Upon awakening, I pushed my hips into the bedsheets and rubbed my eyes. The moment I wake up is the moment when something inside me stirs and I feel whole. By the time my eyes open my brain is overwhelmed from the darkness and I have to take a moment to adjust to the world. I didn’t get much sleep; Seth and whoever he had over were being a bit loud. There was no point in going back to sleep; brightly lit numbers read 5:00 AM.
I made my way into the uncluttered kitchen, opening the fridge and pulling out a tub of strawberries. After a few hours of eating my strawberries and scrolling through Seth’s TikTok account. He came out of his room, effectively kicking out a young blond. Seth walked into the kitchen and sat next to me. The lights were still off, but the sunlight was peeking through the curtains. “So are you excited for today?” he asked as if I was a middle schooler going on a field trip.
“I don’t think excited is the right word.”
He let out a sharp exhale and shrugged. “I don’t know; maybe X has something fun planned,” Even in the dimly lit room I could make out the malicious sparkles in his brown eyes.
“You saying things like that makes it seem like you’re somehow involved.”
Seth pulled on the hem of his silk sleepwear, looking down and pouting. “Well excuse me for being interested in your life.”
“You seem more interested in X’s life.” Seth made a peace sign, pursed his lips, closed his eyes, and left.
I could safely assume that X knew about me. They didn’t call me out specifically, but I was referenced. Just so I was more aware I decided to do my own research. The last game was played two years ago, back when I hadn’t transferred.
The location was about ten minutes away from my house, twinges of uncertainty made my eyes twitch. My gun felt heavier than steel, even the air felt thick. The door was unlocked, giving us no trouble to barge in and search the house. An absolute mess was an accurate description of the state of the house. Dust particles floated around the room and clothes were piled everywhere.
A muffled scream was heard; we rushed into the bedroom two see two people tied up. Bonnie was tied to the bed, sweat dripping down her face. Two roses were placed in between her ankles. Her lovely boyfriend Cameron was restrained to a chair, rope digging into his wrists as he tried to escape. They both had duct tape wrapped completely around their heads. I saw an Xacto knife sitting on the ground. I quickly grabbed it, rushing over to Bonnie and cutting off the tape. She winced, her eyes shutting tightly. “What’s your name?” I asked.
“Bonnie,” she said, her breath wavering. I tossed the knife over to Detective Lynn who in turn cut the tape off Cameron. I untied Bonnie, Detective Zane untieing David and trying to look for anything worth noting. “There’s a note in the first drawer.”
Detective Lynn went over to the other side of the room, opening the drawer and reading the letter. “Check Cameron’s pockets-”
Detective Zane shoved his hands into Cameron’s sweater pocket and pulled out a small bag of cocaine. He reached into his other pocket and pulled out another bag. Detective Lynn continued reading the letter. “I’m not a totally awful person. I can be pretty helpful. I’m sure Bonnie here would be rather helpful too. She got a pretty good look at my face. Expect to receive a nice gift when you’re at the station. Love, X. P.s. I’m closer than you think.”
Cameron and Bonnie stayed quiet. I sat Bonnie up, making direct eye contact with her. “Where were you yesterday?” I asked
“A bar. I went at about 9:00. I came home at I think 11:00.” I saw shame written all over her face.
“Bonnie,” I started, trying to make my voice as calm as possible. “Do you remember what X looked like?”
She swallowed hard, looking away from me and trying not to cry. “I remember my drink tasting salty. He was a few inches taller than me, definitely much stronger. They had black hair and I remember seeing brown eyes.”
Detective Lynn scoffed and rolled her eyes. Everyone in the room looked at her in astonishment. “So X looks like every other bitch?!” she said at a volume that was loud but wouldn’t be classified as yelling.
Detective Zane focused his attention on Cameron. “Can you give us any information?” he asked, his voice hushed.
“I was here laying in bed when I hear Bonnie fumble in with some other dude,” said Cameron, his tone bitter and indict. “He was holding Bonnie until I saw them. I went up to them to confront them but they dropped Bonnie and stuck a needle into my neck.”
I turned to Bonnie. “You said your drink tasted salty?”
She nodded. Detective Lynn chimed in. “Rohypnol. The date-rape drug.”
Again I turned my attention to Bonnie. I had noticed something while she was speaking. “Bonnie, would you mind smiling for me?”
