The Looking Glass

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The Investigation (short story) Part 1 of 2

Jordan Simon, Staff Writer

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“This world is filled with a great number of people, each manipulated by all kinds of motivations. Though, negative connotations of all kinds can push a person to do great evil, the opposite is also true. Pessimistic though I may be, I must admit that just as easily as feelings like rage and hate can corrupt a person to perform particularly heinous acts, so too can love and altruism motivate us to be better. Remember that we are simply products of our own decisions. Endeavor every day to do good; to be better.”

-Jordan Simon

 

“Pardon?” I stared at the law enforcement officer before me, in disbelief. “I think I’m going to need you to repeat that.”

The man sighed. Apparently even being here was one big chore to him. “You are Eleanor Llidie, correct?”

“Yes.”

“And you live at?”, he double checked the form in his hands, “67 Braquier Ave, yes?”

I blinked, owlishly. “Yessir.”

He smiled, humorlessly. “Neat!” Shrugging, he once more gestured to the vehicle behind him, his buddy dispassionately idling at the wheel. “I’ve got a warrant here that says you’re under investigation.” He showed me an official-looking sheet of paper. A quick glance at the paper revealed my name, highlighted in yellow. “We just need you to come down to the precinct with us for a bit so we can straighten things out.”

I tried and failed to ignore the cold sweat staining the back of my just-ironed work shirt. “Am I under arrest or something?”

The man shrugged. “I shouldn’t have to cuff you, but this is pretty serious, ma’am.” He nodded pointedly at my clothes. “Where are you headed, work?”

“Yes.”

“Right then, we can give you a couple of minutes to call out if you think that would help.” The officer shrugged kind of weakly. “I know this is a bit of an inconvenience and I apologize for that. Orders, ya know?”

I tried to be understanding, opting to merely smile and nod as I briefly called my boss to let him know that ‘Something urgent came up and I won’t be able to make it. Yes. Yes, I understand your position here; I’m sorry.’ Then, I mutely took a seat in the back and allowed myself to be carted off to ‘not jail’. My mind raced a mile a minute, the whole way there, trying to figure out what the hell the police needed me for. I considered myself a rather straight-laced woman a law abiding, god-fearing woman whose biggest sin of the year might’ve been not calling my parents enough. It didn’t change the fact that I was hecking petrified.

“Miss Llidie, I’m going to be frank with you. We’ve got a couple of anonymous tips here, and that has had us investigating some rather disturbing events. Unfortunately, they seem to have you at the center.” The officer… Jenkins, he’d said, gestured, weakly. He must have seen the confusion in my expression because he started flipping through some documents in front of us both. “Do you drink, ma’am?”

“I haven’t touched alcohol in nearly a decade.”

“Smoke?”

I frowned. “Never.” Frankly, I found the smell revolting.

“Do you or have you ever used any kinds of hallucinogens or behavior-modifying drugs?”

What did he think I was, some kind of junkie? “I was prescribed adderall by my physician to deal with my ADHD, sir.”

“Was?”

“I-I begged off it after a few months. I didn’t like the way it made me feel.” I was feeling a bit sick. “Officer, I’m at a loss, here. I think it’d help a lot if you were just blunt and told me exactly what I’m here for.” I was terrified to find out, but not knowing was killing me.

“Well that’s just as well because I’m bad with tension.” He leaned forward, adopting a grave expression. “Ma’am you are the prime suspect for the murder of one Daniel Travis. I’m gonna be frank- there’s a lot of evidence pointing in your direction.”

…Wait what?

“Records here say that you and Mister Travis were seen together a handful of times throughout the month of April. Did you two date, ma’am?”

“Yes.” I tried and failed at pushing down the horror that was clawing at my back. “We went on a couple of dates. It wasn’t anything serious though, didn’t even last the month.” Okay, maybe that wasn’t completely true. I’d actually rather liked Daniel. He was a very charming young man; a couple years my junior, but wise beyond his years. Us hadn’t worked out, but I was mature enough to admit that it was more of a ‘me’ problem. I couldn’t fathom that someone would think that I would kill him.

Officer Jenkins gave me a severe look. “So you do not deny that the two of you were romantically involved?”

“No sir”

“Did anything in particular happen that made the two of you break it off?” It was pretty obvious that he was fishing for something. I couldn’t fathom what he could want from me.

“Daniel was very… fast, I guess you could say. He wanted me to meet his parents and start talking about a seriously committed relationship. Frankly, it scared the crap out of me and he wasn’t willing to wait. We broke things off after that and I’d thought we’d done so pretty cleanly. Honestly, I have no idea why anyone would think I’d been involved in his death.”

