The Thousand Words

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Chapter 22

A ping to my cell phone indicating I had a new text message woke me up a few hours later. Even the little amount of sleep was enough to energize me some and remove the tired haze from my mind. The message from Jane was short. Call me ASAP. I called her back while I was making another pot of coffee for some additional help from my good friend caffeine.

“Are you doing all right, Alex?” Jane answered by way of a greeting. “Kelsey texted me and said I should call you because you need some help.”

“The current circumstances are not even remotely close to being appropriate. I really don’t want to tell you this all over the phone. Can you come to the office? I know it’s Sunday but I could really use some help and support.”

“I am all ready to go and will be there as soon as I can. Want me to pick up something for us to eat? I have a feeling you might need it.”

“Perfect. Make it something portable as I may take mine to go.”

“Got it. See you in twenty minutes.”

Jane was a godsend. For as much grief as she gives me, she knows when things are important and has never let me down. Never. I ran upstairs and took a blazing hot shower to help wake up and get the grime off from the past few days. New clean clothes were a necessity. A pair of blue jeans, a dark blue t-shirt and grey hoodie with a dark grey jacket. A standard generic and forgettable outfit that made up a good chunk of my clothes.

I paused for a few minutes thinking about what I wanted to do next. Jane is getting some food for me to take, but to where and to do what when I got there? I wasn’t sure. My gut told me finding my client, John Burns, who hired me to find Sarah Jacobs was my most advantageous option. The murder of Zoe Burke could still be coincidental. Extremely doubtful, but possible. The murder of Sarah Jacobs and her missing fiancée was just too much to leave to chance. I needed to find him.

I grabbed a backpack and crammed in some extra clothes, a wad of cash from my sock drawer, and a few other random items that might be needed. The next few days could go any number of ways and I wanted to be prepared. There was also this feeling deep down I may not want to or be able to come back here. If I learned one thing years of watching my dad and his colleagues solve murders, it was to follow your instincts as they were rarely wrong.

Jane’s car pulled into the driveway down by the office. Looking out of the bedroom window, I could see her walk in the door carrying a few bags. I grabbed my needed bags and headed out of the house making sure all the doors were securely locked. Jane was sitting on her desk with her feet crossed underneath her, waiting for me when I entered the main office space. The food was still in the bags spread out on one of the tables.

“Thanks for coming in and helping,” I greeted her and gave her a quick hug. “This means a lot to me.”

“You have me a little worried,” she said. “Have things gotten worse with the Zoe Burke murder? Did they find out who did it?”

Laughing out loud for the first time since all of this started I said, “Believe it or not, the Zoe Burke murder is actually not the worst thing that has happened in the past few days.”

I spent the next twenty minutes telling her everything that happened in the past couple of days. Being called to the crime scene by Bruno and believing without a doubt the two murders were committed by the same demented individual. The new body was Sarah Jacobs, the person who I was hired to find and take pictures. Being identified as an easy connection between the two women and becoming a suspect in their murders. The detective twins visit and questioning of Kelsey about me being identified as a suspect. She listened the whole time shocked and stunned.

“Holy crap, Alex,” she finally said. “You have the worst luck of anyone I have ever met, including my close friend who was struck by a deer while running on the bike path one morning. What are you going to do?”

“To be honest, I think the less you know the better. It has nothing to do with trusting you. I hope you understand. The detective twins are what have me scared right now. They are on a witch hunt for me. I fully expect them to come and talk to you at some point in the very near future. If you don’t know anything, you can’t tell them anything.”

“You have only talked a little about them, but don’t worry. I am still the best liar you have ever met.” She smiled trying to lighten the tension surrounding me. “Besides, I am not scared of them.”

“You should be,” I countered quickly. “They are mean, vindictive and extract confessions for a living. Both have been trained and have decades of experience. They interview and interrogate people who are lying to keep themselves out of jail, often times for the rest of their lives. They will intimidate you and attempt to twist everything you say against me.” Jane needed to understand the seriousness of the situation and the detective twins were not to be taken lightly.

“I understand,” she said, somewhat solemnly understating the gravity of my predicament. “What do you want me to say if they show up?”

“Honestly, nothing but the truth. Sounds a bit simplistic but I do truly believe it is the best course of action. Take it as a few words of advice from years of watching my dad do this for a living while I was growing up. Only answer the question they ask. Nothing more, so don’t volunteer any information. Keep doing some work while they talk to you. It will make the impression you don’t care much about what is happening and to support the fact that I am not directly involved in this. Talk in facts and not opinions. If they ask what you think, say you don’t have enough information to know. Finally, don’t change your answers at all unless absolutely necessary. Use the same words each time when answering. When they try and twist around what you just said just repeat back the exact same thing you told them the first time. It will frustrate them.”

“Got it,” she said back confidently. “What else do you need from me?”

“Two things and these need to be kept between us. First off, I need you to start tackling this mess of paperwork. All of it needs to be put back in order as soon as possible. I really don’t care if all of it is truly filed away properly. The important part is to find out anything that may be missing. I have no idea if the break-in here is connected to the murders at all, but I am not going to take any chances. No way. So you can tell them exactly what you are doing here. Putting the business paperwork back in order after the robbery.”

“And the second thing?” Jane asked.

“I need your car. It’s a lot to ask, I know, but I have a feeling they will be looking out for my two vehicles. Hopefully, your parents or sister can pick you up and drive you home. Just leave my cars here. The difficult part of this request is you can’t tell anyone that I am driving it. I need this to just be between us.”

Janes reached into her purse, dug around and threw me the keys to her car. A smallish Hyundai hatchback. “Just bring it back full and ignore the mess.”

“I can’t thank you enough for all of this. You are the best.”

“I know,” she said knowing I would understand the geeky movie reference. “Go do what you need to do and call me if you need any help. Keep me informed on what you believe I should know. I will stay here as long as I can today. Everything is going to be all right, Alex.”

“I wish people would stop telling me everything will work out as it always gets worse soon after.”

I grabbed a cooler and filled it with a couple of sandwiches Jane had brought, topping it off with some ice packs. Thanking her once again I headed out to her car and placed everything in the trunk. Getting in, I had to laugh at all of the stuff in her car. The back seat looked like a larger version of her purse. Moving the seat back made an interesting sound while compacting all of the miscellaneous items in the back. I hoped nothing was damaged.

There was only one thing on my list of things to do and that was to find John Burns. The man who asked me to take pictures of his fiancée Sarah Jacobs. There wasn’t much to go on. A phone number not answered, a generic email address, a few details from our face to face meeting and a couple of phone calls. Not much to go on at all.

It was a Sunday afternoon. No use in trying to find out where he worked. The odds were against him being in the office even if he was extremely busy. Almost everyone except the service industries took Sundays off. The employment search would have to wait until tomorrow. The smart move was to go back to Sarah Jacobs apartment and see what I could find out.

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