There is a girl standing in the garden. Her fear is a visible thing, shimmering around her, like a heat haze.
‘Are you a relative?’
She shakes her head.
‘This guy came running out and told me to ring you.’
‘Can I go now?’
‘Just wait for the police, if you wouldn’t mind.’
The front door is open.
We go in.
A man calls down to us from up on the landing.
There is a hand poking out through the railings at the top. We duck to avoid it.
Half an hour later, with the rest of the team finishing off upstairs, I come back down to speak to Aleksy. I had sent him downstairs when we arrived.
‘Any information you can find would be really helpful. Date of birth, medications, that kind of thing.’
Cutting through the t-shirt, sticking the pads on, pressing up and down on the chest.
It’s awkward for him to get round the body. He holds on to the banisters with both hands.
There are two police officers with him, one looking through a desk for identification, medical papers, anything useful; the other is in the kitchen, checking for a note. Aleksy is sitting on a chair in the living room, his powerful shoulders rounded forwards, his weight carried on his forearms as he picks flakes of paint from the calloused skin of his fingers.
A mug of tea on the table next to him, untouched.
He looks up.
‘We’re doing all we can, Aleksy, but it doesn’t look good.’
‘I know for sure is dead,’ he says, going back to his hands. ‘I know when I see hang on rope like doll. Ay!’
He takes a deep breath and leans back in the chair. ‘Ja pierdolę’
‘Are you okay?’
‘Me? Of course. Is no problem.’
‘Tell me what happened.’
‘Is like I tell policja. I come back from work. Hello? Mr Walsh? No nothing, not sound. Okay. Very well. I go up for clean little bit. I find Mr Walsh on rope. I go in kitchen for .. erm .. ‘ he shakes his head, mimes a cutting action.
‘A knife? A bread knife?’
‘Yes. Exactly this. Bread knife. So I take bread knife and I go back upstairs and I make cut in rope at top. He fall on floor. Boom. Then I make to cut here also, because rope no good very tight to breathe, you understand? Okay? Then I run outside for to get help. My phone no good, phone of house, no good.’ He shrugs. ‘Every damn something else. No good.’
‘You did well, Aleksy. It’s a tough thing to happen.’
He shakes his head and stares out of the window.
‘Is there someone you can call?’
‘My brother. He come soon.’
‘That’s good. Would you like some more tea?’
‘No. Thank you very much.’
I start writing out the sheet, the few details I’ve been able to discover from the police, what we found and did, the ordered futility of the resus.
‘What I do now?’ says Aleksy. ‘Where I go? I pay all monies yesterday for deposit and rent. But I can’t stay here in house after Mr Walsh. What I do?’
‘Couldn’t you stay with your brother?’
‘I did this too long time, too long time. This is why I took house share. Ja pierdolę.’
More police arrive. A sergeant or something.
‘How are you getting on?’ he asks, pleasantly, taking off his hat and putting it under his arm.
‘Nie ma sprawy’ says Aleksy with a bitter laugh. Then shifts his bulk forwards in the chair again, and goes back to examining his hands.