Remain Silent by Susie Steiner
English | 2020 | Mystery & Thriller | ePUB | 2.9 MB
The dead cannot speak. But they still have a story to tell. The body of a young man is found hanging from a tree in Cambridgeshire, a note attached saying ‘The dead cannot speak’. It’s impossible to say whether it was murder or suicide – was he silenced, or driven to end his own life? And either way, who is responsible?
His key in the door, he shoulders across the threshold, stumbles wildly up the stairs to the bathroom. He can’t risk being beaten for soiling the carpet. His stomach is coiling and despite it being empty, he vomits into the toilet: acid bile. In a strange way, the retching comforts him.
Dimitri is at the bathroom’s open doorway.
‘Are you all right?’ he asks.
Matis, kneeling by the toilet bowl, groans.
Dimitri approaches. ‘Too much to drink?’ he asks.
When Matis turns to look up at him, Dimitri says, ‘My God, what happened to you?’
‘Lukas is dead,’ Matis sobs. ‘I brought him here and now he’s dead. I never saw such hatred, Dimitri. Why do they hate us so much?’
Dimitri shrugs, sadly.
‘I hope he haunts them out of their beds at night,’ says Matis.
‘To be haunted, you must have a conscience,’ says Dimitri.
‘And they have none.’
Dimitri lifts him to his feet. ‘Come, you need a drink.’
In the kitchen, while Dimitri locates vodka, Matis starts shaking.
Dimitri says, ‘The police here, they will look into it properly. Not like back home.’ He hands Matis the bottle. Matis swigs. Winces. It burns his sore stomach.
‘It won’t bring him back. This is my fault.’
In the bedroom, which contains four men sleeping on mattresses on the floor, Dimitri takes the empty place beside Matis, to comfort him. The mattress where Lukas used to whimper in the dark, until one of the men shouted Užsičiaupk po velnių – shut the fuck up.
‘Do you need something to sleep?’ Dimitri asks. ‘That guy, the dealer who helped Saulius, he gave us pills.’
Matis shakes his head, rolls onto his back.
‘Sleep,’ Dimitri says. ‘We must work tomorrow.’
If life were a force of will, Matis could wish himself dead. No such luck. His body, tired and broken, keeps going. He keeps on waking on the stinking mattress, soaked in the sweat of other men who had been in the same situation before him. And what happened to them?
When they are in the van at 4 a.m., it is a moment of reprieve – a moment to exhale. They have survived an ordeal, have dragged themselves from too-little sleep, got to the BP garage, where migrants from across town are picked up for agricultural work, in time. They cannot be punished for missing the call, for being late. The next ordeal – catching enough chickens through the fog of their exhaustion, through the sting of the scratches on their hands reopening – would come later. Almost all the men fell straight to sleep in the van. Chin to chest. Forehead to window.