– Yes. (Pull the shawl closer, don’t let this copper see.)
I’m sorry for your loss.
– Thank you (Which loss? My dignity, my freedom, my life?)
My apologies but there’s just a couple of questions.
– Of course.
When did you find your husband?
– When I opened the lounge curtain, I saw him. (Exactly where I left him last night.)
Forgive me, but you hadn’t noticed he’d not slept in his bed?
– No, sometimes he preferred the couch (He’d lie there, waiting, watching, like a funnel-web spider)
He went out last night?
– Friday; drinking night (and every other night)
You didn’t hear him return?
– No. That storm went right over, so loud. I was hiding. (In the garden. Even outside in pouring rain was safer than getting caught inside)
You don’t like storms?
– No. (His favourite go-for-it nights. Neighbours couldn’t hear my screams.)
How long have you been married?
– Sixteen years. (Long enough. Virginal frisson morphed into searing burns)
We believe he was drunk.
– Yes. (He stumbled in the gate. Thunder bore closer; hell approaching.)
We think he stopped for a pee.
– Yes. (Fumbling at his belt, anticipating finding me)
Unfortunately he chose the flagpole.
– Yes. (Crashed into it, trousers open wide; a fine figure of a man.)
He somehow got the pole wrapped in his belt.
– Yes. (I frantically grabbed the belt ends. Lightening flashed as I pulled them tight. Managed to get the buckle prong in the hole; there is a God)
It looks like he tried to get free.
– Yes. (Drunken hands fighting slippery leather)
The storm must have been right overhead.
– Yes. (Neighbours couldn’t hear his fury.)
The flagpole took a direct hit.
– Yes. (Noise, hellish flash, his arcing body, rain pouring down.)
It’s no consolation, but death was probably instant.
– No. (Painless was not my choice for him.)
Is there a friend we can call?
– No. (I wasn’t allowed friends.)
Is there anything we can do?
– No. (Leave him there, half-fried. Let me build a cremation pyre, dance around the flames until midnight, and throw his ashes onto the motorway.)
We’ll leave you in peace then.
– Yes. (Blessed peace.)
Thank you Mrs Collins.