She dropped the newspaper to the floor and her limbs lost all their flexibility. Her reason to live was now dead. Not only had she lost her job, but the man she was destined to marry.
‘Miss, are you okay?’
She allowed the stranger to help her up. The newspaper lay on the floor, its headline screaming out for justice.
‘I’m fine,’ Elizabeth said, grasping that the word had long since been overused.
‘Are you sure?’
From the floor the newspaper was retrieved. She steadied herself on the counter before she passed over all her items. Notes scooped from her purse, she slapped them down.
‘I’m sure,’ she said, pointing to the whisky bottles at the back. ‘Can I have three bottles of whisky please?’
The assistant looked to the bottles, back to Elizabeth and shrugged her shoulders. ‘What brand?’
‘The cheapest will do.’
It was the last of her earnings, but it didn’t matter.
‘You wouldn’t have thought it could happen in Windsor.’
Elizabeth’s fingers traced Thomas’s picture.
‘Did you know him?’
‘No, I didn’t,’ Elizabeth said, rushing out of the shop. All she wanted to do was get home, read the story again.
Thomas was dead. She just couldn’t believe what happened. Yet he always said Martha was unstable – that his life was in danger. Why hadn’t she believed him?
Back in her house, Elizabeth continued to drink. She read the article repeatedly. She hoped that she had misunderstood, but there it was in black and white. Thomas was dead, and Martha killed him.
Her mobile retrieved from her handbag – Elizabeth found a charger. The wire wrapped around her fingers, as she fumbled it into the socket.
As it started to charge, Elizabeth tapped on the table with her bitten down nails. They started to bleed, but she hardly noticed the pain. Another generous amount of whisky was poured into her glass, which she drank down in one go.
It eased the pain but dumbed the senses.
Thomas said he hated drunk women. That didn’t matter now – he wasn’t there to see it and she was never much good at being alone. She willed the percentage to rise, yet it was slow.
By the time her phone charged enough to make the call, Elizabeth had drunk half a bottle of neat whisky. She lost all co-ordination of her limbs. Her fingers slipped over the keys, but on her fifth attempt was able to dial the information number at the bottom of the article. She studied the half-full glass and pulled the mobile phone closer to her face.
‘Windsor Police, can I help you?’
It was challenging to think about what she was going to say.
‘Windsor Police, can I help you?’
‘Yes, I have evidence about the murder of Thomas Whitman. I would like to speak to Detective Evans,’ Elizabeth said, trying to form her words correctly. Her tongue was dry and rough, so she gulped down another swig of alcohol.
‘One moment and I will connect you.’
Elizabeth looked to her glass, its contents spilling on to her carpet and tried to think of what she was about to say. She fell against her cushions – wanted to sleep. Someone kept bringing her back from her alcohol induced stupor.
‘I hear you have some evidence pertaining to the death of Mr Thomas Whitman,’ Detective Evans said.
‘Yes. I just found out.’
Elizabeth tried to picture Thomas, when they had first met, but could only retrieve the smell as he straddled over her on Christmas day.
‘Can I ask who is calling?’
‘Are you okay, Miss, Mrs Lacy?’
‘No, I’m not okay. He was my boyfriend, and his wife knew of our affair,’ Elizabeth said, taking a deep breath. She hoped her words didn’t sound slurred, but the more she spoke, the weaker her mouth became. ‘She attacked me.’