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The Unicorn

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The murder investigation team at Riverside were alerted to a suspicious death at around 2pm on 9th January. Lily Goodman and her team made their way over to the property immediately to begin their investigations. They had been preceded by a number-of uniformed officers and the forensic team. At first it was believed that when a neighbour had alerted the police to the fact that the old lady had not been seen for several days, that she had either gone away to stay with family over the Christmas and New Year period and had forgotten to tell her neighbours, or that she had died of natural causes alone. It became apparent on entering the house that this was not the case. The old woman had been murdered.

Lily Goodman showed her ID to a uniformed officer who had been stationed at the front door of the property and entered cautiously remembering this was a crime scene and that forensics may not have yet completed their job of gathering vital evidence that would be crucial in solving this murder.  Jane Donne had been in-charge of forensics and said she had just concluded her task. The body had not yet been moved, an old lady aged eighty-nine lay on the living room floor, she was dressed in her nightwear and it seemed she was covered head to foot in blood, now dried, some of it had made a pool around her, but this had long since dried-up.

It was quickly established that none of the neighbours had heard anything and she had last been seen shortly before Christmas by her immediate neighbour, Mrs West, who was at present inconsolable and being comforted by a female officer.  Jane was however able to tell Lily that the old lady had died of multiple injuries to her aged and frail body it would not be easy to ascertain which blow actually-killed her. It must have been a prolonged attack because of the mount of blood loss. But why would anyone want to kill an old lady? it looked as if nothing had been taken and the home although it was stuffed full of antiques. The old woman’s bag was still on the coffee table and her purse contained a wad of cash. There was no sign of a break-in. Whoever did this was known to the victim and she had probably let her assailant in.

When her neighbour was somewhat calmer, Lily decided she would have a brief chat with her to see what she could find out about the victim. It seemed that Miss Irene Cohen lived alone and had lived in her house for over thirty years, she had been a school teacher until she retired some years back. Miss Cohen had never married and rarely had visitors, she had no family that Mrs West knew off. Miss Cohen kept herself to herself, but she would converse with a few of the neighbours if she met them out in the street, usually on her way to the shops, as she rarely went anywhere else that they were aware of. Most of her food was delivered and indeed Lily had already been informed that the fridge and freezer were well-stacked with those ready-meals that are delivered and need only to be microwaved. So, Miss Cohen wasn’t short of a pound or two. Yet, Lily already knew it was not her money that her murderer was after, so just what was the motive? Why did someone violently murder a frail old woman and take nothing? She had not been sexually assaulted, just bludgeoned to death. Why?

Lily and her team had to work quickly, and she set her uniformed colleagues going door to door to see if anyone had seen or heard anything unusual and to gain any more information about the victim that might lead them to a motive. Had she made a complaint about anyone recently, Lily had noticed most of the houses had Neighbourhood Watch stickers on their front windows.

At their first meeting of the case which was attended by an assortment of forensics, uniformed and CID officers, it was established that the old woman had died after they presumed she let-in someone she knew into her house, nobody heard her cry-out whilst she was brutally murdered in her own home. It had been further established that she had died three days previously and may not have died immediately but later from her injuries, so she may have been left for dead and then died alone from severe blood-loss and trauma, Lily just hoped she had not regained consciousness, but, then if she had maybe she could of- called for help. There was a phone situated in the living room. Miss Cohen had left a will leaving everything to a local charity, a children’s Hospice. That took away another motive as the will was only secured inside a writing desk and anyway there was no family members named on the will. Lily knew they had little to go on, but it was early days.

Miss Irene Cohen had moved to Britain during the war when as a Jew her family faced persecution and even death. After they had been in Britain for just a few years, her father died of cancer. Irene’s mother struggled to bring-up a child alone in a strange country, but she was a seamstress and she managed to secure employment. Irene’s mother died when Irene was in teaching-training and that left Irene completely alone. However, ten-years later she was contacted by a Peter Cohen who claimed to be her uncle, he was never to meet Irene as he died before anything could be arranged, they had got to know a bit about each-other by writing regularly, Irene inherited his estate when he died, and she used the money to buy the house she had lived in until her death. She continued to work as a teacher until her retirement. It appeared that she was a well-liked and respected member of the staff at Riverside Primary for over thirty-four years.

Looking at everything Lily had discovered she still could not determine a motive except that maybe the victim had let in someone she knew who maybe asked her for money and she refused, and in a rage, had killed her, but then why did the murderer not help himself to money and valuables, maybe he had lost his temper, realised what he had done and just fled. There was little for forensics to find which possibly meant that the murderer had arrived with murder in mind, because he was careful not to leave any finger-prints at the scene and other than a few fibres not consistent with the dead woman’s clothing, forensics had little to offer.

The enquiry lasted over six-months and in all that time no leads led Lily anywhere of any significance, a few names were put forward, but after investigation they were eliminated. In September of that same year the case was put on a back burner., un-solved.

It has been ten years since Colin Blake killed Irene Cohen, he had never committed murder before her and only twice since.  He did not really have the stomach for it, but people had to pay the price for the hurt they had caused him. Starting with that stupid old woman who had been his teacher, she had laughed at him. One day she offered to give him some extra help did she really believe he was that thick? The class had been asked to draw their favourite animal, did she have to laugh, did she have to tell the whole class, it was too unkind, how was he supposed to know that unicorns did not really exist? That day had never left him, it had pointed out to the rest of the class he was stupid. The bullies had never forgotten it and they had called him unicorn-boy until the day they had left school. They were paying for it now. The worse bully was Tony Harper he had never moved from Riverside and he took an unfortunate swim in the canal a few months after Irene’s death. Then there was Paul Townsend, ‘fat Paul’ as he was now known, he couldn’t run anymore and for once he was the one providing the food-himself. All they found of Paul was his wallet and pieces of his clothing in a deserted warehouse, the rats had feasted on the rest. Not laughing at me-now are they?

Standing at the High Street crossing waiting for the lights to change he became impatient to cross and decided as he couldn’t see any approaching vehicles he would take a chance, a sports car killed him on impact. Very few people attended his funeral, Colin had been a loner. What was interesting was an old exercise book found by the police when they went to his property after his death, it was nearly overlooked but one of the officers recognised the name on the front. She had already discovered that some of the neighbours thought the dead man weird, saying they he often could be seen walking and talking to himself. Not that meant anything, but it was just a gut feeling.

Lily Looked at the exercise book and on its front cover it bore the name of Colin Blake, Class 5, Miss Cohen.  The front cover had been decorated with a unicorn drawn freehand. It took only two weeks for Lily Goodman to solve the murders of Irene Cohen, Tony Harper and Paul Townsend, but her murderer was already dead, justice had already been served.

THE END

I enjoy writing short stories and am currently writing a novel. I also write poetry. I enter a number of writing competitions and enjoy reading other writers’ work, especially short stories.

 

 

 

 

 

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