I check the time and realize that I’m supposed to be down at the police station. I asked them to scan security footage of the black Audi that had been following me. After everything that’s happened, I just need peace of mind…and preferably, a number plate and a name.
“Jane,” I say, getting her attention again, “thank you for telling me what you know. As much as I hate it, I appreciate it but I gotta get going somewhere. I’m kind of running late.”
Jane nods in understanding. She stands up and dusts herself off, gathering her things, and preparing to leave. Before she does, she speaks again, “Just…um…cut yourself some slack, Mary.”
I furrow my brows, confused. “What do you mean?”
“You’re not responsible for Bryan’s actions. You don’t need to atone for his sins. I know it’s stupid, especially after a calamity as such, but try to rest and relax a little. It will do you the world of good,” Jane advises.
I frown, not following. “I’ll try.”
“Oh, and uh,” she drawls, hesitant, “I hope you know that you can talk to Mom about this. Don’t be too unrelenting on her. Remember, she has to be impartial. I mean, I know you don’t always get along or see eye—”
Seething with rage, I cut her off abruptly, “Line crossed. I don’t want to get into that now, Jane.”
Anne will just undermine me like she always does.
Jane sighs heavily but leaves anyway. She’s used to seeing me react in an obstinate way whenever she brings up either parent.
She knows better than to ambush me with that.
Forcing Jane’s last words out of my head, I grab my bag and head to my car. By the time I get to the police station, it’s a little past midday. I’m hoping I don’t end up running into my mother or any other officers I may know. I want an unbiased view.
I furtively approach the front desk, hoping to go unnoticed.
“Hi. How can I help you today?” an officer at the front desk asks me.
“Hi. I’m Mary. I called about some footage that I needed to be scanned,” I tell him.
The officer blinks in acknowledgment and nods. “Ah yes. You did call. Let me just get the officer on duty.”
The officer leaves the room for a minute or two before returning with another officer in tow.
“You can follow me, ma’am,” the second officer informs me.
I wordlessly follow the second officer into a room. He shuts the door behind me.
“Officer Jenkins,” he introduces himself, “please, grab a seat.” He motions to a chair before taking one himself.
I sit down on an uncomfortable chair and clear my throat – I’m nervous to hear the answer. “Thank you for assisting me.”
“Of course,” he nods. “I was assigned to your query. I’ve personally been through all the footage that the cameras caught. None show any sign of a black Audi behind your car or anywhere near you.”
I frown and scrutinize him. “I…” I fumble for words. “But…are you sure? Did you check every road that I mentioned?”
“Yes,” he nods. “It would be very remiss of me if I did not.”
How is this possible?
“I really hope you don’t mind me asking but I’ll feel more at ease if I see the tape for myself. I won’t be able to rest easy until I do,” I tell him, taking my chances.
Officer Jenkins thinks over my request before nodding. “Well, you are Detective Sanders’ daughter. How can I refuse you?”
I cringe, humiliated. “What gave it away?”
“Well, for one, same surnames. Second, you look like her. Same dark eyes, same dark hair,” he answers me.
I hate that my mother’s reputation precedes me.
“What are the chances that you keep this on the down-low?” I ask him.
Jenkins cocks his head to the side. “Why?”
I sigh, adopting a grave attitude. “You know why. If you know my mother, you know why.”
“I know you’re stuck between a wall and a hard place but your mom wants to find justice for Liz Montgomery as much as you do,” he tries to explain it to me.
Liz deserves justice but so does Bryan.
“But she won’t listen to reason,” I argue. “That’s why we bump heads. I believe Bryan Parr is innocent and she’s convinced he’s guilty.”
“Of course, you think he’s innocent,” he says, careful of his words. “Mary, you’re compromised. He’s your friend. Your mother has to be objective and see the case through objective eyes. It’s her job.”’
“Maybe it’s law enforcement who are compromised,” I point out. “If my mother and her team did their jobs properly, I’m certain that they’d find more evidence that could set Bryan free. I feel they’re being negligent.”
Jenkins leans back in his seat and raises his brows at me in surprise, taken aback by my blunt nerve. “Well, don’t let your mother hear that. It’s not as easy as you’d think.”
He leaves the room without excusing himself. He swiftly returns with the footage and plays it for me. He freezes it on a few frames and points out different cars in the same vicinity as me but none are black Audis.
“Pause there for a sec’,” I command.
I’m so sure the black Audi followed me over after I skipped the red light. There’s no way I imagined that.
I stare blankly at the screen. The tape shows me crossing the red light alone. There are no other cars behind me but something catches my eye.
“Please rewind there,” I ask politely.
Jenkins obliges and rewinds. One particular frame seems to subtly jump ahead faster, if even by a millisecond, to the next frame. It’s almost as if the footage has been tampered with. In fact, I’m certain that the video has been altered.
“See something?” He queries.
“If you look carefully, it seems some editing has been done. Are you the only one who has had access to the footage?” I ask, not meaning to sound like I’m accusing him of anything.
Jenkins hesitates, seemingly disturbed. Nonetheless, he recovers quickly. “Are you suggesting something?”
I shake my head. “Just simply asking a question.”
“Well…no. Initially, no. The videos were given to me by the private owners,” he clarifies. “I may not have been the first to have a look. However, the footage is in my care until further notice.”
I nod. “Oh, okay.”
Jenkins then leans toward me, contemplative. “Mary…the videos haven’t been touched. I can assure you of that. “
I don’t believe you.
“My mistake then,” I apologize.
He doesn’t seem to buy it. “Listen, Ms. Sanders, we went out of our way to retrieve this footage for you. We did it so you wouldn’t have to get an attorney involved. We did it because we respect your mother so much. Why would one of us then tamper with it?”
“Thanks for your time. I do appreciate it,” I tell him quietly. I send him a hollow smile and then leave eagerly, distrusting of him. There’s a lot not sitting right with me.