1 | DENY, DENY, DENY
It was not the chaotic and absolutely destroyed condition, which struck her house after her and Devin’s most recent fight.
Sherrie could not have cared less, about the shards of glass that penetrated her feet, as she stumbled away from the front door, and to the farthest corner of the main corridor. The young woman could not have a care in the world, about the horde of panicked and shrieking neighbors, standing by her front porch; standing by the package.
At that very moment, Sherrie could not bring herself to care about anything – for the limp body that laid many feet away from her, was the centre of her undivided attention.
Her mind resembled a broken record, replaying itself repeatedly; the door bell going on and on; the enormous and hefty package by her door; the bewilderment of recognizing Devin’s frozen fear-struck expression, along with the sickening puncture of a bullet in his forehead.
“Detective O’Malley is gonna ask you a few questions,”
The thin red and white blanket produced little to no warmth to her chilled body or soothing to her wracked nerves, against the November breaths and the solemnity of the Detective’s presence.
Detective O’Malley was considerate enough to accept Deputy Myers’ request; to carry on with Sherrie’s cross-examination on their front porch instead of the station. Given the heart-wrenching state of the young widow, the Detective debated even questioning the poor thing.
Clearing his throat, Detective O’Malley took a seat on the front porch, next to an unresponsive Sherrie. “I’m sorry for your loss, Mrs. Davidson,” he began condolingly. “But we need you to cooperate.” He said, with pity for the strawberry-blonde woman. Although Sherrie appeared impassive, she intently listened. Detective O’Malley carried on with his mission, nonetheless.
“Mr. Davidson stormed out of the house, shortly after your fallout forty-eight hours ago – correct?” He turned away from the empty and dark street, to the female to his right for a response. She only nodded for a reply.
“Was there any sort of contact between the two of you, before you received the package?” this time, she shook her head. He would have to skim through Mr. Davidson’s cellular activity, to determine if she was being truthful, though. He mentally groaned at the task. Seeing how well she was handling the questions, the investigator felt more comfortable with asking the next few questions.
“Were you aware of any sketchy connections Mr. Davidson might’ve had?” again, she shook her head; he would have to have a few chats, with the folks of one of his least favorite neighborhoods. “Well, have you noticed any wary behavioral patterns – unreasonable paranoia, perhaps?” to his dismay, her answer was also negative. Judging by her unhelpful replies, the man began to debate her significance as a witness. If there wasn’t a protocol he is obliged to abide by, he would already be out and about, with at least one or two leads.
However, being the dead man’s wife, gives her some sort of connotation.
He paused for a moment, uncertain of the traditional questions’ efficiency in this particular case. With a heavy sigh, Detective O’Malley expected the worse, “Mrs. Davidson, do you know who killed your husband?”
Silence. A reaction he saw coming.
“You can tell him whatever the hell you want – as long as it’s not one of your fucked up conclusions.”
For the first time since Thursday’s afternoon, Sherrie’s tongue is tied in knots for a different reason, than the constant flashing image of her dead husband’s face.
There is a feeling of despair that she cannot swallow down – an intuition telling her, that her brother’s insistency on keeping her ‘conclusions’ to herself, confirms just how accurate she is. And that is what is scaring her most.
“No, detective.” She lied. It took everything that has survived inside of her to not break under the pressure of librating herself from the guilt and fear, and doing the most rational thing. The urgency in her voice suggests that, perhaps, Sherrie isn’t in the dark like she claims to be. And the Detective took a mental note of that.
The fact of not having the freedom to answer the officer’s question is killing her. But as much as she hates to abide to her older brother’s demands, it will be suicide to throw it out to the world; she has to have concrete evidence that would not deem her as a mad woman. For now, biting her tongue seems like the only thing in her best interest.
If his last question did not prove to be as effective as he anticipated, then nothing will be, for the time being, at least.
With a discontented sigh, he rubbed the bridge of his slim nose and stared out into the dark skies above him. It might as well rain, judging by the red hue of the gloomy clouds. And he might as well head back home and have a late dinner with his son, as the nagging feeling is tempting him to grab the troubled woman by her frail shoulders, and shake the truth out of her. But he knew better than to do so, to the daughter of one of his colleagues.
However, no matter what angle he views the case from; the widow never appears more than a troubled, unfortunate young victim of domestic violence. And the fact that the report of this ‘case’ he received this morning was as helpful as the poor woman, did not help one bit.
“What about the fire?” Detective O’Malley stopped mid-stride, sighing stressfully. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Davidson; but we couldn’t identify a single body.” He proclaimed, genuinely pitying the young woman. O’Malley pivoted before he could catch a glimpse of the miserable expression Sherrie had.
“That is exactly why you should let it go, sis.” Said a familiar voice.
As the man makes a few steps to take his leave, the front door opened, to reveal behind it none other than Deputy Myers. With a curt nod of his head, Deputy Myers shook O’Malley’s calloused hand. “Can I have a word with you, James?” O’Malley nodded towards the miserable Mitsubishi Lancer, parked a few feet away from the residence; farther from the spot Sherrie is occupying. James, on the other hand, professionally masked the grim look in his eyes, threatening to show through.
