The dead body had a peculiar mark on her right arm, a colon with color darker than her skin. Jack saw it the second he laid his eyes on the lifeless body sprawled on the floor. The young detective could tell that it wasn’t a tattoo; it was more like a wound that hadn’t completely healed yet. The arm with the colon mark was facing upward as the dead woman lay on her stomach. Her long hair was spread on her back like silk. The pitch-black hair was spoiled by stream of blood that hadn’t dried up yet. Jack squatted in front of the deceased. He tilted her head a little bit to get a better look at her face. The brown eyes were still wide open, staring in awe at what was coming at her, he supposed. The side of her mouth was filled with drool and blood. Jack reached out to close her eyes. In his opinion, a dead body should depart from this world in peace, and peace was found best when one’s sleeping, or seen as sleeping. The forensic came to Jack as he got up.
“Cause of death?”
“Blunt force trauma. This is the weapon used.” The forensic showed him an orange iron in his hand.
Jack gave him a squeamish look. “Are you kidding me? Was she also killed while ironing the clothes?”
His opponent grimaced. “Apparently so. It looks like she was doing the house chores when they got into the argument. The daughters were ready to testify because they witnessed everything.”
“They did? And the suspect is?”
“Her husband. He has admitted to the crime and can’t seem to stop sobbing over there.” The forensic pointed at the far corner of the small living room where they were standing. Jack and the forensic stared at their suspect. The fact that it was done by someone who might have been the closest to the victim made it even more horrendous.
Jack walked to the husband, over many things scattered on the floor. It was a tiny house, crammed with everything one could think of to fill in a house. There was only one living room adjoining to the kitchen, and he could see the two bedrooms the house had right after he entered the front door. The wall was painted beige and the furniture was all in shades of brown, adding gloom to the already suffocating atmosphere. The only chair in the room, a two-seat sofa, was placed against the wall and was full of piles of clothes and children books. An ironing table was placed between the sofa and the TV cabinet, and the victim’s body lay not far from it. The forensic was probably right; she was likely to be ironing the clothes when she was hit on the head. Jack went to his suspect and squatted in front of him.
The husband lifted up his head when he heard Jack coming. When he met Jack’s eyes, he started wailing, “I didn’t mean that to happen! She made me so mad. I didn’t mean to hit her; I didn’t mean to kill her.” He clutched and shook Jack’s shoulder, as if he was forcing Jack to believe him. “It was an accident; we were just talking and suddenly she’s on the floor with blood on her head. I haven’t been thinking straight; something must have gotten inside of me! What should I do now? What can I do now?” he cried out.
Jack took the hands off his shoulder and put him at arm’s length. “Calm down, Sir, calm down,” Jack snapped at him. “Tell me from the beginning what happened. Pull yourself together and give me the details.”
Tears seemed to fall continuously down the husband’s cheek. He was a big man, with bald head, strong hands and terrified eyes. Jack could see the possibility of his suspect unintentionally killed his wife with his bare hands. The husband was choking on his own tears and kept pleading Jack to let him go, to let his daughters go. He kept shaking his head feverishly, insisting that it was a pure incident. Jack listened to his rant attentively, trying to find some clues from what he said. At one point Jack raised his hand and told the suspect to be quiet. He asked, “What do you mean it was also your late wife’s fault? What did she do exactly?”
“She kept mocking the mayor candidate whom I supported!”
Jack frowned. “The mayor candidate? Are you talking about the recent election of the town’s mayor?”
“Yes! We supported different candidates and mine lost the election. She had been throwing insults at my candidate at how despicable he and his voters were, how he deserved to lose. She just wouldn’t stop!”
“So, you two had different political choices? How long had you been arguing over this?”
The husband shrugged and dried up his tears with the back of his hand. “I don’t know, perhaps a couple of months since the campaign started. I can never understand what qualities she saw in the mayor she supported. He is a fraud and a people pleaser, someone without character. My candidate is a much better person than him. He has better track records than her choice,” he complained.
Jack couldn’t believe what he just heard. From what he saw, the husband didn’t show even a slight remorse of what he had done. He just continued complaining about and criticizing the political choice of his dead wife. Jack raised his hand again, “So you hit her on the head with the iron she was holding.”
“It wasn’t like that!” the husband straightened up, his eyes were filled with petrifying fanaticism and confusion. He lowered down his voice, “It wasn’t exactly like that. She was ironing the clothes over there when I turned the TV on. There was this talk show on TV, inviting the spokespersons of the candidates who won and who lost. They were pointing fingers at each other and arguing about who was cheating during the election, who was more liked by the voters, and so on. We turned our full attention to the show, and we also voiced our own opinions every now and then about what might and should have happened. She made me upset with her arguments. I don’t remember when I snatched the iron she was holding in her hand and hit her head with it. When I looked down she was already on the floor and there was this pool of blood next to her ears. I didn’t mean it to happen! I just wanted her to be quiet!” The suspect was out of breath after his lengthy confession.
Jack was too dumbfounded to even say anything. He felt too sick in his guts to even try to draw conclusion from what his suspect was saying. “You’re saying that you killed your wife over a political choice, over people you aren’t even personally acquainted with? Over people who won’t give a damn about the future of your family, of your children, after we process you for the crime you committed?”
The husband bowed his head and whispered, “She shouldn’t have been saying those nasty things about my candidate. Okay, my candidate lost, her candidate won and will become the next mayor. But it’s not fair for him if he keeps being criticized. Everybody has flaws, don’t they? Why won’t everybody stop discussing about my candidate’s past mistakes? They should all move on.” After saying that, he started wailing again.
