Murder in Mind
Copyright 2011 by Steve Winshel
The cell phone vibrated against the cup holder and McNair could faintly hear it beneath the blaring radio. He turned down the music and reached for the phone, stealing a quick glance at the number of the caller, then put eyes back on the darkened road curving ahead. It was a patient, ringing his emergency number at nine o’clock at night. They only did that if it was important. He closed the phone and tossed it onto the empty passenger seat. Hitting the accelerator, he made the back tires skid and thought about home, a beer, and a steak on the grill.
The phone went to voicemail and a woman began to plead. “Please, please, Dr. McNair…call me. Please call me back.” Miles from where McNair drove through the night, she held the phone close to her face, the glowing dial pad playing with the dark closet interior. Shadows from her clothes slashed across her face. There was no lock on the closet but there was a flimsy one on the bedroom door and she prayed it was stronger than it looked. She pushed back further into the corner, the tips of a pair of shoes poking her, angering the bruise above her kidney where her husband had hit her with the base of the lamp.
She hung up and then hit the ON button to get another dial tone. She could hear it echo in the room and quickly covered the ear hole. She knew she should call 911, wanted to call the police, but her fingers hesitated just above the pad. She looked at her hand instead of the phone and saw the cracked, bleeding nail. Ten minutes earlier she’d clawed at the ground, then at her husband’s arms, as his hands closed around her throat. He’d stopped – the, wild, distant look in his eyes fading for a moment, and the apologies had started to pour out. She’d run upstairs, banging into the wall as she made the turn on the first step going too fast. He’d called after her, wanting her to come back so he could make it right. His soothing voice started to change as she continued to hide. He started to sound irritated, then angry when she failed to come back and let him show her everything would be okay. And now he was on the stairs, demanding she come down, more strident with each step toward the bedroom.