Tuesday, February 07, 2006

One foot in the grave

Hello all, Suburbanhen here. Have some fiction!
How Carla had managed to be right there at the very moment the shoe had come hurtling down from the cloudless blue sky she did not know. Perhaps she would find out the Why’s of the matter later. But for now, the reality of the situation was that she was there, right there, when the shoe had fallen from the sky. Of course it hadn’t just fallen from the sky impromptu. It had in fact come from the concrete pedestrian overpass that Carla was jogging under at the very same time, making its graceless entrance into Carla’s life.
It had startled her, landing in the path of her early morning jog. It would have startled anyone, really. And it had landed on the grey cement just a few paces ahead of her, so it was impossible to miss and most awkward to avoid stepping on, though Carla did manage to avoid it, but only just. In coming to a halt mid stride and being able to look back and clearly see the shoe, Carla became wide eyed and very thankful that the shoe had not fallen a moment later and perhaps landed on her, or had caused her to trip over it.
The shoe itself was a well-worn mens dark brown leather deck shoe, with matching leather cord laces. And it would have hurt had it landed on her. But it really wasn’t the shoe that held Carla’s steadfast gaze. It was the bloodied foot still inside it.

“Did you see who threw the shoe?” Detective Nicole Davenport was sitting across from Carla, an unremarkable beige government-issue laminate desk between them.
“Well, no. We know I didn’t see who threw the shoe, because I wrote that in my statement and I’ve told three other officers that I did not see who threw the shoe” Carla said through a slightly clenched jaw. She was becoming irritated by the circular nature of the questioning and it was beginning to show. It had become like some tawdry version of an American cop show. Only it wasn’t. It was her very real Sunday morning gone swimmingly bad.
“I understand your frustration here, Miss Hunter”
“Carla, please”
“Carla. I understand your frustration, but we’re just following procedure. And we have a…” Detective Davenport referred to a photo in front of her “…we have a left foot without a body. You can maybe understand that we need to cover all bases?”
Carla smiled thinly at the detective.
“Of course.”
The detective continued with the repeated line of questioning that Carla had already endured for three hours since having had the misfortune of a foot laden deck shoe landing in front of her on her morning run. By lunchtime the police decided that Carla was indeed just an innocent bystander and had let her go. The midday sun was bright as she left the foyer of the police headquarters. Carla didn’t have her sunglasses. In fact, she was still in her t-shirt and shorts from her run and she was several more kilometres from home than intended, without a mobile phone to call a cab. Spinning on her sneakered heel, she made to go back into the station in the hope of finding a phone. As the automatic glass doors opened Carla found herself facing the officer who had been first on the scene after her triple 0 call from a roadside phone booth that morning. Officer Marcus Levy was so good looking Carla had instantly begun planning how she might find reason to take lunch at the nearby cafes during the week in the hope of bumping into Levy again. By the end of the morning, however, Carla just wanted them all to catch some form or laryngitis so that they all might never be able to speak with her again, Levy included. She didn’t care how chiselled his jaw or chocolate brown his eyes.
“Miss Hunter, I was hoping to catch you”.
Carla inwardly groaned. They’d let her go. She wanted nothing more to do with these people or their stupid body-less foot. She smiled at Officer Levy.
“Yes officer?”
“Just wanted to see if you needed a lift somewhere?”
Taken aback, Carla let a more genuine smile through to her lips and considered the man in front of her. Maybe she could keep the company of his chiselled jaw a little longer, if just to get home.

The air-conditioning of the police sedan blew its cool breath across Carla’s overly warm skin. Officer Levy turned down the police band radio so that it was just a low murmur in the background. Carla sank into the passenger seat of the police car and let out a low sigh.
“It’s been a big day” Levy offered.
“Hmm?” Carla’s mind had wandered and the sound of Levy’s voice brought her back.
“You’ve had a big morning. Or is finding feet on the footpath just a regular Sunday for you Miss Hunter?” Levy let a smile into his voice.
“Sorry. I was just…” she liked the way he said Miss Hunter.
“Don’t be sorry.” Levy looked to Carla for a second “You’ve been great today. Really helpful.”
“Oh” Carla was unsure of what to say next “Um, that’s ok. Any time.” She cringed at herself “I don’t mean that. Any time, I mean. I mean, I don’t want to find feet every day…” she trailed off, blushing. Marcus gave a little laugh.
“I think I understand. Say, are you hungry?” Marcus asked. Carla was hungry. Even though a part of her was disgusted that she could think about food after having dealt with the gore of the foot, her hollow stomach was making her quite aware that she hadn’t eaten since dinner the night before.
“Let’s grab something.” Marcus was already turning the police car into Milton Road.
“I’m not really dressed for lunch” Carla objected. Marcus nodded toward his uniform.
“Neither am I. But how about we do it anyway?”
There it was. That smile that Carla was beginning to realise might signal the end of her self-induced man drought. She wasn’t ready, but it was happening anyway.
“Sure. Why not?” Carla let caution to the wind.

“You what?!” squawked Matilda, the receptionist of the law firm that Carla was temping for. It was in response to Carla explaining her… activities from the day before. It was Monday morning and Carla was practically walking on air.
“I found a foot and went to lunch with the investigating officer” Carla repeated herself more simply “And keep your voice down. Oliver’s looking.” The managing director, Oliver Hardy, was making coffee in the open plan kitchenette, plainly visible from reception.
“I heard you the first time, you ninny! I’m just a little surprised.” Matilda hissed.
“You’re surprised. How about you go finding a foot and see how surprised you are then?”
“I can imagine. No. I can’t imagine.” Matilda took a perfectly manicured talon to the air between her and Carla.
“You need to be careful.” Matilda stabbed her red nail accusingly at Carla. “I bet it’s the Mafia”
“Matilda, we don’t have the Mafia here in Australia.”
“Oh! Yes we do, little miss. We certainly do.” Matilda said with an air of authority. Matilda’s last name was Costa. Her parents were Italian immigrants and had named their first Australian baby Matilda to try and assimilate. It hadn’t worked, Matilda instead opting to use her confirmation name of Maria throughout he school years. It wasn’t until she’d left school that she had become more comfortable with the name. Matilda’s family had remained steeped in their heritage and culture even after moving from Italy and had made the Brisbane Italian community their home. If anyone thought they knew something about the Australian Mafia, it would be Matilda.


At 2:56 PM, Blogger Alecya Giovanni said...

Ack! More! I love it!

I am a terrible sap for murder mysteries with a bit of romance tossed in. And I love the foot/shoe. Brilliant.

At 5:11 PM, Blogger Huggies said...

Have you been inspired by the latest Melbourne gangland murder of Mario Condello?

At 11:44 PM, Blogger SwissToni said...

I really like that. I was never quite sure where it was going - from the moment the shoe falls out of the sky and turns out to have a foot in it, right through to the officer turning up and asking our heroine out to lunch. I've read enough to know that I want to read more. Are you planning to do any more? Where do you think it will go?

(and I love the fact that the company MD is called Oliver Hardy too. Brilliant. You don't make a play of it - you just drop it in there)

Good stuff Di.


At 10:13 AM, Blogger Suburban Hen said...

Thank you guys. Yes, Huggies, there is a direct line of art imitating life in this instance and yes, Swiss, there will be more. I hope. At least, I plan on it.


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