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A young man’s corpse is found at an eighteenth birthday party. Is it a drug-related death, a suicide, ...
2018-09-18 00:00:00
short story
Too Much Love

Warsaw, the Żoliborz residential district. The daughter of a rich businessman throws a house party for her eighteenth birthday. The situation gets out of control, and the police are forced to solve the mystery of a corpse found in the bedroom.

Read in 26 minutes
Read by Daniel Sax

 

1

“Those newfangled uppers are just plain evil,” Sucha said. “Do you know how they’re made?”

Mortka shook his head.

“A couple of guys set up a crude lab for themselves, you know, like the chemistry labs at schools or even worse, and they’re lucky if even one of them knows more or less what they’re doing. They take a little bit of this, a little bit of that – maybe some herbs, charcoal lighter fluid, crushed-up fluorescent tubes, synthetic cannabinoids, mephedrone derivatives. Anything goes, as long as it packs a punch. They mix it all together and cook it up, then they put the shit into fancy-looking packages and send it out to shops. ‘Designer drugs’, my ass!” Sucha made a face as if she were about to spit on the floor with disdain.

“The narcotics division says quite a lot of money goes into it,” Mortka replied, “so it’s probably not some backyard-scale business.”

“Sure, they put money into sales and distribution, but surely you don’t think there’s any kind of quality-control department in that sort of lab,” Sucha retorted.

He shrugged and walked a few steps to the side, but only because he did not want to admit that she was right. He hated it when she won an argument.

“And then everything ends up just like here,” Sucha went on, unruffled. “There are five poisoned kids in hospital. Three are hallucinating about something crawling on their skin. Snakes, spiders, leeches – you name it, they’ve got it. One boy scratched himself until he tore open his own flesh, trying to remove them. We have no idea what was in that shit, so no one knows how to detox them.”

She sighed heavily.

“So, if I ever have children…”

Mortka opened his mouth to react to this unexpectedly personal twist to the conversation. Luckily for him, he quickly decided that the best thing would be to keep quiet. The thought of Sucha as a mother appeared absurd to him, but nothing good would come out of mentioning that to her.

“…I’ll tell them if they want to take drugs, they should at least use the pure stuff. If push comes to shove, it will at least be clear what should be done to save their lives.”

They were in a villa in the Żoliborz district in Warsaw. A beautiful residential neighbourhood on the north side of the city; one of the best locations in the capital. Very green. Birds singing. And just a five- or ten-minute walk to the nearest metro station, to boot. The house as such was not very big, at least compared with the palaces that some people had in the southern satellite town of Konstancin, for instance. But it was well-kept and newly-renovated, and even Mortka could appreciate the owner’s good taste in interior design. In addition, it was probably worth a few million zlotys.

But right now, it looked more or less like every apartment after a teenage house party. Pieces of paper covered the floor, a lot of glass, empty wine and beer bottles. It wouldn’t even look that bad – without the knocked-over furniture and the two puddles of puke by the wall. The air reeked of cigarettes and vomit.

“Would you like to see what’s upstairs?” Sucha asked.

“Yes, please.”

She guided him up the unpleasantly narrow, curving stairs. On a wooden chair up against one of the walls sat a man dressed in a black business suit. He was athletic with a well-defined jawline and short, dark hair, and his gaze was fixed on the floor. Beside him stood a police officer who didn’t look even half as neat or manly, and he wasn’t helped by the shirt of his uniform hanging out of his trousers. He looked like someone who would trip over his own feet if he ever had to chase anyone.

Mortka glanced into a room that was bustling with technicians. Inside, near a large bed and an open closet with a solid floor-mounted safe peeking out from between the clothes, there lay the body of a boy. Judging by his looks, he may have been 19. His presence here alone was mysterious enough. Dressed in baggy sweatpants and a sweatshirt with an indistinct tattoo near his neck, he looked as out of place in such a house as an Uber driver in a Formula One race. Blood had formed a half-dried scarlet puddle around his body, causing irreversible damage to the carpet, which looked to be worth so much that it seemed a sin to keep it hidden away in such a place.

“Who are you?” Mortka asked the man on the chair. He raised his head slowly, his eyes so intensely grey that they looked as if they had been photoshopped.

“A bodyguard,” he replied. “I was supposed to make sure everyone stayed safe at the party.”

“Looks like you didn’t do a very good job,” Mortka murmured, glancing at the corpse that lay in front of him.

