Chapter 4: Uncertainty and guilt
After we finish eating, we pour ourselves another glass of wine. The bar’s door opens and Ania makes a weird face.
“What’s wrong?” I ask.
“Isn’t he the cop that was sitting on Michelle’s desk?”
I turn around and our eyes meet. He’s alone.
”Don’t stare like an idiot!” says Ania and squeezes my hand.
“I’m not staring!” I say blushing.
“Oh, he’s coming here!”
I try to control my facial expression when he sits at the table next to us. I try not to look at him, but it was obvious that I was struggling. Ania notices the embarrassing situation and she kicks me under the table laughing.
“I thought you didn’t like cops.”
“You told me this once! I don’t like them. But you can’t deny he’s cute.”
“His friend is cute too,” she says with a spark in her eyes.
Another man sits next to him, at about twenty-seven years old, who still had the police uniform on him.
“Great”, I mumble.
“Yeah”, she approves me without realizing I was ironic.
“Ania, close your mouth!”
She comes back to reality and turns her head to the window.
“Let’s concentrate on girl’s night!” she says.
“That’s what I was thinking.”
The bottle of wine finishes soon, and Ania orders another one. Joana and Silvia, the girls who were working on our shifts, were tired of running around. The bar slowly begins to look empty, and shortly we and the two cops were the only customers left. We can see on the girl’s faces the dissatisfaction, cause they probably wanted to be home soon.
“Can you pass us the napkins?” the first cop asks us.
I silently give them the napkins, without making conversation.
“Thanks. We didn’t dare to ask the girls from the bar. They’re looking angry at us. I think they want to close.”
“Well, the bar’s policy is to stay here until the last customer leaves.”
“I see you’re familiar with the rules here”, he says.
“I work here”, I say and I turn my head, angry because I ’ve already given too many details to some stranger.
“Did you come to see Michelle last days?”
“Yeah”, replies Ania. “I called today to the office to ask about her, but some grumpy guy answered, so I didn’t receive a lot of information.”
The man seems to cough, then he continues.
“So now I know who is the one who hung up on me. Interesting. What a small world.”
Ania blushes, but the other man comes to her defense.
“Well, maybe she got emotional.”
“Yeah, sure!” she says irritated. “Maybe Cara…” she whispers only for me to hear it.
I hit her under the table and I prepare an intelligent reply when I see Silvia approaching us.
“Girls, we are so tired. Are you leaving soon?”
“Silvia, just leave me the key. “I’ll make the check and I will close up”, says Ania determined to stay.
“Are you sure?”
The girls leave happily, and we remain with the two cops. They bring the chairs to our table, without asking for permission.
“Who said that you can join us?” I ask seriously.
“We thought that…”
“You thought wrong!” I cut off the cop number two.
“Hey. Be polite”, says Ania, who had a crush on that cop.
“I’m Dominic”, says number two.
“And I am Dylan”, says the other one.
“Two D’s!” says Ania smiling.
We introduce ourselves too, and then they offer to buy another bottle of wine. After another two glasses of wine, Ania turns on the music and puts the closed sign on the door. Dominic follows her at the bar, and I remain at the table with Dylan.
“Cara”, he says.
“What?” I ask as if I didn’t hear what he just said.
“Vandis”, he continues. “You’re the one whereof Michelle’s looking information?”
I feel the chair moving with me. My face turns white, and I know it because I can’t feel the blood pumping into my body.
“How do you know?”
“Michelle asked me to look into some stuff. It was odd. The database erased when she started looking for information about your parents, and since I’m the only one she trusts she asked for my help.”
“Really?” I ask trying to keep it together.
“I was a special agent in the field, and now I retired and I work in an office. I work in IT. I’m pretty good at it, leaving the modesty aside.”
“And what did you find out? How did the base erase?”
“I found that strange. I only got to find out a name, before everything disappeared.”
I look at him without trust because I’m not comfortable with the situation. And more, I don’t like the fact that Michelle decided to involve a stranger.
“Dalia Petrović”, he continues.
“Doesn’t ring a bell.”
“Michelle took care of the rest. I just gave her this name.”
I memorize the name and I decide to change the topic, which is so uncomfortable to me. I look at Ania, who seems to enjoy her time with Dominic. While I’m staring at them, I feel Dylan’s eyes on me. I turn my head to him suddenly, and he winces, just like that time when we walked into Michelle’s office.
“And, Michelle is your girlfriend?” I ask trying to make some conversation.
“Oh, no. She’s just a colleague. We get along well. In fact, she gets along with everyone, a thing that I can’t say about me. People are mean. It doesn’t make any difference where you work. Especially police officers.”
