Looking down, the Investigator studies the spot where her blood has pooled and soaked into the carpet. It is still wet and he is tempted to reach down and touch it. Imagines his fingers coming away red and sticky. But what would he do then? Wipe them of course but where? On the edge of the sofa perhaps or one of the walls? Or would he simply leave them and let the blood dry? Pick at it later at the tiny scabs of DNA.
Stepping back and looking around, the Investigator is unnerved by the room, by its lack of character. He wonders what he can learn from it, what this room can tell him about the victim. Surely there must be something here, hidden in plain sight. Something perhaps that doesn’t belong.
The murderer didn’t break in. There aren’t any signs of a forced entry. Not inside nor out. No trampled flower beds and muddy footprints, no broken glass or fragments of china, kicked and scattered across the wooden flooring and trodden into the rugs.
The evidence of anything untoward is contained in just one room, the living room. And now that the body has been removed all that is left is the blood on the carpet. The Investigator moves in close and, gazing down, he tries to make sense of the patterns it has made.
They must have been close, the assailant and the victim, locked in an embrace. The former much bigger and stronger than the latter and easily able to hold her still. To stifle and contain it. The others would be able to tell him more; the angle of the knife and the number of thrusts and which of the wounds was fatal.
But looking down at the blood stains, the Investigator can see it was swift and that they had been close.
I recently heard a question that has stuck with me, and had me wondering if every black person has experienced that moment. The question is, do I remember the exact moment when I realised I was black?
Growing up black in the Caribbean, like I did, is much different from growing up black in the USA, and it didn’t take long for me to notice that difference. Thankfully, I came up in a pro-black environment, so I’ve always been conscious of the beauty behind my skin tone. Unlike in the US, it was black everything. Black family. Black friends. Black teachers. Black people holding political office. That was my norm, so when I heard about racism growing up, it was via history books, not as a personal experience of mine. Of course, Caribbean history, like that of every other country, is far from perfect, including the Christopher Columbus sham, but I did learn of some great men and women throughout Caribbean history, and it wasn’t one designated month of the year.
I’m dark skinned, which I quickly learnt in this society isn’t always as welcoming as the lighter shade of black. You learn that your first day at school. Children are the most honest people in the world, and the most curious as well. What do you say when you’re asked why your skin is so dark? Not in a malicious way, but complete curiosity. You also have to put up with the jokes from the children that’s trying to fit in.
Thanks to my family, my confidence was never shaken. I was constantly reminded how beautiful my dark skin is. Looking back at it, they were preparing me for the road ahead.
That confidence was at an all time high when girls started saying That my dark skin was one of the first things about me that they were attracted to. Life in the Caribbean was good. I’ve always realised that I mattered.
In the US, dark skin is not always as welcoming, at least from my experience in the Southern part of the country. Sad to say, but even some African Americans aren’t as welcoming. I was speechless when a woman that I was interested in, a Black woman, told me that I would look better if I wasn’t as dark. The confidence took a hit for a second, but that feeling was quickly replaced by disappointment.
I didn’t think that it could get any worse than that, but this is the experience that made me wonder if there’s levels to blackness. When another Black person told me I should go back to Africa, that did it. No way was I going to be speechless. In reality, this person and I could easily be related. The only difference is that my ancestors were unloaded in the Caribbean, while his were probably unloaded in the state of South Carolina. I probably didn’t say it in such a calm tone, but that was the gist of my response.
So, even though I always realised that I am black, I’m often reminded. Similar to when white people would lock their doors when I walked past their car in parking lots, cross the road to avoid walking next to me, or clutch their purses tighter if they couldn’t aoid walking next to me. Little things like that, they somehow think that we don’t notice.
In the US, I find myself making a mental checklist to not be a stereotype, and still be the confident Black man that I know I am.
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The Investigator steps back from the scene and exits the house via the front door. He moves out onto the street and beyond the barriers. He stands amongst the onlookers allowing the others to get in close and to do what they need to do. He won’t move again until they are finished and have gathered and extracted all of the trace evidence and the DNA; the blood, the fluids, the fibres, the particles. Not until the body has been removed along with everything else the others deem to be pertinent and their work has begun elsewhere will he re-enter the house.
For now, the Investigator waits patiently and he listens to the excited chatter of the crowd, of the neighbours, the people who live on this street. Of course, what they are saying is merely conjecture, they are speculating. But they keep mentioning a woman’s name and they all seem to agree that whatever has happened in this house, she is the victim. The Investigator takes out his notebook and he writes it down. It isn’t very much but it is something, a name, a place from which he can begin.