CHAPTER SEVEN: DISPOSAL OF THE EVIDENCE
Disposing of Julie's corpse wasn't a problem that Peter Morrison greatly relished, and scarcely one he felt competent to handle. Yet awakening, early next morning, to the sight of it lying half-naked on the floor, he knew he couldn't afford to waste any time in the matter. Already, grown stiff and cold, the body was beginning to smell somewhat disagreeable. In a day or two the smell would be even worse, and that was a prospect he could ill-stomach! Consequently he determined, there and then, to begin disposal operations that very morning, once he had acquired the necessary tools. It would be a disgusting, not to say frightening, task, but at least he could be confident that no-one would interrupt him and expose his crime. As things stood, the landlord wasn't due to collect the following month's rent for another two weeks. Since there were no other visitors to expect in the meantime, that gave him plenty of time to set about the task of dissection. For once, he was almost grateful that he lived in solitude, without obligations to friends or relatives. The corpse would certainly be safe from prying eyes, so long as it remained in his room.
Resigning himself to the difficult task ahead, he repaired to the local hardware shop for the purchase of a large carving knife and a medium-sized hand-saw. He had determined, meanwhile, that the best way of disposing of the body would be to remove all its internal organs, chop them into tiny pieces, and wrap the pieces in newspaper or hide them in empty tins and cartons, which he would then deposit in the dustbins behind the front hedge. The rest of the body he would simply saw into small pieces and dissolve in sulphuric acid, reducing it all to a thick scum which he could then dispose of either down his sink or down the toilet bowl. And with that done, he would be free of the corpse and thus of any incriminating evidence for his terrible crime. Life would gradually return to normal or, at any rate, to what it had been prior to Julie's brief and catastrophic intrusion.
Once he had secured the necessary tools it was time to tackle the problem of dissection, so he lifted Julie's body onto the single table in his room and prepared himself for the ordeal ahead, covering his clothes in a white overall and squeezing his hands into a pair of old rubber gloves which he sometimes used when washing up. He reflected that it was a pity he didn't have a peg for his nose, as, steeling himself, he stood over the body with carving knife in hand, his nerves distinctly on edge and his heart beating more fiercely than ever it had done when he was making love to Julie or indeed strangling her, the previous day. But he did at least have some air-freshener to-hand and had taken the precaution, moreover, of opening one of his four windows as wide as it would go. Fortunately for him, the view from his first-floor room gave-on to an abandoned factory at the back. Only with the left-hand window, which, like its right-hand counterpart, was set at a thirty-degree angle to the middle two, would the interior of his room be exposed to some of the people who lived in the tenements across the far side of the intervening alley. But ever since first moving into the room he had availed himself of a thick curtain there, which remained permanently in place. Light, however, there was no shortage of, since the sun shone in through the other three windows during the greater part of any day when the sky wasn't overcast, which, luckily, it was far from being on this occasion. All he need worry about was a lack of nerve and the possibility of making too much noise.
Thus after a little preliminary blood-letting, during which he drained what he could from a number of incisions into various limbs, including her right-hand wrist, into some empty milk bottles, he plunged the knife into her abdomen and began to carve an opening there which would give him sufficient access to the interior organs. The smell, as he carved the flesh apart, was more revolting than he had expected, causing him some involuntary retchings, but by periodically turning his nose away and inhaling large gulps of fresh air from the nearby open window, he found that he could survive its oppressive effects on himself and continue with his task without serious mishap.
Her flesh once opened up in this manner, he was obliged, in the absence of wedges or supports, to carve a contrary opening to the first one in order to get leverage on it and slowly tear it apart, thereby exposing her internal organs to his horrified gaze. And yet even then he was obliged to carve a further opening in her flesh, to have access to both bowels and bladder. His nerve almost failed him at this point, as blood poured over his gloved hands and sullied his overall, some of it even dripping down to the plastic sheet and bowl he had judiciously placed, at the last moment, under the table. What, he wondered, would the nearest neighbours think he was up to? However, for once he had determined to play some classical music on his record-player in order to smother the noise he was making, and this now streamed out of the twin speakers at opposite ends of the room in full stereophonic oscillation.
And so, between retchings and near faints, qualms and curses, he slowly succeeded in removing, one by one, each of the internal organs, which he carefully placed in a second and somewhat larger plastic bowl ... preparatory to carving them up. He was particularly ashamed, when the moment came, to handle her heart, since he felt it to be in some sense associated with her former love for him and therefore inherently sacred. Yet that, too, would have to go the way of the kidneys, bladder, lungs, spleen, bowels, and appendix, not to mention everything else. That, too, would have to be carved into numerous fragments and wrapped in newspaper or deposited in empty cans. There was no sense in keeping it. Now it was no more than a broken pump.
