Joined: 05 May 2012
|Posted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 11:28 pm Post subject: The Hidden Crime - Chapter 5 - Poker face.
WARNING: CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE.
The entire story (to date) in beautiful, readable HTML, courtesy of the wonderful Dropbox. Great for catching up, too. Link: The Hidden Crime
Sorry for the huge delay for an update! Holiday periods are surprisingly difficult. Anyway, this chapter is short-ish. So many decisions to make, didn't wanna deprive the players from their choice. :P
Chapter 5: Poker face.
The nicely formatted version: In HTML
A million thoughts flooded my mind all at once as the room spun in every imaginable direction. The ability to breathe rhythmically had become a lost art as I stood frozen inches from the couch, unable to produce a coherent thought.
Then the detectives knocked on the door again.
It was just enough to break me out of my stupor.
"Just---just a minute!" I quickly called out and stumbled my way to the bathroom.
I ran the tap and splashed my face in icy cold water. Fuck, fuck, fuck! They're here to arrest me! I stared at my reflection in the mirror. No. No, they're not. Think about it. Somehow, my pathetic panicked splashing had drenched my short blond hair so much, it was as if I had just climbed out of a swimming pool. Or a shower...
I grabbed Dan's towel and started to dry my hair the best I could. When he finds out that I've used his towel, he's going to freak. I tossed it back on the towel rack and turned towards the front door.
Calmed down enough, yet? I chastised myself. You can't always rely on someone else to help out. I could almost see the detectives behind the door, probably checking their watches and tapping their feet. I needed a plan of action. I glanced into Dan's bedroom. There was a fire escape by the window.
No, you're missing something. Come on, you're a physicist. All you do is 'think' for a living. Do your freakin' job!
I tore my eyes away from Plan B. Then, I remembered something the detectives had said: "who's next on the list?" It was clear to me at that point they weren't here to arrest me. Even so, they clearly could tie me to the murder somehow, or they wouldn't be here at all. The list. There's a damned list. I shut my eyes and tried to remember the kind of person I was before, back when Terri was still laughing at my jokes. Back when I was less pathetic. When I still had some semblance of courage. I took a deep breath.
It wasn't too long ago when we were all sitting around the floor in my old dorm room. We were happy. Content. And very drunk. It was at the end of our sophomore year at college, just after a huge party. Dan and I had invited over the funnest person we knew --- someone who was quickly becoming a close friend of ours. She made a simple game of poker fun, even though she was a little too good at it.
I, on the other hand, was rubbish at the card game. I remembered throwing my hands up in frustration, demanding to know how they had figured out I was bluffing---again---with uncanny accuracy. I was convinced I had a tell, one that I was determined to crush by the next round of poker. Only, calling it a 'tell' had been an understatement. "Seb, honey, your whole face morphs like a constipated catepillar when you tell a lie," she had cheekily claimed, to my horror. I remembered wondering if that was why I could never get anything past my parents. "Oh, no, no, don't be like that! I really like that quality about you," she had added quickly, before leaning in to kiss my cheek. "Promise me you'll never let anything change this part of you. Ever."
I slowly opened my eyes. I finally understood what I was supposed to do. You just stepped out of the shower, I tried to make myself believe. Now, you're walking to the front door to greet the detect---no, the strangers. You didn't know they were detectives. You have no idea who they are.
On the way to the front door, I grabbed my bag and slung it over my shoulder. Late for work, gotta go. Late for work, gotta go. Late for work, gotta go. I repeated that in my head a few more times as I opened the front door, revealing an attractive woman with brown eyes and shoulder-length red hair fashioned in a pony tail, and a middle-aged balding man with deep blue eyes.
"Hi," I greeted. "Can I help you?"
The detectives wasted no time in pulling out their badges. "Yes, I'm Detective Thompson, and this is Detective Brown," introduced the attractive red-head. "We just have a few questions about your neighbour. Do you know the man living in that unit?" she gestured to her left.
I looked in the direction the detective gestured at. "Unit 201? Uh, yes, I live there, actually."
"You live there?" questioned the middle aged man, Detective Brown. "You're McDean?"
