Saturday, July 15, 2017. Daily Brit Wit.
Do a runner:
Leave or escape hastily or furtively.
*Part three of the Pasha series: check out Pants to stay in the loop.
"He's back in a daze, events flashing by his sight in dizzying spells of technicolour and logged down sounds, barely cognizant of people speaking to him. It's worse than staring unseeing at London through a cab when he's distracted; this is definitely more nauseating. He's permitted to pack a small bag of personal items until…well, Pasha will not be staying at home for the foreseeable future. Probably won't ever step foot back in it again.
He's escorted to the Met's and the bobbies thankfully don't handle him with child gloves or pity. Further, he is taken inside the lead investigator's office, a Sergeant Jameson, the same man he's been with all afternoon.
Currently, Pasha is gathering his thoughts. Despite his innate knowledge –speculation, he acknowledges, plenty of people would correct- he doesn't want to falsely point his fingers. Sergeant Jameson has asked Pasha several times if he knows anyone who wanted to hurt Zoya or Ekaterina. Of course Pasha has his speculations! The question he's grappling is whether Pasha wants to exploit the hunch.
'Pasha,' the sergeant urges softly, an underlying firmness meant to encourage the devastated brother toward sharing.
Pasha shakes his head to clear it. Hands fist at the short strands near his temples. 'I…I don't feel comfortable speculating without all the facts.' He settles.
'Tell me about Zoya and Ekaterina,' he redirects instead.
A faint, indulgent smile perks up a corner of Pasha's mouth. 'Zoya met Katie five years ago. They were roommates in uni. It was an instantaneous connection for Ekaterina; Zoya is shy, reserved you understand, and took some time warming up to Katie's exuberance. They married six months ago.'
His eyes sting yet he makes no move to wipe away the evidence.
'Both sides of the family harboured…,' he exhales in a gust, head cradled firmly between palms. He glances up and locks eyes with Jameson. 'Our parents are traditionalists. Zoya never hid her sexuality but she also never blatantly flaunted it around our parents. I've known since she was fifteen.
'Ekaterina's family isn't much different. Despite being traditionalists, my parents refused to disown Zoya. Ekaterina's family had no such qualms of disavowing their daughter, however. This I've known as long as I've known Katie. About fifteen months ago, Katie's mum reached out to her, wishing to reconcile. As far as I'm aware, they made amends. Though,' he reflects, 'she made a passing comment about her mother's health the other day. Or was it her dad?'
Silence settles between them, contemplative instead of suffocating. Pasha absentmindedly picks at the plastic cup sat before him. The sergeant taps a biro against the desk's edge.
'Did either woman have issues with exes?'
He hesitates. 'Recently?'
'Were the issues ever physical?'
'Not- not that I am aware. Zoya's ex was emotionally abusive, but I don't think she's heard from her since before the wedding.'
Pasha deflates, eyes fluttering closed. 'It's…complicated.'
'I'm a surprisingly decent listener.'
'It's…Katie grew up with a local boy back in the Ukraine. Her parents assumed they would marry, I suppose, to put the situation simply. They never dated, but Katie confided in Alexei and he betrayed her confidence by going immediately to her parents. She's been on her own since just prior uni starting due to the fall out.'
'You think this childhood friend may hold a grudge enough to harm Ekaterina?'
A pause before Pasha shakes his head in an I-don't-honestly-know way.
'Do you know if it ever got physical?'
'From what Zoya expressed to me, yes.' He relents. 'Katie's mum kept their wedding from the family. They eloped, but that's not the point. The point is Katie's mum reconciled with her and never let on to it. Her father found out and somehow Alexei was told. He found them about six weeks ago. They live out in Surrey. Absolutely freaked out my sister. So I offered my home,' he shrugs then sags against the plastic-backed chair.
'This Alexei seems to be good for it?'
'My money's always been on Alexei or Katie's brother Basil.' Pasha finally says. 'But I won't tell you anymore until the autopsies return.'
He stays in a hotel not far from the Met. He calls work and explains the situation, agreeing he needs to go on an immediate sabbatical. There are only three weeks left of the semester before he'd officially go on leave; they're pushing it up. He waits before picking up his mobile to break his parents' heart for as long as he's able.
