And it was at this point that I looked down at my hands and, well, I don’t want to sound sensationalist at all, but I found them quite completely soaked in blood. And so you see… detective?
Hopkins. Francis Hopkins.
Francis? And so you see Francis, by my mind I must be the killer; which really is a wretched thought because I can’t possibly imagine what motivation I must have had for slaying the poor chap, or even what I was doiing at the club that evening. I generally take my meals at home on Thursdays; and yet I am certain; certain as I am that you are before me or that the sun will rise tomorrow; I am certain that I killed the man.
Did you know the deceased?
Know him? No, I don’t believe so. I mean I had heard of him and probably seen him, even spoken to him in passing, as one does, if that’s what you mean by Know. But if you meant We’re On Intimate Terms, then my answer is no.
But you’re certain you killed him.
I remember it distinctly. One minute I was slicing through a particularly rough and grim piece of beef – overdone I’d say – and the next I was slicing through his throat. I fed his body into the incinerator in the basement of my building.
Well why didn’t you come forward earlier? I’m afraid we’ve already solved the case.
Solved the case? I hesitated only long enough to come to terms with my action. I sup- pose a part of me had blocked it out.
That’s quite common, but like I said, you’re too late, the case is closed. A suspect has been apprehended and satisfactory proof neatly compiled. The case is closed.
Butthat’s nonsense. I killed him! You simply must lock me up! I’m a dangerous and unpredictable predator.
Well sir, I understand your concern, but I’m afraid we already have our man; a Grade A candidate, an Oxford man, a fine choice. Meaning no offence of course.
But I killed the man!
Yes sir, but we can’t go locking people up just because they broke a law or two. Times are hard, all that’s left is to pick the best man (or lady) for the high profile offences, and to hope that there is enough media scandal associated with their arrest; with their charisma or their looks or their personal profile; to foreshadow the multitude of unsolved crimes the police force can’t afford to look into, not to mention the prosecution. I mean do you know how much it costs to put someone behind bars, and then to keep him there? It just doesn’t make sense! So if sir would like, there are numerous crimes, so far without perpetrators, of which a man of his stature could be satisfactorily convicted, but this murder is solved and we’d all appreciate it if sir kept out of it. Could I interest you in our other offences?
Well… I don’t know. What do you have?
Let me see: we have numerous white-collar crimes – tax evasion, insider trading, or… or, if you’d prefer something bloodier, I have a series of assaults and an armed robbery.
An armed robbery! Can you honestly imagine anyone in their mind would believe me, an armed robber?
That’s what makes it compelling: it’s shocking.
Oh listen here, this is just silly, are you a police officer or a public relations officer?
I’m neither sir, I’m an economist