Why wouldn't he listen? Written for Screams!!! 1/11/2020.
| The Stone
"I told him to leave it," Helen Marsh looked down at the table. "Of course, he wouldn't listen; he never did listen to me and why would this time have been different?"
DI Jenkins scribbled a note. Was he hearing something important, something that might have provided the motivation to murder her husband? Mrs Marsh, was far form young. In fact, he already knew that she was seventy-two years old, fifty-one of which she had been married to the late Fred.
"Tell me again what happened," he urged.
"It just appeared here yesterday. Right in front of where you are sitting."
"The stone, of course. I told him just to leave it alone. It'd go in its own time." She shook her head sadly.
"Can you describe it for me, Mrs Marsh? This stone that suddenly appeared."
"It was just a stone. Not particularly big, but not tiny either. He seemed to think I'd brought it in from outside, but I hadn't. It just... appeared."
"What color was it? Did it have any distinctive markings? Anything that made it look... different to the average stone?"
Helen Marsh looked up. "I've already told you. It was just a stone. It was a pale greyish color; looked pretty much the same as thousands of other stones to me."
"And yet you wanted him to leave it on the table."
"I've already said that, too. If he'd have left it there, he'd still be alive today. I'm sure it would have got bored and gone back to wherever it came from."
DI Jenkins scribbled a few more words, a frown deepening on his face. "What I don't understand is why you told him to leave it there. You say you didn't put it there, and your husband didn't put it there. Why were you insistent that he left it where it was?"
"Can't you see? That's why! If either of us had brought it in, it wouldn't have mattered whether he moved it or not. It wanted to be there for some reason of its own, and when it had satisfied itself, it would have moved on."
"Mrs Marsh, I understand that you have had a terrible shock, but listen to what you are saying!" The inspector tried to wipe the scepticism and disbelief from his face. "Why did you want it left there if it was just like any other stone.
"Because of the stories. I knew what would happen if he didn't leave it alone. I knew all the others would get him."
"Stories? What stories would they be?"
"Old folk tales my Gran used to tell me. She had heard of it happening herself and she passed it on to me."
Grabbing at straws, DI Jenkins asked: "This story, is it printed somewhere? Would there be a report on it."
"Course not," Helen Marsh scoffed. This was when I was a little girl that she told me, and she was as old as I am."
"Had your husband heard the tale?"
"Not until I told him yesterday. 'Old wive's tales' he said. Thought he knew better. He always thought he knew better..."
The detective tried to roll his shoulders to release the tension that was building. He coughed. "Excuse me," he said. "So, let's move on. What happened when Fred decided to toss out the stone?"
"They got him."
"Can you explain it in more detail? Just tell me in your own words what happened once Fred decided to remove the stone."
"Well, he picked it up, of course, and he carried it to the door. I tried one last time to warn him, but he just shook his head and tossed it out with all the others. First it was just one, that hit him back. I guess he thought it was one of the neighbor kids out there for he wouldn't turn away."
"Was there anyone else about that might have seen?" There was no harm in asking; a witness might be able to spread some light on it.
"No, no one, so you're just going to have to take my word for it. After that one stone, they all started lifting up and throwing themselves at him. You saw it. Thousands of him that hit him to the ground and then buried him. That's why I shut the door and phoned you lot."
It was true, that the woman's husband had been found buried beneath thousands of stones. It had looked just like a truck-load of rubble had been emptied on top of him. It would be worth inquiring into. This was a quiet neighborhood. Someone was bound to have noticed a truck that had turned up.
"I can see you don't believe me." Helen Marsh shook her head sadly. "Look, over there by the door, there's still some of them left on the floor, ones that were to small for the door to push back out."
There were stones there on the floor where she pointed. Tiny pebble-sized pieces, that would still have hurt if they had been thrown. He couldn't imagine the aged woman in front of him throwing them, though, no matter how much he doubted her account.
Snapping shut his notebook the detective got to his feet. "We'll be in touch, Mrs Marsh. In the meantime, is there anyone that you would like us to call?"
"No, there's no one. I'll be alright, just so long as I leave it alone," she said.
DI Jenkins looked at the woman. She was back to staring at the table, and there, in front of her was a stone, that he knew had not been there a split second before.