She did as I asked, giving me a weak smile strong enough to expose the large gap. “What happened to your tooth?”
She wiggled her tongue around the gap before pressing her finger to her gums. “I don’t know.”
While we were gone a package was delivered to the station. By delivered I mean no one is exactly sure how it got there. Chief Cullen was pissed. It was a rather small, only able to hold anything the size of a necklace. I was the one to open it. Carefully I took the top of the box off, seeing inside a tiny glass bottle with white powder inside. A note went along with the package reading “What does that look like to you? It’s not what you think. Anyway, so I’m going to let you do your police stuff and give you time to do actual work. As much as I’d love to kill people left and right, that wouldn’t be fair to you. So get on it. I’ll see you soon. Love, X. P.s. 빠진 치아”
“What even is that language?” asked Detective Lynn. It looked extremely familiar.
“Japanese?” suggested Detective Zane. I thought for a moment, remembering every time I gave a damn about my roommate’s life. I quickly faced timed him, knowing that he was at work but also knowing that he had no work ethic whatsoever.
“Hey,” said Seth. I could see the liquor bottles behind him.
I turned the camera away from me so it’d face the note. “What does that say?”
He looked at the moment and thought for a second. “I think it says missing tooth.”
“Thanks,” I quickly hung up on him; I looked around and saw everyone looking at me. “What?” I asked.
Chief Cullen shook her head. “Nothing. Let’s just double-check that translation.”
Detective Zane picked up the glass bottle. “Missing tooth.” He furrowed his brow and cringed. “Can we get dental records off this?”
“I don’t think powdered teeth would give us any information,” said Detective Lynn. I remembered my exchange with Bonnie. One of her teeth was missing and she didn’t know why.
“Maybe it’s Bonnie’s missing tooth,” I said, feeling Detective Lynn’s stare.
She nodded. “Yeah, maybe X is trying to throw us off. By giving us unmarked DNA they’re trying to get us to think we have a lead. When in reality it would just be a waste of time.”
Once she said that I kinda lost confidence. “Wouldn’t X take a tooth that was more concealed. A front tooth is much more visible than a molar.”
“Have you ever tried pulling out teeth? It’s not easy,” said Detective Zane. There was a small silence. “I mean, it doesn’t seem easy.”
No one connected to Ella was connected to Cameron or Bonnie. The few friends I was able to interview (I saw interview because I save the aggressive interrogation for people I think actually did it) had no useful information. The bar Bonnie went to was called The Drunk Olive. We decided to check the security cameras; I interviewed the owner.
Her name was Annabelle. She was about 5’5 but what she lacked in height she made up in her determination. “Where were you yesterday from 9:00 PM to 11:00 PM?”
She looked at me, smiling widely. “I was working.”
“Got any proof of that?”
“Lots of people saw me. Ask any of the other workers.”
I pulled out a picture of Bonnie and showed it to her. “Does she look familiar?”
Annabelle shook her head. “Nope.”
“She was at your bar yesterday-”
“Lots of people come to my bar. I see a lot of faces.” She placed her hand on top of mine. “I’ve never seen you before though. Maybe you should come by sometime.”
I pulled back my hand, glaring at her pointedly. “Why should I do that?”
“’Cause I’m cute.”
“Cuteness will get you nowhere.”
“Oh, so you don’t like cute girls. How about bad girls?” She stood up and hovered her body above me. “I could be bad.”
“Ms. Henandez, could you please sit down?” I asked in slight annoyance.
She walked over to my side, her heels clicking as she stepped closer to me. “I can be anything you want me to be.” She twirled her index finger in her long wavey red hair.
She flashed me a large smile, getting down on her knees and looking right at me. “I’ll be good. I’m really good.”
I quickly got up and left the room; the sound of her laughter echoed. Chief Cullen and Detective Zane were watching from the outside. “I think she likes youuuu,” teased Detective Zane.
“Shut it,” I growled, blood rushing to my face.
“You’d make a cute couple,” he said, trying not to bust out laughing.
Chief Cullen cleared her throat. “Detective don’t let things distract you.” She walked away, leaving me alone with Detective Zane.
“How ’bout you go talk to her?”
He chuckled, crossing his arms and smirking. “I don’t think she’d listen to me. You seem to have an effect on Ms. Hernandez.” I punched his arm and stormed off.