Marie walked into the wasteland and looked around her. This was the place the detectives had said the girl was murdered. She wandered around a little before discreetly letting a small pendant dangle from her right hand. She walked around some more, keeping her eye on the pendant. After a little while she stopped and looked puzzled.
She glanced up at a pile of rags on the edge of the scrubby area. It seemed to move suddenly, and Marie strode towards the pile. When she was a few feet away she looked down at it.
“’Ello?” she said.
“Your one of them, aincha?” said a voice from the pile. “Like me grandmother.”
“French?” said Marie, looking puzzled.
“No, no.” said the pile. “I’m not a Frenchy. No, you’re a … a clever lady. A wise woman.”
“Oh,” said Marie, “yes, I suppose so.”
A dirty old face appeared above the pile. It sniffed.
“Thought so,” he said. “I can tell these things.”
“Can you tell me about the girl?” said Marie. “It was you that saw her, yes?”
The man nodded.
“Yes, I seen it. Horrible thing, don’t care to dwell on it,” he said. “But you doesn’t need me to tell you. You can just look-see.”
“I don’t understand,” said Marie.
“You know, like me old granny used to,” said the decrepit looking man. Marie looked confused at him. He sighed, grabbed her hand, and put it to his forehead. Then …
Mon Dieu! What is this? You’re in my head now, seeing what I seen. Like my gran used to when she thought I’d been naughty. See, here’s what you want. The girl! And the vam … the fiend! She’s walking so strange, so carefully, like she’s in a dream. Maybe she had a little sip of liquor. Maybe, she seems … distracted. The man is so very tall and … with a hood? Oh, they’re stopping. This is it miss, are you sure you want to see this. Yes, yes I must … it’s, oh that’s awful. She doesn’t move. Doesn’t react, and he … I thought they was kissing, see, cos she does that little shudder. Oh! Quelle horreur! That’s her dying, I think. She’s falling now. And see, he just turns and leaves her there. His face! His face is so white, and his eyes are shining. I don’t see no eyes miss, just that cold, pale face and … Why is it dark now? Well, I hid miss, in me pile of clothes. Pulled me head in as I didn’t want to be seen. I can hear his footsteps. Yes, miss, slow ain’t they. Like he’s got all the time in the world.
… he let go of Marie’s hand and she staggered back. Her hand went to her mouth, and tears came down her face.
“I’m sorry miss,” said the man. “That weren’t a pleasant thing.”
“No, that was ‘orrible,” she said. “But now, now I have seen him.”