Roisin Steed – The Attendant

roisinRoisin Steed (nee Glynn) is from Galway. She was Educated at Our Lady’s Bower Athlone, spent twelve years in England. Roisin Glynn Steed worked in the tourist board in Galway and spent twelve years in London where she worked with The Daily Telegraph newspaper selling Irish property and afterwards for the Law Society. She won a prize in Deirdre Purcell short story competition and also won many letters of the week in Sunday Independent prizes.

 

The Attendant

By Roisin Steed

She dragged herself painfully slowly along the ground, blood seeping from her every pore.  She knew she was going to die but she fought with every ounce of strength and fibre within her to reach the phone.  All she could think about were her two children Roderick and Rebecca and their piercing screams earlier.  The house was so quiet now.  She tried to call out but no sound would come.  Where were they and why hadn’t they looked for her?  She felt drained and weak- her life was fading away.  A couple more she kept urging herself but her movements were so tiny and laboured that every inch was monumental.  It hurt like hell.  The cord was in her hand.  She pulled the phone down off the table; it landed with a crash beside her the white handle flying off away from her.  Never mind she thought she had the important part.  Now if she could only press the right numbers.  She reached out but her fingers just slid off the buttons.  They were covered in blood.  She tried again but this time a violent pain seized her whole body making her cry out in agony.  She didn’t recognise her own voice.  Then the woman was still.
Stephen Mitchell checked his watch again for the fourth time in as many minutes.  He was going to be an hour late at least.  ‘‘Blast’’ he thought, Martha had specifically asked him to be home on time because she was preparing a special dinner for their 15th wedding anniversary.  He’d have to ring her.  The meeting had gone on a lot longer than expected and Dan Casey loved the sound of his own voice.  Stephen pulled in to one side of the road and dialled his home number- just his luck- it was engaged.  She was probably trying to track him down, right at this very moment.  Well at least the presents had been sorted out days before.  She’d be surprised that he had remembered that gorgeous gold necklace she had admired months before.  He had got an inscription on the inside which read love Stephen November 6th.  On the back seat he also had Roderick’s birthday present; it was hard to believe that their son was 13 years old today and just so Rebecca wouldn’t feel left out he had got a little something for her too.  He couldn’t wait to get home!
Peter Bindon was on a high; the adrenaline rush he was experiencing was like nothing he had ever had before and he wanted it to go on forever.  He took off all his clothes and put them in a plastic bag, then he peeled the rubber gloves off and stepped into the steaming hot shower-the water ran red for a long time.  He watched with pleasure other lives drain away.  Afterwards he burned his clothes and gloves and then went to work on cleaning his car.
Ever since that uppity bitch had been parking her car in the car park Peter had trouble with her.  It started with small things like giving him twenty euro for what was only a 2 euro worth of parking.  She wanted to put him out by taking all his change on him.  Then she started to pick her car up late but not so late that he could close the car park on her.  Just enough to keep him waiting.  She did this several times.  Then she had the audacity to complain about his rudeness to the management not once but twice.  The second time he received a warning.  On top of all that when he asked her out she laughed in his face. ‘‘Not if you were the last man on earth’’ she had said.  He couldn’t believe his ears.  Who the hell did she think she was?  He had to teach her a lesson.  The only thing he didn’t bank on was that her two brats would be at home with her.  It made his job much harder but oh the rush he got just thinking about it!  He smiled to himself.  No more trouble from her.  He had put the carving knife back where it belonged on a little ledge up in his chimney.  It was made for it!  Yesterday he had heard her telling a work mate that it was their 15th wedding anniversary today and that she was having a quiet family celebration at home.  His ears pricked up when she had said that her husband was going to try to be home by 8.30pm.  That was enough for him.  He knew that if he followed her home at five o’clock he’d have loads of time to finish her off.  Last night he sharpened the carving knife ready to take to work in the morning.
Stephen was almost home, ten minutes more he thought.  He pulled in and dialled again.  Still engaged.  Who could she be talking to?  Well it was Roderick’s birthday too so maybe he was using the phone.  He was glad they were staying in because he felt so tired.  Martha was an excellent cook and he was so looking forward to dinner.  As he turned into the drive way Stephen noticed the house was in darkness and Martha hadn’t put the outside light on for him.  Oh no! he thought not another surprise party like they had on their 10th anniversary-he wasn’t in the mood for everyone jumping out saying ‘surprise’.  Of course he’d have to put on a brave face for Martha’s sake.  There couldn’t be any other explanation for the darkness.  He smiled as he stepped from his car ‘get ready’ he told himself ‘act surprised’ He inserted the key in the lock and went in.  Total silence greeted him and there was a strange smell in the air.  He wondered if he should turn the lights on but he didn’t want to ruin everything.  He coughed and made noise but nothing happened.  Then he realised something with a sudden chill-there was no smell of dinner.  He put the presents under one arm in order to turn the hall light on and when he did he began to get an uneasy feeling.  Something was wrong ‘Martha’ he called as loud as he could ‘I’m home’.  ‘Roderick, Rebecca’ he shouted but nothing.  He headed towards the sitting room and switched the light on.  Nothing.  This had gone beyond a joke.  Where were they?  He went towards the dining room turning the lights on as he went.  Reaching for the doorknob he saw the blood.  Then he began to feel sick.  He very reluctantly opened the dining room door and went in.  Stephen Mitchell couldn’t take in what he was looking at.  He must be having a nightmare he thought shaking himself to try and wake up.  Nothing happened- He stumbled over to his wife’s body saying ‘No’ ‘No’ ‘No’ ‘No’ ‘No’ over and over again.  He took her in his arms crying and moaning ‘Martha oh God don’t let this be happening.  Please god let me wake up’.  He gave her the kiss of life but he knew it was no good.  Where were the children?  He put his wife down and rushed out to look for them.  Stumbling into their bedrooms he was roaring now-howling like an animal in pain.  Ten year old Rebecca was lying on the floor with her throat cut and Roderick was lying in a pool of blood in the bathroom-both were dead.  Stephen ran to the toilet and vomited his insides out.  He passed out and when he came around everything was swimming in front of him.  He couldn’t stand up so he crawled back to the dining room to his wife.  ‘Why wasn’t I here’? he kept crying out over and over again.  He saw the phone beside Martha’s body.  Oh my God she was trying to ring him.  There were bloodstains all over the numbers.  ‘Get help’ a voice screamed inside him ‘go and get help’ he crawled to the front door and then tried to walk to his car.