"That's me. I'm sorry, but what's this about? I'm actually kinda really late for work," I showed them my bag apologetically. Promise me you'll never let anything change this part of you. Ever. But I wasn't lying. Not directly, anyway.
The detectives looked at each other before the red-head spoke again. "We just need you to answer a few questions about two nights ago."
I had walked out of Dan's apartment and started to lock the door behind me, feeling glad that my back was on the detectives so they couldn't see my face. "Can I come over to the station later, or something? I'll be happy to answer anything."
"Mr McDean, this won't take long---" started the female detective sternly.
"Can you be at the station at 5:30PM?" interrupted the middle aged man.
I turned around and faced the pair. "I might have to leave work slightly early to make it on time, but yeah, I can."
The red-head's face scrunched up in annoyance, hopefully directed at her partner. She reached into her pocket and handed me a card. "Look for me when you get to the station. Don't be late."
"Yes ma'am," I replied as I made my way to the stairwell without delay.
As soon as I walked out of view, I could hear a tense discussion between the detectives. The red-head sounded pretty frustrated, presumably at her partner for interrupting her. The balding detective sounded like he couldn’t care less, almost completely apathetic.
It was only after the stairwell door closed behind me I realised I was holding my breath. My chest was thumping painfully and I felt a sweat run down my forehead. Dammit. I hoped the detectives didn't notice any of those damned tells. Was this what I was like when I was playing poker?
You need to find out where that ‘list’ comes from!
A sudden thought occurred to me as I was leaving the building. Yes. The detectives were going on a ‘list’. I needed to find out how I earned a spot in that damned list.
Maybe they found out you were there that night, somehow. Did someone tell the police I was there? There were hundreds of people at the club that night, but there was no reason for any of them to remember me. Except for Kirsten and Martha. My heart jumped a little when I realised Kirsten had witnessed me attacking Kyle. Fuck! Again, I tried to remember the events of that night. Did I tell them my last name? I shook my head. It didn't make sense for me to reveal my last name to people I had only just met. I had no reason to hide it, but I also had no reason to reveal it. Think. So, even though it made sense for Kirsten to go to the cops after watching the news, how did the cops know how to find me, if all they had was my first name and physical description? Maybe there was another explanation. The cops must have placed me on the scene some other way. Maybe there was a video camera at the club?
Or, maybe they knew you had a relationship with Terri. I closed my eyes at that thought. Was that possible? Once again, scenes of the night two years ago played through my head. I vaguely remembered giving an account of the accident to the policewoman who later arrived at the scene. But, I was never called on as a witness in the court case. They had other witnesses who were more coherent than I was. Did I ever tell them about Terri and me? I opened my eyes. No, I did not. If they found out about our relationship, they must have found out some other way.
Thinking about all this had made me realise how easy it would be for the detectives to make me their prime suspect. I was certain I wasn’t their suspect, yet, or they wouldn’t have let me go so easily. But, had they found out about my relationship with Kyle’s victim, or about how I attacked him the night he was murdered…or if they find the switchblade you left in Dan’s apartment…
I was now at the train station, waiting for my train to arrive. On my way to work, I realised. I hadn’t even paid any attention to what I was doing. Should I really continue on to work, when there are so many questions whizzing around in my head? Almost subconsciously, I pulled out my phone and tried to reach Dan. Except he wasn’t picking up. He was probably in another one of those damned surgical shifts, I decided. I won’t hear from him until tonight. I sighed. I’m on my own today.
Maybe I should go to work after all. It was what Dan had wanted me to do. I thought more about my options.
Or, I could look for Kirsten at her college, find out what she intends to do with her knowledge of my altercation with Kyle. Dan had mentioned the subject Martha and Kirsten were doing together, which should be enough for me to track her down.
Or, I could try the nightclub, see if I can jog my memory, or check if there were any cameras. They would be closed during the day, but the manager might still be there. I had been there during the day to recover a bag which I had left behind by accident, once. Plus, you can check out the crime scene while you’re in the area.
Only, either option would expose me to even more suspicion. Would it be worth the risk?
to be continued...