Officer Jenkins leaned forward. “That’s what we’re trying to figure out, Miss Llidie. Your case is a bit of an odd one. There’s a lot of evidence pointing to your involvement, but there’s just as much that’s telling us you couldn’t have done it. Hell, technically I’m not even supposed to be telling you all of this, but it’s just really not sitting well with me, you know?”

I didn’t, but I could guess. “Are you saying I’m being framed?”

“Right now, I’m not saying anything.” He shrugged, then gestured to his friend, who perked up. He’d been silent until now but seemed ready to say something. “This is Officer Bendt. He’s an investigator. He wanted to have a word with you, alone… So if it’s all the same with you, I’m stepping out for a bit. Can I get you something to drink on my way back? Coffee, tea?”

“Tea is fine, sir.” Maybe that would calm my fraying nerves?

Mentally, I shrugged, turning my attention to the silent man who’d by now adjusted his seat to situate himself right in front of him. He was rather unkempt and tired-looking. There were dark circles under his eyes, and he regarded me with a rather dull expression as Officer Jenkins retreated from the room.

 

“Miss Llidie, let’s skip the fanfare,” he began speaking as soon as the door clicked shut. “I highly doubt that you killed anyone.” He absently scratched his beard, a patchy and uneven mess. “I’m actually rather surprised you were unaware of his passing. It was not a recent thing.” Officer Bendt sniffed. “We’ve actually been investigating his death for a good couple of weeks now. You know what that means, yes?”

It took a second to sink in. “So you’ve been watching me for a while, then?” I forced down the indignance of being spied on, not quite keen on pissing off the guy while he was seemingly on my side. To my own credit, I managed to restrain my reaction to a slight twitch of my face. If he noticed it, he didn’t comment on it.

“More or less, you have a rather extensive pattern of conducting your day, I’ve noticed. You’re organized and very meticulous and it tends to stand out when you deviate from this pattern.” He sat up a bit, taking on a lecturing tone. “As a rule of thumb, people tend to deviate from any patterns in behavior when they’re stressed. It’s rather difficult to miss if you know what to look for. By narrowing down these instances and looking into the cause, we can easily discern whether or not you qualify as ‘suspicious’.” Frowning, he flipped open the abandoned file and began sifting through them. “You most definitely qualify as a suspect if we consider the evidence procured by these nameless tips of ours. On the other hand, you’re rather clean if we consider what we have on you leading up to this moment, subtracting them. Hell, even considering the validity of these leads is a bit of a stretch since they don’t fit in with any continuity we’ve put together up until now. Are you following?”

I think?. “So there’s supposed evidence that says I did it or at least had a hand in his death, but it contradicts with your observations up until now?” Shot in the dark.

“Yeah, that about sums it up.” He seemed pleased at not having to explain it any further. “Miss Llidie, can you think of anyone that might have wanted you to take the fall for something like this?” At my blank expression, he pushed on. “Any person who may have had a connection to Mister Travis, who benefits from having this pinned on you? We can’t exactly discount that you might’ve done it. However, if we can narrow down potential suspects, we can, at the very least attain a broader scope to work with and hopefully prove your innocence.”

And there laid the problem. “I really can’t, sir. I honestly don’t interact with that many people on a regular-enough basis.” I was a bit of a workaholic. “I can’t think of a single person that I might’ve pissed off enough to want to frame me for something like a murder.”

Officer Bendt frowned. “That complicates things. If we can’t prove you didn’t do it, then we’ll have to accept the evidence we’ve got and have you tried for it. You understand what that means, right?”

I flinched at the unsaid statement. ‘If we can’t prove you didn’t do it, you’re going to jail’. I forced back the urge to cry at that realization. I was pragmatic enough to know that it wouldn’t help. “What can I do?”

Sifting through the folder, Officer Bendt pulled out a list. It was long enough that it spilled out of the folder by a couple of inches. Gesturing with it, he spoke, “We’ve got a list of names that we think may have had some involvement. We’ll go over it and see if we can’t jog your memory. I need to make it clear to you that we’re technically not supposed to be sharing this with you. In fact, we’ve already broken all kinds of protocol, discussing it with you this much.” He fixed me with a stern look. “ I know in my gut that you didn’t do it, Miss Llidie. This stays between us, alright?”

“Yes sir.” I sniffed, touched that someone would go so far for me, a stranger. “Thank you.”

He grunted, noncommittally, while fishing through his pockets for something. Pulling out an eyeglass case, he snapped it open and put them on. They were a touch too small for his face, I noticed.

“On this list here are a couple of names of people we think may have some kind of connection to you, in relation to this case. Let me know if anything comes to mind. Think hard on this, ma’am; the more you can tell us, the more leads we may be able to procure, and the more likely we will be to be able to get you off. Understand?”

I nodded, numbly.

“Right, I’ll begin then.”

______

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