7:00pm. 13th of May. Loreto Hospital, Seattle.
“You know what Maureen? I want things to back to normal. I want to remember who I was. I want to go back to my old life. The last thing I want to do is stay in this hospital bed for the rest of my days.”
“You do realise going back to your old job is going to be tough. You won’t know anyone there. It’ll be like 10 years of work has been erased from your life.”
“But it hasn’t Maureen! Once I get there, I’ll remember everything. Remember what the doctor said; I only have partial amnesia, I haven’t completely lost my memories.”
“I’m just saying, don’t get your hopes up. When you get back it might not be the same as it was before the accident.”
“Maureen, I’ve already decided. I’m going back to my old life as a detective.”
10:00am, 18th of May, Seattle Bureau of Investigation.
“Francesca Miller. Died of a stab wound exactly two weeks ago. A few suspects have been interrogated, but so far nothing has come up.” Sasha peered at the body that had a deep wound directly in the middle of its chest.
“Were there any clues left at the crime scene?” A man with muddy brown eyes, black overcoat and leather gloves questioned. Christopher Wyman.
“None at all. Whoever killed Francesca must have known what she was doing, because there was so evidence left behind.”
“What makes you say that whoever killed Francesca was a woman?”
“Well, Francesca had a posse of girls that disliked her. Like, really hated her. Maybe they had something to do with it?”
“It’s a possibility, Sasha. Have you questioned those girls yet?”
“Not yet. I was waiting until you came back. I know you enjoy that sort of thing.” She grinned.
“And right you are. So where are we headed?”
“Arizona. We’re going to find out what happened to her.”
A look of surprise came across the man’s face.
“We’re going to my hometown?”
“Yes. I figured we could take a break from Seattle.” She smiled warmly.
“It’d be good to go back home.” Wyman replied, nostalgia filling his mind. “I haven’t been to good old Ari in years.”
The air was hot and heavy, making Wyman’s hands stick to his gloves. Anyone with common sense would have taken them off, but due to vanity, he would keep them on.
“So what’s the plan for today?” Wyman asked.
“Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m set on interrogating those girls. I mean, they knew the victim; they used to be friends in high school. What I wanna know is what changed between them.” Sasha tied her auburn hair into a bun, as she always did when she meant business.
“Maybe they just grew apart?” Wyman added.
“Either way, they’re suspicious. Are you up for it?”
“Absolutely. My first case back from the hospital has to be a good one. And I think this one’s going to be difficult.”
Sasha’s petite hand knocked on the door of a small white-picket-fence home. The door unlocked to reveal a tired looking woman who looked in her twenties.
“Hello. Are you Elizabeth Nelson?” Sasha asked. The woman nodded.
“My name’s Sasha Burns, and this is my co-worker, Christopher Wyman. We work for the SBI.”
“We’ve come to investigate the murder of Francesca Miller?”
For a moment it looked like pain flickered briefly behind the woman’s eyes. She didn’t say anything for a moment.
“Yes, come in.” She beckoned softly.
The smell of wood polish and disinfectant was what hit Wyman first. The house was brightly lit and decorated with wooden furniture in warm colours.
“Mrs Nelson, please take a seat.”
As soon as Elizabeth sat down, Wyman picked up on her constant wringing of her hands – a sign that she was either stressed or hiding something.
“Do you remember anything the night she died?” Sasha asked with sympathy in her voice.
“I remember I was here, with my husband and kids, preparing dinner.”
“So you were not aware of Francesca’s death until later you were informed by the police?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“Where are your husband and kids?”
“They’re out at a park.”
“What was your relationship between Francesca like?”
“Fran was a quiet girl. When I met her in high school, my friends and I let her into our group because she was alone. Soon we became close. Since Fran didn’t talk much, we confided all our secrets to her and expected her to keep quiet about them. We thought that if she didn’t talk much to her own friends, she wouldn’t go out of her way to spill our secrets to anyone. Turns out we were wrong. In the last year of high school, Fran decided to spill all our secrets to everyone, some true and not true, and passed them off as rumours. It was a harsh year on all of us. We were shocked that Fran would betray us like that, after all we thought she was just a nice quiet girl.”
“So afterwards you were hostile towards her?”