“I thought so.”
“Not all of them, but the majority.”
A smile appears in the corner of my mouth. A cop who has the same opinion as me about his kind. Interesting. Or maybe everything is just cheap acting to pick up girls. I leave doubts aside and I get up, walking to the bar. I feel Dylan’s eyes on my back, or maybe a little bit lower. I don’t turn around because I don’t want to ruin my opinion of him.
“Are you enjoying it?” I hear Ania with euphoric voice.
“Not better than you”, I respond.
I leave the three of them talking in contradictory about politics, and I head to the window. I let myself fall into a deep thinking and I squeeze the glass in my hand. The lamp from outside is flashing, but I can’t tell what’s happening around. All that I know is that it’s quiet and it’s late. A palm hit into the window makes me drop my drink.
“Open the door!” shouts Daniel from the other side and hits the window with his fists.
My heart starts racing and I move three steps back.
“No…” I say with a husky voice.
Ania comes closer to me and expresses her shock.
“This is what we were afraid of”, she says.
“What do I do?” I ask insecure.
Dylan and Dominic approach us.
“Open the door, Cara! I just want to talk! You didn’t come to take your stuff. I’ve been waiting for you!”
“Daniel, go away now! What are you doing here? I don’t want anything back! I just want to never see you again!”
“Oh, you know this is not an option.”
Dylan asks me with a stupefied face:
“Do you know him?”
“If we’re talking to each other by the names, what do you think?” I ask ironically. “He’s an idiot!”
“Violent, moron, thief…” Ania completes me.
Dylan and Dominic head to the door, but when Dylan touched the doorknob I grab his hand and squeeze it.
“You’re not opening that door!” I shout.
“It’s ok. I will make him go away.”
But before he says another word, Daniel breaks the window with a stone, which passes by Dominic, and then he throws another one, which hits the glasses and bottles of alcohol on the bar. The drinks pour on the floor and all I can think about is the damage he has done. He pushes the door with his leg and the pieces of glass scatter all over the room. He walks inside as if he was at home, and he rushes to grab me. Dylan pushes him away, using his police officer quick skills. Even if I didn’t like cops, I was more than grateful for them being around.
“Man, you will pay for the damage!”
“Don’t talk to me like you’re in charge here!” he shouts at Dylan. “You sent the police to my place!” he shouts at me.
I make a face, and then I remember that I had told Michelle his address. She probably decided to send someone to check on him.
“This is the one for which Michelle has issued a detention order? The one who aggressed you?” asks Dylan.
“Is there anything that you don’t know?” I respond with a question.
“They didn’t find him at home, even though they looked for him every day.”
Daniel escapes from Dylan’s arms and he attacks me. In that moment I feel the hate coming out from my skin and all I can think about is revenge. I grab the first thing that comes in my hands, which means the bottle of alcohol from Ania’s hand, and I hit him in the head. Everything happens very fast, and Dominic grabs him from his shoulders and immobilizes him. It’s like Daniel’s made from stone because the blood is pouring on his face but he doesn’t seem to be too affected. He hits Ania with his leg, and when Dylan approaches he hits him too.
“I think you should calm down if you don’t want more trouble”, says Dylan. I’ll call the section to tell them that we found the guy”, he continues talking to Dominic.
Dylan goes away with the phone in his hand, while Daniel is struggling in Dominic’s arms. I hear Daniel mumbling something, but I try not to listen to him because I don’t want to have another anger crises.
“You tried to kill me!” he screams from the bottom of his lungs.
Dylan puts the phone away and comes near me.
“Is there anything I need to know before my colleagues get here?”
“No! He’s a wretch! He almost broke my neck! He tried to kill me! If I killed him, it would have been self-defense! Now that I see him in one piece, I am sorry I didn’t kill him!” I shout without thinking.
Dylan looks at me with pity, a thing that I can’t stand.
“I didn’t mean that”, I mumble.
A lot of lights appear outside, and I know the police are here. Faster than I expected. This country doesn’t cease to amaze me. Only this time in a good way. Dominic drags Daniel with him and presents him to his colleagues.
“I’ll call Jin and tell him what happened here”, says Ania.
“He’s not going to like it. This is my fault!”
“We will sort things out!”
We stayed there with Dylan and Dominic, waiting for Jin, who didn’t seem pleased at all about the news when Ania called him. I walk outside to recover from the shock. The cold air punctures my lungs like an arrow, and I recover from the drunkenness. I can feel the tears forcing their way out, but I swallow them when I hear footsteps behind me.
“Is everything ok?” I hear Dylan.
