So damn dirty. So many goddamned germs. Get them off me. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I killed him, I’m sorry. Just get them off of me. He’s dead, can’t he disappear? I just don’t know what to do just please get the blood off of me make him disappear please God just let me be clean I’m so tired of this and the blood will never wash out, why won’t it wash out just please make him disappear.
but they’re still HERE WHY ARE THEY STILL HERE WHY ARE MY ARMS AND HANDS AND ENTIRE BODY WHY IS IT STILL RED GODDAMNIT I HATE THAT COLOR I HATE IT I HATE IT I’VE ALWAYS HATED IT I JUST WANT MY FUCKING SKIN BACK.
“Open the door.”
Soap more soap more soap I mean it’s just not coming out why isn’t it coming out can I wake up from this nightmare now?!
Some sick joke you goddamned pedophile I hate you so much the whole fucking town hates you. We know what you did we know about those girls you killed her you fucking killed her are you happy now?! I hope you rot in hell you sick psycho creep. I hope you rot in hell. You suck you suck God I’ve never hated anybody so much in my life. Just burn in hell, burn in hell and don’t come back if you do I’ll
I’M SORRY I’M SORRY JUST PLEASE JUST GET THE RED OFF OF ME JUST GET IT OUT OF MY SKIN I SWEAR I’M SORRY
The bathroom door lurches open, knocking into me so that it smacks my arm and I’m shoved into the fat soap bubbles of the overflowing sink. The granite countertop is stabbed into my gut, but I somehow steady myself although I’m barely aware of what’s happened. I wobble blindly when he marches in, gasps, and murmurs something that I forget the moment it comes out of his mouth.
No, no, I didn’t steady myself. He caught me. And I know him, I just forgot how. My body still collapses onto his as he towers over me, like my brain already knows that I can trust him.
“It’s going to be okay,” his sweet, soft, low voice assures down to me. “It’s okay. I’ll take care of it. The blood’s gone, Hayden. It’s gone.”
He’s lying. I know he’s lying. I trusted him and here he is lying to me.
It’s fine. Whatever. I’m just so tired. I could sleep here, standing, enclosed in his arms. I’ll finish cleaning it up in the morning, when I wake up….
“Hayden, no, stay awake. Come on, change out of these clothes please. Wake up Hayden.”
It’s difficult to open my eyes, like they’ve been super-glued shut out of fear of ever seeing the color red again. I cling onto Dad as he stops the water of the sink and shower, and the drains gurgle in response. My foot slips forward, splashing room-temperature water onto his ankles. He doesn’t falter. He never will.
When my eyes are pried open, the color of the bathroom seems to be drowned in steam.
I release my dad and look down at myself, the monster.
The red is gone, aside from my irritated pale skin.
Dad, just in his pajama pants and a t-shirt, leaves the mini pool of the bathroom, tiptoeing across the dark hall and opening the closet, selecting a few of my mother’s expensive, heavy bath towels. He comes back into the doorway of the bathroom and wraps his hands around my wrists, gently pulling me out and directing me into my bedroom.
Dragging the towels onto the soaked floor, he allows a quiet chuckle as I stand in the opposite doorway, bewildered. “Your mother’s going to have a stroke in the morning, but,” he offers a confusing smirk and a small snicker, “oh well.”
WHAT’S SO FUCKING FUNNY?!
He’s lying. Of course he’s lying.
Instead of changing my clothes like he’d ordered me to, I push my sleeves up my arms and freeze, studying my skin. Searching.
...of course he’s lying.
In the inky view of the hallway, I observe the shadows of my arms, waiting to find a darker splatter on my skin. Waiting to find the red. The blood. His blood.
...goddamned pedophile I hate you so much…
My eyes flicker forward, watching the water collect onto the towels, along with every speck of dust that had previously been left behind on the floor.
“I--Dad--I didn’t….Christ, I can’t--the blood--I JUST--”
He glances up from the puddle on the tiled floor and shushes me, muttering over to me like we’ve just created a secret club. “Your mother is sleeping. The last thing we need is to wake her up. I just sent your brother in his room. He’s worried about you, you know, I know you don’t want him coming out here and trying to handle things himself, which, we both know he has a habit of doing, right?”
not in the mood to deal with him being so damn logical and calm and smarter than me like SHUT UP FOR ONCE IN YOUR LIFE.
“DAD I JUST--”
“Did you not listen to what I just said? Change your clothes. I told you I would take care of it, but I can’t if you don’t cooperate; do you understand?”
Cooperate. I have to cooperate..
I freeze, staring at the file, staring at my father’s neat uppercase permanent marker scream on the tab.
My hand grasps the file, tiny dots of sweat forming on the tips of my skin.
My very dirty skin. Red skin. Bloody skin. His blood on my skin.