2

The commissioner couldn’t decide if the teenage girl sitting in front of him was pretty or ugly. On the one hand, she was clearly chubby, and the shape of her face was more round than oval. He figured that in the future she would become one of those women who spent all their lives waging heroic battles against their weight, which they ultimately lost, but not because they lacked willpower, only because they had a slow metabolism. Some people simply get the short end of the stick in terms of genes. On the other hand, she was still in command of her body and attracted attention with her voluptuous curves, and she knew how to apply make-up to accentuate the few positive features that mother nature had given her. He could see a certain tempting frankness and unpretentiousness in her that always made women more attractive. Even in such gloomy circumstances and in the cruel coldness of an interrogation room.

“I killed him,” she said before he could ask any question.

“I beg your pardon?”

“I killed him. It was in self-defence.”

When she finished talking, she slumped down into the chair, as if completely exhausted by her confession. Her mouth was half-open, but she seemed to be hardly breathing.

Mortka scratched his neck. He wondered what was wrong with him. After a confession like this, every other policeman would write up a report, give it to her to sign, and rush to the prosecutor, pleased that the case was closed. But not him.

“Would you like some coffee? Or tea?” he asked.

“Tea,” she whispered in a quivering voice a few seconds later.

He left and returned after a few minutes, carrying two mugs. One with coffee for him, the other for the girl.

“Nothing fancy,” he said. “We don’t have anything better down here. I don’t know how much sugar you take, so I put one spoon.”

“Sounds fine.”

He gave her the tea and sat across from her.

“So, your name’s Agnieszka, right?” he asked.

“You already know that.”

“May I call you by your first name?”

She shrugged.

“Will you tell me what happened?”

“Why?” she said. She seemed genuinely surprised and slightly afraid. “I’ve already confessed.”

“I’d like to know the details.”

She nodded her head begrudgingly.

“OK. It was my party. For my eighteenth birthday. I’d invited my friends. It was supposed to be a house party. Dad had hired a room in a hotel for that night.”

“But he left you a bodyguard.”

“Yes, he did. Tomek. Dad’s a little paranoid.”

He found that piece of information interesting. He made a mental note to get back to it later.

“Who was the boy?” he said. He did not need to specify which one. They both knew that he could only mean the one that had been found dead in her father’s bedroom. “A friend from school?”

She laughed, as if he had said something completely absurd.

“Who, Dario? No. He could never afford the tuition at our school. I don’t know if he was going to any school at all.”

“How did you two meet, then?”

“Out in town. I met him once. He sold the good stuff,” she hesitated for a moment and then looked straight at Mortka. “You know, we had some alcohol at home, but that wasn’t enough. Dad had it all figured out, he’d left us with very little, not even enough to get tipsy. And Tomek patted everyone down at the door. It looked like the party would be super-dull, so I called Dario to bring us something.”

“Didn’t Tomek pat him down?”

“I let him in through the back door, through the garden.”

Mortka recalled the layout of the property. Coming in through the back would mean sneaking through the neighbour’s property, but it was doable.

“And what happened next?”

“He gave us uppers. I don’t know what it was. Some kind of powder, I guess.”

“Did you take them, too?”

“No.”

“Why?”

“I don’t like such things.”

“But you bought some for your friends?”

“My friends like them.”

He scratched his chin, pondering what he had been told. For now, everything Agnieszka had said tallied with what other guests had testified. At least the ones who did not end up in hospital. The bodyguard had indeed frisked everyone at the door, confiscating any alcohol and drugs he found. He only left cigarettes, but even that after a lot of begging. The father had only left them wine and beer. Enough for two glasses of wine or a bottle of beer per person. Only one boy managed to sneak in a hip flask. At some point, Dario appeared. According to one of the girls, he first tried to enter the house through the front door. The bodyguard wouldn’t let him in. A brief argument followed that ended when the bodyguard slapped the dealer across the face so hard that the boy ended up with his behind on the street. He walked away. That was why the girl was surprised to see him with Agnieszka at the party. She didn’t know how Agnieszka had managed to let him in.

Drawing by Daniel de Latour
Drawing by Daniel de Latour

“What happened later?”

“We went upstairs to settle up. That’s where Dad usually keeps money. But I couldn’t find any. I said I would pay him on the following day, but he wouldn’t listen. He said we would settle the payment in a different way. He started coming onto me, groping me. He wanted to rape me. I took out a knife and killed him. In self-defence.”

