Monday, 6 January 2014

2--My Crime

My Crime 

Someone said to me after I'd been sentenced "I hope you've learned your lesson!" She didn't mean it in a bad way, but I guess some people are at a loss for words to be fair. However, I took it badly. I have no need of any lessons on this subject. Not for one second did I think my crime was a good idea. There was no thought process involved and I didn't stop to ponder my actions. Believe me, dear reader, if I could go back and insert just an extra half-second into my life anywhere I chose, it would be right there on that night just before I went nuclear.

Some may now be curious as to the nature of my crime. The following is a statement I drafted after being given a generous 48 hours in Dundee's Bell Street cells to gather my thoughts. Incidentally, no one in any official capacity has read this. No one, in any official capacity has been remotely interested in what happened that night. Not the Police, not my solicitors and not the Sheriff. My victim's statement, given a short time after the event and after a night of heavy drinking, stood unchallenged for a year and was read out in Court.

This then, is my narrative:
It was Hogmanay and I arrived at Karen’s house at around 3.30 am and wished Karen a Happy New Year in the entrance. She showed me into the room and introduced me to Myra and Paul. I wished both of them a happy new year, had a brief exchange with Myra about having met her for a few minutes a couple of months ago in Caffe Nero. I sat down on the 3-seater sofa at the far end and Paul was occupying the other end with a space between us. I mentioned to Paul that I recognised him from the Ferry, possibly from the Ship.

I was wearing a new suit and Karen remarked upon it. I had previously been at a family party and my son and I were both wearing suits and had our photographs taken together. I was so proud of the photo I posted it on my facebook page. Karen went to the kitchen to get me a vodka and coke and while she was gone I tried to engage Paul and Myra in conversation by asking them if they’d had a good time and where they had been. I’m not sure what or if they answered. When Karen came back I sipped the vodka and coke and asked her if it was diet coke. She said no, it was normal fat coke. I said it tasted funny and she replied in jest that it was real vodka and not the cheap stuff I normally drink.

Soon, Myra was up on her feet showing the 3 of us how she would fire her rifle in the next Commonwealth games. Her stances were exaggerated with feet wide apart, hips thrust forward and her imaginary rifle pointed at the sky. She said she should be competing (although I got the impression she wouldn’t be) in the next Commonwealth games and that she was better than any man at firing a rifle. While I thought her actions and certainly her stances a little strange, and knowing nothing about guns I tried to ask what I thought were pertinent questions such as “is it an air rifle or shotgun or some other type of gun?” She seemed irritated by my questions so I let it drop. Karen asked Myra in jest if her stances needed to be so provocative. I took this to mean sexually provocative.

I again tried to get a conversation going by asking Paul what he did for a living. An accountant. Oh did he know of Jim who was another accountant I knew? Yes he did. So did Karen and Myra. I struggled to coax Paul into a conversation and his attention seemed to be with Myra so I asked if they were together. No not at all, they had just been at a party together. Are you married? Yes. With these terse replies I gave up.

I can’t hope to repeat every word that was uttered that night and my memory of the time I spent in the room seems to come at me in “scenes” with not much in between. The next scene that comes to mind is Myra sitting on the floor next to Karen. I’ve no idea of the conversation that may have preceded Myra’s next words but I was startled to hear her say “You know your dad cost my family £20,000 due to his incompetence.” Karen’s father has dementia. My mouth fell open at this point but what came next is difficult to convey. Myra’s face took on what I can only describe as a beatific expression pouring with love and with staggering condescension she said “But our family doesn’t bear any grudges Karen.” She repeated the whole statement along with expressions in case anyone missed it.

Throughout the time spent in Karen’s house I don’t remember Karen and I have any conversation other than the discussion about the vodka. Myra seemed to dominate the floor and, in my recollection at least, held everyone’s attention most of the time. She talked about her boyfriend a bit. They weren’t getting on and I was asked if I knew him as we had both worked for the same company. I said I didn’t, I would probably know him by sight but not by name. Myra was now on the floor directly in front of Paul. She complained that her job was awful and that she wished she had something better. Some mention must have been made of her degrees and I tried to sympathise and said but surely if she had 3 degrees there must be lots of openings for her. She said “I have 4 degrees.” Then she named them. I can only remember engineering as it seemed quite unusual. I was impressed and said “wow, well you must easily be able to get something more interesting.” Her jaw trembled and her mouth fell open, mouthing words that never came. Tears began to trickle down her cheeks at the injustice of a world that didn’t recognise her talent. I thought to myself that she didn’t need any degrees as she had a wonderful future on the Stage. A few minutes later I whispered to Karen that “your friend is bat-shit crazy.” I have no idea what bat-shit crazy means but that’s what I said.

I had no bad feelings towards Myra and throughout the whole night I was never rude, trying only to be friendly and jovial. She is, after all, Karen’s best friend. I was, however, amused at her antics and was fascinated by her attractive and agile facial expressions.

Soon Myra had Paul upright in the middle of the floor and they were sparring as if boxers in the ring. She remarked that she was as good at boxing as any man. I may have lost interest at this point because I didn’t see her actually punch Paul but he sat down clutching his stomach as if he’d been winded and said he’d had enough (or words to that effect). I don’t think he was serious, probably just play-acting. Myra motioned for me to take her on but I declined with the soon-to-be apocryphal words “I’ve never hit a woman in my life and I couldn’t ever hit a woman.”

The next scene I remember has Myra sitting in the chair on the opposite side of the room drinking from a glass of red wine. Her hand began to shake and her finger pointed and wagged, eventually aiming in my direction while she mouthed the words “bad, bad” she looked at Karen and said “he’s a bad man you shouldn’t have anything to do with him.”

I asked her calmy “do you think I’m bad because you know I can see right through you?” She said “What do you mean you can see right through me?” I said “look, it’s new year, we’re in Karen’s house, let’s not have any unpleasantness.” She asked me again “what do you mean you can see right through me?” At this point she rose from her chair and strode 4 paces with intent in her eyes, she sat down in the space between me and Paul. I was sitting to the side facing her with our knees almost touching. She asked again “What do you mean you can see right through me?” I said again, “c’mon, it’s new year, we are in Karen’s house …. “ She threw the contents of her glass of red wine in my face and at the shock of this my arms went up in the air and I threw my body backward and head forward to look at the wine landing on my new suit. At this point with my head bowed forward the glass hit my face. My right hand instinctively came down and hit her once. I jumped up from the settee and went nuclear. It was over in a few seconds. I turned round and walked out the door without saying a word. The next salient thought came after hearing Karen scream my name. It was “Oh Fuck.”

The time was roughly 5 am.

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