“Deep breath. You can do this.” I mutter to myself, bracing myself in front of the door. I take a few deep breaths, finally, attempting to kick up the courage to actually open it. You are going to open this door, and as soon as you do, the entire story is going to pour out of your mouth. You will finally be free.
The door flies open in front of me, and I jump backwards, the scream freezing in my throat. My hand immediately reaches into my bag, scrambling for the pepper spray I have forced myself to carry around.
“Oh! Excuse me, ma’am!” A young looking boy exclaims, shock taking over his face. Apparently no one here is awkward enough to stand in a doorway as long as I have. I force myself to let out a shaky laugh, knowing that there are so little ways to play this off. How embarrassing!
“You’re fine!” I tell him, “It’s my fault!” I manage to stutter out, awkwardly, to add to my humiliation.
He nods politely and heads off down the hall. Before I can stop myself, I walk through the now open door into a small office. It’s tiny with a desk, swivel chair, and two overstuffed seats, the color of dirt. My breath catches in my throat when I see the man in the room. He’s not the same guy I remember.
“Can I help you?” He asks. The guy is huge wearing a pinstripe suit, with a dark red tie. He’s older, and what little hair on his head is gray, while he’s bent forward, a phone pushed to his ear that he immediately sets down on the dock in front of him. Fear is now strangling me, and my mouth moves clumsily, searching for anything that would make sense. Of course, I have rehearsed the lines over and over again, but still, the plain terror is like a stab in the chest.
“I’m here about the Devonte Evans case.” I finally say, my heart hammering against my ribcage with every beat.
“From eight years ago?” I give him a small nod, and try a reassuring smile, but it falls flat, and I feel my face fall, “That case has been called ‘unknown’ for years. It was considered closed as far as I know.” He tells me.
“I can reopen, and solve it.” I state, and then bite my tongue.
“Have a seat?” he nods to the chairs in front of the desk. “I’ll see what I can do to reopen the case, but as far as I am concerned, the information will be of no help.” He tells me, I swallow, nervous, but continues to talk, “My name is Detective Chambers, and you are?”
Not Detective Bruce. My thoughts snap, what are you doing here? There is still so much to do about the wedding--
I realize the detective is expecting an answer, and make my mouth work, “Tatiana Andrews.” I watch his jaw drop, and I know there’s no going back now. Good. Maybe things will work out like you’ve rehearsed over, and over again.
“Case reopened.” He mutters under his breath, while shuffling through the drawers on his desk. He pulls out his phone and hits the microphone app, “I do have to record every word you say, as a precaution if you say something now, and deny it later. Also, if this case goes against someone else, we can use your testimony in court, and not have you present.” I nod. “Please state your name again for me?”
“How old are you, Ms. Andrews?”
“25.” I tell him, ignoring the phone lying on the table. A bit of courage overwhelms me, and every word I have been practicing threatens to tumble out, but most of it, I hold back, sticking to one line, “I suppose you are familiar with who I am?”
“I know how this case went down the first time. It’s a shame that you wouldn’t talk then. Maybe Devonte could have been saved in time.” He tells me, “Now, I’m asking the questions, if you don’t mind. And you came to me. So can you please explain why you would want to reopen an eight year old case?”
“To stay alive.” The words sound perfect. I’m surprised they’re not even the slightest bit robotic. I’ve repeated them in my mind so many times they’re practically second nature to me.
“Explain that, please?” He prods. His blue eyes have a faint twinkle in them. Little does he know, Devonte’s case will change his life forever. It’s a shame he isn’t Detective Bruce. The detective originally on the case didn’t care about being a hero. All he cared about was getting to the bottom of the case. I know he really cared about Devonte. This man? All this man cares about is his name hanging up in banners.
“Of all of the suspects for Devonte’s ‘murder’, how many of them are still alive?” I ask, genuinely hoping he knows who the suspects were.
