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He made no move to resist or to run. The knife, still dripping, he placed calmly on the floor before placing his hands on his head and kneeling for the arresting officers.

He was silent as they drove him to the station, and when they offered him a lawyer he smiled and refused politely. All he asked for was a glass of water.

The detective brought it in and sat down opposite him.

“Tell me why you did it,” he said.

The man glanced at the clock and shook his head slightly. No matter what they asked, he spoke not a single word until the clock ticked past nine.

“I’ll tell you now,” he said. He went on to tell the sorry tale of his daughter; of the man who had destroyed her life and how she had committed suicide rather than carry her rapist’s child.

“I found him. I followed him. I killed him, as surely as he killed my Sonia.”

The detective nodded. He found it easy to sympathise with this softly spoken man, but was bound by the law.

“You realise that this doesn’t excuse what you’ve done,” he said. “You are facing life in prison.”

The man smiled slightly. “No,” he said. “I took poison before you arrived.”

They were already moving, calling an ambulance. The quiet man winced slightly, and shook his head.

“It’s no use calling a doctor,” he told them. “There is no antidote after two hours. I made sure I waited before I told you anything. You’ll find all my paperwork on my desk at home. The funeral arrangements are already in place.

The detective was baffled. “Why?”

“A Chinese proverb,” the man said quietly. “The man who seeks revenge should first dig two graves.”

© Kari Fay