Both men stood by O’Malley’s vehicle, with only one of them having his mind set on solving the essential case.
James averted his cold, blue glare from his sister’s still frame, and instantly replaced his cold expression with a professional smile as he met the latter’s dark brown eyes. “I reckon it’s a tricky case, huh, Detective.” Myers proclaimed. O’Malley cleared the lump in his throat, as he pried his eyes away from the concrete under his feet. “Unfortunately, Myers, we don’t have a case, yet.” O’Malley announced.
“But I’m not really that worked up about it; I’ve had plenty of blank cases, and they’re all closed, see—“ Detective O’Malley was impolitely interrupted by the other officer, “And everybody in Buckley is a witness to your hard work, Detective.” Myers attempted to cut their conversation short.
The brunette policeman nodded his bearded chin towards the Deputy’s sister. “—your little sissy seems more invested in the identities of a bunch of fried psychos, rather than helping with building a case against whoever murdered her husband.” He stated nonchalantly, as if he wasn’t just interrupted purposefully. All the while keeping his dark, chocolate eyes trained on the latter’s cold blue ones.
“Now, that –that’s something to be worked up about.” He finished, stroking his facial hair. He was sporting an overly casual expression in comparison with the matter at hand.
“You already have enough on your plate, O’Malley; I’d hate you to lose sleep over my little Sherrie, too.” Myers strained a laugh. “I can multi-task.” O’Malley countered with a sardonically attentive expression. And just as suddenly as it appeared, the remnants of Myers’ uncomfortable laugh completely vanished. Instead, it was replaced with a knowing smirk, scoffing. Nonetheless, he replied with nothing.
“Anyways, I was wondering if she’s free sometime tomorrow - she looks like she really needs someone to talk to; something to talk ‘bout.”
“Oh, I’m sure she’s fine.” Myers answered, as if he was confident about it.
The fair-skinned man narrowed his eyes in sarcastic confusion, “Deny, deny, deny. Right, James?” He stated plainly, provoking a stream of blood to rush to Myers’ face in annoyance.
“Tell you what, Elliot; you worry about building your case, and I’ll worry about my sister.” Deputy Myers countered, with animosity in his tone and an unnerving blue glare.
They both held their gazes for a good one minute, until Detective O’Malley decided to back out and retreat into his car. “Sorry for bothering you, Myers.” He apologized out of courtesy, but he never meant it.
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The pale, furry rug situated beneath her clothed feet could have been easily burned to ashes, under the penetrating and venomous green glare of Sherrie’s. She really wished she could burn this whole house down, burn this whole town down, and herself along with it –only then, she wouldn’t have to feel guilty about every single breath she took. It made her feel like a fool; thinking for a second that she could actually have the luxury of free-will.
Sherrie was too engrossed in glaring at thin air, that the three knocks on her door failed to reach her ears. At the sound of nearing footsteps, Sherrie was quick to react by jolting her neck to the left, to face the trespasser. Instead of the face she dreaded finding, it was the soft and gentle features of her mother, which she inherited some bit of. Part of her was expecting her mother to come up to her room, with the dinner she skipped. The other part, however, was tainted with the paranoia she suffered since a very long time; As if a voice in the back of her head – some kind of an intuition – kept reminding her of that one, impending day, where she wouldn’t be as lucky of the bliss of seeing her mother’s face. Rather a face, which haunted her more often than not, for the past few days.
“—but honestly, it’s really fine if you don’t want me here…” her mother’s tone was as tender and serene as a spring breeze, something she craved to experience. Lost in the space of her mind, she was a little too late to register what her mother had said. She placed the tray of supper on the nightstand and excused herself out of the room, with a saddened look in her ocean blue eyes.
“He’s going to regret it,” Sherrie croaked, the blank stare in her irises returning. Hildegard halted in her place, turning around to make sure her hearing wasn’t betraying her. At that moment, Hildegard forgot all about her daughter’s need to remain alone. The steps she took inside the bedroom were hesitant, yet she felt the need to understand what her daughter was pertaining. “You’re all going to.” She finished.
Reluctantly, Hildegard placed a comforting hand upon Sherrie’s shoulder, ignoring the sinking feeling in her heart and the pit of her stomach, as she took a seat next to her by the edge of the bed; whatever she was talking about, it included Hildegard. And that managed to stir a dreadful consciousness in her chest. Hildegard’s gesture of comfort acquired no attention from her daughter. She proceeded with voicing her thoughts as if her own mother wasn’t sitting by her side.
“The first time should’ve been a good enough lesson; a warning to listen to me; proof that I’m not a crazy bitch.” she uttered indistinctly, like a programmed machine. Hildegard was tongue-tied and even ashamed by her flesh and blood’s words, clearly understanding the drift of the conversation. Just because she always refused to talk about it, never meant she was in denial of her fault or that she was proud of it.
