I originally had something else lined up to use for this blogfest, but at the last minute (like two minutes ago), I decided I didn't want to post it. So I'm in scramble mode and I just dusted off this short-story I wrote six months ago. It is untweaked, unedited, and probably unremarkable, but maybe it will be entertaining to a few of you. If you want to read the rest of the blogfest entries being hosted by Lilahp, you can see them here.
I call this ......FIGMENT
“Is this a joke?” I wondered out loud after I took a closer look at the arrest report.
“I told you it was a weird one,” the Sarge answered, grinning like a door to door salesman who just closed a deal. “Thanks for doing this. She’s in room two”
As I walked off towards the interrogation room I called back over my shoulder, “Just remember, you owe me.”
It didn’t have anybody to blame but myself. I was always letting myself get dragged into situations like this, but it was a pattern I was helpless to break. I was a long time removed from being the rookie detective in the squad, but for some reason I still couldn’t shake the feeling that I needed to go that extra mile to please everybody. I really didn’t want to get the reputation for being a push-over, that’s not something a hard-nosed detective can afford, but I hated disappointing people. I blame my mother for that trait.
It had been an extremely long and scorching day. I ended up working a double because Hernandez called in with the flu, leaving second shift short a detective, so naturally I volunteered to work over. The temperature that day had peaked at 98, with a heat index probably just below scalding. The old building the station house resided in leaked air conditioning faster than the compressors could produce it and the collection of fans on all of the desks did little to help. My polyester button-down had absorbed so much sweat throughout the day that if I took it off it could probably stand stiffly in the corner and a horse would find it a suitable salt lick. The tie dangling around my neck signified the noose that bound me to my desk, refusing to let me return to my lonely apartment and the chilled six-pack waiting patiently in the refrigerator.
I had just finished my last report and was escaping out the door when the desk sergeant yelled after me. I momentarily debated pretending I didn’t hear his call and continuing out the door. Instead, I stopped and turned towards the pudgy Irish red-head.
“I need a favor,” he pleaded.
“Sarge, I just worked a double and I’m beat. Can’t it wait until tomorrow?”
“I’ve got a weird one and I need detective to take her statement before we send her off to lock-up.”
“I was just about to head home and down a six-pack while I watch the Monday night game,” I exaggerated. In truth I would probably only make it through one beer and be asleep on the couch before the end of the first quarter.
“I’d consider it a personal favor, besides, she’s a real looker.”
So now as I made my way towards interrogation room two, scanning the arrest report as I walked, I decided that I either needed to grow a backbone and learn how to say no, or make a concerted effort to become a lousy detective so people would stop asking me to do stuff. At least the interrogation room was the coldest spot in the building.
I’m not sure if it was the blast of cool air that washed over me when I opened the door, or the woman I saw sitting on the other side of the table, but my breath was momentarily taken from me.
The young woman was stunning. Her long flowing hair, spilling over the top of her bare shoulders, was black as midnight. In her mid-twenties with flawless skin tone and facial features a model would die for, that wasn’t even her most impressive feature. That honor belonged to her eyes. They were a color of blue I had never seen before, the closest being the sea off the coast of Bermuda where I had gone snorkeling last summer. But there were flecks of gold that seemed to float inside her irises, making them mesmerizing.
She was perfect, except for the emotionless expression on her face.
I glanced down at the arrest report once again to double-check the offense she was charged with. ASSAULT it read.
She sat there motionless with her hands folded perfectly in front of her. Her nails were long and painted black to match her hair. She was wearing a white ruffled dress with the sleeves pushed down off the shoulders and a laced-up neckline, with a sequined waist sash. All she needed was a bandana head scarf and she’d look just like a gypsy.
Hanging around the woman’s supple neck was some sort of jewel or crystal. Coral blue much like the woman’s eyes; it seemed to be sparkling deep inside even though it wasn’t moving. I found my eyes being constantly drawn to it.
I closed the door and took a seat opposite the striking woman. When I did I detected a subtle aroma I couldn’t define. It wasn’t a perfume or cologne I had smelled before, but it reminded me of a combination of freshly baked apple pie, and sex.
“I’m Detective Taylor and I need to ask you a few questions.”
There was no response from the woman except for the blinking of her eyes.
“Why don’t we talk about what happened at the carnival.”
“That will be acceptable, but I don’t have very long,” she answered. Her voice was almost lyrical, barely above a whisper, and strangely familiar. It wasn’t that I had heard that specific voice before, but rather the intonation, the pitch, and the rhythm of the words I recognized. It was calming. Soothing. It reminded me how tired I felt.
“Are you going somewhere?”
“That is correct.”
“And where would that be?”
“A place you have no knowledge of . . . nor the ability to understand.”
I stared at her, confused by her answer, but also unable to pry my eyes from the golden specks in hers.
“I see there is no name listed on this arrest report.”
Silence was my reply. Her breathing was normal, not accelerated as I normally see during interviews. And there was nothing in her mannerisms to indicate tension.
“Can you explain that to me?” I asked her.
“I cannot be classified in such a manner.”
“But you work at the carnival?”
“They have allowed me to travel with them for a short while.”
“What do they call you there?”
I wrote the name down on my notepad. “Boy, that’s a mouthful. Is it Greek?”
“I would not know. It is not my name. That is a name they gave to me.”
Then it suddenly occurred to me where I had heard her voice before. It was my mother’s voice. More specifically, it was the voice my mother used when I was just a child and she would read to me at night. I could hear her recounting the story for me in that soft quiet tone, the inflections in her voice acting out the emotion behind the words. I fought the urge to smile and tried to concentrate on the arrest report again. Surely this had to be a big mistake.
