General Fiction posted December 6, 2017

Not yet exceptional. When the exceptional rating is reached this is highlighted
Behind Closed Doors

Hidden Horror

by doggymad

Loud shrieks piercing the night had become commonplace in Friary Mansions. Once Frank returned home from work on Friday nights, the racket began. First came the slightly raised voices, then the screams. Often heavy objects were heard thudding against the walls. There were periodic silences when the warring couple seemed to run out of steam, but the pattern was relentless. Over the course of any weekend, the scenario would be repeated on average three to four times.

Frank and his wife were relative newcomers to Friary Mansions, and as such were an unknown quantity. Those who had lived there for many years were familiar with each other's stories. It was well known that some men, with a liking for strong ale, gave their spouse an odd slap when in their cups. Some mothers were prone to delivering long and loud lectures to their wayward sons or daughters who had once again broken curfew.

For the residents of this complex, work was an alien concept. These were third generation unemployed who labelled the concept of earning a living under the title 'four letter word.' Kids hung around on street corners drinking cheap beer and smoking dubious cigarettes. Shoplifting was not a crime, merely a way of life.

Frank was a big hulk of a man and it was rumoured that he worked the docks when the opportunity arose. What his actual occupation was remained a mystery. Some suspected that he was a stevedore; others suspected that he was nothing more than a pimp. Judging by the furniture that had accompanied them on arrival, it was obvious that the Sullivan family were not exactly poor.

Frank's wife Nora was a well built lady with a certain blowsy attractiveness. Even more taciturn than her husband, she shunned all gestures of friendship and held herself aloof from all but a select few. In the six months since her arrival, not one of the Friary Mansion residents had crossed the threshold of her home. Her friends came from further afield.

Her demeanour was such that it came as a shock when after one week, her voice reverberated through the block, using language more becoming to a hard working navvy than a respectable housewife. Mind you her husband was possessed of an equally diverse vocabulary.

Judging from the amount of smashing and banging that took place each weekend, it was considered a miracle that the couple had any plates or cups left in their home. Not only that, it was unusual than neither spouse ever displayed any outward signs of injury on Monday mornings.

Then the inevitable happened. In the early hours of Saturday morning the 7th April 2010, an ambulance was seen skidding to a halt outside block three. The paramedics quickly disembarked and headed for Frank and Nora's apartment.

Twenty minutes passed before they re-emerged. This time there was no urgency in their movements. As they rolled the covered gurney down the hall to the lift, the neighbours stood back in horror. The religious among them blessed themselves and offered up a silent prayer for poor Nora. Others berated themselves for not doing something to prevent this sort of thing from happening.

In over forty years, there had never been a death at Friary Mansions, even though many women wore dark glasses and professed to be very clumsy on occasion. The odd drunken punch up was part and parcel of their life. But for a man to go to the extreme of killing his wife, that was just not acceptable. They would happily testify to overhearing the violent exchanges that took place.

As the ambulance pulled away from the kerb, the sound of approaching police sirens caused the onlookers to turn their heads. It was then that they caught sight of Nora, giggling hysterically in the corner.

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