(x) Days of Photography is a flash fiction/photography collaboration with Austin Andrews of Disposable Words. This is Day Nine.

A single unmarked car stopped at the steps of the apartment building and put on their hazard lights. On their arrival a man dressed in white pyjamas, slippers, a black scarf and beige trench-coat stepped out from inside the doorway. After a brief conversation between the suited couple, a man with cropped black hair and woman with a auburn pony-tail, they went inside the building. Fifteen minutes later the suited man came back out on to the street talking on his mobile phone. The tail lights flashed as he unlocked the car. He took a casual glance down the street, ran his hand down the inside of his jacket to the holster clipped on his belt, before getting in his car and reversing into the side-alley. Going back into the building he glanced down the opposite end of the street, then ascended up the steps, two at a time.

Soon after a marked police car arrived with its lights flashing, but no siren. Two uniformed policeman stepped out and stood at the steps of the apartment with their hands resting on the holster and baton on either side of their belt-buckles. The taller of the two radioed back to the station. The response came back after a short wait, altogether too loud, and drew the shorter policeman’s attention away from admiring the car in the side-alley. The taller policeman went to the boot of their car and drew out a roll of yellow tape and began cordoning off the sidewalk. As they went about their work the sirens on the roof of the car continued to flash and the low murmur of the highway flow not-so-far off was soon replaced by the tired surprise of residents in the area who came down from their apartments. Some were in pyjamas, others in sweatshirts and shoes with laces undone. Some even went back to their apartments and came back with their children, or a cup of coffee, a piece of toast.

The two policeman stood at the foot of the steps and talked with some of the people in the crowd. Youths walking past with a bottle in their hand stopped and sat on the gutter and drank rounds before someone pointed it out to the shorter policeman and he came over and took it away from them with little fuss, and let them saunter off down the street.

The man in white pyjamas, slippers, and beige trench-coat came down the steps and joined the crowd. Other people in the building followed him. He talked to a woman holding her daughter on her hip, who then talked to the man standing next to her, until the noise had drawn most people out onto the street.

It was almost dawn.

* * *

They joined the crowd behind the police-line.

He had not slept since the murder and was glad for the smile that came with a cup of black coffee in a styro-foam cup. She declined, instead drank from the can of cola he had bought her. It helped form some phlegm to wet her dry throat. She had several bruises on her arm, covered up by his jumper she wore.

They heard talk of an open front door, blood on the floor, an ether soaked rag, a starving cat, food scraps found at the bottom of a cupboard, and a missing man.

She clicked her tongue until he reached down and squeeze her hand.

They stood there holding hands as the sun came up and the crowd broke off to begin their day.

The policeman began to take down the tape, and eventually the traffic picked-up and they had to step onto the sidewalk.

She turned to him, and with a rasp said, `Who do you think they’ll believe?’

(to be continued)

Photo Copyright ©2008 Austin Andrews