Saturday, March 08, 2014

after mr walsh

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.
‘Sure. Sure.’
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.
‘Is dead?’
‘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. 


Cassandra said...

Mmmm. Poor guy. Seriously, what do you do? I wouldn't want to stay there after my new roomie committed suicide!

Spence Kennedy said...

Absolutely awful - and really bad luck! Obviously first thoughts with Mr Walsh' family, but of course the fall-out from his suicide will play out on so many levels throughout his wider circle of contacts. I've no idea practically what would happen to Aleksy & his deposit. It's not as if he had much money to begin with. Dreadful!

petrolhead said...

Poor guy. I'll never forget taking a 999 from a woman, screaming incoherently. Once I'd calmed her down, she told me she'd been pottering around the house when she heard a gunshot. She raced to the garage to find her husband dead on the floor, blood and brain matter everywhere. It was horrific, this happened 7 years ago and it's the one call I'll never forget. Sometimes I don't know what would be worse - to be the paramedic on scene and actually SEE the carnage or to be the call handler and just have a mental image.

Either way, suicide is horrific. For the person who's killed themselves, their family and of course the emergency services. Nasty.

Spence Kennedy said...

That must've been a tough call to take, PH. You're right, I don't know what'd be worse - hearing about it or walking in the door. In some ways I think hearing about it, because I can imagine it playing on your mind recreating the scene in different ways, whilst in actuality things are often much more straightforward. There's a kind of prosaic quality to many of these things - brutal facts of anatomy and circumstance. I find the emotions of the people around at the time always more difficult than the injury. But phone or in person, no easy options, that's for sure.

jacksofbuxton said...

Not a pleasant scene for Alexei to walk into Spence.He seemed to do everything he could.Not pleasant for anyone really.

Spence Kennedy said...

Aleksy was great. I was so impressed with the way he coped with what must have been a dreadful experience. The fact that it would make his life that much more difficult, too, just added to the tragedy of the whole thing.

Family Affairs said...

How sad. Lx

Spence Kennedy said...

Truly dreadful. And I had the same feeling afterwards that I've had at other suicides - that if only they'd found the strength and the help to weather that crisis point, things would almost certainly have picked up for them. If only, if only...

Thanks for the comment, Lucy.