“It’s nice of you to pretend to be interested, but it’s no need. This is one of the many bad things that happened to my life, and believe me, it’s not the worst. But your gesture was nice.”
Dylan looks at me as if I had offended him.
“I don’t think that what’s happening is ok. I want to help.”
“I don’t need help, but thanks for stepping in tonight”, I respond briefly.
“Please don’t interfere. My life is already too complicated and I don’t need advice or help.”
Before he could say anything more, Jin parks the car in front of the bar. He steps out grumbling, and he passes by me as if I was invisible.
“What the hell? What were you thinking?! Are you insane? My bar!”
“We will pay for the damage”, says Ania.
“I will pay because Daniel came here looking for me”.
“Shut up, Ania! You’ve done enough for me already!”
Jin turns around and throws me an angry look.
“I’m not paying you this month! Two days from now, there’s not going to be one dollar in your account!”
I nod my head with a lump in the throat.
“We will recover the money from Daniel”, says Dylan.
I look at him suspiciously because I already know that I will not recover the money from that man. Dominic explains to Jin what happened and tells him that he has to go to the station to give a statement, just like the two of us. After a couple of phone calls, Jin finds some friends willing to help him with the broken window in the middle of the night. I remain with Ania to clean up the incident’s tracks, until in the morning. At seven o clock, the bar was as good as new.
Ania puts some coffee into the coffee machine, and I lay my head on the table. I’m exhausted.
“Come on. Have a sip. You need to wake up because we have to go to the police station. Dylan and Dominic are waiting for us to take out statements.”
“They’ll help us. They seem nice guys.”
“This is the problem. What if it’s something else? They’re too interested!”
“Cara, not everyone who wants to help you and who tries to get close to you wants to do damage!” says Ania angrily.
“I’m tired”, I apologize for my words.
I take a good sip of coffee and I drag my bag with me. We get into the taxi and head to the police station. Ania insists to call Michelle, but she doesn’t answer. My first thought is that she doesn’t want to get involved in my problems anymore or she was tired of Ania blackmailing her.
When we arrive we see a lot of police cars coming and going. It’s too much bustle there. Jin comes out from the station, angry and confused.
“What’s happening?” I ask him.
“When I was writing my statement, the police officer received not very good news. It seems like one of their colleagues was found dead in her apartment.”
I feel a claw into my throat and Ania goes purple.
“She was killed”, continues Jin. “It’s agitation around here. I’m waiting to see you at work in the afternoon”, he says and walks away.
“Oh, God…” says Ania. “You’re thinking of what I’m thinking....”
“Shut up! This is not happening!”
We enter the long hall, more nervous than we were before. Dominic welcomes us with a tired and sad face.
“What’s happening?” asks Ania as if she had no idea about the murder.
“They found Michelle murdered in her apartment.”
Ania loses her balance and hits the wall. She leans on it. She starts breathing heavily, and Dominic gives her a bottle of water. She sits on the first chair that she sees, without giving importance to the fact that it was broken.
“I can’t believe it! This is why she didn’t answer my calls for days!”
I look at her lost and without hope. I think with horror into my heart that her death has something to do with her searching for information about my parents. In that moment, I see Dylan coming. His face was red, a sign that Michelle was a very close friend to him. His green eyes and black hair made him look still that attractive as he looked the night before. His sad face betrayed his tough guy attitude, but he still tried to keep the appearances.
“I’m sorry”, I say grabbing his arm.
He nods his head as if he doesn’t want to talk about it anymore, but Dominic continues the conversation.
“Who’s that idiot to think that he can kill a cop and get away with it?”
“How did it happen?”
“The door wasn’t forced, but there were signs of a fight in the apartment. She was killed the day she called in sick. She was suffocated with a pillow.”
“God!” says Anya and covers her face with her palms.
“The reason?” I ask.
“I don’t know, but I suppose she knew something that bothered someone if they risked that much. We will open a case.”
Dylan waves at us to follow him for the statements. In our way, I see Daniel with two cops in a room. I look at Dylan and he seems to read my mind.
“He’s not talking to us. All that he says is that you tried to kill him.”
“But this is absurd!”
“We will sort it out when you give your statements. Anyway, I want you to know that I believe you. I will do anything that is in my power to make him pay for what he’s done to you.”
“Thanks”, I say changing suddenly my opinion about police officers.
Ania enters first and I wait outside on the chair. I get bored there for ten minutes, but a twinkle wakes me up. Probably an upstream, which is solved in a couple of minutes. Nothing seems unusual in it, maybe just the speed with which they solved the problem.
Ania steps out and tells me I’m next. I sit on the wooden chair and I put my hands together in front of Dylan.
