Malcolm had decided that his university work was redeemable, that he could still pick up from where he had left off after the discovery of his Father’s attack of insanity. He had guessed that he wasn’t going to find any answers, just mere speculation, no real facts. ‘My Father killed my Mother because….,’ seemed unlikely would ever be completed, especially without assumption. He had found himself thinking more about his work than his Father, and this, he thought, was his mind’s way of accepting the fact that there wouldn’t be any answers, no real truths. He was in limbo, after the police having asked him all they needed for the time being, and the headaches regarding lack of wills and who now owned the house. He wanted to ignore all of that, and had taken the landline off the hook. He had enough to think about. They had the killer, he committed suicide, just one of those things, case forgotten. He wondered if all the paperwork regarding it was now in a bottom drawer somewhere, amongst other old cases that had been solved. Perhaps the police that where involved had already forgotten about it. Crimes were committed every second of every day, so their attention would be elsewhere, not on a past case that now didn’t warrant any thoughts by anybody except Malcolm, an only child. Even if somebody was to remind them about it, months later they would perhaps be hard pressed to remember.
“D’you remember that case where the husband strangled his wife, took her out in to a field and buried her?” The officer’s confused look would indicate no.
“Erm…Oh, hang on, is that the case that was solved by the psychic detective?”
“Yep, that’s the one”. Malcolm wondered why they would even bother remembering it. It was not as if husbands killing wives was unique. Motivations however, were occasionally less understood, the murderers sometimes taking their reasons to the grave. None of the neighbours had knocked yet to offer their condolences. Not even Mrs Byrne from around the corner, who was the hub of local gossip. He was in that limbo as well. The calm before the storm, before all the ‘sorry to hears’, and ‘deepest sympathies’. He wondered if he should leave the house, move somewhere else. The place still seemed to harbour his parent’s presence.
He was sat in his bedroom, at a table that had all of his work spread out. His assignment was to find an existing, successful website, and identify its targeted audience, its content, and its purpose. Of these, he had to make sub categories and write about them, such as sales and marketing. He had borrowed books from the library, and was currently doing what a lot of students always did when taking notes, highlight certain sentences with a marker. Somebody had beaten him to it in all the books he’d taken out, but for a different task at a different time. As usual, there were not many books available for what he wanted, the closest being ‘Marketing your web site, Millennium edition’, and that was dog-eared by student’s previous use. Pages had been folded over, and throughout, pink, green and yellow marker highlighted sentences. It had probably been used by those who were on the same course as Malcolm, but for a different task. The tutors probably turned out the same tasks and assignments every term, until technology forced them to change. Malcolm neither knew, nor cared. He had to get on with it, had to show something for his efforts. He had a notepad, and was scribbling notes to take in to university to type out there.
“….of the customer, and their requirements are paramount. Potential sales may be lost if the site agenda does not give customer satisfaction, and this site, I believe, aims to do that, however, not at the cost of defective goods”. With his highlighter, he marked:
‘The product, or service must equal or exceed expectations if your business is to compete for the value of the customer’. He went back to his notepad:
‘If a customer does not value a service, then it will be more than likely that their requirements have been let down by the expectations of the service provider, and there will have been an inadequate understanding of the customers needs. If high standards are maintained, your Dad’s a psychopath’. Malcolm stopped, then frowned. He was trying not to think of his Father, but sometimes he simply failed, and his mind would run amok. After a few moments, he began to write again:
‘Good business ventures will sustain profitability, especially when they are providing what could be deemed to be a necessary service. The site I have chosen can not be called unique, and the service it provides is not essential, but its profits and achievements are testament to the fact that your Dad’s a lunatic, killed your mum, for no reason, damn psycho”. Malcolm sighed and put down his pen. Why bother? he thought. All this for a better looking CV. Why not find a job now? He knew it was easier to find work when he had a job, so if he could get his foot in the door, it would probably be less difficult to climb the career ladder, instead of working at a subject, aspects of which did not interest him. Yes, the internet is an interesting eighth wonder of the world, but who cared about mark-up languages and server concepts? Someone had to. Some people had to find them interesting, as without them, nothing would work properly. Those people were the drivers behind the vast machine, people who showed an interest in things many people frowned upon. Rather like train spotters. It would basically be a case of: ‘Yes, that was a nice train ride, but I couldn’t care less what its number is, who built it, and when’. Someone had to make things for those who did not understand, or did not want to understand. People unique amongst others. Necessary people playing a crucial role, behind the scenes, beneath the radar. The world needed people like that. If nobody showed an interest, then the machine would simply stop, if the interest was ever there in the first place for it to have been created. Malcolm tried to be interested, but felt like a youth who wanted to kill the enemy in computer games, who wanted to blast away at anything that moved, but did not care for how it was made, how the software behind it worked. He put pen to paper again, but it did not move.
A few moments later, he was in his parent’s bedroom, looking at a framed photograph of his father at a holiday camp. He wore large, plastic glasses upside down, and a balloon hat. Malcolm looked at it as though all the answers would be revealed, but his father just stared out at him with eyes that captured everything within that moment. ‘Look at me, what am I doing?’. It would probably be obvious from just the photograph that his father never usually did anything of that sort, and that it was completely out of the ordinary for him to do that. That was quite ironic, Malcolm thought, him doing something he would not usually contemplate. Yet, it was a holiday, a place where inhibitions vanished, where people who had worked day in and day out for months and years could let themselves go, could perform acts they would never dream of at home, because holidays simply did that. A change of scenery for a few days or weeks would sometimes mean a change of personality, where pent up frustrations caused by stress at work or within a social circle could be breathed out like a sigh of satisfaction. People ‘let their hair down’ on holiday, like Peter Selden was displaying in the photograph, so his change in persona could not be linked to his recent drastic change. Malcolm decided that there was no connection, and didn’t give it any more thought.
The room was heavy with silence, the room frozen in time. The bed was made, curtains drawn, and all items left as they were. A hair dryer next to the bedside cabinet. A pinstripe suit hanging on the cupboard door handle. A pair of skewif slippers beside his father’s side of the bed. He almost felt as though he was being watched by his parents. He looked around to see, but saw only the dark side of the room. He had switched on the bedside lamp when he had came in, and the red lampshade gave the room a maroon hue, and cast muted shadows. He turned back, but still felt eyes watching him. Maybe his mother was trying to tell him that it was fine, there was no need for him to worry, she had forgiven his father who was stood there also, trying to apologise for the thousandth time. He had a moment of insanity, his mother had understood, and that was that, no more madness on the other side. Or maybe it was all in his mind, maybe he wanted them to be there, when in fact it was his subconscious trying to reassure him. He gripped the top of the photograph, and laid it face down. He then switched off the light, and left the room.