Binns Road, Liverpool
Mr Trilby was really early coming to my cell this morning. I was half asleep on the mattress when the door burst open and he almost ran to the table with some food, water and coffee. Then, without even looking at me, he rushed out, locking the door behind him.
The food turns out to be a great heap of pancakes with honey and jam on the side. I am starving and get to work on them. The coffee is hot and sweet too and I gulp it down.
What Trilby doesn’t know is that I have very nearly finished freeing the final bar on the window and if I do succeed in doing that today and he stays away for long enough, I may well make my escape a bit later. I feel excited at the prospect and cannot wait to get out of this stinking hellhole.
He has not said what response he got from Keith to his recorded message. I assume he got one, but I am also sure it would not be the response he wanted. I have been half expecting my supplies of food to end and my room to freeze once again but it has not happened. He has been here more often than he was, and I can only conjecture as to why that should be. It has been a nuisance because I have to stop work whenever he is here and it has slowed me up.
I have attempted to peer through the grimy window while I have been working trying to make out the back yard beyond wondering if the door to the passageway beyond is locked or not. It is unlikely, I think, because he would not be expecting me to escape through the window and indeed, I have yet to accomplish that I think rather grimly. I can only hope that it is not locked, but if I have to climb over the back yard wall, well that is what I will have to do.
I have worked my way through the pancakes and am sitting back in the chair. I can hear the radio somewhere. I think it is tuned in to Radio Caroline. Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Waters is playing which is somewhat appropriate given my situation. It ends and Freda Payne’s Band of Gold starts up. For some reason I can feel tears welling up. I don’t really know why. I must be an emotional wreck.
Then suddenly the door bursts open and he stands there glaring at me. I hurriedly wipe away my tears and wonder what might be coming.
‘Your friend Wilder wants to play games,’ he snarls at me.
‘He’s not my friend,’ I mutter. ‘He’s my boss. What do you mean?’
‘He wants to set up a meeting.’
I shrug. ‘So, what’s wrong with that Mr whatever-your-name-is.’
‘What’s wrong with it? I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it lady. It’s a fucking trap. That’s what’s wrong with it.’
I stare at him and sigh. ‘He is giving you the opportunity to clear your name of the murders,’ I tell him. ‘Don’t you understand. At the moment, the murders have your name on them. You should talk to Keith. Take him up on his offer.’
‘He has not agreed to do what I want,’ he says grimacing.
‘He can’t overturn what a court decided. Saying that he was wrong will have no effect whatsoever. Nobody will believe it and you will have achieved nothing. What would be the point?’ I stare at him. He doesn’t answer. ‘So, what happens now?’ I ask, expecting the worse. He doesn’t answer. Instead, he slams the door and locks it. Shortly afterwards, I hear the front door slamming.
I retrieve my nail and get to work.
An hour later and I have made good progress. The end is free. All I must do now is dig a channel so that I can pull it forward. I study the window. It is typical of terrace houses built in around 1910 or so. The design has changed very little over the years and the bottom half, in theory, can be pushed or pulled upwards over the top half. The window hasn’t been painted for years and what paint there is has mostly peeled or rotted away. Fortunately, the iron bars are in front of the window which is why I have been able to dig them out. I stopped speculating why the house has a room with iron bars on the window days ago. Obviously, I am not the first person to be imprisoned here. What horrors have taken place in this place I wonder?
I take a break from digging and decide to see if I can open the windows. If I can’t, I will have to break the panes of glass which will be messy with the added danger of me ripping myself on shards of glass still left in as I climb out. I reach through the bars and try and push the sash window upwards. Nothing. I use the nail to score through the paint around the windowsill and the window frame and I try again. There is movement. I am exultant! I decide to push the window outwards and I can feel and hear a creaking sound. I do it again and the window moves slightly away from the sill. I push it upwards again with all my strength and it moves upwards about an inch. I move the chair to the window, stand on it and pull the window upwards. It opens a good three inches and a blast of cold air rushes into the room. I don’t care. I am trembling with anticipation.
I now know I can escape if I can bend the bars, so I set to work digging out the final channel. It takes me about another half an hour and I stand back to admire my handiwork. I am about to begin bending the first of the bars when a thought strikes me. If I bend all three bars inward towards me, will I still be able to reach the windows to push or pull them upwards? I decide I would not so instead I will concentrate on the window first. I know that once I have it open, I will be committed. There will be no going back.
I position the chair again and heave the window up another three inches. It is hard work and I need to rest for five minutes before trying again. This time I will push it upwards because the window is open six inches which gives me enough room to get both hands underneath for me to push. It moves a little more. I take another breather. I need it to be open at least a foot which should be wide enough for me to climb through.
It takes another three shoves to open it wide enough. I think I should be able to squeeze through the space. It is really cold now, so I put my coat on and grasp the first of the bars. They are around three feet long which is good because it means I will be able to exert a great deal of leverage. They are also quite thin and very rusty, so I heave on the end with both hands. Suddenly, I am lying on back on the floor holding the bar in both hands. It had simply come away from the wall! Despite having hurt my shoulder when I landed, I cannot help bursting out laughing. I never thought it would be this easy.
The second bar is a different story. It takes a great deal of heaving before it bends upwards enough for me to wriggle underneath it. And now for the final one. I take another breather and a few gulps of water. I am so near freedom I feel light-headed. I know I must move because there is no telling when Trilby will be back.
I grasp the bar and pull with all my strength. It is harder than the other two. It has only bent about a foot which is not enough for me to crawl under. I need it to bend at least another foot. I am panting with my exertions. I rest for a few minutes and then put a foot on the wall as I pull. Suddenly, without warning, it too came out of its mortar and I am holding it triumphantly in my hand. It has taken me almost three hours to work my way to freedom.
I take one last look around the room and then breathe in deeply. This is it! Escape at last. I duck under the last remaining bar and wriggle through the window feet first after standing on the chair. I land in a yard full of rubbish and walk a little unsteadily to the back door. I hope it isn’t locked because I do not relish having to climb over the wall. It isn’t! I can’t believe my luck. The gate had a lever latch with a bolt top and bottom. It opens onto a back passageway with a depressed drainage gully down the centre. I was expecting it to be filthy, but it isn’t. There are no bins in sight because they are recessed into the walls and are accessed from the outside by the bin men. I open it and look up and down the passageway. There is no sign of anybody. I decide to walk in what I imagine is the direction of Edge Lane, a main road where I can summon help.
It is perhaps 200 feet to the end of the passageway which curves to the left and emerges just beyond the Meccano factory. I look to the left and spot the car with my lipstick tick on it. I smile. I am surprised nobody appears to have noticed it.
As I stare at the car there is a tap on my shoulder. I turn and look into the face of Mr Trilby whose face is distorted in fury.
‘Going somewhere?’ he snarls.