The Thousand Words

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Chapter 21

I took apart and packed away all of my gear and walked a couple of miles back to where the car was parked. The drive back to my house and office was uneventful. Disbelief flooded over me when I sat down on the couch in the living room. Why was all of this happening? The whole situation flat out did not make any sense.

My phone starting ringing. With the continuous barrage of bad news, I thought about completely ignoring it. The caller ID said it was Kelsey. She must have been on a break from work and calling to say hello as she often did.

“Morning, Kelsey,” I answered. “Sorry I missed you this morning. I got back really late from being with Bruno and didn’t want to wake you. Then I couldn’t sleep, so I went to take some pictures.” What I said was in the note I had written her, almost verbatim but I had no idea what else to say over the phone. The note also mentioned we needed to talk and likely the reason for her calling.

“Alex, what is going on? I just had two homicide detectives show up here to ask me a bunch of questions.” Kelsey’s voice was wavering a bit as she talked. You could tell she was rattled.

My heart sank in my chest. I realized instantly not waking her up in the middle of the night was a grave mistake. The opportunity to let her know what was happening from my point of view and on my terms was gone. Now her first impression of the situation was from the police who identified me as a person of interest.

“Sorry. Sorry. This whole thing is completely messed up. What did they tell you?”

“They said you were a suspect in two murders and asked me about what I knew about them. I told them I knew a little bit about your client from a year or so ago. Zoe something. I am horrible with names. She was killed and you took pictures at the crime scene. That’s all I know. I had no idea about this latest murder. Was that where you were last night and this morning?”

“Bruno called me down to a crime scene last night. He called when we were on the couch. I went down there and met him. Long story short, after examining the body it was obvious the same person killed both people. Then Bruno told me the victim was the person I have been searching for over the last few days. We then met someplace so we could talk. I am an obvious link between the two victims, so I instantly became a person of interest, even though I had nothing to do with what happened. At least I hope.”

“What exactly do you mean by you hope?” Kelsey asked. She was extremely concerned as one would expect in a situation like this.

“I obviously didn’t kill them if that’s what you are thinking,” I snapped back at her.

“Thanks for the confidence,” she said sarcastically.

“What I meant was I am hoping my actions didn’t lead to both of these women being brutally murdered. Either something I did or didn’t do. I have been racking my brain trying to figure it out, but I can’t seem to find anything that links these two back to me other than my work. Even with a connection, nothing could even remotely provide an explanation for them being killed.”

Kelsey was silent for a minute before speaking. “The detectives said both of the victims looked strikingly similar to Hannah. You never mentioned Zoe looked like her. What about the person you were looking for this week? Did she look like Hannah as well?”

I was beyond stunned and had moved into being completely scared. “I can’t believe they said the victims looked like my old fiancée. Who did you talk to?”

“Answer my question first.”

“Zoe Burke looked a lot like Hannah. I admit the similarities in appearance. The resemblance was not relevant at all. I only have seen a few pictures online of Sarah Jacobs. There are some similarities between the two of them. You look like Hannah at times.”

“I noticed that the first time you showed me her picture. I figured you had a type. Everybody does.”

“I am so sorry, Kelsey.” I was hoping she didn’t feel betrayed.

“We can finish this at a later date, but don’t worry. I know what you went through with Hannah was horrible. I know I am never going to replace her. You are not asking me, but she will always be a part of you. You have said many times we are similar but very different people. I would like to know more about her because she is a part of you.”

“You never cease to amaze me, Kelsey.”

“To answer your question, ” she continued, “I am not sure of their names. I honestly don’t think they mentioned them. Now that I think about our interaction, it was a bit strange but I didn’t notice they didn’t say their names when they introduced themselves. They both flashed their badges and guns and started asking me a bunch of questions. It was quite frightening, to be honest.”

“Try being a person of interest in a murder.”

“They said you were a suspect in both of the murders,” Kelsey said clarifying. “Their actual words. Not mine.”

The hits just kept coming. Not glancing blows but direct shots. Harder and harder each time.

“What did they look like?” I asked.

“There were two of them and both were quite intense and intimidating. One was tall and skinny and the other was much shorter and quite large. They both wore dreadfully fitting suits.”

I had to stop myself from a torrent of graphic swearing so Kelsey knew it wasn’t directed at her. “Those were the twins. What a complete bunch of assholes. At least we know why they did not tell you their names. They figured I would have told you all about them.”

“My God. Those were the infamous Thompson detectives? They never even crossed my mind. I should have known.” She was beating herself up.

“No way you could have. You didn’t do anything wrong so don’t worry about it.”

“Alex, I was rattled. They had me off my game right from the start, saying you were a suspect in two brutal murders of women who looked like you old fiancée. They both seemed to twist everything I said back around in my face. I am surprised I didn’t tell them at the end you confessed everything to me.”

“No worries,” I said as confident as I could muster. “It’s all going to be fine. I promise. Look, I hate to cut this short but I need to call Bruno and let him know what happened. He asked me to keep him informed.”

“I need to get back at work. What do I say to the people here? They are going to want to know what is going on.”

“Tell them it is part of a routine investigation dealing with a problem that happened near your house. Brush it off like it is no big deal.”

We both hung up. I immediately called Bruno. He answered after the first ring and I filled him in on my conversation with Kelsey and what the twins had done.

“What a complete bunch of assholes,” he practically yelled into the phone.

“I completely agree with you and we need some new words to describe them. I said the exact same thing to Kelsey. The part about them being assholes. Not the need for an obscenity thesaurus.”

“Their actions are inexcusable. It’s really too bad she had to hear it from those idiots and not from you. I had no idea they would question Kelsey and so damn quickly. Regardless, you should have woken her up and told her.”

“I know I screwed up, but Kelsey and I are good. We spoke right before I called you.”

“I am not worried about her perception of you at all. Kelsey is a great woman and is smart enough to know you had nothing do to with this directly. I am concerned with the dynamic duo twisting something she said to go after you. They already had you in their sights well before this happened and now they have all of the ammunition they could ever have hoped for.”

“Once again, you are just one big ray of good news sunshine. What the hell is next? Was my car involved in a hit and run of a group of orphaned children attending church with a gaggle of handicapped nuns? Did someone discover a gang of white supremacists operating a prostitution and meth lab out of my garage? Was my home built on a now-defunct nuclear weapons testing site?”

Bruno waited to make sure I was done venting. “Are you finished or is there more?” I could tell he was actually trying to hold back a bit of a chuckle, which was a positive sign.

“I’m good. Call me if you hear of anything more.”

“You as well. By the way, a gaggle of handicapped nuns?” Bruno asked.

“I am a bit off of my game right now.”

“No shit,” Bruno said before he disconnected.

My venting spell was not my proudest moment but it had helped. I didn’t realize I had been pacing throughout the entire house while talking on the phone to Kelsey and Bruno until I found myself upstairs in the spare bedroom for some reason. I worked my way back to the living room, sitting down in my assigned spot on the couch even though I was by myself.

The lack of sleep was beginning to impact my judgment. I was dead tired. The decision to get a few hours of sleep before anything else happened was an easy one to make. I closed my eyes and fell asleep instantly.

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