The morning being dedicated to the unsavoury task of disembowelling Julie's corpse, the afternoon was given over to the even more unsavoury task of sawing it into separate pieces, to make possible its eventual liquidation through sulphuric acid. Here, too, he found it necessary to take intermittent breaks from the stench which the dismembering of the corpse engendered, and even though he worked damn hard at the task all afternoon, it was still unfinished when, tired and revolted, he committed his vulnerable stomach to an evening meal, which, for once, he took in a local café. But his appetite had completely failed him and, returning dejectedly to his room with little more than a third of the food eaten, he plunged anew into the dissection of what remained of Julie's body.
The following day, after a restless night's sleep, during which he dreamed he was making love to her all over again, he felt so faint and weak that he could barely stagger out of bed, let alone attend to the terrible business of carrying-on from where he had left off. Yet he knew there was no alternative but to go through with it to the bitter end, and so, after a mouthful of tea and a little light porridge, he began to busy himself with the reduction of the internal organs to so many tiny pieces of offal. Of all the organs, the bowels were unquestionably the most disgusting to handle, since weighted with a day's excrement which had to be squeezed out of them before he could proceed to slice them up. How he now regretted that he had ever invited Julie back to his room in the first place! How foolish he had been to involve himself with her and thereby run the risk of doing what he did! Murder was the last thing he would have considered himself capable of, and, now that he was saddled with the sordid consequences, he deeply regretted having committed it, regardless of the outraged state-of-mind which seemed to justify him at the time. The body he had once loved above all other things in life had now become for him the source of his deepest loathing and disgust! Reduced to its basic components, it was no better than a cow's or a pig's carcass - maybe even a shade worse. And he still hadn't got rid of it!
By mid-afternoon, however, he was ready to attend to the delicate business of acquiring himself a large quantity of concentrated sulphuric acid, and when, after much haggling and pleading with the nearest purveyor of industrial chemicals, he eventually succeeded in this nerve-wracking objective, nothing remained to be done except to dissolve the severed limbs of Julie's body and dispose of the tiny sliced-up parts in the outside dustbins. How he would survive over the Christmas holidays on what little money he had left, after the expense of buying the acid and acquiring, on loan, a couple of small non-corrosive metallic drums in which to pour it ... he didn't honestly know. But so long as he could completely free himself of Julie's remains in the meantime, that was all that really mattered.
And so, having wrapped up the fragmented organs and disposed of them in the half-full dustbins which always stood, well-hidden from public view, in the narrow front-garden of the old lodging house, he applied himself to the task of destroying what remained of the dismembered body in the sulphuric acid, taking care not to splash or soak his hands in the process. One by one, the severed limbs were prodded down into it with the aid of a metal rod and the drums then covered over and left to do their grisly work. There was still a lot of mess to clear up in his room, however, and this he next attended to, being especially careful to wipe away the stains Julie's blood had made on both the table and plastic covering on the floor. Even the nearby chest-of-drawers had got spattered with it, thereby requiring the application of a damp rag, followed, in due course, by a fresh coat of polish. Hardly anywhere in the immediate vicinity of the 'operating table', as he somewhat euphemistically thought of it, had escaped untarnished, despite the unremitting care he had taken to ensure the avoidance of unnecessary mess. He had completely underestimated the difficulties of disposing of a corpse, never having tackled one before!
At last, the final patches of tell-tale evidence having been wiped away, he turned towards his bed and heavily slumped down on it with an almighty sigh of relief! It seemed that the worst two days in his life were behind him, never, he hoped, to return. The drums of sulphuric acid might still be in his room, safely hidden from view under the table, but at least they were clean and metallic, sufficiently impersonal not to be of any great personal inconvenience to him. In a day or two, following a little intermittent prodding of their increasingly nondescript contents, he would be able to dispose of them too, first pouring away the scum and then returning them to their owner. If anything remained partially undissolved, he would wrap it up in newspaper and dispose of it some other way, if not in the dustbins then in some other suitable hiding place, possibly behind the fireplace cover or under the floorboards. But knowing the strength of this particular type of acid, he was convinced that almost everything would be taken care of the way he wanted - without any further risks.
That Saturday evening he went out to dinner again, and this time, free of the oppressive smells in his room, he ate a good-sized meal, helping it down with a few glasses of sweet wine. Afterwards he took a leisurely stroll round the local streets before deciding that, for a change, he would drop-in on his aged mother, who lived only a couple of miles away. Actually, he had never enjoyed visiting her address, which was even more decrepit than his own, but, for once, the prospect of doing so gave him a welcome reprieve from his room and enabled him to think of other things.
