He sat for a long time in the darkness of the little pathway. It was still and quiet. Now and again a car on the main road would assault the silence or a night bird would cry into the gloom. He thought of the girl resting now. There was no doubt that what he had done was right, she would no longer have to sell herself. There was no more need for the sordid things that she had done, the dirty scrabbling in alleyways with perverts and scumbags.
Why the client had wanted her cleaned up didn’t really matter. He didn’t think about that side of the thing very often. The clients contacted him through his small network and told him the location, provided a photograph, it was all he needed to know. That they were all prostitutes was important, vital, they were the ones who needed his help. There were drug addicts, thieves, drunks and adulterers but they weren’t his concern, it was the ones like his mother that he had to help. He wasn’t a common murderer after all, he was a redeemer, atoning for his crime and saving the women.
When Gran had taken him away he had been very young, but later, when he was a teenager, when he was old enough to understand, she had come to him.
Tears fell on his hands where they lay on his lap. He could still hear her pleading with him to help.
“You talk to her Peter, she listens to you. She’ll help me if you ask her to; just tell her I’ve got nowhere to go. I’ve got no money Peter.” He was selfish though, he wanted Gran to himself, he understood that now, he knew his feelings had been wrong, he’d let the memory of neglect from his childhood harden his heart.
“No, I can’t ask her, she said I shouldn’t talk to you.” It was a lie, a dreadful lie, Gran had been searching trying to find her, and of course she would have helped. Her heart was as big as the planet she would have taken her daughter back and made a space in their lives for her. It had been him, all him. He didn’t want her there, his life was clean and safe, his home was warm and precious. He didn’t want her sullying it.
He’d watched her walk away, shoulders slumped. If he closed his eyes now in the darkness of the car he could conjure up the picture of her, skinny legs in tight pants, her hair, dyed too often, hanging like knotted strands over her bony back. She had trailed away up the street; he’d known she was crying. He could have stopped her then, brought her in, saved her life but he didn’t he just watched her go and held the knowledge of her situation locked away. Three weeks later she was dead, drugged, debauched, and ruined lying in the squat.
When the police had come they asked for someone to identify the body. Gran hadn’t wanted him to go but he had insisted, cried and pleaded, and in the end he had gone. He expected to feel some sort of justification for what he’d done. He thought that the sight of her would expunge the residual guilt.
They had her in the hospital, not at the morgue; she was lying in a chapel. There were flowers, and soft music. It was inter-denominational and he remembered wondering if the deities minded sharing space. It had been a strange thought conjured from fear while they waited in the anti room. His mother though, he wasn’t prepared for his mother. They had dressed her in a white gown with long sleeves, they had combed her hair and someone had tied it back with a white ribbon. A sheet covered most of her wasted body but her hands were on top, crossed at her waist. She had been a Catholic and someone had wound a rosary between the clasped fingers. She looked Angelic, absolutely at peace and more beautiful than she had ever been in life. Her long lashes brushed pale cheeks and her lips, though cold and stiff as he kissed them, were almost smiling.
The knowledge of what it all meant was some time becoming clear but when it did he had felt so much more whole than ever in his life. He understood without any doubt that, though he had let his mother down, turned her away in sadness, he could help other girls in the same situation, he could find them the same peace.
The first time had gone badly he hadn’t planned it right. He had found a girl at random and she hadn’t realised that he was helping her, had fought with him and made it violent. It had been very difficult. He had planned the mechanics of it, the knife, such a cleansing weapon. The location, far away from the lights of the town centre, in the back of the park, and he had planned the disposal. That part of his scheme had worked out well. He was confident that the parts of her would never be found, the car was destroyed so very completely, the great jaws of the crusher turning it into a small square of scrap metal with her deep inside wrapped in plastic in the boot. He had been dissatisfied though it wasn’t how he wanted them to end up, they needed a burial, a place to sleep, and that was when he had thought about the graveyards.