Wyman stretched his arms out and put his hands behind his head. This was a very interesting case indeed. He knew that Sasha liked to ask all the questions.
“To be honest, we were. After that incident she no longer had any friends. Some people would go up to her to hear the latest ridiculous rumour, but she didn’t have anyone to really talk to. When she betrayed us like that we no longer had any pity left for her.”
“So are you saying she told all of your secrets?”
“No, some were too dark to repeat. But we knew that Fran still remembered them in the back of her mind. We told her too much.”
“Are you saying she knew so much that it was enough to get her killed?” Wyman spoke up. Elizabeth’s eyes shimmered.
“Christopher! That was completely unprofessional,” Sasha hissed.
“I’m sorry, please excuse my co-worker.” Sasha shot him a dirty look.
“When you say ‘we’, who are you talking about exactly?”
“My friends and I. There’s four of us – me, Caroline, Jenny and Bella.”
“Are you still friends to this day?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“Okay, Elizabeth, thank you for your time.”
“No worries.” Elizabeth stood up abruptly and shooed Wyman and Sasha out the door. Soon enough they were both out on the doorstep, confused.
A short ‘thank you’ came out of Elizabeth’s mouth and the door quickly shut in their face.
“Well, I don’t think she was glad to see us.”
A balding blue eyed man pushed a twin pram up the driveway containing two sleeping toddlers.
“Hello, you must be Mr Nelson.”
“Yes, I am.” His eyebrows furrowed. “Who are you?”
“Uh, I’m Sasha Burns, and this is my co-worker, Christopher Wyman. We work for the SBI.”
“The SBI? What are you doing all the way down here?”
“We got called down here for the murder of Francesca Miller.”Sasha replied.
“Can I ask you one question?”
“Sure,” the man replied.
“Where were you the night she died?”
“Is this an interrogation?”
“No, I would just like to know where you were.”
“Um.. I was at home with my wife and kids.”
“Okay, thank you Mr Nelson.”
Mr Nelson mumbled an ‘alright’ and led the pram through the door.
Sasha shot a sidelong glance at Wyman. “Good for us, both their stories match up. Looks like Elizabeth is pretty much eliminated from being a suspect – she doesn’t seem suspicious.”
“I don’t know – she did seem nervous when you were asking her questions about the murder. Did you notice her hands?” Wyman re-enacted the woman’s hand movements.
“I think she’s just trying to get over her friend’s death. This was only two weeks ago remember?”
“But they’re not friends.”
“Not the point, Wyman.” Sasha rolled her eyes.
“Let’s go visit the next suspect. I think her name’s Caroline Jennings?” Sasha gripped the wheel of her black BMW.
“How many suspects do we have?”
“So far, 4.”
“Is that all?” Wyman asked, surprised.
“It’s all we’ve got. Disappointing, right?” Sasha added with a shrug.
“And we came all the way to Arizona too.” Wyman grumbled to himself.
Sasha pulled up at a run-down pet store.
“Caroline lives in a pet store?” Wyman gasped.
“No, Christopher, you idiot, she just works here.” Sasha rolled her eyes.
“I don’t know how I put up with you, honestly.” Sasha shook her head.
“Let’s go.” Sasha shut the car door with a thud and almost teetered backwards – adjusting to the air conditioner in the car to the hot summer air would always be difficult, especially in Arizona.
Wyman and Sasha entered to find a receptionist staring unblinking at her computer screen.
Wyman cleared his throat. “Excuse me?”
The receptionist blinked and said in a squeaky voice, “Can I help you?”
“Yes, we’re looking for Caroline Jennings?” Wyman asked.
“She should be in the right hallway, third door to your left.” Her hand motioned to a door a few metres away.
“Thank you..” Sasha squinted. “Lucy.”
She smiled. “Come back if you need anything else.”
“Christopher!” Caroline grinned. She opened her arms wide and hugged him. Caroline was a young looking woman, most likely in her early twenties. She had a big smile and dirty blonde hair.
Sasha’s eyebrows shot up.
“You know Caroline?”
Confusion passed through him. Before he could respond, Caroline explained excitedly, “We’ve been friends for years. Are you still working for the SBI?”
