“I don’t know, it was all just a blur,” he said as the detective sat across from him with his arms folded across his chest. He sucked his teeth at the young man’s response. He knew there was something off. The way he fidgeted in his chair. How he consciously avoided eye contact whenever the detective looked him squarely into his bold, brown eyes. “A blur, huh? You really expect me to believe that? Your best friend is dead. Your wife is dead. You hear me. DEAD. And you have the nerve to sit there, no tear in your eye, no feelings of remorse, nothing!” the detective spoke as his deep voice began to rise, “on top of that, all you can give me is, ‘it was all just a blur’?!” The man leaned back in his chair, scooting further away from the detective but going nowhere. The room was small and the detective sat as close to him as possible, knees brushing against his. The room they sat in became smaller by the second. The young man fanned himself with his hand as the temperature increased in the room. “Is… is it getting’ hot in here or is it just me?” he asked the detective with a befuddled look. The detective said nothing. It was all calculated because they knew he was semi-claustrophobic. The fact that they chose the smallest room available. The way the detective sat as close to him as he did. The sudden raise in room temperature. The detectives on the other side of the glass watched as one of them consistently increased the temperature in the room every five minutes. The two detectives involved in this case were strong chess players. Their mouths all watered whenever they had the opportunity to employ these type of strategic moves during their interrogation. “Well, can I at least get some water or somethin’? I feel like I’m about to pass out” the young man said as if the life was draining from his body. The detective motioned towards the two way mirror. Moments later, another detective brought in a bottled water. It was much warmer than room temperature. The young man gagged as he swallowed it. It was better than nothing. “Now, are you done messin’ around?” the detective asked, his deep melodic voice seemed to vibrate the walls that kept them in. He was a large man. His arms resembled thighs more than biceps. Nobody could tell if people confessed to him because of his rhetoric or simply because he intimidated them that much. Either way, he was a homerun hitter but the man that sat across from him was not like the rest of them. “Two people were in that room with you at the time of the murders. Guess what? The bullet shells we found matched the gun that was on you. You know what else? I’m pretty sure we can make a case that you killed them.” The young man wiped sweat off his forehead, somehow still remaining calm in the midst of the accusations. The detective scooter closer to him brushing against his leg. The young man pressed his teeth together inside of his mouth and clinched his eyes tightly together. He wanted to yell but he restrained himself. After a few moments passed, he relaxed, breathing slowly. Inhale through his nose, exhale gently through his mouth. “So, you think I killed them?” he asked patiently, “that’s what you think? Just because you didn’t see any tears fall out of my eyes? Just because I didn’t break down crying in front of you? Good luck with proving that” he said as he gulped down a mouth full of the warm water. He didn’t even gag this time around. It was as if he nestled into the uncomfortable situation and made himself at home with it. “We know you know more than what you are giving off and if you don’t want this pinned on you then you better start talkin’!” the detective said as he leaned in closer to the young man. He smirked at the threat, “That’s all you got?” he asked with an aura of confidence as sweat plummeted from his head. His bravado was astounding. He didn’t even move to wipe his forehead clean. He blew the drops of sweat away from his mouth as they dripped down over his lip. The detective sprang up as they made contact with his face. He grabbed the young man by his shirt and hemmed him against the wall. The bottle of water tipped over onto the floor and spilled out onto the ground. The young man looked down at the warm water as it slowly drained out. There was a brief silence between them before a soft, sarcastic voice broke through the intense moment, “So, can I get another water?” he asked while he was in the grasp of the detective. The man threw him back down into the chair and stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind him.
The young man straightened out his shirt and picked up the bottled water. It was halfway empty as he took another swig, smiling at the two way mirror. Inside, he was breaking apart. His best friend and his wife was just murdered right in front of his eyes. His tears would never be seen by any detective but the truth? We would all die to know it. It wasn’t that he was afraid to snitch, it was just the code that he lived by. He didn’t want justice in the form of prison bars. He wanted street justice. There was no way the men who did this would live to see another day. He already had it made up in his mind.
