“Must be a harrowing few days for you, Miss Roberts?” the Detective Sargent offered the lady a drink of water before settling down in front of her. The lady, Miss Roberts, nodded and sipped on the water. She was looking clearly shaken up by the events that had assailed her.
“I am ready when you are, Miss Roberts,” the Detective tapped on the notepad in front of him with the pen he had been holding and the smile that he had been holding along with the pen.
“I am ready Detective,” Miss Roberts said with a shaky smile.
“State your name for the record please?” the Detective began recording her statement like he had done a zillion times before with other witnesses.
“Gloria Roberts, 28,” Miss Roberts answered.
“And can you tell me a bit of about the circumstances that led you to buying this house?”
“I have lived my life in a small town called Clifton in the Southern Province, it was there that I met my husband Eric Roberts and we moved to Philadelphia soon after. Then we got married. It was the happiest time of my life. Eric was a good man and took real good care of me.”
Miss Roberts waited a while allowing the Detective to catch up with her words.
“Then last November I was hit by a tragedy. Eric never got home from work. The police found his car on the side of the road and his body in the boot. It was case of burglary clearly. All his valuables were stolen and everything he had on him.”
Miss Roberts paused a while, her eyes brimming with tears. This time it was the Detective’s turn to allow her the time to catch up.
“We did not have any insurance and the house was the only asset that I had. So I sold the house and moved here, to this city. The house on Fairmont Street was at half price. I figured I could get a roof over my head and save enough to live till I found myself a job. And then this happened… It seems like I am plagued by tragedy.” Miss Roberts took her handkerchief and wiped her tears.
The Detective pushed the glass of water towards her but she preferred to keep talking.
“I found myself a job with the Investment firm on Fern Heights. Things were beginning to get settled. Then the rat thing started to happen.” “Rat thing?” the Detective asked frowning.
Miss Roberts nodded and went on with her story; “On the South side of my apartment I share the wall with Mr. Nicholas, my neighbor. Every night I would hear strange grating sounds from the direction. I thought it was Mr. Nicholas up to some odd job at night but when I asked him to keep it down he said he had no clue what I was talking about. So I decided to keep a vigil. It was then that I saw them, rats! They had made themselves a little burrowing hole in the wall and would scamper in and out. Now, let me tell you Sargent, I am petrified of rats. I let out a scream and shut myself in the bedroom all night. The first thing I did in the morning was to call the Pest Control chaps and asked them to fix the rats and the burrowing hole.”
The Detective Sargent was writing as fast as he could. Miss Roberts did avail herself the drink of water finally.
“And did they find it?” asked the Sargent.
“They did Detective. Jim Ferro is his name. He is the leader of the Pest Control brigade. One look at the wall and he told me that it was a fake wall and that if I wanted to be rid of the rat menace I should break the wall down. I would do almost anything to rid myself of the rats and so I allowed them to tear the wall down. And then…. and that is when the dead body came tumbling out.” The Detective nodded. “Do you know the identity of the body Miss Roberts?” inquired the Detective.“Now I do Detective. Apparently a travelling salesman who has been missing for about six months, I saw it on the news,” Miss Roberts informed the Detective.
“That was a month and a half before you bought the house. Is that right?”
Miss Roberts nodded, “I feel I have been duped by the past owner into buying this house, no wonder it was going for so less.”
“Well, we shall surely find what went on there but I would like to thank you for all your help,” the Detective offered her a handshake which Miss Roberts accepted.
On the street Miss Roberts began to plan the next killing. This was a really cool plan, kill and then plant the body way before you move in to a place and be the one to discover it. Her husband in the boot and the man behind the wall were still easy. This time around it had to be something far more difficult. But first things first, she had to scout a house and a worthy victim.
In his office Detective Sargent Philby looked at the little rubber rat that he had placed so carelessly next to the door, he wondered why Miss Roberts never noticed that rat when it sat in front of her all the while.
Perhaps, the game of cat and mouse was about to begin!