“Why are you the one questioning us? Is it even legal?”
“It is. I do a lot of stuff here. I told you I was a field agent.”
“Yeah, and here’s the explanation for those good skills from last night”, I smile.
“I think I wanted to look away when you grabbed that bottle”, he admits.
He rubs his eyes as if he wants to get over already with my statement. The tiredness was making a point not only in my case. I start telling him all that happened with Daniel, then I want to explain more about the fact that Michelle was looking for my parents, a thing that he probably he had no idea of. I woke up in time, and I didn’t say anything because I usually didn’t share my life with unknown people. He was a handsome stranger, to be honest, who wanted to help me, but it wasn’t into my character to have blind trust in people.
“The identity card”, says Dylan.
I make a weird face and I explain to him how my purse was stolen from my house in the night with the incident. Then I have to explain to him how I was practically inexistent. Then I grumble something about the fact that I spent all my life in orphanages, leaving aside the part where Michelle was looking for my parents. Dylan looks shocked, but he puts his hand through his hair and asks me to try to remember the details on my identity card. After two seconds of typing, he turns the screen to my face.
“Is this yours?” he asks showing me my lost identity card.
“Ok. Go and ask them again because if it appears here in my database it must be their mistake.”
“I’ll do that. Thanks”, I say surprised.
“Phone?” he asks.
“I don’t have one”, I reply as if it was something normal.
Dylan looks weird at me for a second, then he nods and says he will contact Ania to get to me. I get out of the room, but there’s restlessness on the hallway. Dylan passes by me.
“What happened?” he asks rushing in the direction everyone was running.
I don’t hear what his colleague says, but it’s obvious that something odd is going on when the door from the room where Daniel was held opens, and I see him hanged in the middle of the room.
“Oh my God!” I scream losing control.
“You’re not allowed in here!” says an officer.
“Please step aside!” I hear another.
Dylan remains in the room, and the door closes in front of us, while an officer pushes un away from that area. The agitation that’s around us makes me lose my balance. I feel I can’t breathe. I hear Ania calling my name, then I feel her grabbing my hand. I can’t react. I get out to take a deep breath and I sit on the stairs. I remember how I said a night before that I wanted Daniel dead, then I remember how lucky I was that I was with Dylan in the room when the incident happened. Daniel didn’t kill himself. I knew that much. Not that he hasn’t got what he had deserved, but something was wrong there.
“Are you ok?”
“I’m just shocked.”
I hear footsteps behind me and I don’t bother to turn around.
“Me too”, says Dylan.
“Daniel didn’t kill himself”, I say.
“What are you saying?”
“He wouldn’t have done that even if he knew he had just two more minutes to live. I knew him well.”
Dylan looks in a strange way at me.
“I think it’s time for you to tell me what you know.”
“That’s all that I know. I’m telling you he didn’t do that. Someone killed him!”
“This is too much. Two murders…” says Ania.
I throw Dylan a serious look as if I know him for a lifetime, and I ask him to trust me.
“I will take into consideration what you said to me and I will pass it to my superior. I will contact Ania if I need anything from you. Until then, maybe you can get yourself a phone.”
“I don’t like phones.”
“She doesn’t like phones anymore”, Ania corrects me.
I roll my eyes and I get up from the stairs. Ania runs and stops a taxi, and I remain there for a second. Dylan looks at me and shows a soft smile in the corner of his mouth.
“Take care”, he says.
Then it crosses my mind an idea: Michelle could have been killed because of the information she found about me or for me. I remember that she asked for his help and that he knows the name of Dalia Petrović. I think about telling him the whole story, to warn him that he might be in danger, but I change my mind in the last second. His presence in all the places where my problems happened makes me be cautious and shut up.
“I will”, I reply briefly.
I follow Ania in the cab. Until we arrive home I don’t say a word, even if Ania’s staring at me. We step up the stairs and open the door, which makes again that annoying sound. Ania throws in the bed and I end up in the shower. I wash with cold water to wake up. In an hour we have to be at work. Ania used to sleep anywhere and it didn’t matter for how long, but I didn’t. It takes forever for me to fall asleep, so I decide it’s useless to struggle. I get ready to leave and I wake Ania up too, who looks like she wants to sleep for three more days.
“Go back to sleep”, I tell her in the end.
“But we have to go to work!”
“I’ll go and cover your shift. I’m not sleepy. This is the least I can do for you, after what I dragged you into. I can handle it.”
“Are you sure?”
“I owe you”, she says putting her head back into the pillow.
“Yeah, right!” I say and lock the door when I leave.