Chapter 8 - Zoe
I must have slept for well over twelve hours. When I woke, it was almost time for me to rise for work. Turning my gaze out of my bedroom window, I could see raindrops seeping down the pane, smearing the outside world. There were streaks of silver highlighted by the streetlamp’s dim glow and, between the falling dew, the concrete had that tell-tale sheen of wetness.
Of course, I didn’t need to go to work. The home office said that I could take as long as I needed (although I doubt they meant with full pay). I stared at the ceiling, mulling over the idea, but then I promptly shut it down. I wanted to get back to some sort of normal. Whatever that may be. Besides, Viv would be back in the office, cracking York’s finest stories wide open, and I couldn’t exactly let her do all the work whilst I wallowed in self-pity.
She’d been working for The Press for a few years and loved it. Back when she first started it was a different story. When she almost quit, frustrated with the menial jobs of credits and TV guides, she came to me.
“I didn’t do a journalist degree to end up writing the stuff no one cares about!” she complained, one balmy summer evening over Pimm’s in a beer garden. “I’m a good writer Zoe, I could do so much more.”
I hadn’t seen her so hard-done-by since her last break-up at the end of University. Since then, she’d been practically celibate; completely and utterly focused on working up the ladder, but instead, she was just staying put in one place.
My advice impressed even myself, “Listen, Viv, you’re no quitter. I say you speak to your boss or the editor. Tell them you want to do something bigger. They aren’t mind readers.”
Personally, I avoided my colleagues as much as possible. I reckon if Viv and I hadn’t been childhood friends, I’d be a complete and utter loner. Yet we did find one another. Like opposite ends of a magnetic, we stuck together and never let go. A rare friendship, as precious as a pearl hidden in the depths of the ocean; Viv was the sister that I never had.
Vivienne took my advice, and it paved the way for her promotion. They appreciated how gutsy she was. From that, she covered news that made the front page.
When I first saw her name printed in black and white, Words by Vivienne Cooper, it filled me with the same pride of a dotting parent. My best friend was realising her dreams. I’m just glad that she hadn’t chased the huge titles within the big smoke. Thankfully, her success hadn’t changed her one bit. She was still as caring as ever. In fact, the older we got, the more protective she became.
Caught up in my daydream of reminiscing, I’d missed the sunrise.
“The early bird catches the worm aye, Barney.”
I’d become that person. The type that talked to their pets. I wasn’t an actual cat lady as I only had the one, but if a husband never came along then I would happily adopt that title.
Stumbling out of bed, I forced myself into the shower, letting the warm water wash away the night from my aching skin and melt away all of my worries., if only for a brief time. It cocooned my body with its caressing touch like a mother lion licking the wounds of her child. A quivering grin stretched across my face for this was the closest thing that I had to intimacy. The only thing.
It took me a while to peel myself away from the flowing embrace, but that didn’t stop me from arriving to work before anyone else, hair still damp.
I stared at my computer screen, a blue, blaring light amongst the grey room, and my fingers itched to type what my head was telling me not to. Self-restraint was never my strong suit. Before I knew it, I was googling murders.
There must be something we’re missing, I pondered.
Web page after web page, eyes scanning line after line, nothing made a connection. Obsessively scrolling, my coffee grew cold and untouched. Then I saw it.
Six chilling crimes that shook York.
I clicked on the link and continued to read.
The notorious New Year’s Eve York murder unsolved for ten years.
At the time the article had been written it was 2010, five years ago. They’d broadcasted to mark the anniversary on BBC’s Crimewatch, in an attempt to gain new witnesses, but nothing had come to light. Like the previous case, there was no forensic evidence or CCTV. This time, the woman, Jane Powel, had initially survived before succumbing to her injuries.
Jane Powel, a sex worker from York, was left to die in the streets of Overton in the early hours of the morning on Friday 31st December, 2000. Her attacker stabbed her twelve times…
It was the location of those stab wounds that sent alarm bells ringing in my ears and a rush of heat to my cheeks.
Her attacker stabbed her twelve times in her back and neck, marginally missing any major arteries.
My eyes flittered between the words too quickly to comprehend what I was actually reading. Gripping the screen, I steadied myself and reread the text in full.
Ultimately, her injuries proved fatal, but not before Miss Powel could describe her assailant. Constable Henry Walker, who was the first officer on the scene, took a statement from Miss Powel. From this description, a photofit was generated. The photofit failed to provide any successful leads in the case. To this day, no one has been arrested for the crime.
I forced my shaking hand to click on the drawing based on her description. What first struck me was the similarity to my father, but there were some discrepancies too. Squinting at the picture, the man before me had thick, brown hair like my father’s, but it was wavier. His jawline wasn’t as broad, but to me, his eyes were a match. Piercing aqua-blue eyes that stood out against olive skin, tanned from years of working outdoors in construction. Was it him?
To help answer that question, I needed to know what my father was up to on New Year’s Eve that year.
People had a good recollection of 2000 with it being the turn of a new century. I remembered moments myself. We were at a party at my Aunt’s house. I’d have been about thirteen years old. I recall watching the countdown on the telly, pulling poppers, and cheering. I think we all danced in a circle to Auld Lang Syne, and we watched in awe as the night sky filled with dazzling fireworks. That’s it. I can’t even say who exactly was there. I knew who would though. I needed to speak to Aunt Caitlyn.