Blue lights from all the cop cars outside our house flooded the living room. “I think Mary finally lost it.” I could tell by the way my wife sucked on the sleeve of her woollen jumper that she wasn’t in the mood for jokes. “Go and see what’s happening, Bill. Don’t make it obvious like the rest of the street?”
The carnival-like atmosphere brought the people out in their droves. Whispers turned to gasps as two men in suits dragged my neighbour Stanley and his wife June from their house.
Stanley had years of torment etched into his face. As the cops loaded him into the car, I noticed the look of relief in his eyes. Two young girls emerged from the house, flanked by what looked like social workers. I would’ve assumed they were making a mistake until I saw what looked like two animal cages dragged from their shed.
Just as the dust from the night before was settling, I got a knock on the door. To my surprise, I was greeted by a smartly dressed detective when I opened the door. After I invited him in, he sat making small talk while my wife made coffee.
“How well did you know your neighbours,” asked the detective.
“Apart from the last few years, pretty close.”
“Is there a reason why you’re not close now? As I fumbled around in my head for an acceptable answer, my wife came into the room with the coffee. “They just seemed like they had their hands full, so we kept our distance,” said my wife.
“The cages that they kept the girls in are custom made. We had an expert look at them, and they said they were built to cage dangerous animals. You’re a welder aren’t you Mr Briggs, and from what I heard quite the expert.”
My wife shot me a nervous look from across the room. “I’m retired. Arthritis in my hands, you see.” The detective looked at me before making another note in his book. “I’ll call again if something comes up,” said the detective before he shook my hand and left.
A few days passed, and I still hadn’t heard back from the detective. I was in the kitchen making tea when I heard my wife scream from the living room. “It’s about those young girls, Bill. I knew this was going to happen.”
As news of the brutal murder of a young couple who fostered the two girls flashed across the screen, I got a knock on the door. The same detective stood at my door with a look of panic on his face. “Mr Briggs, sorry to bother you again, but we need your help.” I slipped on my Jacket and showed the detective to my work shed. I pulled the covers off two large cages I was working on for the best part of a year.
“I knew those girls would be hitting puberty soon. So I made them bigger and stronger.”