His mother's wails keeps Pasha up all night.
He shows up at the police station round nine, two to-go coffees in hand. Thankfully, Jameson spots him before Pasha has to ask for the sergeant.
They find themselves back in the same positions as last night, nursing coffee instead of water.
'The autopsies?' Pasha inquires.
'Asphyxiation for Ekaterina, though the blow to her head was a result after she fell and knocked it against the banister.' Jameson states.
'You think whoever did it wanted to keep her alive?'
The sergeant noticeably hesitates a couple beats as coffee lingers in the air before shaking his head in negation. 'Not really, judging by the finger-shaped bruises round her neck. Her mouth and nose were likely covered.'
'Blunt force trauma to the head.'
'Wait,' he calls out in confusion. 'Were there two men involved? You said Katie had bruises on her neck and she likely suffocated due to mouth and nose covered.'
The sergeant appears impressed at Pasha's connection, but it's quickly covered. 'Could be; just conjecture right now. However, the strangulation could have happened before…we got the call for a potential domestic violence. By the time we got there, the bastard had done a runner and we found Ekaterina. She was gone before we arrived.'
Pasha can't take in the information. He's struggling to accept his sisters' demise, let alone their violent ends.
'Have you lifted any prints?'
'Some partials that we're still running,' Jameson offers. 'Can't say much more, unfortunately.'
He nods in understanding.
Then he stands, shakes hands with the sergeant while making his excuses. After all, he must pick up his parents. His mother detests flying and their train arrives by quarter to eleven.
A week later, after Pasha has settled the funeral arrangements and catering to his parents, he has a moment to think. And he bloody well hates it.
He's slept a grand total of ten hours all week, if he's lucky. He'll catch power naps throughout the day but startles awake from the nightmares in a full-blown panic attack. His mother is a wreck, exasperated when they discover Zoya was pregnant. She was seven weeks along and Pasha wonders if his sister planned on telling him during her stay. He imagines she'd have to, eventually; food poisoning wouldn't have lasted as a good cover beyond an extra day: Pasha would've swept her off to A&E.
And he's not heard back from Katie's family. Honestly, Pasha doesn't expect to hear from them. For one, he's never interacted with them. They don't even know Pasha's name, he thinks, let alone his work or where he lives. But not to show at their daughter's funeral?
They were supposed to be safe in London.
His mobile vibrates in his trousers pocket and Pasha answers before it goes to answerphone. 'Hello?'
'Pasha, it's Sergeant Jameson with the Met.' The voice on the other line clarifies. 'Listen, I need to ask you a couple questions.'
'I'll see if I can help.'
'Great. Do you happen to know the last time Ekaterina saw her mother?'
'You mentioned they reconciled, but did they see each other frequently?'
'No. Their communication was largely through sporadic phone calls. Her mother never left Ukraine.'
Pasha balks. 'Yes, I am certain. I fancy such a huge move from her mother would have constituted my sister informing me about it. Zoya never trusted that woman. Couldn't forgive her of bad blood,' he scoffs. 'Katie's heart is –was too big. She forgave way too easily. Zoya urged Katie to slow things down with her mum, make certain it wasn't a ploy.'
'Let's say Zoya knows what it's like to forgive someone too soon and leave it at that.'
'Fair enough,' Jameson acquiesces. 'So there's no way Ekaterina interacted with her mother or a sister physically within the last day she was alive?'
'None at all,' he affirms. 'She didn't have any sisters.'
An exhale fills Pasha's ears. 'We believe the partial prints we lifted off Ekaterina's neck belongs to a female relative.'
Pasha's knees wobble despite already sitting down. 'Her mother?' He's incredulous.
His hearing goes out. It's like pressing your ear to a seashell as a lad, convinced the rushing waves you're hearing are the ocean and not your blood. His vision dances with white specks even after he clenches his eyes shut. He can't breathe.
'Pasha?' The sergeant's frantic bass calls out. 'Are you all right?'
No, Pasha thinks, I'm not."