A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write this scene.
Just one more time they said. We know you retired ten years ago but this is important they said. The man is still free and you are the only person who saw him they said. Well, they were right about that. I did get a close look but he disappeared and hasn’t been seen since. It was twenty years ago. I was old then, I’m a lot older now. My eyes aren’t so good. I can’t remember things like I used to. I don’t know if I would recognise him again. Nasty man, nasty murder, though, they said. We think it might be him but we need some help. We were watching this man for another reason then we saw the scar on his neck. It might match but we can’t arrest someone for having a scar. There’s been a young woman with him this past week. So, if it is him . . . Please try they said. I liked the ‘please’ so here I am.
Of all the park benches, they picked the most uncomfortable one. Can’t they see I’m bonier now? A cushion would have been kind. And it’s such a quiet part of the park. Would an old woman come and sit here by herself? I would go where I could see people. Love watching people me. That’s why I joined the force. I liked people and didn’t like the trouble they got into. I was good too. They all said so – even though I was a woman. What do they call that now – sexist, isn’t it? Then it just happened. Nobody to complain to, just had to work round it and made darn sure I was better than everyone else. And I was. But now . . . well, it was a long time ago . . . And here I am, sitting on a park bench, knitting!
Here comes the couple now, just as they said they would. The man’s on my side. He’s talking to her quite loudly – deep voice – yes. Now, let me see. Not too obvious a stare but . . . I can only see him from the side . . . I think I do recognise him. He’s almost bald now . . But head held forward, those thin lips, that big ear, the straight nose. Tall, thin, big feet and smart shoes . . And I do remember he always wore smart shoes. Can’t see the scar but that was on the other side. Deep voice. Yes, I’m pretty sure it’s him. Now what did they say? Put you knitting in the basket, stand up and walk away to your left. He is very clever and might be dangerous. We don’t want you hurt . . . Well, amen to that!
Just once more then I will stop. It’s been a good run but the other day I thought I might be being watched. I should disappear again right now. I know I should. But there is something about this young woman . . .
That first time was an accident. It was twenty years ago and that policewoman almost caught me. She had a good look anyway. That was before I decided to disappear. Then I thought I’d do it again – properly – all over Europe – the money, the women – so easy to come by. Now I am older – a bit slower but still capable. Do I want to prove it just one more time? The opportunity is here.
Funny thing . . . I’m more emotional now. What is that? I never used to care. Straight forward, that was me – do it, disappear, no sweat. That’s why I got away with it. But Joan here, I really like her. Maybe I am getting old, maybe I do want to settle down. Must be quick then.
“This is a beautiful park. I’m surprised you haven’t been here before.” Did I just say that? Do I care whether she’s been here or not? Yes, I do. Would I like to come here again with her? Yes, I would. But that means . . . I’ve never felt like this before – well, isn’t that a cliche! . . . Is it true?
“Would you like a coffee over there?” What? . . . This is all wrong.
There is an old woman on that bench. She looks vaguely familiar. My God, surely it’s not that policewoman from all those years ago. Go away. I’m not like that any more. Go away, I’m becoming a different person. Go away. I might be falling in love.
Just my luck to pick another man who can’t control his emotions. I actually like men who express their emotions, but not here, not now. What is he crying about anyway? Up to now, he’s been fine. . . Different, of course, but I’ve always enjoyed men who are different. But what I really want is to be with someone who listens to me. Usually they’re busy talking about themselves.
This one’s not bad. He doesn’t talk about himself much. A bit rough sometimes. I can handle that. A bit distant, as if he’s somewhere else entirely at times. He’s sort of vulnerable – like he was somebody else before and is trying to be someone different now. Oh, that doesn’t sound like I meant it. But I do like him . . . sort of.
He says, “Would you like a coffee over there?”
I say, “Oh, that would be nice.” Yes, it would be nice to sit and talk and enjoy the sunshine.
I am holding his hand. It’s a big, strong hand. Like it’s done a lot of work.
He’s staring back at that nice old woman. Good colour – red. Oh, she’s put it away and is walking off. He’s looking back at her – and he’s still crying.
Gosh, where did all these policeman come from . . .?