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James Skinner

“I woke up and it was all a dream”, I thought. “Something is not right”. I look at my watch and it’s four in the morning. I’m lying on the living room couch and I feel terrible. I try to get up and this block at the top of my torso is upset. My head hurts like hell. “Why should I be like this, I had a good day. A really good day as a matter of fact!”

I finally staggered to the window. The curtains were still drawn. I was wet from some sort of a cold sweat. I was reeking of alcohol. A half empty bottle of scotch was on the small table. But why? I’m not a heavy drinker. Our drinks cupboard is mainly for friends and they only come occasionally. I then saw that my car was still in the driveway. The front door of the house was open. Now I knew something was terribly wrong!

It was Friday. Jane and the kids had gone to Baltimore to spend the weekend with her parents. I would follow later as I had this deal to close. My company had been working on it for months and we were into the final stages of negotiation. Hopefully it would be over by the end of the week.

I went to the office early that morning. I had spent most of the week revising the small print of the contract and was satisfied that we had completed a good proposal. Only the legal sector was giving us a headache.

“I’m still not convinced that these multiple warranties are safe under your blanket liability cover. How do you feel about them Bob?” Jake addressed his legal beagle. “I’m still not too convinced either, Jake”. My client then looked back at me with a dejected expression on his face which I knew too well. I had to act quickly.

“Lets go to my office. I’ve got something to show you”. Against all ethics, I laid out some previous work we had done for other, albeit, smaller customers. “Take a look at these, every one a satisfied customer. I know this sounds odd in this day and age, Jake, but I give you my honest to God word that we’ll do a good job. I can’t guarantee any more than that, and you know it!”

Jake was looking out of my office window. Not uttering a word. I was sweating blood. He turned around and said: “You got any scotch around?” It was one thirty in the morning.

I was driving back thinking about Jane and the kids. Shall I call and give them the good news? My mind swung round to my golf the next day. Must try and improve my swing. As I drove into Apple Grove road, just off the I 95 and a couple of miles from our cul-de-sac, I hit something – hard! I jammed on the brakes and got out of the car. There she was. Lying across the road.

Her head was facing towards my car. The headlights were focused on those cold dead eyes, staring, crying blooded tears that flowed onto the pavement. I recognised her at once. What the hell was she doing out at this time of the night anyway. Or is it morning?

By this time my mind was spinning. Do I call the cops? How can I, I was drinking with Jake only an hour ago. I can see their reaction. “Blow into this tube, sir. Humn! Well over the limit. Mister, you’re in deep trouble”. I could just picture the accusations. What about if I called an ambulance or fire brigade, report an accident and then disappear. And the Hamiltons? Oh God!

I picked Rosie up an carried her into the woods just off the road. I found a large bush and spread it out to make room for the body. It was out of sight. I drove back home. I didn’t even bother to open the garage. I just ran up the driveway, opened the front door and dropped on the couch. My mind had gone blank.

I’m now piecing it all together. My numb state of shock made me go for the drinks cabinet. Might as well calm these nerves with more alcohol. Couldn’t believe it. My inner sense stopped me from mixing my drinks! I pulled out the scotch. I suppose I eventually flaked out.

“Jesus Christ! What have I done. Am I nuts or something? A perfectly respectable citizen with a decent business and a loving family suddenly turned into a hit and run drunken bastard. Think, man think. You’re in a mess but is it worth digging deeper into this shit hole that you’re now in? And what about the Hamiltons?”

I staggered outside and peered down the sidewalk towards no. 2295. The estate was asleep. No sign of movement anywhere. I walked towards the house. It was a cool clear September night. I was shivering and shaking like the Virginia autumn leaves. I stood at the door. I knocked.

I knocked again and again until finally a light appeared in the kitchen. Two long minutes that seemed like hours went by. John Hamilton opened the door. “Who's there?” Still freezing, not knowing whether it was the cold, the scotch or my inner nervous system gone into overdrive. “I’ve just run over Rosie. I don’t know what to say”.

We were sitting round the kitchen table. John had made some coffee. I told him the whole story. He was sympathetic. “Bessie is going to be very upset but it’s little Bobby who will take it the hardest. Most important though. She must have a decent burial ceremony. I’m sure I’ll be able to soothe the pain. Leave it to me. You go back and rest. We’ll talk tomorrow morning.”

I was glad I had spoken directly with John. I don’t think I could have faced an instant inquisition by the whole Hamilton family. Not at that moment. I went home and switched off. But again I was jolted by a sudden thought.

How deep a hole do you need to bury a four year old red setter in?

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