I know why
When the police knocked on his door he wept. They were real tears. The police sat down with him, comforted him. They told him he mustn’t feel responsible, but he did. They had been such good tenants. A happy family, good kids.
He saw the Father that night. In a way he’d been expecting him. The man stood by his bed staring down at him.
“I’m sorry” he whispered into the darkness but the man didn’t speak, didn’t move. He stood there all night.
The police came again the next day and confirmed it was carbon monoxide poisoning. It was an accident they said “not your fault, you couldn’t have known. Such a waste.”
The next night the Mother came too. They stood at the end of his bed holding hands. He tried to ignore the, tried to sleep but he couldn’t. Instead he watched them weeping all night, their eyes never moving from him. In the Morning the bed sheets were wet from their tears.
The police came again. He knew they would. Something was wrong, they said, the boiler had been fitted badly, the pipes had leaked. The pipes had leaked. “Who had fitted it?” they asked. He didn’t have the number to hand he told them, but he would get it for them.
The first of the children came with the Mother and Father that night. It was the eldest, the boy. Sweet boy. The Mother and Father wept as they had before but the boy did not weep. The boy came up to the bedside and reached out his arms. The touch was cold.
“Why?” the boy asked but he could not answer. He could not admit the reason why, not even to himself. The boy kept asking, all night “Why, why, why.”
The police didn’t come the next day. They called, wanting the name of the engineer but he explained he was having trouble finding it. He would call back as soon as he found it. He walked round the house, tidied up, talked to himself. There was no-one else. Not until the night. He waited for her, the girl, he knew she would come as well and she did.
The parents wept. The boy held his hand and asked why. The girl walked round the bed, back and forth, up and down. Her face had lost its sweetness. Her brows were furrowed, her mouth held tightly in a little pink knot.
“I KNOW WHY!” she shouted. Her voice stung, he remembered her singing on the doorstep when he went round to fix the boiler.
“Don’t you need an engineer?” The Father had asked.
“I know what I’m doing” he said and ruffled the little girls hair. He looked at her hair now as she shouted at him “I KNOW WHY!” It was still ruffled.
“OK.” He said and got out of bed. They followed him into the garage and watched him get into the car. He opened up the windows and turned on the ignition. They stood around the car and watched him die. He had to pay for not paying.
The police found him the next day. They knew by then that it was him. In the kitchen they found a tin. Inside were rolled up notes. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of pounds. Rent money he had saved by fixing things himself. He wasn’t a monster, he was just an old man who didn’t want to pay. He didn’t want to pay. Such a waste.