“I haven’t the faintest idea. I was never assigned to the case, and it has been closed for years.” He states, indifferently, his eyes losing their color when he notices the direction of the topic. “Enlighten me?”
“Alarie Devon killed herself three years ago. Split her arm open with a butcher’s knife,” I pause, watching the color now drain from his face from the horror, “I found her.” I snap, when he opens his mouth to speak, I interrupt him. “But that’s not all. Michael Havensbee crashed his motorcycle a week after Alarie’s death. Savannah Woods, a healthy twenty year old, and a runner, died of a heart attack. Melody Winters was killed after an intruder broke into her house. I will spare you the details,” I pause, my heart hammering even harder, and my throat clenching up, “Drake Davis, a professional swimmer, drowned after his canoe tipped over. Just last week, Aaron Christopher was shot while hunting.” Tears begin to threaten my eyes, and my pulse continually races. I choke back a sob, but continue anyway, “Diamond Jones, my fiancée Jarron Taylor, and I are the only three still alive from that group.”
“From what you said, seems like plenty of accidents, and wrong-place-wrong-time moments happened to your friends.” I stop myself from lunging across the table at him. They already think I killed Devonte.
“Do you know how it feels to constantly be suffocated? A never ending guilt taking over your body, that can’t get passed?”
“No, ma’am. I haven’t.” he says, “Why would you feel guilty anyway? You called your friend ‘suspects’ do you have any idea why you would use such a term?”
“Last time I sat with a detective, such as you, he told me both Alarie and Michael sold me out. They wanted to put the blame on me for Devonte’s death.” I punctuate every word to sound menacing and harsh, and adding a bit of hurt to make it sound like I am a victim in this situation.
“Not right, wrong. Devonte’s ‘death’ was considered a murder. Your people have yet to find a body or any remains, am I correct?” I cross my fingers, saying a silent prayer in my head that he will agree.
“You are.” I nod, relief spilling over me. He continues,“Why did you call them suspects though, you have yet to tell me why you would be so bold against your own people.”
“We all know exactly what happened.” I state, and then pause, “We all knew.”
“Why haven’t you come out with any information? Why haven’t you told the authorities about this until now?”
“You would have found him. He didn’t want that. Alarie and Michael had a good reason to try and pin it on me.” I mutter, “I want Devonte found. I want to be able to see him again.”
“Him?” The detective asks, “Not his remains?”
“No. Not his remains. Him.”
“Explain yourself. Devonte has been pronounced dead since they closed this case. A casket was buried in his honor.”
“Do you even hear yourself?” I snap, all resolve in me completely snapping, “’A casket was buried in his honor’. He’s not dead. Heavens no. To be completely honest, you sound like a complete idiot. Devonte is alive. I don’t know where he is, but I know how he got away.”
“And how do you know that?”
“Where is Detective Bruce?” I ask, deliberately ignoring his question “I know for a fact he was concerned about Devonte. I would rather talk to him. At least then I would know my information was being used for good.”
“You don’t know, do you?”
“Detective Bruce died. That was the reason the case was closed. There was no one to push on the investigation.”
“How did he die?”
“No one is sure. He was rushed to a hospital when people found him on the side of the road not far from here. Rumor has it that he was following a lead you gave him.” Detective Chambers states, “A lot of people suspect that you sent him straight into a trap.”
“I would never!” I exclaim, my pulse continuing to race.
“Sit down!” He snaps. I hadn’t realized I had stood up, so I looked down at my feet, shocked and offended they would even consider standing up.
What’s going on?
“Ms. Andrews, if you don’t mind, I would like you to begin at the start. I want you to start at the moment you think is most relevant. Can you think of a point in time that would be important to us locating Devonte?” his voice is far more calm, his tone more relaxing, a huge leap from when we were practically screaming at each other.
“Okay. Can you tell me about that moment?”
“It was the moment I realized I was in love with Devonte Evans. The moment I knew I would do anything to have him.”