Elliot felt awful. It had been six hours since Tyrell had stormed out, and pretty much all he’d managed to do was lie down and stare up at the ceiling. He’d taken Flipper for a quick walk, which he thought would make him feel better, but as soon as he was back in his apartment he felt completely drained again. His eyes felt hot and scratchy, like they had sand in them, and his stomach and head were aching in protestation of the fact he hadn’t had any food or water all day.
Chewing sadly on one of the soggy pastries from breakfast, he tried to replay the morning’s events in his head. He kicked himself for feeling so happy, so optimistic. He’d been stupid and naïve and he couldn’t escape the fact that he needed to go and speak to Tyrell, and fix the mess he’d made. Slowly, as if he were wading through treacle, he got himself ready to leave, and made his way across town, trying to plan his words in his head.
Tyrell answered the door looking exhausted. He nodded for Elliot to come in and had already retreated back to the living room before Elliot had taken off his shoes.
‘I spoke to the police today,’ he started, without pre-amble. ‘They’ve been trying to find me, and I assumed avoiding them couldn’t work forever,’ he finished with a mirthless chuckle.
Elliot felt a rush of blood to his head. ‘What happened?’
‘Nothing. I told them I talked to Sharon that night, but that she left early and I didn’t see her after that. I put the inappropriate flirting down to, oh what was it…’ he scoffed, ‘…oh yes, ‘stresses at work and at home’, coupled with a misguided sense of humour, and…’ he laughed again, in that forced way of his, ‘cultural differences.’ I painted myself as weak and pathetic; I think I even won their sympathy. I played my part very well, Joanna would be proud.’ He let out a sound that was a strange mix between a sob and a laugh, and put his face in his hands.
‘So everything’s going to be okay then?’
‘If you call getting away with murder okay, then sure,’ he laughed bitterly.
‘For what it’s worth I think you did the right thing.’ There it was- that word again. ‘Right.’ Elliot’s perceptions of right and wrong continued to blur, the line between them fluid and changeable. Even Elliot, objectively, could see that Tyrell hadn’t done the right thing at all, but he couldn’t make himself believe it. He saw something in Tyrell that made him think he deserved a second chance, and he didn’t care that he was changing the parameters of morality to suit himself.
From what he’d learned about the murder investigation there was very little evidence of any kind to go on. Tyrell’s involvement was suspicious, of course, but all the evidence against him was circumstantial. Nothing concrete put him at the scene. Elliot breathed out. If what Tyrell was saying was true, things might actually be alright.
Tyrell still had his head bowed, but appeared to be calm. Elliot reached out to touch his knee, and said, ‘I’m really sorry about before. I shouldn’t have presumed… and I shouldn’t have taken advantage of you last night.’
Tyrell looked up at him with an unreadable expression. ‘I really don’t want to talk about this Elliot.’
‘But you were upset and I-‘
‘What part of what I said was unclear?’ He snapped with a dangerous look in his eyes. Elliot was momentarily stunned. Tyrell had never spoken to him like that before.
After several moments of prolonged, intense eye-contact, Elliot broke free and tried to change the subject.
‘What happens when you call Joanna?’
‘I assume you’ve tried ringing her. What happens? Voicemail, long distance dial tone, st-‘
‘The number’s no longer in service. I’ve called around, friends, anyone that might have seen her. No-one has.’
His sixth-sense telling him it was a dangerous topic, Elliot proceeded anyway. ‘What about family?’
‘Joanna is not in contact with her family.’ His tone held a warning, so Elliot didn’t ask for more information.
‘What about you?’
‘I have no family.’ His tone was matter-of-fact, and his expression gave nothing away. Okay, so that was that.
Elliot suddenly had a thought, and leaped up from his seat, leaving Tyrell to stare on in confusion. He came back moments later, holding the pieces of the birthday card Tyrell had torn up.
Taking out the pieces he quickly spotted what he was looking for. ‘Yes!’ he couldn’t stop from shouting triumphantly. He held it out for Tyrell to look at.
‘© C. Rasmussen, Oslo in Summer.’ The name of the landscape on the front of the card.
Tyrell looked up at him blankly.
‘Does the name mean anything to you?’
He raised his eyebrows incredulously. ‘What, Rasmussen? Does the name Smith mean anything to you?’ he retorted. Elliot chose to ignore his sarcasm.
‘What about Oslo? Any significance?’
‘I’ve been there once. I’ve only really spent a small amount of time in Norway. Joanna and I have never been together. I think her father used to travel there for business, if I remember correctly, but I don’t know how that’s relevant.’
‘Maybe this is a clue. She could be there now!’
‘And what am I supposed to do Elliot? Go to Oslo and look for her? It’s not like I can tell the police about any of this.’ He sighed wearily, his anger dissipating quickly.
He took a deep breath before continuing. ‘Whoever is behind this is doing it to play some sort of game with us, correct?’ Elliot nodded.
‘So that means this is not the last we’ve heard from them. There will be more clues, and eventually, as is the way with games, I will either have to win or lose. So that’s it. I wait. And pray for the dice to roll in my favour.’
Elliot couldn’t really argue with that.
He looked at Tyrell carefully, but the other man was giving nothing away.
‘Elliot, why are you here?’
Because you need me. ‘Because I thought we should talk.’
‘I want to be alone.’
‘Kindly leave, Elliot.’
Elliot felt the coldness of his words wrap around his organs and clench painfully. Defeated, he made his way wordlessly back to the entryway. Tyrell didn’t follow him.
A thousand voices screamed in his mind to go back, but he forced himself to ignore them and opened the front door. As he stepped out, Elliot felt his heart leap into his throat. By his feet was a box, beautifully wrapped in red paper, and a small silver bow.