“And now, you’re making the same—“
“—and this, dear mother, is the final stage I told you about.” James interrupted bluntly, the trait he was well known of; sabotaging any attempt of pinning anything against him. “I personally think it’s ridiculously unreasonable to blame fate’s course on the whole fucking world, for your own misery, Sherrie.” He said through yet another insufferable characteristic of his; the sardonic nonchalance. He reached the centre of the room, like an esteemed lecturer of a respectable university –and he is anything but.
Sherrie gawked at what was her brother like a traumatized child, with gaped lips and stray tears. Somewhere, deep inside of her, she sometimes doubted that this man was her actual sibling. “So now you believe in fate?!” she snarled in despair. “Three innocent people were fucking slaughtered! Their blood painted every wall in the house – and you DID NOT listen!” she shouted with tears straining her voice. She stood on her jelly-like legs when she couldn’t contain the rage anymore. “I told you they were fucking late, and now they’re all dead.” The animosity evident in her moist eyes and scrawny voice was futile against James’ insensitivity.
“Arnold’s dead.” Her voice was frail and cracking in grief for the dead. The waterfalls of tears did so, so little to soothe her heartache.
“And. So. Is. Mitchell!” He countered. He bent his body forwards with his hands resting on his hips, as he spoke the four words painfully slow, as if Sherrie was either too simple-minded to understand the obvious, or simply deaf. “Get over it!”
Never in her life, had she thought that hearing such news about the man mentioned could be so excruciating to accept. Perhaps, in set of different circumstances, she would have been relieved –felt safe- to hear such news. But that wasn’t the case; because circumstances were never in her favor.
Satisfied with Sherrie’s lack of words and defense, James pivoted towards the exit of her bedroom with prideful strides. However, knowing his sister, he figured that if his last statement wasn’t enough to convince her to drop the subject, then he might as well find another strategy.
“Mitchell was burned to ashes, along with everything in that mad house.” James gritted over his shoulder. “So keep that trap shut, sister.” He spat the last word like it was poison on his tongue. And with that, he was out of the room, closing the wooden portal behind him.
When Sherrie was blessed by the absence of her delusional brother, it was as if the temperature of the room had gotten a few degrees warmer. The relentless and uncontrollable trembling in her limbs faded slowly into relaxation – but her senses were at edge. She turned to face her mother, and the older woman was a heart-breaking sight to behold, especially by her own daughter.
Hildegard was aging horrifyingly earlier than she should have for a forty-two-years-old, with every single passing day. She had this same old, rigid, empty hopelessness in her pale blue eyes, as she sat hunched over her knees on the edge of the bed.
Was that the toll of living with James; under her pitiless son’s sympathy? Was Sherrie going to end up like that, too? Either ways, she was far from interested in the answer for the last question, nor was she going to wait around to know.
She didn’t know if it was the heartburn she felt as she watched her mother withering in misery, or if it was the fear of having the same fate waiting for her as well; all that she was certain about, was that something needed to done before another tragedy struck.
Despite her brother’s terrorization, Sherrie was never a person easily convinced against something she strongly believes in; she was certainly not going to drop this matter. Not so soon and so easily, at least.
And she knew just the perfect individual who wouldn’t either.
“Sherrie,” Hildegard’s voice sounded strained - an almost fearful whisper. “Please, just… just stop it.” Sherrie blinked at the sound of her mother and pivoted to meet her gaze. The apprehensive wideness of Hildegard’s pale irises seemed to fuel the urge inside of the young woman, the urge of doing something without due consideration.
“Stop what?” Sherrie queried, with the intention of prying something out of her mother which would hopefully strengthen her case. “Stop chasing dust and stop using what happened to the Jefferson’s against us, in every single argument!” Hildegard chastised, abandoning all vulnerability and shooting out of her previous pitiful posture. “-Because we never had anything to do with it. And Mitchell has nothing to do with what happened to Devin – because he is dead, Sherrie.” She finally stated, using a more calm and composed tone as she did, hoping it might get through easier. The tense muscles in the older woman’s jaw gradually relaxed, breaking the ruthless staring contest between her and her daughter. The same couldn’t be said about Sherrie; her intense green glower never lessened, the tension she refused to loosen up nearly tore every muscle in her body. She was fuming with pent up bitterness, lonesomeness and betrayal.
“Darling, please. Just please, don’t do anything rash.” Hildegard pleaded gently – desperately. Sherrie was aware of the motive behind her mother’s contribution in James’ sick ploy. Her mother knew that James would be held accountable somehow. And it sickened Sherrie to her stomach – how eager and willing her mother is to protect her son after everything he inflected upon this family; upon her.
No respond could be heard from Sherrie’s end. She kept her chapped lips pursed in a harsh grimace as she stared –glared- at her mother, unable to bring herself to accept or entertain the thought buying any of the make-believe everyone was feeding her. After a brief stretch of thick silence, Sherrie decided to reply with something which would guarantee her mother to leave her the hell alone.
“Deny, deny, deny. Right, mom?”