Mortka leaned back in his chair slightly and watched the girl in silence. He knew that sexual assault victims behaved in various ways. Some were shaken, kept crying, and had difficulty collecting their thoughts, whereas others, though more rarely, were alarmingly calm. As if they were talking about something that had happened to someone else. Not to them. There was no single pattern. But something was not right with this girl. She was afraid of something. Not anything that had happened or would happen to her. She seemed more afraid of being caught lying.

“Where did you get the knife from?” he asked.

“What?”

“Where did you get the knife from?”

She blinked twice.

“I don’t know. I don’t remember. There are many things I don’t remember. I think I was in shock.”

“In shock? Oh, really? A moment ago, you told me in great detail about everything that happened before the killing. Now you’re starting to forget things?” he said, his voice sounding a little harsher than he wanted.

“Apparently, yes,” she mumbled.

“What kind of knife was it?”

She shook her head to signal that she didn’t know.

“A butterfly knife,” he prompted. “Did you have one at home? Why would you carry it with you for your birthday party?”

“I told you, I don’t remember! Most likely to defend myself.”

“It’s not that easy to open a butterfly knife. Especially when someone is trying to rape you. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I find that hard to imagine. I wonder about something else. Why didn’t you scream for help? Your bodyguard was downstairs. You only needed to call him.”

“I don’t know. It all happened so fast.”

“Where are the blood-stained clothes?”

“What?”

“If you killed him when he was trying to rape you, you must have been close to him. You should have his blood all over you. But you don’t.”

“I changed.”

“So where are the blood-stained clothes?”

“I threw them away.”

“Where?”

“I don’t remember!” she yelled and turned her whole body to face the wall.

A tremor went through her body, and she started sobbing. Mortka gave her a few minutes to calm down and then started talking.

“Look, Agnieszka, we have your confession. We’ve found a knife covered with blood in your room. I suspect your fingerprints are on it. If you want to go to prison, you will go to prison. But I have a feeling that it wasn’t you. So, please, tell me what really happened.”

The teenager took a deep breath. She turned back to face the police officer. She was no longer crying. She looked Mortka straight in the eye.

“I killed him,” she said forcefully. “He was trying to rape me. It was self-defence.”

3

“I killed him,” the man said as soon as Mortka walked into the interrogation room. The police officer stopped. He glanced meaningfully at the two-way mirror. He could guess that Sucha, who was behind the mirror, was now shaking her head in disbelief, cursing human stupidity under her breath.

“Maybe we’ll start with you introducing yourself.”

“Mariusz Żółkiewicz,” the man said quickly. “I killed that boy.”

“We already know that, but first things first.”

“Goddamn it!” the man yelled, banging his fist on the table. “I’ve just confessed! You will now write up a report, notify the prosecutor, put me in jail, and release my daughter! Do I really have to teach you morons how to do your jobs?!”

Mortka turned around without saying a word and walked out of the room. He approached Sucha, who was watching the red-faced Żółkiewicz kicking the table legs and yelling at the top of his lungs that the commissioner should get back there and do his job. He stood next to his colleague.

“So, now we have two of them,” she said.

“Two suspects? Both hopeless. They will most probably retract everything in court.”

Sucha thought for a few seconds and admitted that he was right. They waited in silence until Żółkiewicz calmed down, and the commissioner went back into the room. He sat down at the table, as the man he was questioning glared at him angrily.

“Let’s start from the beginning,” the police officer said. “This time, don’t start with a confession, OK?”

The man nodded his head in agreement.

“My name is Mariusz Żółkiewicz. I’m the father of Agnieszka Żółkiewicz.”

“A single parent?”

“Yes. Her mother died seven years ago. A car crash. She was hit by a drunk driver.”

Mortka concluded that this explained why he was overprotective of his daughter. A frequent behaviour among parents whose spouses died tragically. They transfer all their love to their children and remain overprotective, fearing another tragedy.

“Have you dated anyone else since then?”

“Do we really need to discuss my personal life now?”

“No. What do you do?”

“I have a construction company, a medium-sized one. We do property development projects in Warsaw and in the Mazovia region. Mainly.”

“Is business going well?”

“We’ve had better days.”

Such questions served the purpose of establishing a closer relationship with the interrogatee. Getting to know them better, seeing how they react. Bonding. In this case, however, they made no sense. Żółkiewicz grew even more tense, and every question made him more likely to explode again.

“Tell me what happened that night.”

“My daughter was having her eighteenth birthday party. She wanted to throw a party in a club, but I didn’t agree. You never know who visits such places, even the ones that are fashionable and apparently decent. So I let her throw a house party. I hired a room in a hotel for the night. I wanted to let the teens have fun alone, enjoy some freedom.”