“He’s not breaking” the large detective said to his counterpart on the other side of the glass, “he’s smart. He’s in there mocking us drinking that water knowing it’s hot. He knows good got-damn well it’s hot and he’s still drinking it!” he said as the anger seeped out of him in the form of erratic yelling. “Hey, hey big fella, calm down. We’ll get him” the other detective said as he peered at him from behind the window, “he knows something. Maybe he didn’t do it. Matter of fact, I’m sure he didn’t do it but he knows who did.” They peered at him as he sat in the room, still drinking the warm water. He emptied the bottle and held it up to the mirror, pointing at it as if he was suggesting a refill. “Look at him! Look at him! That cocky son of a-”, the other detective interjected, “easy, easy big man. That’s what he wants you to do. He wants you to lose your mind and pull something out of your behind that you have no way of proving. Let me take a run at him” he said as more of a heads up call than asking for permission.
He walked into the room with another bottled water. The condensation from the coolness dripping off the surface of it. “Sorry about that last one” the slim detective said, “I know it was kinda’ warm. Don’t know how it got to you that way.” The young man shook his head, seeing right through the feeble attempt to cover the lie. “Don’t sweat it” he said, speaking with a double entendre. He unscrewed the top and took a swallow, internally savoring the coolness but being sure not to give the detective the satisfaction of knowing that he appreciated it. “How about a towel?” the detective asked. The young man left it dangling in the detective’s hand. “I’m good” he said in a low, barely discernable voice. The slim detective smiled and laid it over the young man’s knee completely disregarding his response.
The young man looked sternly into the detectives eyes as his jawbones gyrated inside his mouth,
“I’ll get something when I leave here” he said matter-of-factly.
“When you leave? That may be a while from now.”
“Oh, you think so?”
“Well, you see… the murder you were a part of-”
“I wasn’t a part of no murder.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. Let me clarify. The murder you witnessed. I know the death of your friend and your wife is something hard to digest. The shock of it all may not have passed you yet so I’m not concerned with your lack of emotion. I’ve seen it all many times before.”
The young man remained silent, drinking his bottled water and avoiding eye contact with the detective. He continued, “How long were you all friends?”
“I knew Dejuan my whole life. We grew up together on the North Side.”
“North Side, huh? I used to play ball at Marshall myself. I wasn’t too good but I could hold my own.”
The detective attempted to make small talk but the young man was not biting. He sipped his bottled water and kept avoiding eye contact.
“What about your wife? How long have yall been married?”
“We were married for about a year now.”
“Newlyweds, huh? She was a beautiful young woman. It’s a shame she had to go so soon. I bet you guys were just beginning to enjoy each other.”
“Yeah” the young man said devoid of enthusiasm, “just beginning.”
“Where did you guys honeymoon?”
“Courthouse. We didn’t have a honeymoon.”
“Were you guys planning one?”
“Yeah. We were going to go to Venus but our travel bookie had a hard time finding a flight and reservations.”
“That’s funny” the detective said with a manufactured smile, “I bet you kept her laughing all day.”
“Look” the young man was getting impatient, “I’m not here to small talk with you and play these little mind games you’re playin’. If yall ain’t chargin’ me then I need to go.”
“Hold on young fella, just hold on. Now, like my man say, you look good for this murder. Ballistic reports show that your gun was fired. The shell casings in the house match your gun. Your prints are all over the weapon. I mean, it’s not looking good for you right now.”
The detective scooted closer to the young man and spoke in a low voice as if he was trying to keep what he had to say a secret between those two, “look, in my heart I don’t believe you did it. Not for one second. But the prosecution? They are looking for somebody to put away for this and right now, you fit the bill.” The young man sucked his teeth and took another gulp of water, peering over the bottle at his accuser. “A bluff” he thought to himself, “and a horrible one at that.”
“Don’t you even care about the two people you had close relationships with? The two people that died in the same room you were in? I mean, you’re coming off pretty heartless right now, don’t you think?”
“What I think doesn’t matter. I’m just waiting on a charge and if I’m not bein’ charged, I’m just waitin to leave.”
“Look. It’s going one of two ways; either you killed them both or you had them set up. We did a little digging around.”
“No, like finding a motive. You don’t think we knew that your wife and best friend were fooling around with each other?” The young man froze, staring just beyond the detective into the wall behind him. The news hit his chest like a bag of bricks and a nauseous feeling went straight to his stomach. He kept a straight face, “everybody knew that” he said as he fell apart inside. His best friend and his wife. He had seen it too much in reality TV shows. It was something him and his wife would shake their heads at all the time. She covered it perfectly to the point that he never suspected a thing. Had he found out, he may have really been on the hook for murder right now. “They were like brother and sister” he said to himself, fighting back tears. “So, you mean to tell me you knew about it and at the same time, you were chilling with them? With no issues? No problems? You REALLY expect me to believe that?”