His mother seemed concerned about his health, saying how pale and tired he looked, but he persuaded her that it was only a mild attack of influenza and nothing particularly serious. She had never really bothered herself all that much about his health anyway, and he couldn't understand why she should suddenly want to take an interest in it at present. Perhaps the horrendous activities of the past two days had taken more out of him than he thought, making him seem positively cadaverous to her? Yes, that was quite possible. However, he accepted a glass of sherry and, when he had watched to the end of a film on television and played with her cat awhile, he betook himself back home on the bus, relieved to get away again. If there was one thing above all others that prevented him from getting involved with local girls, he reflected, it was his mother. She had somehow inoculated him against following in his father's unfortunate footsteps and marrying intellectually and culturally beneath himself. He was determined, even at the continuing price of prolonged solitude and depression, never to associate with ordinary unintellectual women. If he couldn't meet with anyone on his own cultural and intellectual wavelength, not to mention fundamental ethnicity as an Irish Catholic, he would simply stay alone. That would at least save him the humiliating prospect of fostering children he could only despise!
Once back in his room, however, his thoughts unaccountably turned to pleasure, and he began to sort through the various photos he had taken of Julie's seductive body on Thursday evening. Not satisfied with that, the perverse idea of dressing himself in her clothes duly entered his mind and, removing his own clothing, he eagerly gave-in to this new experience and betook himself, newly attired, to his wardrobe mirror, where, availing himself of its elongated shape, he proceeded to admire his dark-stockinged legs, having first hitched up the black cotton skirt to expose them. The skirt, however, wasn't a particularly good fit, being rather too tight about the waist, so he quickly removed it and contented himself with contemplating Julie's underclothes on him instead. But this, too, soon bored him, and before long he felt obliged to step out of the rather tight-fitting panties in order to free his semi-erect member from their material constraint. He wasn't, he realized, greatly taken with the experience of dressing-up in women's clothes, not even when they had once belonged to his only love.
However, now that he was in a state of semi-undress and feeling slightly aroused by the spectacle of his dark-stockinged legs, with their pink suspenders, he decided he might as well avail himself of one or two of the erotic photos he had taken the other night to do something he hadn't done in months - namely masturbate. So masturbate he duly did, holding a photograph of Julie's scantily-clad body in one hand and rhythmically massaging his engorged member with the other. The fact that he would almost certainly regret this act, in due course, didn't seem to bother him. What particularly mattered to him, at this moment, was to test the erotic potential of his home-made pornography and relieve himself of a quantity of sperm in the process - in short, to give-in to a temptation which might otherwise have plagued him for several weeks. For he knew from experience that once a temptation had been given-in to, it didn't usually come back, at least not in a hurry!
Thus it was that the combined effect of the photos and masturbatory stimulus, in tandem with the inhibition-reducing factor of being slightly drunk, produced the desired result, as he frantically brought himself to orgasmic fruition and ejaculated various-sized globules of milky-white sperm all over the wardrobe mirror, their substance partly adhering to and partly sliding down its shiny surface onto the carpet beneath. Satisfied that the experiment had been brought to a successful conclusion, though not particularly thrilled by it, he replaced the last photo in his free hand among the others in his collection and duly applied a paper tissue to the mirror and carpet, reserving for Julie's panties the necessity of wiping the remaining sperm from himself. Then, on an impulse, he put them to his nose in order to discover if he could detect any traces of her vaginal odour on them, but, not surprisingly, there was little to be encountered in that respect. Rather, he noticed a urine stain there and, disgustedly, he tore them apart and threw their tattered remains to the floor. Originally he had intended to keep them as a souvenir of his sexual conquest, but now that seemed out-of-the-question. One thing he realized, there and then, was that he must also get rid of Julie's clothes, not just her body. Her leather coat, skirt, blouse, shoes, stockings, suspenders, and underclothes simply couldn't be left in his room to gather dust. He would take everything along to the local Oxfam shop with the excuse that his wife no longer had any use for them and wished to bequeath them to charity, or something to that effect. The old woman who usually ran the shop would be bound to welcome such a gift, since she was often short of attractive clothing to sell. The leather coat alone would doubtless fetch her a tidy little sum.
Removing the rest of Julie's clothing from his body, he made a neat little pile of it on the floor and then hid it away in the bottom of the wardrobe. He would dispense with it all on Monday morning - all, that is, apart from the torn panties and matching brassiere, which, carefully wrapped, could be thrown in the dustbins. The home-made photos, however, he would most certainly keep, and these he now decided to hide away in various parts of his room, putting the majority in his bedside locker, safely out of sight, and reserving a few as bookmarks, just for the privilege of being able to look at Julie's image from time to time during the course of his studies. Indeed, on second thoughts, he would also put one in each of his favourite novels, not only to keep them hidden away, but free of dust and stain as well. No-one ever came into his room to look at his books, so what did it matter? The photos would be perfectly safe there - safer, in fact, than anywhere else, including the locker, which, in a sense, was a more obvious hiding-place. People would never think you kept photos in books.
Smiling to himself, he disposed of his private pornography accordingly and, once properly dressed again, settled down to listen to a record via his headphones. Earlier in the evening it would probably have been modern jazz. But at this time of night it could only be classical. He was generally a man of inflexible habit - like Schopenhauer, his favourite philosopher.