Mortka decided not to ask about the bodyguard, who had searched the guests and taken away their alcohol.

“I wanted to work at the hotel, but I realized that I’d forgotten some important documents, so I came back home. In the bedroom, I ran across the boy, and…”

“Hold on,” Mortka interrupted him. “You came back home?”

“I did.”

“So why did none of the teenagers at the party notice your presence?”

“They were having fun,” the man replied calmly. “Also, they were high.” He said the last part with clear disdain and disappointment.

“Your bodyguard didn’t notice you there, either. And he was sober.”

“I used the back door, alright? From the side of the garden. I jumped over the fence.”

That sounded absurd, but Mortka decided not to delve into this topic for now.

“Why?”

“I didn’t want to interrupt my daughter’s party. Anyway,” he said, waving his hand, “I don’t have to explain myself for entering my own house, do I?”

“No, you don’t. What happened next?”

“I walked upstairs to my room. That’s where I ran across that boy. He was trying to break into the safe and steal from me. I went berserk, and I killed him.”

The man looked relieved that they had finally reached that part. But Mortka had no intention of ending the questioning yet.

“How did you kill him?”

“I stabbed him with a knife. Several times,” the man replied quickly. Way too quickly. As if he had expected the question and learned the right answer by heart.

“What kind of knife was it?”

The man frowned. That was something he did not know, so he was wondering frantically what he should say.

“I don’t remember. It all happened so quickly. Some things are blurred. I don’t remember everything.”

“Could we say that you’re in shock?” Mortka asked tartly.

“Yes, you could say that,” the man agreed, equally tartly.

“But you do remember where you got the knife from? Did you have it with you, or do you always keep sharp objects in your bedroom?”

The man grimaced. He was annoyed and tired. For a moment, it seemed that he would explode again, but he suddenly grinned.

“I remember now. The knife was already there. It wasn’t mine. I think it belonged to that boy. He must have put it down for a moment. I grabbed it, and I killed him.”

Mortka appreciated the clever answer.

“Why didn’t you call your bodyguard? He was downstairs. You needn’t have killed the boy. The two of you could have subdued him and called the police, that would have been enough.”

“Yes, we should have done that,” Żółkiewicz agreed. “But, you know, I’m a violent man. I act first and think later. Like I did then. I killed the boy. And then I ran away.”

“But you came back to tell the truth.”

“My lawyer told me that Agnieszka had taken the blame. I don’t know why she did that or what she saw. I think she’s trying to protect me. But children should not take the blame for the actions of their parents, don’t you agree, commissioner?”

Mortka leaned towards the businessman. For a moment, they were so close that their noses almost touched. They looked each other in the eye. Żółkiewicz was the first to move away.

“I don’t believe you,” the police officer said. “You may be a violent man, but you don’t have what it takes to kill someone. And everything you’ve told me is a load of nonsense.”

He got up and walked towards the door.

“Witold Breja,” Żółkiewicz said loudly and clearly.

Mortka stopped and turned around.

“I beg your pardon?”

“Look into him. The boss of a rival company. We submitted bids for the same contract. He played dirty, bribing my men to steal my bid for him. He tried to bring me down. So I sent a few people after him. I admit that things got out of control. Witold is now in hospital, his bones crushed. He’s been unconscious for two months. You check up on that, commissioner, and then you come back to me and tell me again that I don’t have what it takes to kill a man.”

“OK, I’ll have that checked,” Mortka said.

“And you know what, commissioner?”

“What?”

“We won that contract.”

Mortka could swear that Żółkiewicz was smiling gently as he said those words.

4

Mortka felt some sort of relief when, for a change, the next person he questioned did not confess to the murder. The bodyguard sat calmly, his gaze wandering about the room, his arms hanging limp at his sides. He initially seemed not to notice the appearance of the policeman, but he flinched when the commissioner sat down across from him.

“Tomasz Laski,” Mortka read out. “Age twenty-eight. The son of Mariola and Krzysztof Laski.”

“That’s correct,” the bodyguard mumbled. “I’ve already said everything I know.”

“Which is not much. You’re not very observant, are you?”

“Guess not.”

“How long have you been working for Mr. Żółkiewicz?”

“A couple of months.”

“As a bodyguard?”

“More of an assistant,” the man replied. “Sure, I watch over his daughter, I drive her to school and after-school classes, I drive her home. But I also work for him. I get things done.”

“What things?”

“I carry documents. He sometimes asks me to go to the construction site and watch over something or do things at home. Different things.”

