Death Of A Jane Doe

Belfast. A Friday afternoon in sunny June. Afternoon revellers gather at the end of a busy day to unwind and start the weekend in style. A blues band play in the packed beer garden, the singer’s gravelly tones drifting across the square, backed by a guitar which reverberates through your very marrow. The Guinness is flowing and the craic is mighty. Tourists mix with locals and all is well with the world. Or is it?

Alleys run off the main square in all directions. One leads to the main shopping thorough, another to a nearby church. Arterial routes where curious eyes and ears are drawn to the throng, swaying as one to the intoxicating music. They scurry from their offices and shops, eager to join the mellow mass, savouring that first mouthful of ice cold cider, that first peal of laughter which quickens the heart and lightens the soul. Friday and sunshine. A potent combination.

A picture speaks a thousand words. If only they knew what lurks just beyond the lens, along the urine stained alleys just out of sight. Broken bottles and broken dreams, the living dead lie huddled desperate for that next fix, that next drink. Ignored by the revellers they shiver in their rancid sleeping bags, despite the sun’s warming rays. They know no weekends for every day is the same monotonous routine, a battle to stay alive.

Until the day comes when they no longer do. When something snaps, imperceptible to all but their inner ear. Be it rope, needle or pill, the decision is the same. The ends justify the means. They lie, waiting to be discovered, for their 15 minutes of fame within the crime scene cordon. At the end, they received the attention they had craved all their lives. Nobody walks past them now, for they are the entertainment on the square for all to see.

A crowd gathers, but their is no applause or laughter. A few stern faces, a muttered prayer or two, as they are zipped up and carefully placed in the private ambulance. The photographer packs up his gear and moves on to the next call. For there is always a next call. The cordon tape is torn down and the alley re-opened. Nothing to see here, everyone move on now. And perfect timing for the landlord is eager to open up.

Within hours, the square is heaving again and they are all but forgotten. A few throwaway remarks. ‘Was there a body found last night?’ ‘Yeah some homeless person. Overdose I think so sad.’ ‘Yeah, terrible. Anyway, what are you drinking? Same again.’ Meanwhile on a metal slab on the other side of town, the first incision is made. Jane Doe lies impassively, waiting to reveal her secrets to the pathologist’s scalpel. Such a pretty girl, such a terrible waste.

This is how it is, day after day after dreadful day. It is a creeping epidemic and we are indifferent as it caresses the fringes of our consciousness, a gentle tide lapping against a deserted, moonlit beach. Two paragraphs in the morning edition, 30 seconds on the lunchtime bulletin. She was nothing, but to someone once she was everything. It might be days, or weeks or months but that knock on the door is coming. Jane is finally coming home.

What could have been? What should have been? Before whatever happened and she fled the nest, destined for the bright lights of a city which consumed her whole. Glasses click and songs are sung in the square. Off to the side, a solitary bunch of flowers mark where she left us. She had sat there for months watching them pass. None of them saw her, nobody cared. Just another day, just another statistic. Until the next one.

Published by Fractured Faith Blog

We are Stephen and Fionnuala and this is our story. We live in Northern Ireland, have been married for 17 years and have three kids - Adam, Hannah and Rebecca. We hope that our story will inspire and encourage others. We have walked a rocky road yet here we are today, together and stronger than ever. We are far from perfect and our faith has been battered and bruised. But an untested faith is a pointless faith. Just as a fractured faith is better than none at all. We hope you enjoy the blog.

25 thoughts on “Death Of A Jane Doe

  1. It seems the same, everywhere in the developed world, and even worse in those countries which aspire to development. There are the twin plagues of anonymity and loss of spirituality, on which the spectre of the drug trade is all too eager to pounce.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I wish that was just a wonderfully written piece of fiction created in your mind. Unfortunately the scene repeats daily across our country as well. Not just in the alleys of our cities, but in affluent suburbs and rural communities as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is true and very sad. However life doesn’t stop when someone dies. Accept for the people it affects, maybe…..Just like time stands still for no one. Very thought provoking post


  4. About half a mile from our home is an overpass where the homeless congregate. They build shelters out of shopping carts and cardboard, drag mattresses, office chairs and tarps to create some kind of home. Some of the people seem pretty nice, just out of luck. Others scare the living peas out of me, especially when they start walking into traffic. I wish I had a solution. There’s a part of me that thinks, “Hey, that guy has cigarettes and beer, he’s made a choice here.” Not very kind of me, and it rankles. There’s another part of me that says “There, but for the Grace of God…”

    I don’t know the solution to this. There are some cities here that are making sure that veterans have housing, and are working to make sure there is food and medical care available. Those are the shining communities that I’m drawn to.


  5. You have drawn a very good picture of the reality of this world. One thing though, and I know you are aware of this, you can’t help people who do not want help, or who refuse to follow through with the necessary changes. I’ve seen it over and over.


  6. I have been thinking a lot about the people we cast aside – the drug addicts, alcoholics, homeless, etc. How we think them deviants and somehow less than us. When I was fully engaged in my studies one of the courses I enrolled in was a political science course that delved into the many social ills that permeate the western world. I think we are at a point when we need to rethink our biases and prejudices and how we write the laws. Too much money is spent incarcerating people who have fallen through the cracks. People who should be receiving medical help for the mental illnesses they suffer. I firmly believe that drug use of any kind is an attempt to self medicate to escape the pain people are immersed in – it makes more sense to me to help people heal. To that end I think the de-criminalizing of illicit drugs would help a lot and in the end save billions of taxpayer dollars. For instance, think of the savings to be had by NOT prosecuting people; by NOT imprisoning folk; by not having to have so many police hours spent on rounding up and dragging these sad souls to the local precinct, and so much else. I believe that crime would be less of an issue if we take away the drug lords ability to make mega bucks off the backs of the miserable and lowly. This line in particular makes me so sad: “She was nothing, but to someone once she was everything” Every human life is valuable – all life is. We have it all so backward and inside out.

    Wonderful post with lots of morals and food for deeper thought!


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