thinking and no, I’m not that cold. Well, if you don’t count me killing people. My victim will get his own grave thank you very much. I drive back into the city centre. It isn’t intentional. I am useless at road-signs and I’m pretty sure I just went through a red. Oh well, it’s not like I’m innocent, is it.
Ooh, Madame Tussauds. I’ve always wanted to go there. Summer holiday two for one. I could take the body for free, stash him in the Chamber of Horrors. No, wait, the queue is too long, he’d only smell.
Maybe I should try the Thames? Nah, sounds like the start of a crime novel: The gravel voiced detective in his gritty life, single-handedly solving the crime of the century. I don’t fancy being chased down by a grumpy old man and I’m pretty sure bodies float. It’s the middle of the day, someone would see. There’s Hyde Park, I could bury him there but then what about all the lovely squirrels, digging for a nut and finding him. Poor things.
After driving round for hours, I end up in a little hamlet of a place… It has its own cricket pavilion and a crematorium. Perfect.
I am surprised how easy it is to fool the staff. I put on my best grieving widow act and say how he was in the coffin and how could they lose the paperwork? I spoke to Harry and he said it was fine! They fitted him in very quickly. If I have other bodies, I will bring them here, such good service. There’s just me here at the service though, Harry wasn’t able to make it. He’s at university, he’s very clever for a cat.
So, I watch as number three disappears into the, er, thingy, and I’m told I can collect his ashes at a time convenient to me. Back in the car, I check my phone. I have a missed call, it rings a bell. I think he’s my… boss? Yes, I remember. He always seems to call when I’m disposing of my victims. Such poor timing.
I call him back… the phone is ringing… he takes ages to pick up.
“I was wondering where you were,” he says.
“I’m in London,” I reply.
“I know… you left the hotel?”
Was I staying in the hotel? If so, I hope it was on business because he’s old and married and well, I have enough on my plate with murdering innocent people.
“Is he gone?” My boss asks.
“The client,” he answers.
I close my eyes, please don’t tell me I just murdered our client… so bad for business.
“She wants him gone by next Thursday,” my boss adds. He’s very patient with me.
“Ten years and you still can’t remember, can you?” he says laughing.
I don’t find it funny. My memory is dreadful, I’m surprised I remember him at all really.
“You know Agatha likes them burned,” he says.
I can tell by his voice that he’s being sarcastic but Agatha has her wish. Burnt he most certainly is— and who the hell is Agatha?
“Will cremated do?” I ask.
“You cremated a waxwork? I know you are have an affinity with your creations but hell, that’s a bit much.”
I stare into the rear view mirror—Hmmm, he did look plastic. “A Waxwork?”
“Yeh, it was meant to be that hotshot from the films, remember, you started it a week ago. You slipped and melted half his neck, remember?”
That explains a lot. His neck had been at the funniest angle.
My boss sighed. “You didn’t think you murdered someone again, did you?”
“No,” I lie, “Course not…”
Maybe I should leave myself a note?
© 2013 Jody Klaire
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