Confusion turned into anguish. He didn’t remember her.
“Mrs Jennings, my colleague and I do indeed work for the SBI, and unfortunately we have come ask a few questions about the murder of Francesca Miller.”
Her big smile dropped. Her happy look was now replaced by one of grief.
“Poor Fran...” Caroline said softly. “Oh, by the way, call me Caroline.”
“Okay, Caroline. Where were you the night she died?”
“I’m pretty sure I was here, working late. I remember the clinic was super busy that day, and then when I heard the news, I was just heading back home from work.” Caroline said, peeling off her plastic gloves.
“Did you get along with Fran?” Sasha asked.
“Of course I did. Well, in high school I definitely did. She was a close friend then.”
“One night, Fran broke our trust.” She paused. “Sorry, when I said ‘our’ I mean my friends in high school – Fran, Lizzie, Jenny and Bella.” She took a breath. “It was late and we were all at Jenny’s house playing Truth or Dare. That night all of us spilled our secrets. While we were playing Jenny accidentally offended Fran, like, really badly. Fran threatened to tell everyone what we’d told her because she thought that we were being mean to her. It was strange, because none of us had ever heard her speak that loud to anyone.” Caroline closed her eyes for a brief moment and opened them.
“We thought she was just angry and would let it go. But no, she was being serious. She told everyone who had ears about us, and she spread some nasty rumours too. After that, we never really trusted her, especially Lizzie.” Caroline moved around the room quickly, busying her hands with anything she could find that needed to be done.
“I forgave her soon after, because after all, she was my friend. I just didn’t really talk to her anymore. It’s been years since that incident, but I think only Lizzie still holds a grudge against Fran for what she did.”
“Okay, Caroline, thank you for your time. I’ll let you finish up here.”
“Thank you, Sasha.” She smiled.
“It’s just awful that someone would murder Fran, though,” Caroline added. “She really was a nice girl.”
“Goodbye, Caroline.” Sasha waved. Caroline took hold of Christopher’s wrist and waited until Sasha was gone.
“I’ll see you soon, Chris.” Caroline said, trailing her fingers up his arm. What was she doing? And why did it feel so familiar to him?
“Only one more suspect left to interview now.” Sasha announced.
“Who is it?” Wyman asked.
“What about Bella? Wasn’t she part of the posse as well?” Wyman asked.
“We can’t ask her anything at the moment. She’s in the hospital under intensive care and she’ll be unable to open her eyes for at least a month,”
“That’s useful.” Wyman stated.
“I’ve no use for your sarcasm, Christopher.” Sasha shot back.
Wyman didn’t know what to say to that.
“And we’re here.” Wyman announced. They arrived at a stately looking house with trimmed hedges and rose bushes.
“Fancy.” Sasha remarked.
Sasha pressed the tiny white buzzer and waited. No answer. Sasha pressed it again and there was no answer.
“Maybe they’re out?” Wyman inquired,
Sasha removed her hand from the doorbell and knocked on the big oak door.
A small woman in a maid’s outfit squinted critically at Wyman’s and Sasha’s faces.
“Hello, we’ve come to investigate about the mu-
“Hold on, I’ll get her.” The woman cut off in a thick German accent. With that she turned around and shut the door.
Wyman and Sasha exchanged a glance.
The door opened to a beautiful red-haired lady again in her twenties.
Sasha spoke up. “Hello, I’m Sasha Burns and this is my colleague Christopher Wyman, we’ve come to investigate about the murder of Francesca Miller?”
Jenny let the door open wider. “Yes, come in.”
Jenny suddenly shut the door half way, making Wyman stop mid-step.
“Who are you?”
“I’m sorry, we work for the SBI.”
“The SBI?” Jenny asked, shocked.
“Yes.” Sasha said. I could tell she was defeated from having to repeat the same phrases over and over again.
“Sorry, come on in.”
Wyman and Sasha were led in a home that had an even grander interior than its exterior.
“Please take a seat.” Jenny offered.
Sasha and Wyman sat down on the plush leather sofas.
“Ms Gregory, do you mind if we ask about the night Francesca was killed?”
“No, not at all. Actually, I’m glad that you asked. Most of the time agents and reporters just come barging in demanding answers. I’m starting to like the SBI already.”
