Murder in the First - an excerpt
An eerie sea fog shrouded the rocky shoreline, enveloping the massive cliffs and dense foliage while rolling slowly across the countryside. Bethel cursed the limited visibility but was thankful for the obscurity as she drove towards the cliff. Verdi’s Requiem played from her iPod that had been tossed carelessly on the dashboard, an appropriate choice that reflected her mood. Bethel sang along with the chorus, her fingers tapping the steering wheel, her foot resting gently on the gas pedal as the car inched its way through the thickness. She kept her eyes on the familiar road, the dim lights cutting through the fog, applying the brakes when she reached the top.
Bethel shut off the engine but remained in the car, waiting for the last song in her playlist to finish before opening the door, silently begging the Lord’s forgiveness for the grave sin she was about to commit. She stepped onto the graveled road, her senses heightened as the sound of crashing waves resonated throughout the still night. When she opened the back door, a solitary tear escaped from the corner of her eye as Michael slumped forward, hitting his head against the driver’s seat, his soft moans deafening in the stillness.
"We’re here," Bethel said while helping Michael out of the car.
"My head," Michael whispered, leaning against Bethel for support as he shuffled along the road, his gait unsteady upon the loose pebbles.
Bethel spoke of nonsensical things, knowing Michael would be comforted by her steadfast voice as they approached the edge. She struggled under his weight, ignoring his incoherent questions as the effects of the drug began to wear off.
"Not much further. You can do this…you must do this," Bethel thought.
"I’m…cold," Michael stuttered as Bethel stopped abruptly, which caused him to stumble forward.
Bethel stepped away quickly as Michael flapped his arms to steady himself while the earth crumbled beneath him. She looked away, closing her eyes and covering her ears as he fell off the cliff and into the sea, the roaring surf obscuring his screams. A salty mist caressed Bethel’s face as she peered at the rocks below through the lifting fog. Minutes seemed like hours as she searched for Michael’s body, which was nowhere to be seen.
As red and orange hues lightened the darkened sky, Bethel drove down the steep hill, singing along with the chorus as Verdi’s haunting melody warmed her heart.
It was Sunday morning and the church bells rang loudly, calling the faithful to prayer. Bethel hurried across the gardens, entering the cathedral just as the priest kissed the altar. She stood in the last pew, near the door, as she waited for Mass to begin. She mumbled the responses, behaving appropriately for the hour, but waiting impatiently for the service to be over while wondering if God had forgiven her. The bells pealed again as the priest and the altar servers processed out of the church, but just as Bethel was about to leave, someone grasped her arm.
"I know what happened to Michael," the stranger whispered.