The young detective got up and walked to the house’s bathroom. He threw up everything he ate for dinner down the toilet. When he looked at himself in the mirror, he realized he was enraged with the suspect’s stupidity that had cost his wife’s life; that had made his children lose their mother. It was all because of politics. It was because people exercised their rights to choose people over their own conscience and beliefs. The forensic came from behind Jack and startled him. He asked if Jack would like to interview the witnesses now. Jack nodded. Be right there, he said. He needed to regain his composure first.
Jack’s team had put the suspect’s daughters in the children bedroom. As he entered the room he saw the older of the two stroking the back of her younger sister, telling her to calm down. Both of them looked up and stared at him as he walked to the foot of the bed. He pulled a chair from the desk near the door and sit in front of them. A policewoman was there as well to provide psychological support. Jack took a deep breath. He hated what he was going to ask from his witnesses. “I’m sorry for the loss of your mother, and I’m really sorry for having to make you go through everything again by asking you questions,” he said to the older. “Please tell me what you saw. Everything. Enlighten me. I need to know what really happened.”
The older, who was about thirteen years old, stared at Jack with emptiness in her eyes. “We could hear what our father told you earlier in the living room. It was like that. That’s exactly what happened.”
“Their arguments …,” Jack trailed off, trying to find the right words to convey his question. “Have they been having them for a while?”
“Forever,” the younger, who was about ten years old, cut him. She looked at Jack with tears filling her eyes. “They never stopped talking about those candidates. They proudly talked about their strengths. They mocked the other’s weaknesses.”
“They had become emotionally invested,” the older added. “They thought the critics toward their candidates were actually directed at them. Mom saw dad’s candidate’s flaws as dad’s own flaws, and vice versa. We’ve heard nothing but insults, mockeries, and critics thrown at the candidates and at each other. We grew very tired of them.”
“Were you there when your dad hit your mom with the iron?”
The younger nodded. “We were sitting on the floor, doing our homework. We could hear their voices above the voices from the TV. We didn’t quite follow what’s being talked about on TV, but our parents suddenly started screaming and yelling at each other. My sister took me in her arms when dad sprang toward our mom and snatched the iron she was holding.”
“It was only one hit,” the older said with hoarse voice. “I closed my sister’s eyes. I didn’t want her to see how dad hurt our mom.” She started crying again. “Dad only hit her once and then she fell. The blood was too much; everything was too much. It shouldn’t be like that. Dad and mom were wrong to get into politics. Those people are just like other people, some good and some bad. Why did our parents have to argue and have differences over them? Those people are not important to us; they have nothing to do with us. And now they made us lose our parents.” She embraced her younger sister and wept.
The younger looked at Jack in the eyes and said, “Our parents loved those people more than they loved us. They’ve been on their toes for months, ready to attack or to defend their candidates. Mom and dad didn’t care when they yelled and screamed in front of us. I don’t understand why this is happening, but I wonder how the mayor will help us.”
“We won’t receive any help from the mayor or his people,” the older said bitterly. “Why would we after what they did to our family?”
Jack was out of words. He got up and left the room, ready to throw up again this nauseating feeling that’s eating at him. He clenched his fists and leaned on the jamb of the bathroom door. He thought that the reason for the crime committed was as ridiculous as someone telling him that the sun could rise from the west. It was unlikely to happen, but it happened. Someone was already killed, and another person would be sent to prison. His heart broke for the children who got traumatized by the whole ordeal. He cleared his throat when he heard someone approaching him.
“Are you done with the interview?” the forensic asked him.
Jack nodded, “Yes, for now. I didn’t have the heart to continue.”
The forensic pursed his lips. “I know what you mean. We’ll be transporting the body soon. Be prepared, reporters are coming.”
“Why would they?” Jack asked curiously.
“Someone has leaked to the media that the murder was triggered by the recent mayor’s election. They’ll be coming at this crime scene like packs of hungry wolves.”
“It won’t do the children any good,” Jack murmured.
“I agree with you. But I wasn’t surprised when I read the news of this crime on internet already.”
“Seriously? Did the internet reporters come here before us, or what?” Jack raised his voice. He always saw the media as a weak and disturbing link in his and his team’s effort to solve crime and decrease crime rate.
“Maybe it’s one of the neighbors. You know how it is these days; anybody with camera-equipped cell phone can appoint themselves as reporter, regardless how accurate the information they’re reporting about.” The forensic took a look at where the body was found and at the whole house. “They’re not rich people. What good would it do them to get themselves involved in politics up to this rate? A crime happened and there are victims, innocent children, for goodness sake. What a shame.”
“Maybe they dreamed of making a change by supporting certain candidate,” Jack muttered. “But they took it too far, too personally, at the cost of their family. The suspect might have had anger issue before this, considering the facts that he was able to kill his wife with one blow, and didn’t seem guilty at all about it.”
“Noted,” said the forensics. “Gosh, every time I turn my phone on I see people slaughtering each other on social media over their political choices. And in real life, I see real body sprawled on the floor because she didn’t know how to hold back her political opinion and angered her temperamental husband. This is a nightmare. Election is supposed to be a party, people’s party to celebrate people’s freedom of speech, and a party which is filled with contestation of ideas to make this world a better place.”
“Party, my ass. From what I see, political election, and what comes before and after it, provides an arena for people to direct their dislike toward people who are different from them. Everybody thinks the world owes them something; everybody needs to say something and to be heard; everybody has to vent out their emotions. Likewise, in social media and real life. Election is not a party to celebrate democracy anymore. And the ultimate power never belongs to the people; it belongs to a group who has the most money and influence in our society.”
They stopped talking when they heard the ambulance siren stop outside of the house. Jack watched as his partners put the handcuff on the husband’s hands, and as the policewoman led the daughters to one of the police cars lining outside. Jack murmured, “Stupid and unprepared people just take everything in without thinking, and change the whole democracy party into their own killing spree. This isn’t people’s party at all.”
* * *