It’s not there. It hasn’t been there since June get a freaking grip.
! SHE IS UPSTAIRS ! ! RIGHT ABOVE MY HEAD !
! WITH !
! TYLER !
I toss a glare over my shoulder, peering out the small, blurry window of the office door. The hallway’s pale blue walls are uninterrupted by any passers, so I figure this is my one and only opportunity.
Glare at his name. Again.
I slide the file out of the cabinet, setting it gently on the desk in front of me.
Flip it open.
The first page is a scatter of hundreds of words that I’ll never be familiar with, court terms that has drifted out of my dad’s mouth at the dinner table some time or another. Instead of decoding it, I fling page after page until I find something I understand.
Criminal Court of the City of Baltimore, Maryland
Office of the Defense Attorney
Post Office Box 5647
8475 Leeway Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21216
RE: DEFENSE OF HOMICIDE PERSON OF INTEREST
Mr. Patrick Otley:
This communication is given by the Criminal Court of the City of Baltimore in regards to Mr. Darius Blecker, a person of interest in the murder investigation of Ms. Dana M. Farr. Farr, of fourteen years and three months, is the confirmed victim of this incident that occurred on SATURDAY, the 9th of AUGUST, 2013 at an estimated time of 11:20 pm (EST).
While there are numerous other possible persons of interest to this case, Mr. Blecker is preparing for a formal questioning at the CITY OF BALTIMORE POLICE STATION next TUESDAY, the 23rd of AUGUST at 1:00 pm (EST). We are requesting your assistance.
While this case promises many long hours of work and rigorous memorization of small details, we trust that you are fit to defend Mr. Blecker, given your past achievements during your many years working for the City of Baltimore in the past. We are offering you this client, as the murder investigation of Dana M. Farr is suspected to be a tremendously high profile case within coming months. Proving Blecker innocent, come down to trial, will be next to revolutionary for our law firm.
If you agree to become the attorney for this case, you will be receiving a Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) Attorney Request Form in the mail. You will have the opportunity to meet with Mr. Blecker to discuss any further details at the time of your choosing between TODAY, the 16th of AUGUST, and the interrogation date as I have already explained.
The Criminal Court of the City of Baltimore thanks you for your continuous cooperation and looks forward to hearing back from you in the near future. We appreciate the belief that all are innocent until proven guilty.
Miss Yael Kilts, Region Chief Executive.
No. Not possible. Not okay. He can’t lie to me. He’s my father. He wouldn’t. It’s not possible it’s just not possible--
My thoughts are swallowed by the starvation inside of me to keep going, keep flipping through my victim’s file, to know everything--legal or not. What did I care? What did he care? My eye flashes to my hand, up my arm.
He’s lying. Of course he’s lying.
He always lies. He’s a twisted attorney--he thinks that lying is job.
I flick papers out of the way, until I find another letter--this time with my father’s elegant, loopy signature on the bottom.
Darius W. Blecker
4537 Fleetwood Street
Baltimore, MD 21216
RE: FARR, DANA M. MURDER SUSPECT
Dear Mr. Blecker,
The purpose of this letter is to update you on the status of your case. Our last meeting was at your interrogation, August 23rd of this year. I still have no further word to confirm the evidence against you that may be presented in court, however I am trying my best to contact the police department, as it is the investigator’s choice to expose it. In the meantime, while I understand this case is receiving a significant amount of attention from the media, I should thank you for remaining silent, and ask you to continue doing so. I intend the same.
I have received word that there has been a request from the Baltimore Police Department for a warrant to search your home. While you have already been arrested previously, there is not much more I can do to prevent the judge from granting it. I may, however, warn you that they may earn the right to collect things such as: any objects they believe you had on your person during the incident, such as clothing items, cellular devices, personal weapons and/or tools, among others. They are also known to collect laptops (or other electronics you may own that are capable of outward communication).
If you have any questions regarding or relating to this case, feel free to contact me by phone or e-mail. I am also available to review any parts of the process of trial that may be puzzling.
Patrick Otley, Defense Attorney.
Paper after paper after paper after paper even though I don’t peek at any of them. I don’t even know what I’m looking for. A logical excuse for Darius Blecker’s name in my father’s confidential client record cabinet? I shot my dad’s past client who he managed to prove innocent. Killed him. Not even Violet can be an excuse for this.
I stare at my father’s letter to the man I killed because he killed my best friend, soaking him with intelligent words that imply he is innocent.
I blow out the air I’ve been holding in.
“Are you telling me you don’t think he did it?” I catch.
“Not at all.” He raises his brows brings his coffee mug to his lips, relieving his study of my expressions. “You just never know.”
“Uh, right. Do you know the lawyer that defended him? If they were good enough to hide first degree rape and murder, maybe--”
He ticks a finger. “Oh, and, if Romano asks, you never knew about this Dana. It gives you a possible motive.”