“Do you like this job?”

“A job like any other. He pays me well.”

Drawing by Daniel de Latour
Drawing by Daniel de Latour

Mortka flipped through the pages of his notebook. He was not actually checking anything, because he already had the whole plan of the interrogation worked out in his head. The aim of the gesture was to make the person he was questioning anxious. It probably did the trick, because the bodyguard shuffled in his chair and cleared his throat, as if it had gone dry.

“So what happened that night?” the policeman asked.

The man gulped. He put both of his hands on the table, as if he wanted to show that he had nothing to hide.

“The boss asked me to watch over the kids at Aga’s eighteenth birthday party, make sure they wouldn’t sneak in any alcohol or drugs, and only let in the ones that she’d actually invited. It was supposed to be a relatively calm house party, nothing wild.”

“Were there any problems?”

“I took away bottles from a few kids. Nothing unusual. Then this Dario guy showed up. He wanted in, but he wasn’t on the list. He insisted, he wouldn’t leave, so I slapped him across the face, and he walked away. I have no idea how he got inside or who let him in. It was probably Aga.”

“Why do you think it was her?”

The man cleared his throat again.

“Could I have some water?” he asked.

“Not really. We no longer offer refreshments. Budget cuts,” Mortka replied. “Why do you think it was Aga who let him in?”

“He said she’d invited him. I don’t know how she knew him.”

“Did you know him?”

“Well, no.”

“But you were neighbours.”

The bodyguard stiffened, as if he were about to get up and flee. He went slightly pale. He licked his lips and finally waved his hand.

“I don’t necessarily know everyone who lives near me.”

Mortka smirked under his breath.

“Enough with this charade, OK?” the commissioner said. “I know you two knew each other. We have witnesses who will confirm that. I will tell you now, Mr. Laski, what I think happened, and you will correct me, if I get anything wrong.”

The man did not react. He sat as if paralysed. Mortka decided not to worry about this.

“Long story short, Dario had the stuff, you had the market, which means access to rich kids from good schools eager to spend their enormous pocket money on some pills. You brought Agnieszka into the arrangement. How do I know that? Because I talked to those kids. True, the girl didn’t sell, but she’d give Dario’s number to anyone who wanted to buy. You three were in cahoots. A cosy deal that probably worked nicely. For a time. You and Dario had an argument. That’s why you didn’t let him in. That’s why you slapped him. I don’t know exactly why you two fought, but I’m guessing it was the usual reason: money. Dario was the kind of guy who, if kicked out through the door, would climb back in through the window. Especially as he was helped by Agnieszka, who really needed to get the party going. The boy sold her the stuff, but that wasn’t enough. He decided to rob the house. He went to your boss’s room, found the safe, and then…” Mortka paused. He decided not to end the story. He waited for a reaction, even a minimal one; any word or gesture. But the bodyguard just sat there, stone-faced, silent and indifferent.

“The girl confessed to killing Dario,” the commissioner went on. “We even found the knife in her room. I suspect she took it away from the crime scene. She wanted to hide it. But apart from that, her story doesn’t make any sense. She keeps taking the blame. I wonder why. And there’s only one thing that comes to my mind. Do you want to know what that is?”

The bodyguard remained silent.

“I think she’s protecting you. Tell me, was it platonic or were you sleeping with her?”

This time, the man moved. He clenched his teeth.

“She was almost of age,” he burst out.

“I’m not saying I want to make this a criminal case,” the commissioner replied. “But a seventeen – pardon – an eighteen-year-old girl and a twenty-eight-year-old man, that doesn’t look good.”

The policeman got up. He walked towards the two-way mirror. He leaned his hand against it and contemplated the bodyguard’s reflection for a moment. He wanted to give him some time to collect his thoughts. He came back to the table. He moved his chair. He was now sitting beside the man, not across from him.

“She would go to the slammer for you,” he said, “for something that you did.”

The bodyguard closed his eyes. He took a deep breath. A muffled and unpleasant sound came out of his throat, and he spat out thick, white phlegm at the police officer’s feet.

“Fine,” he snapped, “I killed him, alright? It was exactly what you said. Exactly. We argued over money, and I killed that little shit. OK?!” He screamed the last word and started panting heavily, his face red and his eyes shining with tears.

“You’ve got what you wanted,” he whispered, “now get the fuck out.“

Mortka decided to grant his request.

