The girl who lived in the shadow

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23. Detective Amari Raguel Wattkins


Detective Amari Raguel Wattkins

“What the hell are we doing here?” Rayan annoyingly asked as he was sipping his cold coffee.

“You’ll see,” I answered as I took a sip of my coffee. It was cold, and it didn’t taste like coffee at all. It tasted more like brown sugar mixed with water. It was worse than the coffee in the motel.

Both of us were sitting in our car at Raventown’s highschool parking lot, waiting for a couple of students to walk out for their break. The parking lot was covered with cars and students who were curious about what two grown people were doing in the parking lot. I saw a couple of young girls glancing at our cars, whispering something to each other’s ears. They were probably thinking that we were some creeps that enjoy watching young school girls. But they will soon find out the truth. The whole school will know who and why we came during their break.

I leaned further into my car seat, my eyes going through a bunch of students until I finally catch the person who I came to see. I followed the young, black-haired boy with my eyes through the crowd of students. The boy looked exhausted in his used military pants and a black sweatshirt. He looked like he didn’t sleep for the past week.

The boy walked fast through the crowd, bumping every third student without even apologizing. He walked through a couple of cars before finally disappearing behind small closed gates that lead to the backside of the school.

“Let’s go,” I said as I stepped out of the car.

Rayan followed me soon after, the cup of coffee still in his hands.

“Who are we looking for?” he asked, his eyes looking at all of the students that are walking down the parking lot. One of those students was Romana. She was standing next to - what I think - is her car. A couple of girls were standing next to her with cups of coffee in their hands. Romana’s eyes caught mine and she immediately lost her smile. I waved at her, but she turned around to her friends and said something because a moment later all of her friends turned around and looked at Rayan and me.

“Isn’t that Hana’s friend?” he asked as we walked through a couple of cars.

“It is,” I answered coldly. I wasn’t in a mood today for his stupid questions. I was too focused on this case. Especially now with the mystery letter popping out. Whoever wrote this letter clearly has something to do with Roman’s murder. Maybe it was the same person I saw at the crime scene? Whoever this mystery shadow-man was, he only made this situation even worse. It made me more anxious.

“Did you hear any news about the letter and Roman’s murder? Did they find anything?” I asked. Opening the squicky iron gate, I waited for Rayan to walk through it before I close it behind us.

“Nothing,” he answered, “They didn’t call at all.”

I take a deep breath. “That’s not a good sign. Whoever did these things clearly knew what he was doing.”

“So you think all of this is connected to the priest’s niece?”

I glanced at him. “Only an idiot would think it wasn’t,” I said, “Whoever killed that girl and attempted to kill the sheriff’s daughter also killed Roman. Roman was a drug dealer, he probably gave the drugs to the killer, and the killer killed him so he could get read of the only person who can ID him.”

“But the sheriff’s daughter saw him too,” he commented.

“That’s why I sent Gersom to follow her around, to make sure that the killer wasn’t stalking her,” I said back.

We walked around the corner of the orange bricked wall where we came across seven teenagers taking drugs. Five of them were sitting on the wet floor with joints in their mouths while the other two were standing at the wall, making out. They weren’t even bothered by our presence until I didn’t cough. The couple that was making out stopped what they were doing while the other five quickly dropped their joints on the floor, pretending that we didn’t catch them doing something illegal.

“Who are you?” one of the stoned boys asked. He smiled when he glanced at Rayan who placed his hands in the pocket.

“I’m agent Wattkins, and this is my partner, agent Birsen,” I answered seriously. “We are here to ask a couple of questions about your friend Roman Schnider.”

“We are sorry for your loss,” Rayan commented, “It must be hard for you to lose a friend like him.”

All of them were silent and glanced at each other. They were looking for someone who would speak in their name.

“Are you here to arrest us? If you aren’t, then we aren’t answering any of your questions without our parents,” finally a redhead girl with piercings said. She was sitting on a concrete stair with spread legs. A young girl sat between them, her intoxicated blue eyes staring back at me.

I chuckled, crunched down to their level, and picked up a half-smoked joint. “I will make a deal with all of you,” I started, twirling the joint in my hands. “You’ll answer all of our questions, and I won’t arrest you. You don’t want to risk your parents finding out what you are doing during your spare time, isn’t that right, Michael?” I looked up at the black-haired boy who turned two shades paler. The boy quickly stood up and tried to run away from me, but I was smarter. Standing up, I picked up someone’s bag and threw it at him. Michael stumbled in his feet and fell down on the wet asphalt. He tried to stand up, but I grabbed him by the hoodie and lifted him up with Rayan’s help. Rayan pushed him to the wall, trapping him between his tall frame and wall. When I looked back at his so-called friends, I saw that all of his so-called friends ran away.

“It’s hard to find people who you can trust with your life,” I commented, referring to his friends.

“What do you want?” the boy trembled.

