Write What You Know, Part 21
By Stephanie Thompson, 1,314 words
Read: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19, Part 20
For a hair of a second, Detective Riley wanted to argue like his was in a college level literature class about how fiction should be escapism and on average “real life” isn’t that bizarre. The thought that brought him back to Earth wasn’t that this was a police interrogation and not a lit class but that he was investigating a bizarre case of murders and that the recently elected President of The United States was a reality tv star instead of . . . A million other more reasonable options. Naturally he let the issue drop, since, like he mentioned it was a police investigation. Also, he didn’t want to lose an argument to rather bizarre suspect.
“How about this? Where does this Helen person live now?”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?”
“Then, how did you give her your phone?”
Christie only wanted a handful of things at the moment and the number one thing on that list was to stop talking about this goddamn phone. So much so that she started thinking about how long it would take her to create time travel technology and go back in time to the moment she gave Cassandra (it was definitely Cassandra at the time, though she had really wished it was Helen) the fucking phone and killed one or both of them just so she wouldn’t have to be having this conversation right now. (And I could stop writing it)
“Oh my God, last time I was in New York, during my last book tour, approximately two years ago, I randomly ran into her on the street like it was serendipity. Or it sort of felt like that at the time, now it feels like a curse or doom. We had a few drinks, a couple of meals together and life wasn’t going so great for her at the time. I offered to help her out, let her stay with me back home or even in my hotel room at the time,, or even just some cash or a check but she refused everything but the cell phone. I was going to get a replacement soon anyway, so we went to a Sprint store, I got my new, transferred all my data and number and I gave her the old one. I said I would cover the service cost until she got on her feet again but we didn’t really stay in touch and I didn’t want to cut her off, so I just kept paying the bill. Are you happy, Nosey Parker?” She’d started irked and ended up exasperated. She even banged her fist once during her speech but she was seriously done with this goddamn phone business.
He wished he had a word counter so he could see if that was the most she’d said since the interrogation began. As soon as she was done she went right back to avoiding contact and chewing her nail, on her index finger this time.
“Ms. Fields, I don’t know if you’ve forgotten or really ever noticed, or let it sink in the first time, but this isn’t a mid morning talk show interview or The New York Review of Books. I’m not doing this for fun or entertainment. This is a police station and you’re under suspicion for murder. So in this case, I’m going to ask as many questions as I need to to get a satisfactory conclusion, whether it’s inconvenient, annoying, or prying for you.”
When he finally, finally, finally got done studying, Cass was so stiff from sitting in the same position that she almost lost him just outside the library. If that had happened she would had to go off mission, let off a little rage. But she limbered up and improved her pace just in time to see which corner he walked around. She followed at a distance of about three yards, tracking him easily because of his bright green scarf and navy pea wool coat in a sea of black.
His brightness made the rest of the world seem grey. Something similar happend with sylvia (the piano player) (and did it? Are you sure? Did you mention it? Because you def should. . . If you haven’t already). Not literally black and right but desaturated, almost like walking through a snow storm or a foggy morning.
He walked leisurely like he was in no hurry, going no where in particular. She was more curious than she’d been with any other victim before. Not bout he’d look with his liver ripped out but where he was going, what he’d been studying in the library, what did his apartment look like, was he waiting for her too and long would they be together before the inevitable happened?
“Yes, detective,” she said meekly.
“Having said that, yes I am happy because, for the first time, we’re actually getting somewhere though I’m still having trouble believing you because, “ he started laying out different sheets of paper with strings of numbers in columns and rows. Helle n tried to understand the information but it just looked like repetitive indecipherable gibberish. One of the papers had a map, an outline really, of the United States with city hopping lines running back and forth across it. “This phone has been everywhere you’ve been recently for the same amount of time that you’ve been a visitor in each of the metropolises.”
“What?” She picked up one of the papers for closer look and she still couldn’t understand it. She looked closer at the map but for all it told her it could have been the flight plans for a Southwest flight. “I don’t understand. I mean it doesn’t make sense.”
“Either you’re still lying and you’ve had the phone this whole time, until you murdered Jack Bronson on Wednesday night or you’re lying and you’ve seen Helen a lot more recently and you’re working together.”
Christie wasn’t listening or responding, she was thinking. Thinking slowly and foggily, like the gears of her brain had rusted over and were jammed with cobwebs but were starting to grind back to life. There was something. Something there. Something she should have seen earlier, something she should have remembered.
“I’m not lying but . . . But I think . . . I think I might know something. Maybe.” She was not sure at all that she should have said that. In fact, it felt very wrong coming out of her mouth. Like she’d reached the end of her depth of her knowledge gleaned from Law & Order, CSI, and Forensic Files. Then as suddenly as she as realized that, she heard a sound, or felt a force, something a bit like a vacuum seal coming undone. A shift in the air, the feeling of the room, everything. The room wasn’t as quiet as she thought it was, the air smelt like stale coffee and not scentless like she described before. The light was too bright and the colors too vivid. And the room was very small. Like claustrophobic small.
Had she been far away when she observed before? Did she have an out of body experience? Did she temporarily become a 3rd person narrator to her own life? Because now it was all too real, all too overwhelming, and wholly different than before.
“What do you know, Ms. Fields?”
Wesley felt the shift too but less dramatically as Christie. He saw the shift in her eyes. No longer far away or glazed over like she was looking beyond reality, instead her eyes were hard beads, pinpoint pupils and too much white, frantic and manic, like a terrified rabbit. As if she just realized the trouble she was in (or that she actually did do it). Det. Riley was very very familiar with this look. The interview was over.
“I think . . . I think . . . I need my lawyer now,” she said.
That’s what all the rabbits say.
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