Celia Part 2
I turned around and went home. I may have hurried, but I certainly didn’t run. Another stroke of luck– I’m beginning to think that the universe wanted Celia dead; it would certainly explain how she managed to fall at exactly the right angle to snap her spine– I didn’t run into anyone I knew. Edinburgh (this was during my university days, you understand) is quite a small city and more often than not, I would meet at least one acquaintance walking between the theatre and my flat. But there wasn’t anyone.
I got in, made myself a cup of tea and then, I believe, watched an episode of Doctor Who. I don’t remember which one– oh wait, yes, I do, it was Let’s Kill Hitler. Is that ironic? No. Celia was irritating and rude but I’m not going to pretend I did the world a favour by killing her. She was too boring to be the next Hitler.
By the end of the episode, I’d convinced myself that I hadn’t done anything. After all, there was no immediate proof apart from the lapsed time. There was no blood on my hands to fervently– and fruitlessly– try to wash off. There was no beating heart beneath the floorboards. Not even a stolen item to shove in a drawer and only look at when I feel remorseful which, I’ll be honest, is less often than I should.
There was nothing to solidly, unwaveringly convince me that I’d done the crime, so at half eleven, I went to bed and I think I was asleep before midnight, not really sure of what was real and what I’d just made up.
I at least had the decency to dream about her, but it wasn’t as dramatic as I’d have liked. I mean, she was angry, sure, but she wasn’t covered in blood or ectoplasm or anything– she wasn’t even the focus of the dream, that was the ladder– and not that much happened. I just kind of walked past her, cussing a little, towards the ladder, at the top of which was something unknowable and red.
And then I woke up and I remembered and I realised it was real. I had a little panic– not because she was dead, but because I thought I might be caught. I want to state here that I am not a complete psychopath– if I’d accidentally offed someone I cared about, I would’ve felt very guilty indeed– but, honestly, my acquaintance with Celia had been brief. I’d only known her about eight months at this point and we’d never really had a conversation. We moved in the same circles but always at opposite ends of the circumference. She was a techie, I was a creative. She didn’t do the tech for any of my shows, so there was never really any reason for us to talk. But we were friends on Facebook, I remember that much.
She was only important to me because she became the figurehead of all the unenlightened masses who just hadn’t got my play. At least she’d chosen that position willingly, because she knew that I could hear her when she was slagging it off. And now of course, she’s important to me as the only person I’ve ever killed (a voice in my head is adding “so far”– but I’m fairly certain that that’s it for me. Not because of guilt, per se. I just don’t want to push my luck.)
Anyway, I tried to think if I’d left anything behind, but the only things I’d had on me were my clothes– now in a heap on the floor– my keys– and I must have taken them because I managed to get back in afterwards– and my laptop– which was currently sitting on my desk with I-player still open.
I thought it all out quite logically– if she was okay and she could move or someone had found her, then the police would have phoned me in the night because she presumably would have dobbed me in for knocking her over and then leaving.
If she was okay but she couldn’t move and they hadn’t found her, I was fucked because she would dob me in and there was very little I could do to stop her, unless I went back and killed her now. But that was risky because I might be caught in the act– there were more rehearsals scheduled today.
If she was dead then…well, really that was the best option for me. I panicked for a few seconds but my rationality took hold. I hadn’t left anything behind. Everyone had seen me go home; no one had seen me go back. Any DNA could be explained by my well-documented involvement within the theatre. I had certainly held the ladder more than once. It’s true, I had been bitching about her for months, but then we were a theatre crowd– everyone else had been as well.
So now, I had to find out if she was dead. I honestly didn’t know how I would find out. No one young that I’d known had died before. I checked Facebook– was that the sort of thing people posted online? Well, there wasn’t anything about it that I could see. Would someone phone me? Why would they? I had no prominent connection to Celia, as far as they knew.
And then I glanced at my computer clock and realised it was time to go to rehearsal. I was going to have to go back. The murderer was going to return to the scene of the crime. I’m ashamed to admit, I kind of liked that. It felt dramatic and I was, in part, an actor.
So I got dressed, grabbed my laptop again because that’s what I normally did and I wanted to appear normal. And I set out. Calm as you like.
My guess is they must have discovered her as I was walking there– like I said, I’ve never inquired after specific details because I’m not a moron. All I know is, by the time I got there, we weren’t allowed in. Soon after, they put the police tape up and it all became an episode of The Bill. Someone said that Celia was dead and I fucking deserve an Oscar for my performance in that moment because it was the exact right mixture of shock, disbelief and confusion, all delightfully underplayed and completely naturalistic. My frequent critics wouldn’t have believed I had it in me. I bet Celia wouldn’t have.
We were sent home and only then was something put on Facebook– a very cloying, gushing and frankly untrue post about what a wonderful person she was, posted directly to the theatre’s group page and I liked it because everyone else had, but I remember I didn’t comment. I didn’t want to overdo it.
The police ruled the death accidental, there was a funeral that I didn’t attend, a memorial service at the theatre that I did and then that was more or less that. They changed the rules about when people could use the ladders and how many people had to be in the building, et cetera. People kept on saying that if only someone else had been there to foot the ladder, Celia might still be alive and I found it very hard not to laugh.
There was a little talk about closing the theatre but it never came to anything, which is good because some of my greatest dramatic triumphs were still to come there. I did think briefly about quitting the arts out of respect for my victim, but then I realised that that would be suspicious and that I hadn’t respected her, so it would be meaningless anyway. Rather annoyingly, the programme for my next show contained a dedication to Celia and I really wanted to get it removed– after all, it was her unmuted disdain for my shows that got her killed– but I couldn’t really say that now could I?
A few months later, I went on a year abroad to Australia where I didn’t think about it all too much and when I came back, I found that Celia’s death had become a kind of horror tale for young technicians about the dangers of rigging on your own. They didn’t say anything about watching your stupid mouth or bad mouthing art when you’re clearly a philistine or just showing people basic respect, sadly, so the new crop of techies was just as insufferable as she was.
But I didn’t kill any of them. I found that I didn’t really care what they thought– I think that angry part of me died with Celia. Not literally but, well, I guess I’m not Charles Manson. I only ever had one good shove in me. Recently, I auditioned to play Claudius in Hamlet and I read the speech about how he feels guilty but not really and they told me they just didn’t buy me as an unrepentant murderer. I just smiled at that. And a little bit of me wondered if I’d ever catch them up a ladder.