5

Everyone in the Warsaw Police Department knew that Mortka was afraid of hospitals. But far fewer knew that this fear did not extend to morgues. He himself often wondered why not. Both places smelled the same, the walls were covered with the same hideous tiles, and the staff wore similar uniforms. He concluded that in a morgue, everything bad had already happened. Nothing could harm him there. After all, the dead stayed dead. No one came back to life; no one died twice. He found the thought reassuring, in a sense.

Doctor Trymek walked into the room. She was tall and short-haired. She greeted Mortka and Sucha with a nod, unpleasant and callous, as if their appearance had disrupted her schedule.

“You’re probably curious to know who did it,” she said distractedly.

“In a way,” the commissioner admitted. “We have three people who have confessed, so it would be great to narrow the list down.”

The medical examiner raised one eyebrow and lowered it rapidly, as if she decided that the story was actually not as interesting as it might seem.

“Well…,” she said with a smile, “the real perpetrator will not confess anything, that’s for sure.”

“Why not?” Sucha asked.

“Because he’s lying on the table over there,” the doctor replied and pointed to the corpse covered with a sheet.

“He did it to himself?”

The medical examiner uncovered the corpse and pointed to the wounds in the torso one by one.

“Initially, I was somewhat confused by the absence of hesitation wounds, but every step after that led me towards a single conclusion. As you can see, the cuts were made horizontally, which is typical of suicide committed in this way. That is, because of how the knife is held. The angle of the blade, the depth of the wounds, additional knife wounds in other parts of the body – all this leads to a single conclusion, namely aggressive self-destruction. This means that he probably did not want to kill himself, but directed his aggression at himself nevertheless. This behaviour is typical of some mentally ill individuals. Especially in early schizophrenia.”

“We have no information suggesting he was mentally ill.”

“Well,” the doctor mumbled, “maybe that had something to do with the chemical cocktail I found in his blood. I don’t know exactly what he took, but I wouldn’t even use it as rat poison. That wouldn’t be humane.”

Mortka closed his eyes and suddenly envisioned the scene. Dario wanted to rob Żółkiewicz’s house. But he made a mistake: he took the stuff he himself was selling and started to hallucinate. Worms, snakes or other things he was afraid of started crawling on his body. So he decided to do the same thing as the other kid, who had ripped off his own skin. Dario also wanted to get rid of the hallucinations immediately. But he had a knife, so he had the excellent idea of using it to kill whatever was crawling on him. He probably never even felt that he was killing himself.

Half an hour later, Sucha and Mortka left the Forensic Medicine Department. They walked slowly to the car, turning their faces towards the autumn sun.

“OK, then,” Sucha started, “Dario gets caught up in a bad trip. He kills himself. Agnieszka finds the body. She’s in love with the bodyguard, and she’s afraid he did it, especially after the fight he and Dario had in front of her house. She feels pangs of guilt because she was the one who let Dario in. So she grabs the knife and hides it in her room. And then she decides to take the rap, because – I don’t know – she thinks that the attempted rape story will let her get away with it.”

“Sounds about right,” Mortka agreed.

“Her father finds out about everything. He wants to protect his beloved daughter and comes up with the most idiotic idea, to take the blame himself.”

“He said he was a violent man, the kind that acted first and thought later.”

Sucha stopped. Something was clearly nagging her.

“Fine,” she started a moment later, “people are stupid, they do stupid things. But why did the bodyguard confess?”

Mortka watched the cars driving by in silence.

“For the same reason,” he finally hazarded the answer.

“Which is?”

“Maybe he really loved the girl. He didn’t know exactly what had happened, but he wanted to do for her what she did for him. Protect her. So he took the blame.”

“Christ,” Sucha mumbled, disgusted. “What a mutual love society. But do you know what’s especially interesting about that?”

“No, what?”

“If they’d not loved each other all so much and had all kept their mouths shut, nothing would have come to light. Agnieszka and the bodyguard would have denied selling the designer drugs, and we would have had almost nothing on them. The father would not have tried to impress you by admitting to arranging for thugs to assault his competitor. We would have received the results of the autopsy a few days later, with the same conclusion as we have now. Suicide, not homicide. Weird, but the case would have been closed.”

Mortka needed a few seconds to process this.

“You know, I guess you’re right,” he said.

“Simply too much love,” she said.

“Too much love,” Mortka agreed.

 

Translated from the Polish by Daniel J. Sax

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Wojciech Chmielarz

is currently a writer. In 2015, he received the High Calibre Award for his novel “Przejęcie”. He has no choice but to write crime novels because he is unable to devise a plot that does not start with the discovery of a corpse. But he keeps trying nonetheless. Maybe he will succeed one day.