A thought-seared crease divides the forehead of the lean-faced officer standing, arms-crossed, in front of him. Michael has just finished walking them through a detail precise account of everything that he saw from the moment he first got out of bed.
“So,” the officer nods, “you’re not entirely certain in which unit the alleged incident actually occurred.”
“Entirely certain?” Michael says. “No, I’m not entirely certain, but there are only maybe six units on that side of the building whose windows I can’t see from mine. Clearly, it had to be one of them.”
“Six units,” his partner says, continuing his slow canvass of the living room. Standing beside the entertainment center, he lifts the DVD case of Rear Window off the player and opens it. Finding it empty, he turns, holds it open, and asks, “Late night entertainment?”
Michael throws up his hands and, returning his attention to the officer in front of him, says, “I don’t understand. I just told you there’s a murderer in that building over there, that a woman’s dead body is lying on his kitchen floor, why are you not beating down doors?”
In a commanding, though controlled voice, the officer says, “How’s about you run me through the sequence of tonight’s events again, slower this time?”
“It’s like I told you,” Michael says, “I was having trouble sleeping so I got up to adjust the fan. Afterwards, I went to the kitchen for a glass of water. When I came into the living room, I stopped at the desk to take an Aspirin—”
“Are these the pills,” the partner asks, lifting a bottle from the desk and rattling it.
“Those are them,” Michael nods.
“Continue,” his partner says.
“That’s it, that’s when I looked out the window and saw a pair of shadows projected from the building on the right onto the building on the left. At first, it looked like they were just having a simple conversation then, all of a sudden, things turned physical. She tried to step around him, but he had her boxed in. I saw her slap him and that’s when all Hell broke loose. He grabbed her by the shoulder, slapped her back, and then started choking her. Somehow, she managed to grab a knife and tried to stab him with it, but he caught her wrist before she could. They struggled for control of the knife, which he managed to pry away from her. And that’s when he began stabbing her, repeatedly.”
Over the officer’s shoulder, Michael watches as the partner, now standing beside the couch, reaches for the near-empty bottle of champagne. Holding it up to the light, he seems to be gauging just how much is left or, more accurately, how little.
“Had ourselves a little celebration, did we?” he asks.
Michael’s ears grow warm with blood. “I didn’t hallucinate.”
“I didn’t say you did.”
“If you must know, I’m a writer. I happened to have finished a project earlier tonight. And, as part of a tradition, yes, I uncorked a bottle.”
The officer nods, cuts a glance at his partner who, after a brief delay, turns to Michael and asks, “Do you mind giving us a second?”
Overcome by a feeling of helplessness and unsure what to do about it, Michael, relents, offering the men use of his kitchen.
As the two officers step into the other room, Michael pretends to be checking his phone while straining to overhear what’s being said. But the men are careful to disguise their conversation, speaking in hushed tones. Tempted to sneak closer to the kitchen, Michael sees the stemless champagne glass he’d been drinking out of earlier, picks it up, and places it to the wall, his ear pressed against the bottom. The magnified sounds become audible.
“You don’t believe him?” he hears one of them say.
The other counters. “I’ve got to say, it feels like a stretch. You saw the empty champagne bottle and the pills. Besides, his testimony hardly provides probable cause. He can’t positively say where the incident happened, let alone ID the suspect.”
“All right, here’s what we’ll do, we’ll knock a few doors, ask if anybody heard anything, shouting, a struggle, if not, or if nobody answers, what do you say we cut out and try that new 5 Guys burger joint over there on Harbor Place?”
“Knocking doors means taking statements, taking statements means filling out an incident report. What do say we skip all that and go straight to eating burgers?”
“And if he’s right, if there is a dead woman lying on a kitchen floor in that building over there?”
“Someone’s bound to notice she’s missing. When they do, they’ll call in homicide and launch a real investigation. The first person they’ll look at is the boyfriend. Then they’ll match cell records and the statements of friends about where she was going that night and it’ll all lead back here anyway. No point in us doing their job for them.”
“And if they happen to check the operator’s call log and find this guy claiming he witnessed a murder and that we responded to the call but never filled out an incident report?”
“It’s like I said, it all comes back to probable cause. The guy admits he doesn’t know where the shadows were coming from or what the suspect looks like. He’s as useless as a blind witness.”
“All right, well, let’s at least tell him we’ll knock the doors.”