“We just want to ask you a couple of questions about Michael, okay? There is no reason to be afraid.” Rayan tried to calm down the boy, but the boy didn’t seem to believe him.

I took a step forward and placed a hand on the wall. “Look, you answer our questions and we will pretend like we didn’t see you and your friends taking drugs.”

The boy hesitated for a moment before nodding his head.

I smiled a little. “Good choice.”

Michael looked down at his feet before asking, “What do you want to know?”

“Someone told us that Roman had a notebook in which he kept the names of all the people he sold drugs,” I said. “We want to know if that is true.”

He took a breath before finally speaking, “Yes, it’s true. This notebook was his prized possession. He wrote down every deal he ever made in this town and in other towns too.”

“So you are saying that people would kill for this notebook?” I asked with a straight face.

The boys nodded a little. “Yes. The information in that notebook could make every drug dealer rich.”

“Do you know who might that be?” Ryan asked before I could.

Michael looked down on the floor. “I don’t know their real names. These people go by code names so that they can’t be detected by the cops. I swear, that is all I know.” he lifted his hands in the air in surrender.

I glanced at Ryan who nodded his head before we slowly released the boy down. As soon as his feet touched the ground, Michael straightened his clothes and swallowed. “Is that all?”

“No,” I answered, taking a step forward. “Will you ask around for these people’s names?”

“I can try,” he whispered scared.

“Not try, find.” I pointed a finger at him. “I need you to find their names, and then give me a call when you do.” Taking out my card, I give the boy the small piece of paper who just stared at for a moment before forcefully nodding.

“What do I get in return?”

I laughed at his question. “I will not arrest you and your friends on a drug offense. Do you understand?”

He looked down in shame. He didn’t have a choice in this matter. He was traped, and he knew that this was the only way out.

I grabbed his chin and made him look at me. “Do you understand?”

The boys’ brown eyes stared at me and I saw something in them. Something I recognize in myself. “I understand,” the boy answered, and I released his chin from my grip.

“Good.” I smiled. “You can go now.”

As soon as the words slipped out of my mouth, the boy picked up his bag and started to run towards the iron fence, managing to trip down a couple of times in the process.

“Do you still believe that this boy’s death has something to do with the girl’s death?” Ryan stood next to me as I straightened my suit.

I glanced at him and sighed. “Honestly, I can’t say for sure until we don’t get a call from the forensics.”

We started walking down the same path we came from. Ryan was looking around like he was searching for something or someone. He was being paranoid again.

“What about the boy?” he asked, “Do you think that he will give you a call?”

I shrugged. “I don’t know, but we already got what we wanted.”

“And that is what?” Ryan frowned.

“In two hours the whole school will know about the notebook, and if my senses are right, we will get our first suspects by tomorrow morning.”

“So the person who would go search for the notebook might be the killer.”

I looked at him and placed my hand on his shoulder in approval. He was finally getting things.

Ryan looked happy, proud that he was getting better in these things. I wanted to warn him that from now on things will only get harder. The case will get harder, and with the lack of evidence, this thing will be impossible to solve. But I have to give him a moment to enjoy because moments like this are rare in our job. Over the years you become cold, and you forget the feeling you had when you first started. The feeling of solving your first case, the feeling when you first kill someone. All of these feelings will live with you forever in your memory.

The moment was broken by the melody of my phone. Taking it out from my jacket, I answered it and leaned it on my ear, waiting for the caller to speak.

“It’s the sheriff,” the person from the other side said.

“Did something happen?” I asked, and I could already feel Ryan’s hard gaze on me.

“We have a problem,” he took a deep breath before continuing, “Roman’s parents were on TV. They are giving away five thousand dollars to the person who knows something about their son’s death.”

“Fuck,” I swore quietly.

“What is it?” Ryan asked next to me.

I glanced at him and shook my head. I can’t believe that this is happening. I stayed quiet for a moment, thinking everything through. “They are stupid for doing, but you know what, this will become useful to us. If someone reaches out to them and says the things that only we know, we can catch our killer.”

“So you don’t want me to bring them to the station?” he sounded confused.

“No. I will deal with them later. Anything else?”

“The mayor is waiting for you,” he answered, “He wants to have a word with you.”

Closing my eyes for a moment, I took a deep breath. “Tell him that we will be there in thirty minutes,” I said before hanging up my phone.

“What is it?” Ryan asked as I started to walk faster to my car.

“The mayor wants to talk to us,” I answered as I took out the keys.

“What for?”

“I don’t fucking know.”

Ryan suddenly stopped in his tracks. His whole body was facing a bunch of cars, and when I looked at his face, I saw that the softness is disappeared and it was replaced with coldness.

“Why are you standing there? We have to hurry.” I lifted my hands in the air.

“I thought I saw someone familiar,” he answered, shaking his head.

“Who if I may know?” I asked annoyingly.

“A girl,” he answered softly.

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