Inspector Fred Maloney was just getting ready to go home when the call came in.  He could hear one of his officers trying to calm someone down on the phone.  ‘Try to remember where you live’ he was saying ‘is it in town or outside the town’?  ‘Have you any mail Sir’? he inquired ‘any letters addressed to your house’?  Eventually they managed to get the address.
The house resembled an abattoir- the three men had never seen anything like it in all their years in the police force.  Two young children and their mother slaughtered and Mr. Mitchell hysterical beyond belief.  ‘I should have been there’ he kept repeating over and over again.  The three policemen walked around in a daze with handkerchiefs pressed to their mouths.  ‘What animal could have done this’? Officer Carr said barely able to take in what he was looking at.  ‘Check out Mr. Mitchell’s story will you Paul’ Inspector Maloney said ‘find out what time the meeting started, ended and if he was there the whole time’  ‘Right Sir’ Paul Carr moved quickly out to his patrol car.  He felt sure that Mitchell was telling the truth because he had never in all his life seen a man so broken, so distraught.
The forensic team came and took fingerprints and the dreadful news spread like wildfire around the area.  Mitchell family slaughtered the newspapers stated next morning and local people couldn’t take in what had happened.  Stephen Mitchell went to stay with his sister and her husband after the police had given him the all clear.  His life was over as far as he was concerned.  What good was anything now?  He took the unopened presents with him as though they were part of his family-the only part that was left.  The funeral was shocking, almost too much for Stephen to bear.  He wanted to die too.  He had nothing to live for anymore.
Bindon’s evil eyes and ears followed every scrap of news concerning the Mitchells.  He was a celebrity in his own mind.  People talked of nothing else.  It was all in the papers and on every news programme, radio and TV.  He felt so powerful.  Back in work he took in all the comments and stored them away.  One woman, a regular at the car park even said to him that whoever did it should be decapitated and that was after they tortured him first.  Bindon listened intently, taking in her every word.  The police had been around asking questions too.  What time had Martha Mitchell left the car park?  Was there anybody else around at the time acting suspiciously?  Was she alone?  What sort of mood was she in?  Was she in a hurry?  He answered everything calmly and truthfully.  He was a Master!  As he was thinking about all this the same woman arrived to pick her car up-the one who had said he should be decapitated!  He jotted down her car number, a smile on his face.  Another uppity bitch.  He was already beginning to feel the stirrings of an adrenaline surge and he liked it- Oh! how he liked it

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