It’s amazing how quickly unusual situations become the new normal. The town, everyone in it, sort of got used to living in a permanent state of morbid expectation. We weren’t resigned to death, just the anticipation of it. It sneaked into our everyday, like creosote for our lives. Thanks to the papers, the board in the market square, we couldn’t escape it. Their deaths were like acid reflux; everyone had to relive them over and over again.
Kitty’s postmortem came back inconclusive. The local papers splashed the results across the front pages, seemingly rejoicing in the ambiguity of it all, as if the town wasn’t frantic enough,
MONDAY, 10TH APRIL
KITTY MURDER: POSTMORTEM INCONCLUSIVE
Schoolgirl’s body unable to provide definitive answers; Killer at large
It was just one more thing that was opaque, foggy; no one was actually sure what had killed her.
The coroner found cocaine and LSD in Kitty’s blood stream as well as prescription drugs a plenty, mostly the kind used to sedate horses five times Kitty’s size. Cath was buried in a small plot in her local church, but they exhumed her body to see if the same could be said of her. It took weeks. The graveyard was frozen. And new questions buzzed round my brain. How far had her body decomposed in the weeks before it was given a second airing? Was her hair still curly? Still attached to her head? Had her nails fallen off? They found the same thing, of course. A right cocktail of drugs but in smaller doses. They’d been overlooked because apparently they’d stopped looking for anything else after they discovered she contained six grams of coke. They had simply thought Cath had over-party-ed.
There was a huge public spat between the police, the council and the local MP over who was to blame. Brown got involved to apologise for Police fuck-ups and they showed the same 20 minutes of footage on rolling news for like, two weeks. It didn’t help the circulating rumours. How the killer had forced barbiturates down their throats. How a puddle of cigarettes had been found next to Kitty’s body, where he had watched and waited. Waited and watched. It fueled talk of witchcraft, cults and spells. How Becky and Rebecca were discovered leaning over Cath’s coffin, long before the earth had been filled in, throwing hankies down for good luck; it’s an old folklore tradition. How Kitty was found on Meon Hill, specifically because the Devil was said to have built it in response to the building of Clevesham Abbey. How he had killed her in exactly the same place as a local farmer was found stabbed to death with a pitchfork in 1945. How she’d been painted too, with markings on her back that led to the afterlife.
The local paper fought really hard to get special privilege for both Kitty and Cath to be laid in the Abbey. No one gets that. Well, except Saint Egwin (who had to undertake a pilgrimage to Rome in shackles for the honour) or that other guy, Simon. The one who led the rebellion against King Henry III, became ruler of England and an originator of modern parliamentary democracy. The fact that the first died in 720 and the second in 1265 is a useful reminder of how little normally goes on round here.
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