“It really don’t matter what you believe” he said as his heart shattered piece by piece, “it only matters what you can prove.”
“Perception is everything. And you know what the perception is here? Motive. Weapon. Shells. They all point to you.”
The young man slowly began replaying the murder scene is his head as the detective rambled off empty threats.
Sherrie and Dajuan walked into the apartment together as Charles sat on the couch playing Madden.
“Whassup, yall”, Charles said as he saw his best friend and his wife walk through the door.
“Nothin much, man” Dajuan said as he sat down next to his best friend. Sherrie kissed Charles and walked over to the recliner.
“Where yall comin’ from?” Charles said with his eyes fixed on the television.
“Us?” Dajuan said nervously, “Aw man, we just comin’ from the store. I picked her up on my way over here.” Sherrie avoided eye contact with them, pretending to focus on the video game that was being played right in front of her. Dajuan picked up the vacant game controller, “Let’s get a game in” he said quickly in an attempt to avoid further questioning. They knew where they just came from and it had nothing to do with a store. Sherrie and Dajuan were just alike in the sense that they thrived on danger. The fear of “almost getting caught” is what kept the fire and passion in their affair. She believed she married Charles too young and since he cheated before, she had to get him back. She had to do it in a way that would teach him to think twice before he ever did it again. It was only supposed to happen once but once turned into twice, twice turned into three times, and three times turned into almost six months of treachery that was so covertly operated that the navy seals would’ve been proud of it.
“Aight man” Charles said, “I think you need a reminder of what happens every time you pick up them sticks” he said as a smile jetted across his face. Sherrie smiled in his direction, looking more towards Dajuan. The two men sat so close to each other that one could barely tell who her attention was really on. The way he redirected Charles made her want Dajuan even more. They were midway through the second quarter when the doorbell rang. Charles got up and walked to the door. Once he realized who stood on the other side, he scooted outside and cracked it behind him. “What are you doin’ here?” he exclaimed in a stern, hushed voice. It was the woman he cheated on his wife with almost a year ago. She would show up unannounced at times asking for things that she left hanging around his house. He believed she left traces there covertly just to have a reason to come back. “I need my notebook. It’s under your bed” she said in an irritated voice. “No its not! No. Its. Not! And you’re gonna’ have to stop comin’ roun’ here, Jazmine! I told you that!” he said as he peeked behind him into the house, making sure nobody was coming to the door. “Boy, please. Like I said, I just want my notebook. If you’re not gonna’ go get it, then I will” she said as she tried to push her way past him. He put his hand up to block her, “No, I’ll get it. Just wait here.” He looked to his right as a black Monte Carlo began creeping down the block. It was right on time. He left her at the door, closing it as she stood there waiting with her arms folded. “Who was that?” his wife asked as he briskly walked past them in the front. “Huh?” he said, attempting to stall as he walked back to their room and began searching under the bed. Moments later, he yelling coming from the front room. Jazmine and Sherrie began arguing at the door. He glanced at his watch, knowing he had to get back out there as fast as he could. He climbed all the way under the bed and pulled out a notebook she had tucked on top of the ledge of the box spring. He shook his head as he snatched it out and scooted from under the bed. As he rose up, he heard three gunshots. His heart dropped in sync with the notebook he once held in his hands. He grabbed the gun from out of the closet and rushed to the front as he heard four more shots rang out. The door was left wide open. His wife was on the ground, blood pouring out of her as the last breaths were leaving her body. He turned to look at his best friend. His head leaned back on the couch with a bullet hole right in his forehead. “Oh my god!” he yelled as he looked out the door. He fired two shots from his front porch as the black Monte Carlo sped off. Across the street, 2 men laid lifeless on the ground. He began losing his balance and fell to the ground.
“Look” the detective interrupted him out of his daydream, “I’m done here. If you don’t want to talk, that’s fine. That’s fine with me but please believe that there will be somebody you will have to answer to. We’re gonna hold you here for that traffic ticket until we can sort the rest of this out.” He shrugged his shoulders as the detective walked out of the room. He sat there, cold and sullen, sipping the final drops of water out of his bottle. He knew he would be out in a couple days and when he did get out, he would go back to life as it was before. Before the adultery. Before the wrong choices. It was a restoration time for him. He smirked at the detectives as they watched from the other side of the mirror. He held up his hand and pointed at the empty bottle. He knew he was going to get away with murder.