فصل 04

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فصل 04

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Chapter four

The Municipal Building

The handsome young man was early for his first class on Friday morning. The Philosophy lecturer hadn’t arrived yet. Three girls were talking in a corner of the room. They were excited about something, and the young man was worried. Were they talking about Dorothy? Had somebody found her dead body already? That would be bad! Dorothy’s sister Ellen wouldn’t get the note until after three o’clock that afternoon. If Dorothy’s body was found before that, the police would come to the campus and ask all the students in Dorothy’s classes questions.

The young man had hoped that nobody would start to worry about Dorothy until the evening. As soon as Ellen got the note, she would phone the University Office. Then the police would be sure that Dorothy had killed herself, even before they went to the dormitory. Then they wouldn’t ask questions in her classes.

The lecturer arrived and everybody sat down. The handsome young man tried to forget his worries. He tried to listen to the lecturer’s words. After a few minutes, he heard the door of the room open and he heard somebody come in. He didn’t turn his head. But when somebody sat down next to him, he looked around. Suddenly he wanted to scream. His skin felt cold and he thought that he was going to throw up.

Dorothy smiled at him and passed him a piece of paper. He waited a few moments, then he read the words on it.

The new pills didn’t work either.

“Oh, God,” the young man thought desperately. “Why did I trust her? She didn’t take the pills! She wants to get married right away, so she didn’t take the pills! And at three o’clock, her sister will get the note. Then she’ll phone the campus. And then there’ll be trouble!”

He stopped listening to the lecturer and he started to think hard about his problem. The suicide note was on its way to Caldwell - he couldn’t change that. He looked at his watch. It was ten o’clock. The note would reach Dorothy’s sister’s dormitory at three o’clock that afternoon.

“So in the next five hours, Dorothy has to die,” the young man told himself. “And everybody must think that she killed herself. What can I do?”

But soon, he had an idea and he felt calm again. Dorothy believed that she was going to be married that afternoon. And people in Blue River often got married at the Municipal Building. The Marriage License Bureau was there. People had to go to the bureau to get a license before they could be married. And there was a judge’s office in the building too. If two people didn’t want to marry in a church, the judge could marry them, as soon as they had their license.

“And the Municipal Building is the highest building in the town,” the young man thought. “It’s fourteen stories high. If someone jumped from the top of it, they would certainly die!”

At the end of the Philosophy class, the young man spoke quickly to Dorothy.

“We’ll get married today, darling,” he said. “Will you wait for me by the Pharmacy Laboratory? I have to call somebody. I won’t be long. Then we can make our plans.”

The young man went to a phone booth. He asked the operator for the number of the Marriage License Bureau. He dialed the number.

“Is this the Marriage License Bureau?” he asked, when somebody answered. “When is the bureau open today, please?”

The clerk told him that the bureau would be open until twelve o’clock, and then from one o’clock to five o’clock in the afternoon. The bureau would be closed for an hour between twelve and one. That was when the clerks went out for their lunch.

A few minutes later, the young man met Dorothy outside the laboratory. She looked nervous. He smiled at her.

“We’ll get married right away, darling,” he said. “Don’t worry about the baby. Everything will be OK.”

“Oh, I’m so happy that you aren’t angry about the baby,” she replied. “I want to marry you so much.”

“We have to go to the Municipal Building to get the license,” the young man said. “Let’s go there at about half past twelve. You’ll have to show a clerk your birth certificate. Don’t forget to bring it.”

“OK. I have to get some clothes from the dormitory and I have to buy some gloves,” Dorothy replied. “I’ll meet you here at a quarter after twelve.”

She kissed him and she walked quickly away.

When Dorothy met him again, she was wearing a beautiful green suit, a green belt, a white blouse, a blue scarf and white gloves. She had put on some bright red lipstick.

“My birth certificate is in my purse,” Dorothy said. “I’m so happy!”

They rode on a bus towards the town center.

