“Do you think he did it?” asked CPD officer Floyd Hicks, as he and his partner watched me nurse my weak coffee through the observation glass.
His partner, Delaney, snorted with derision. “Come on Hicks,” he snarled. “He woke up next to the body. He barely remembers getting home that night. It doesn’t take a detective to work this one out. He and the little wife had a fight. He stormed out to the club he keeps talking about, got loaded up, came home in a rage and shot her.”
Hicks still wasn’t convinced though. Something still didn’t add up. There was little blood so the body had been brought from somewhere else and laid in the bed. A man who killed in a rage wouldn’t go to that kind of effort.
“So, what happened?” he asked when he returned to the interview room. He had already asked me this same question one hundred times at least.
“I told you!” I spat with venomous frustration that probably wasn’t helping my cause. “The last thing I remember was that I returned home from the club and went to sleep. I don’t really remember getting home. I I must have had one too many.” I knew that wasn’t right. I only had one but I didn’t want to bring the Knock, Knock Club into the frame any more than I had already, in case it made matters worse. “I woke up and there she was beside me… dead.”
The image of my dead wife will be forever etched in my mind. The cold stare, the haunting paleness of her skin. I couldn’t begin to grieve because as quickly as I had discovered her corpse lying next to me, I was whisked off to the Coldford Police Department and placed under the microscope.
With the finger of blame pointing in my face I couldn’t find a suitable excuse or explanation that would satisfy the wagging tongues of the town or the suspicious eyes of the CPD.
Hicks ran over the details again. The statement that I had made on arrival hadn’t changed by a single word. I was an innocent man after all.
“So, you said you were returning from the Knock, Knock Club?”
“Yes …” I grumbled. “Must we do this again?”
“And that was Thursday evening?”
“No!” I snapped. “It was Tuesday.” He was trying to trip me up but I know what I meant and I meant what I said.
Hicks’ stare narrowed on me. He could see tears begin to form in my eyes but I took a deep breath. I couldn’t begin to deal with what had happened whilst I sat under interrogation. My head began to spin with the information I was being dealt. Hicks continued. Perhaps he recognised the real pain I was in because his face softened.
“I know this is difficult but we need to be as thorough as possible,” he said. “The victim was shot. Do you own any guns?”
I shook my head. I couldn’t handle Theresa being referred to as a victim.
“What brought you to the Knock, Knock Club the night before?”
“I’m following a story for my newspaper. It took me there.”
There was a knock on the door. Hicks looked at his watch. He frowned to himself. The door unlocked and his partner, Delaney, joined us.
He gave me a scathing look that was akin to his wife having told him he had lost his manhood, before leaning over and whispering something into his partner’s ear that I wasn’t supposed to here.
“You are free to go,” Floyd Hicks announced, standing and scraping his chair back.
I was confused. Subjects of murder investigations don’t just walk free. “But what about my wife? Don’t you want to ask me more questions? What about the investigation?”
I had never known anyone outside the canine community to growl but that is what Delaney did then. “Do you want us to keep you here?” he tried.
I shook my head. My whole body was trembling. In some feat of unconscious acrobatics I was on my feet and Hicks was leading me down the corridor towards the main entrance of the station.
“Someone has come to pick you up,” he was saying but I wasn’t really hearing any of his words.
I then figured the message had finally reached Maddy and she had come to help. It wasn’t until we reached the reception area that I finally returned to reality.
“He’s all yours,” said Floyd, but not to me.
A woman in a fitted business suit with her hair pulled back neatly and a pair of thick framed glasses was just finishing a text message.
It wasn’t until she stood and smiled that I recognised her. The burning expression, the smile with the gap that gave her a predatory appearance. Tabitha had been the one to come and collect me. She was the reason I was walking away so easily.
“About time too. How long were you planning on keeping him here?” She beamed an accommodating grin. “You’re a cruel man detective.”
Hicks turned to me and said, “We’ll probably have some more questions for you. We’ll keep you up to date on the investigation.”
I protested. “I think I should just go home.”
The detective laid a hand on my shoulder. “I’m afraid you can’t. It’s a crime scene.”
“He’s coming with me.”
Hicks addressed Tabitha. I couldn’t tell if they already knew each other or not. “I can’t have him going far.”
“Don’t you worry your little bald head detective. I’ll not let him get away.”
She wrapped her arm around me and we made our way out towards the street. She gave one last glance back over her shoulder and flashed a smile to the detective.
“He’ll be made to feel so comfortable he’ll think he’s staying in some fancy-smancy hotel. You have a great day now detective.”
Hicks smiled back. He even thanked her.
Detective Hicks had shown a great interest in the Knock, Knock Club. Every time I mentioned it he had an almost ravenous look in his eyes. His part in the story would become apparent to me later but in the meantime, I was in the clutches of the boss lady herself. My story was going to blow wide open and more blood would be spilled before the end.
As we walked down the street she pulled the elastic from her hair and let if fall onto her shoulders. She pulled off the glasses and threw them aside. She looked more like the woman I met on my first visit to the club.
“Where is Madeline?” I stammered.
“My friend, Madeline. Where is she?”
“How the fuck should I know?” Tabitha shrugged.
“What are you doing here?”
Her lips stretched into a smile. “Saving your ass by the looks of things.”
“I was a suspect in a murder investigation. How the hell am I walking away right now?”
“I’m a fucking miracle worker that’s how,” she maintained.
“I was a suspect in a murder!” I repeated trying to comprehend how Tabitha could be so nonchalant.
“Were you guilty?” she stopped and asked.
I shook my head. “No.”
She shrugged again. “Then what are you wadding your panties for?”
She started to walk again but I stopped her. “Do you know who killed my wife?”
Tabitha turned to look at me and in that brief moment I saw something in her grey eyes. A human resided in there.
“She’s gone, Sam. Can’t change that. Maybe you should just worry about keeping yourself alive.”
Before I could press her further a car drew up beside us.
“Let’s get you somewhere safe, shall we?” she said.
I pulled back. “I’m not going anywhere with you until you explain what the fuck is going on.”
Tabitha raised her eyebrows. “Look at you getting all upset.”
The frustration of the last few days vented. “My wife was murdered!”
She turned towards the car. “It isn’t all about you, you know.”
I shook my head. This girl was unbelievable. “Then what is it about?”
“You are one lucky son of a bitch because I’m willing to help you. They call us THE HEADLINERS. My club is the perfect place to gain perspective. Come with me and we’ll get to the bottom of things together.”
I didn’t have anywhere to go. I had no one to turn to. Madeline must have still been out of town pursuing another story. Eric would sooner see me on the streets than help me. I only had Tabitha to rely on and let me tell you, that was no great position to be in.
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