The note fell through the grate and down into the depths of dark refuse, it’s intent fallen to obscurity, as if fate had plucked it from earnest fingers and wiped it clean of existence. She had not noticed and strode the street with determination, a knowing that instilled her with right, on a mission that would somehow free her from her mother’s plight.
Iris answered the door with a furrowed brow, her response to a much repeated scenario, and forced a smile. ‘What’s wrong, dear?’ she asked hesitantly.
Lola searched her pocket for the note and as each pocket yielded nothing, her panic grew. ‘I had it just here in my pocket, from Mum, it was important,’ she added.
‘You better come in dear; shall I call her?’
‘No, she’s, well not taking calls’ Lola uttered, with a pointed inference.
‘Is she alright,’ asked Iris, still holding the door.
‘I think so, but its Dad I’m worried about,’ she exclaimed, bursting into tears.
‘Come and sit down dear and tell me what happened.’
Lola went to the sitting room and sat rather awkwardly at the edge of a floral armchair, tears now rolling down her face as she sobbed loudly. Iris sat on the arm and hugged her consolingly. ‘It’ll be alright, dear; we’ll sort it out.’
Lola looked up, her eyes wide. ‘That’s just it, no-one can sort it out. Dad’s dead!’ she cried, her wet face now buried in her cupped hands.
Iris went straight to the phone and called the police. In only what seemed moments a swarm of police cars had blocked off the street, surrounding Lola’s house. With pistols drawn several officers broke the front door open and found Gerry, Lola’s dad dead on the floor, his skull crushed by a heavy metal lamp base by the body. Henna, her mother lay groaning incomprehensibly on the lounge, the smell of liquor like a brewery.
Lola stayed with Iris and sat trying to console herself as a female officer questioned her.
‘I see there has been quite a list of complaints regarding domestic arguments, but never assault,’ said the detective.
‘Mum never let on, but I’ve heard it all, the fights, the screams and the bruises that Mum tried to hide from everyone,’ Lola explained. ‘It’s been years,’ she sobbed.
‘Did you see what happened, Lola, please take your time.’
‘I was in my bedroom, covering my ears, trying not hear it. But Mum screamed and I ran into the lounge room. Dad had flung her against the wall and he tripped over. Mum grabbed the table lamp and standing over him….she…she just hit him over and over,’ she sobbed, completely breaking down.
Another detective stepped forward, a tall man in a black suit. ‘I think that enough for now, let the forensic guys do their work and we’ll come back tomorrow for a full statement.
Iris, with her arm around Lola said she could stay the night with her to try to get some rest, and the police withdrew and returned to the crime scene where more than a dozen forensic techs were combing the room for evidence. Henna was so drunk she had passed out and was put to bed and the father’s body eventually taken to the morgue.
Nine am the next day Detective Mercer, the interviewing police woman, was thumbing through the forensic report and initial notes regarding Henna’s physical condition. She was stumped as Henna had no marks or bruises on the body, and having been thrown against a wall, one would have thought otherwise.
She stacked the reports in a folder and left to return to Iris’s to again question Lola and get to the bottom of it.
Lola was seated in the kitchen, sipping a glass of milk, and at the age of eleven looked like she was much older: dark circles under her eyes, pale and drawn. She was thin to begin with and the detective couldn’t help but feel sorry for what she’d been through. Mercer sat down at the four-seater table and placed the folder on the table top, along with the statement form and pen.
‘So Lola, we need to take a statement, everything you remember from what happened last night; from the beginning.
Detective Mercer watched her every facial tick and expression and listened carefully to match her previous night statement, see if there were any discrepancies.
‘So, which wall was your mother thrown against; can you show me?’ she asked, scrutinizing her response; Lola hesitated for a moment and them walked slowly to the lounge room.
‘That one,’ she said pointing, ‘behind the lounge’.
The detective studied the wall and saw no mark, indentation or scuff against the paint. ‘You’re sure it was this wall?’ she asked, pushing a little.
Lola snapped back. ‘I know what I saw!’
‘Then Lola, how can you explain no wall mark from such a violent attack, and what’s more no bruises anywhere on your mother’s arms or torso?’
‘Where is my mother, anyway? Have you locked her up yet? Lola spat.
Detective Mercer walked slowly to where Lola was sitting and crouched down so her eyes were on the same level. You mother seems to tell another story Lola, she doesn’t remember hitting your father at all.’
‘And how would she know, she’s always drunk; she remembers nothing. But I saw it!’ she said angrily.
‘But Lola, there was blood everywhere, splatter on the floor, on the lamp base, but not a drop on your mother’s hand. How do you explain that?’
‘You don’t believe me, and my father’s just died,’ she blubbered, tears rolling down her face in distress.
Detective Mercer reached into her briefcase and pulled out a small torch. ‘Show me you hand Lola, your right hand.’
‘What do you mean, what for?’ she growled.
Detective Lacy who was standing near the door moved forward and grabbed the girls arm and moved her toward Mercer, Lola’s right arm outstretched.
Mercer waved the blue light over Lola’s hand and blood spatter glowed brightly over her hand and wrist. ‘Why Lola, why did you kill you father?’
Lola wrestled Lacy’s arm from hers and shouted, ‘to get rid of both of them!’
‘He was no father to me and she was useless, didn’t lift a hand to save me from him, that bastard!’
she slurred, sitting down and falling to pieces.
Mercer looked at Lacy and neither could muster anything other than grief for what had happened.
In a gutter two blocks away a piece of paper emerged and opened from its fold in the water. In a child’s writing it read, ‘Iris, I fear for my life as Gerry is getting more and more violent. If anything happens, please take care of Lola, that’s all I care about now, signed Henna.’