THE FIREMAN

By Len A.Hynds

Lady Justice

It was 2.am, and I was in such a wonderful deep sleep, when I dreamt that I could hear shouting, and knocking on my bedroom door. I awoke with start and realised that it was not a dream, and that somebody was on the landing outside my locked door, and with my heart pounding I heard, "Is anybody in there?Ē I shouted, "What do you want," to get an immediate reply "It's alright missus, it's the Fire Brigade. You've got to get out. We're evacuating all the houses near a fire, just in case."

I hurriedly put on my dressing gown, and unlocked the door, and frankly was relieved to see the fireman standing there. He asked me if there was anybody else in the house and I told him that there wasn't. He then said, "This was on your outside mat it looks like us arriving stopped somebody breaking in, unless it's yours of course." He put an iron jemmy into my hands, but after looking at it, I gave it back, saying "No it's not mine, I've never seen it before."

I went to walk past him, but he still stood there, saying, "You really donít remember me do you." I peered at his face, but could not recall having seen him before. He went on, "your the lady barrister that prosecuted me at the assize court eight years ago. They did me for manslaughter. I was innocent you know, but you convinced the jury otherwise. You got me eight years." I had a feeling of dread come over me. He seemed reasonable enough, and had got himself a job, probably through Prisoners Aid, and they all get this fixation that they are innocent. Still it is not nice though to be confronted with one of your old victims.

He went on, "I kept telling you about the teenage burglars, three of them. The wife was terrified, and I went with the poker out onto the landing to frighten them off. The two downstairs ran off, and the one at the top of the stairs turned to run, but tripped, fell down the entire length, and struck his head on the marble floor, which killed him and you convinced the jury that I had hit him with the poker."

I didn't know what to say, I just wanted to get past him and in the presence of other people, with him in this strange frame of mind, although his demeanour was quite calm.

He said, "It's pay back time I'm afraid. I got a down-and-out to accompany me tonight on what I told him would be an easy burglary. We got in easy enough he's still got some tools in his pocket. I smashed his skull in at the foot of your stairs, with the jemmy I got you to hold a few moments ago, so your prints are all over it. I will leave now. Your phone has been cut, and I will throw the incriminating jemmy into bushes nearby so that the murder weapon can be found easy."

He walked quickly down the gloomy staircase and I heard him go out of the front door.

I walked to the top of the stairs, and could see a lifeless body lying at the bottom.