She had a thing about murder scenes. It wasn’t especially the gore, or the criminality, it was the drama. She never felt more alive than when she looked at the dead. You’d never guess it to look at her. Lacklustre, level-headed Loretta with her mousy hair scraped into a severe bun, glasses perched on a plain nose, drab long skirt and mohair cardigan. If her colleagues, at the library, ever saw her at home, they simply wouldn’t recognise her.
Loretta had a penchant for recreating the scenarios that titillated her the most. She would pour over the photographs, in the evening, and head to the enormous wardrobe. Forget Narnia, this was even more of a bizarre spectacle. Her favourite part was the shelved section, which contained her collection of wigs, all lengths, perms, straight, black, brunette, blonde, ginger. The hair made all the difference; she became the butchered wife, the unfortunate teenage girl, the heiress killed for money.
The wardrobe was bursting with garments, clothes spanning through the ages were arranged chronologically for ease of selection. The shoes were something else, the 1940’s brown peep toes, and the garish 1970’s mules, so many to choose from.
Her eyes scanned the open book. Tonight she would be Martha the prostitute, found covered in blood, in a compromising fashion. She stood on tiptoe and dragged down the wavy blonde wig. Her fingers briskly swept through the coat hangers, she smiled as they found the red mini dress, delightfully similar to that of Martha’s. Loretta then searched for the black stockings, the ones with the bow at the top of the lace panel. She chose the platform black heels and dressed. She applied eyeliner and smudged scarlet lipstick around her lips. She studied the photo again and created bespoke ladders in the nylon stockings, to match, holes and pulls in precise places.
She grabbed the dark crimson tube and squeezed it on to her neck, double checking, it was all about the detail. Martha had been slashed at the throat so Loretta needed a lot of fake blood to create the perfect image. Once satisfied, she lay down on top of the bed and yanked up her dress to reveal her most intimate parts.
She controlled her breathing until it became so shallow that it was barely there. She heard the front door open, was aware of the creak on each stair but, dedicated, she remained in character. She saw the man above her, heard him gasp. She never even flinched. She felt his trembling hand touch her forehead, witnessed his confusion at her warmth. She maintained the look even at the sound of his zip. She never uttered a word. But her slight smile gave it away and he was full of panic then, stuck a knife in her throat, and reeled in horror as real blood pumped from her body. He ran down the stairs and out of the house. Don’t feel sad. It’s all Loretta ever dreamed of.