“Thank you, Ms Gregory. Can you tell me where you were the night she died?”
“I was at a bar, drinking away my troubles. I had a wicked hangover the day after.”
“Were you with anyone in particular?” Wyman asked.
“Yeah, I went with my old friend from high school, Caroline Jennings, after she finished up at work.”
“Miss!” The German maid from before hurried in. “The car is waiting for you!”
“Oh my goodness!” Jenny gasped. “I’m sorry, I completely forgot about an appointment I have to attend to. I’m afraid I can’t stay.”
“That’s alright, perhaps we’ll talk later this week?” Sasha asked.
“Yes, okay,” Jenny replied.
Wyman could see in the corner of his eye, the German maid was hopping from foot to foot impatiently.
“I think it’s time to leave.” Wyman said to Sasha.
“I think so too.”
“Well that wasn’t very successful.” Sasha said while walking out to her BMW.
“Yeah. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to talk to her soon.” Wyman replied.
Wyman’s phone buzzed in his pocket. He didn’t recognise the number.
“Oh, hi Chris, I was just ringing to let you and your co-worker know that there was something that I forgot to tell you yesterday.” Caroline’s voice rang.
“Is that so? When can we talk with you?”
“Probably in two days. I’m busy tomorrow, but I have a day off the day after.”
“Okay, see you then.” He hung up.
“Who was that?” Sasha asked.
“It was Caroline. She wants to talk.”
Sasha smiled. “Good, we have something to do with ourselves.”
“Not today. In two days.”
“Oh.” Sasha’s face dropped. “Want to go get coffee? You look like you’re in need of some caffeine.”
“Are you insulting me?”
“No! Let’s just go, okay?”
“On one condition.” Wyman smirked.
“You have to pay, because I don’t have any cash on me.”
“I hate you.”
Wyman laughed. “Come on, you owe me.”
“Since when have I ever owed you anything?!” Sasha exclaimed, outraged.
“Knock knock.” Wyman said through the door.
“Come in!” Caroline’s voice said through the door.
“Sorry, I’m going to have to make this quick, I’ve been super busy this week.” Caroline rubbed her temples.
“What I forgot to say is, before she died she did have something against me. She knew about my relationship, and Fran was jealous.”
“Your relationship?” Sasha questioned.
“Yes, with another man. She was jealous that I was able to pull off an affair without my husband knowing.”
Sasha’s eyes flickered to a ring on her left hand. She didn’t react.
“And who was the man you were seeing?”
Suddenly the floor under Wyman was unsteady. Most of his memory was flooding back and coming away at full speed.
He could see Fran in his mind’s eye, alive and angry. And standing in a church.
“If you don’t stop toying with Caroline’s feelings I’ll put an end to you both!” She yelled.
“What do you mean?” Wyman heard his voice which was strangely calm.
“I’ll walk right up to Ian and tell him exactly what’s going on!”
“You know that would really hurt Caroline, Fran.”
“And you too! When Ian finds out he’ll bash you to a pulp! Besides, Caroline knew what she was doing. She’s completely aware that she’s having a full-on affair, and married too.”
“I won’t let you do that.” Wyman’s voice grew frighteningly angry.
“Oh yeah? I don’t believe you.”
Out of nowhere, the past Wyman pulled out a knife from his jacket pocket. The present Wyman gasped with shock. Without hesitation, Wyman plunged the knife straight through Fran. She dropped lifelessly to the floor.
“Wyman? Wyman!” Sasha’s fuzzy voice faintly echoed through him. He was almost on the floor, shaking and gripping the operating bench.
“Wyman, can you hear me?” Sasha asked.
He killed Fran. He was a murderer. All his years of training as a detective, it was one of his most important values that the offender should always confess to his crimes.
He killed Fran.
Would he really risk losing his job and all the people he cared about?
He murdered a human being.
The air was pushing fast out of his lungs, and his eyes were blind.
Wyman’s hand slipped from the bench and landed on the cold linoleum floor.
Wyman’s eyes did not open for days. Did they deserve to open again?
© Copyright 2016 GraceB. All rights reserved.
Short Story / Mystery and Crime
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