Her family sat in the front pews. King knew each by name and recited details about them so Elaine could appreciate the depth of his research into her life. It was a tremendous compliment that he’d dedicated so much of his precious time to her.
Her cousin, Maureen, did a reading followed by another hymn. After that came a eulogy, delivered beautifully by a man King didn’t know. The man spoke about her when she was younger, a person King didn’t recognise from the description, a tale of a disastrous skiing trip, a girl who worked hard but played harder, private jokes that the world would otherwise never have been party to. Now, it seemed, her life was public property. It had irritated him as he’d filmed. Too many had gathered and the church was full, necessitating the outside screen. The police had been there in droves.
‘A bit flowery, I thought,’ King commented at the end.
‘Michael,’ Elaine said, as if calling from sleep. King pinched her hand roughly.
‘Who was he?’
‘My friend from law school,’ Elaine answered. ‘We lost touch. He moved to New York.’ He glared as tears filled her eyes. She really was insufferable.
‘You should be grateful. How many people get to see and hear the things I brought you? You were respected, loved, admired and you got to hear it all without dying. I liberated you!’
‘Let me go,’ Elaine begged in a hushed voice. ‘I won’t tell anyone. I’ll pretend I have concussion. I don’t think you’re a bad person, just, well, confused.’
King was breathing hard. He could feel hot colour rising in his cheeks. The sound of his own grinding teeth echoed within his skull, and then he could smell her. Unwashed, festering on that mattress. She’d been there twelve days already, and hadn’t even bothered requesting use of the bathing facilities. He’d provided a shower stall in the corner of the room for exactly that purpose, and would happily have supervised had she been suitably placid. All she had to do was ask. She’d tricked him, hadn’t learned a thing. He hated being duped.