It was twenty to one when they arrived at the Municipal Building. As they reached it, the young man saw something that worried him. He’d never looked at the building carefully before. Now he saw that the sides of the fourteen-story tower were not completely straight. Stories seven to twelve weren’t as wide as stories one to six. And the top two stories weren’t as wide as stories seven to twelve.

“If the roof of the twelfth story is very wide, I might have a problem,” the young man told himself. “Everything is going wrong today!”

The two young people entered the building. In the lobby, they looked at a list of the offices on each story. The Marriage License Bureau was on the sixth story. They got into an elevator and they went up.

They got out of the elevator at the sixth story, and they quickly found the door of the Marriage License Bureau. There was a sign on the door. The bureau was closed until one o’clock.

“I’m sorry, Dorothy,” the young man said. “I’m so stupid. Why didn’t I check?” Then he smiled. “I have an idea,” he said. “Let’s try to get up to the roof. The view from there must be wonderful.”

They walked back to the elevator and they went up to the fourteenth story. When they got out, they saw an iron door opposite the elevator. The young man pulled it open. Beyond the door were some iron stairs. The young man closed the door behind them and they started to climb. At the top of the stairs was another iron door. It hadn’t been opened for a long time, and it didn’t move easily. But the young man pushed it very hard, and at last it did open.

Dorothy and the young man smiled at each other as they walked out onto the roof.

“We’re so high up here!” Dorothy said.

Near the door was a tall metal frame. At the top of this was the red light which the young man could see from his window every night.

The handsome young man looked around him. Each side of the roof was about 150 feet wide. All around the edge was a brick wall, about three and a half feet high and a foot thick. But the building wasn’t solid. In the middle, it had a big square air shaft. Each side of the air shaft was about 30 feet wide. There was a brick wall around the air shaft too. It was the same height and thickness as the outer wall.

“Come to the edge, Dorothy,” the young man said. Look at the view of Blue River.” He led her to the outer edge of the roof.

While Dorothy was looking out over the town, the young man looked down. Only two stories below them was a wide stone ledge. It was the roof of the twelfth story.

“If she only falls onto that roof, she won’t be killed,” he thought. “I’ll have to push her into the air shaft.”

He led Dorothy back towards the middle of the roof. He leaned over the wall of the air shaft. The sides of the shaft were straight. He could see the ground, fourteen stories below him. Suddenly he felt good. “Nothing else will go wrong,” he told himself. “Everything will be OK now.”

“Let’s sit on this wall and smoke a cigarette while we wait,” he said. “The bureau will open again in fifteen minutes.”

He took Dorothy’s purse and he put it down near the wall. He lifted her up, until she could sit on the wall. Then he got up too and sat beside her. He lit cigarettes for both of them. They smoked silently for a few minutes. Then they talked about their future in the trailer park.

“It will be fun,” Dorothy said. “We’ll have a home of our own.” She finished smoking her cigarette and dropped the end of it onto the roof next to the wall. The young man looked at the cigarette end. He saw the red lipstick on it. He smiled and he threw his own cigarette end into the air shaft.

He jumped down. Dorothy was still sitting on the wall. The young man held both her hands. “I’m so happy that those pills didn’t work, darling,” he said. “You’re right! It will be fun in the trailer!”

“Do you really think that?” she asked. “Are you really happy that the pills didn’t work?”

“Yes, Dorothy,” he replied. “I want to have this baby too. I know that now.” He smiled.

This was the time to push her. But there was something the young man wanted to hear first. He was going to kill her anyway, but this would give him an extra reason. He knew what she was going to say next.

“There’s something I must tell you,” Dorothy said. “I lied to you. I didn’t take those pills last night. I threw them into the toilet. I wanted to get married to you so much. Will you forgive me, darling? I - “ Her last word turned into a scream of terror as the young man pushed her with all his strength. She fell backwards off the wall into the air shaft, screaming as she fell.

The young man was already running towards the iron door when he heard Dorothy’s body hit the bottom of the shaft. Three minutes later, he was in the street. He was walking slowly away from the Municipal Building. After another minute, he saw an ambulance going towards the building.

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