My face is hot--my eyes burn wide, dry, like Darius’s blood has finally become visible on my skin again after these two months. The red--it’s not up and down my arms and hands anymore. It covers me all over--my legs, my arms, my torso, soaking through my clothes like salt water after swimming in the ocean--but it’s not blood anymore. He’s come back stronger, with the rage of Samara, Dana, and himself combined. It’s not blood anymore--it’s fire. I’m going to die in here. I swear to God, I’m going to pass out and suffocate and die. How long could I have possibly lived this long breathing in smoke that drifted off of the fire on my skin?
And my dad knew it would kill me, that’s why he did this. He wants me dead. Violet wants me dead. No one can trust me, I can’t trust anyone. Everyone loathes the murderer, everyone wants me dead.
Liar liar liar liar liar liar.
Everyone loathes the murderer, so I fend for myself.
I grip the tab of the file and turn it closed, then grasp it by the bind, tucking it under my arm. If my father thinks he can play with me like he plays with the jury, with the prosecutors, teaming up with clients, teaming up with Darius Blecker, the rapist, the murderer, the villain, he’s wrong. He’s wrong because, whoops, he raised a murderer. His game with lying and studying expressions and body language and acting like he’s actually qualified to do his job has finally backfired. Sure, he got Darius off for rape and murder for some amazing, high profile case just so he can do it again to Samara three years later. I don’t care if he’s my dad, he can stumble to jail right behind me. I am so done.
The indignation scrambling through me knocks my chair backward as I stand. I pull the office door open and march out to the hallway, not bothering to glance up the stairs risking accidentally getting a glimpse of Violet.
I draw the front door open, pacing out to the front porch to find my dad resting on Mom’s Adirondack chair, a copy of my file sprawled across his lap as he studies it through his square reading glasses.
Peering past the merciless July sun, I push myself forward and swipe the papers off his lap so that they scatter upon the front lawn. I hurl Darius’s file in its place, clenching my teeth as I overshadow him. “You were his attorney?!”
My father’s reaction is a minuscule flash--his glasses nearly fly off his startled face and his mouth drops slightly--but I catch it, opposing what he had probably expected. He reassembles himself immediately, sliding up so he sits confidently, painting on his classic lawyer smirk that I am so over.
“I knew you were as smart as I’d hoped you would be.”
I wish I could shake him so he would take me seriously for once, but I lock my hands together behind my back as I feel my rage press against my brain as words burst out of my mouth. “This is not funny. Don’t you get it?! Don’t you get anything?! Darius Blecker forced Samara to commit suicide and it’s your fault! He should’ve died in jail for what he did to Dana Farr, but you defended him so that you’d get another paycheck for shocking the entire city of Baltimore. And...and...Violet--”
“Violet killed Darius Blecker?” he asks again, sorting through the papers I’d thrown at him.
Even at home, even in a grey v-neck t-shirt and shorts, he knows how to create a lie for the purpose of his “job.” I toss a glare over my shoulder, aware of the fact that the front door is open, and only the screen door can block Violet from hearing this conversation. “Can you please just concentrate on what I’m trying to say for once?! You lied to me while I’ve at least tried to tell you the truth about everything! You were Darius’s lawyer! How do you think that makes me feel?!”
I don’t know why I still bother to speak to him. I don’t know what to say aside from how much of idiot he makes me feel and look like. And that’s not an argument in his book. It’s winning.
He crosses his legs, squinting at me past the sun. “Honestly, it’s irrelevant. It shouldn’t bother you.”
“IRRELEVANT?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! God, I was like eleven or twelve when this happened! You know how many clients you’ve made the news over? How was I supposed to know that three years later this one would kill my best friend?! My best friend, Dad. Samara. Remember her, the one I was attached at the hip to just a year before Dana Farr was killed?! Darius Blecker killed her! That douche bag you proved innocent to get a fat paycheck, remember him?!”
He shuts his eyes, exhaling longingly. “Hayden, I’m going to need you to calm down.”
“No! It’s because of you that she made me--”
“God. Oh my God.” I spin away from him and press my hand to my head, glancing through the screen door at an empty hallway. “Stop playing with me, alright?!”
“No. Tell me. Right now. Violet made you kill Darius Blecker?”
He’s never asked me half of that question. He’ll be able to tell if I lie.
And Tyler knows already--about Dana.
So I adjust my stance and clear my head of the corrected truth. “I think she went after me because you were his lawyer--and wanted to make for you pay for it somehow. She proved that he killed Samara with these...Facebook messages.” I cringe. “She wanted him dead because of what he was accused of with Dana Farr. Dana--she’s her sister and you knew that. S-she threatened Tyler, Dad. She had a gun pointed to my head when I shot him.”