Winter seemed reluctant to release its hold and I, for one, was mighty grateful. It meant the lake on the outskirts of town would remain frozen a little longer. Then the first, weak rays of the Spring sun would start a gentle thaw and my secret would be out.
I’d like to say I hadn’t meant to kill young Jessie but that would be a lie. I enjoyed every moment of it, revelled in her clawing and screaming and the following adrenaline rush of disposing of her body. It had been my first time but I knew it wouldn’t be my last.
I realise now, how fortunate I’d been, you could call it beginners luck. Dumping a body in the lake would not now be my first choice, too unpredictable, no saying how quickly it’s going to be found. But, as I was saying, my first time and I was lucky. That night we had our worst storm of the winter and the next day everything was frozen solid. There was no way, sweet Jessie was going to be found, not straightaways at least.
Like the other good folk of this town, I did my stint of searching for her. We looked everywhere. Everywhere that was except beneath those frozen waters. As you can imagine there were plenty of rumours going around. Some said she had a secret boyfriend, a married man no less. That frightened some of the men folk in town. There were lots of them used to watch Jessie stroll down the street and think thoughts married men ought not to think.
Her school friends said she wasn’t like that and there were no boyfriends or at least none they knew about. They said she was more interested in her school work than in boys. When they interviewed me I reiterated that sentiment. I told them what a delightfully hard-working and conscientious student Jessie had been and I should know, what with being her teacher.
I kept a few things. Not as mementos, I don’t think that’s going to be my style. Too dangerous. Locks of hair, pieces of jewellery, items of clothing, stuffed in a box under the floorboards, always have a chance of being found. And the last thing I want is to be caught.
No, the things I kept are going to be used to help the police track down her murderer. It’s someone I’ve had in mind for a while. In fact he’s one of the married men in town. Fits the bill nicely.
Peter Jenkins. Runs the local hardware store. Nice enough guy but not a friend as such. I chose him because I happen to know his wife and son were out-of-town on the night in question and he was home alone. Not the greatest of alibis.
I’ve made up one of those trinket boxes for him. Not a lot in it, just enough for the police to feel they’ve got their man. Her St. Christopher necklace, a lock of her hair. Some particularly gruesome photos of her naked body and of course an item of her clothing. I thought long and hard on this one. Underwear seemed a little too obvious, her blouse too big, so in the end I went for her scarf. You could still smell her perfume on it.
I was round at his house last week, he and Mrs Jenkins were out celebrating a birthday or something. It was all too easy. I found a conveniently loose floorboard in his study. While I was there I signed him up for a few of those Internet sites, you know the ones I mean and just for good measure put a few photos I had of Jessie walking round town, on his hard drive.
A few days from now and the police are going to get an anonymous tip-off. They’ll start by looking at his computer and I’m sure it won’t take them long to find the mementos.
As for me, well I’m happy to wait. Give people time to fully digest this news. Then I’m due for a move, a new job, promotion maybe. Looking forward to meeting another Jessie.