“The officer on the scene wrote on his report that you are a fortune teller.”
“I believe that is the term used.”
“How long have you been traveling with them.”
“Two point five lunar cycles.”
“I’m sorry . . . what?”
“Seventy five of your calendar days?”
“Why don’t you tell me what happened in your own words.”
“The reason why they brought you here.”
There was a nod of acknowledgement. “I was relaying information to one of the men they summoned to me, when he put his hands upon this body. I ended the joining.”
“Relaying information . . . joining?”
“It is the manner in which I provide insight to events not yet come to pass.”
“Telling the future?”
“That is correct.”
“Where did he put his hand on you?”
She cupped her right breast with her left hand. My mouth suddenly went dry.
“But you ended it.”
“That is correct.”
“You . . . can put your hand down now.”
She removed her hand from her breast and folded them back in front of her.
“And how did you end it?”
“I removed him from consciousness.”
“With a glass vase?”
“That was the instrument I used, yes.”
“Had you ever seen this man before?”
“The man is claiming that you were stealing money from him and that you hit him when he exposed you.”
“I am not involved in financial considerations, and only concern myself with the joining.”
I could already see where this was heading. He said . . . she said. If it could be confirmed with the complainant that there was no money missing, I could see letting her go without being charged. But still, I was curious about her.
“And where were you before you worked with the carnival.”
“For a short period I lived with a family in Idaho. Before that I was nowhere.”
“That is correct.”
“And is this ‘nowhere’ the same place I have no knowledge of, nor the ability to understand?”
I couldn’t help but smile at her now. “And you expect to be going there soon?”
The crystal resting against the base of her throat sparkled again, drawing my attention once more.
“That is a very pretty piece of jewelry you’re wearing. I’m guessing it’s very expensive. Where did you get it?”
“It’s almost time for me to leave,” she finally said, ignoring my question all together.
“And who is it that is coming to get you? Someone from the carnival?”
Her head turned side-to side slowly. A handful of her dark thick hair fell across the breast she had cupped before.
“I’m afraid you’re not going anywhere until I can resolve this with the man you clobbered, or the court settles it.”
“Can you not . . . set me free?”
For the first time I thought I detected a trace of emotion both in her voice and her eyes. What little there was tugged at my heart strings and I found myself wishing there was something I could do. I couldn’t look into her eyes knowing the answer I had to deliver. Instead I gazed at her crystal.
“I’m sorry . . . I can’t. Not yet at least.”
“Then you cannot prevent my departure.”
The crystal was sparkling more than ever now, seemingly gaining energy from a hidden source. The colors were dazzling. It appeared to be moving now. I was drawn into its wonderment.
“I’m afraid you’re not going anywhere until they come to escort you to lock-up,” I answered robotically, captivated by the crystal. The crystal was spinning wildly now.
“Very shortly you will leave this room, and when you return, I will be gone.”
“A place you have no knowledge of . . . nor the --”
I was listening to her answer, but not really paying attention. I found my mind drifting away, wondering how I could get myself into such a position again and chastising myself for it. I imagined myself at home in my favorite t-shirt and shorts, laying on the couch, nibbling on a bag of fritos in between pulls of my bottled beer. I could feel the cool breeze from my ceiling fan hand hear the football game from --.
My head jerked back suddenly, disoriented. I had almost dozed off. I was more tired than I realized. I looked into the woman’s face, but she showed no outward recognition of my slip.
Attempting to cover quickly, I asked about the last thing we had discussed. “How will you be getting to this place?”
“One moment I am here, the next, I will be there.”
“Does your crystal have something to do with your travel plans?”
I wouldn’t classify the look on her face as a smile, but more of a prelude to a smile. “Yes,” she answered. “I require 8 ounces of liquid to consume. Is that permissible?”
A cool drink of something sounded good right about now. I needed to stretch my legs to wake up anyway. “Is water okay?”
I rose from the chair, went to the door and knocked. After a couple minutes the officer who is stationed at the end of the hall to monitor the interrogation rooms opened the door. After confirming it was me, he returned to the magazine waiting for him at his desk. I walked down the hall to the water cooler and pulled a paper cup loose from the dispenser. I took a couple of swigs, wadded up the cup, threw it in the trash, then pulled another cup for the woman. I briefly wondered how many ounces the cup held.
With the cup of water in my hand I returned to the door and opened it.
To an empty room.
I shot a look back down the vacant hall, then again into the room.
She had disappeared.
Stepping into the room I once again felt the rush of cool air, but something else as well. A force . . . sort of a crackling in the air . . . a charge of static electricity.
I stood there for several moments, holding onto the door, not knowing what to do or think. Finally I let the door close behind me and I sat in the chair she had been occupying. It was still warm, and I was in a daze.
I was still sitting there when I heard the footfall of heavy feet coming down the hall outside the room. Suddenly the door bursts open and Sarge was standing there, winded, a piece of paper in his hand.
“I’m too late?”
“She’s gone, Sarge. I don’t know how she did it. She just up and disappeared into thin air.”
“You idiot,” Sarge growled, shaking a piece of paper at him. “I just got a hit on her fingerprints. She’s wanted in four states for fraud and grand theft. She pulls this all the time. Did she tell you her name?”
I looked down at my notebook in my hand where I had written it.
“It’s pig latin knucklehead.”
Then realization started to dawn on me. Looking at my writing again I decoded the name.