Chainsaw By D.I. Jolly

Of all the things my grandfather kept in his office only two ever really stuck in my mind. He had spent his life working as a detective. First in Intelligence for the army, then the police and eventually he went private. All along his walls were framed pictures and newspaper clippings of all the cases he solves, the children he saved, the murderers he found and the criminals he helped put away. But hanging on the wall behind him were the unsolved crimes, the two questions that always danced in my mind as a child but never got answered. He hated talking about them and so never did. The first was a burnt handkerchief which hung in a frame about a massive rusted chainsaw. When I realized my grandfather wasn’t going to tell me I started asking my mother who only knew slightly more than I did, but it was still something. The handkerchief had been found on the body of a small girl that had washed up on the river banks one day in spring. The chainsaw was used by a serial killer and was the only piece of evidence ever found other than a few dozen barrels full of people. Granddad had apparently spent years trying to hunt down more evidence for both cases, always holding them in the back of his mind. His passion was so great for these cases that when his body was found, he was sitting at his desk once again looking over the files. For a man in his line of work, there is always an investigation when they die. But it wasn’t a grudge that killed him but a heart attack, caused by still working late into his 80s.

Over the next few weeks, I and my sister helped our grandmother clear out his office and store and file away his records. Most ended up with the police but we could keep the non-critical things. She found his not so hidden whiskey collection. The one he’d promised he’d gotten rid of after the first heart attack. I found the small compartment under his desk with his old diary. Weeks past as it went from gathering dust in a drawer to gathering dust on my bedside table. Then late one night after a particularly festive party my childhood curiosity returned and I started reading the story of his life in his own words.

His case notes were written exactly as he spoke and after a few pages I finally cried. But I pushed on and kept digging hoping I’d find the cases I wanted and eventually I did. We’d always been told that neither the chainsaw nor the handkerchief had suspect or evidence but his notes spoke differently. The more I read the more I felt like I could see how my grandfather though, and started to see the connections he saw. And I started to realise the truth. In my grandfather’s words

“When you look at all the evidence, and you know what I know there is only one possible outcome.”

I turned to the last entry and I knew what I would see, and so much about my grandfather became clear.

We had always been told that my father had left my mom due to gambling debt. Now I believe that in order to save the rest of us, my grandfather murdered his own son. The break had come from the little girl. The handkerchief she held had been a gift to my father from my grandfather. He hadn’t believed it possible until that moment. He would kidnap young boys and girls, do the unspeakable and then put them to the saw. My grandfather had feared for me and my sister and had made a choice, he had carried that, and now I had accidentally picked it up. I reached for one of the whiskey bottles and hoped that by the morning I would have forgotten.

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