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Fiction

Victim No More – Pt. II

  

          A while later in the bleak interview room, Cindy looked back and forth from Debbie to Tanya.

          Cindy looked scared, Debbie realized. She was shocked. Their whole lives, she had never seen her sister like that. For some reason it gave her strength and she grabbed Cindy and hugged her, feeling thrilled to be the one to provide comfort for a change. Tanya coughed politely and they separated, sitting down next to each other across from the imposing figure of the lawyer.

          “All right Cindy,” Tanya asked. “I’m going to ask you the same question that I asked Debbie: Did you kill Billy?”

          Cindy stared at her. “What do you mean? Of course not! I was just…” She turned to Debbie with a hurt look. “Did you tell her that –”

          “No!” Debbie cried out. “I didn’t know if maybe…” She described her suspicions, and those of the police, which bore out her own. Her sister sat listening, grimly at first, but then with growing confusion.

          As Debbie finished, Cindy shook her head. “Honestly, I didn’t kill him. Yes, I went back to your apartment, and yes, I was pissed off. I don’t know what might have happened; especially if he would have tried attacking me. But when I got there, he was already dead. I tried ringing the doorbell and then just went in when he didn’t answer. The door wasn’t locked. He was on the floor in the living-room.”

          “Oh God! Then I did kill him,” Debbie burst out.

          “That’s what I thought,” Cindy explained, looking bewildered. “I jimmied the door and wiped the statue clean. I remember you telling me about the other break-ins in the building.” But she was talking to Debbie’s back.

          Debbie had gotten up and was staring through the wire-meshed window at the bare concrete yard outside the police station. As Cindy had talked about finding Billy’s body, her mind had flashed back again…

          She fell backwards onto the low coffee table… the side of her jaw screamed with pain — or was that her voice?… then a sharp stabbing as she landed on something hard and rolled onto the floor, hitting her head on the corner of the table… the hard object she had fallen on went down with her as the table tilted and she felt herself lying on the bruising hardness of stone… she reached down under herself and felt the slick coolness as she pulled the object out… her stone horse… the weight was solid in her hand as anger surged… she brought her arm forward, feeling the heavy stone leave her hand as she flung it at Billy…

          Her fingers clenched the frame of the lower half of the window, feeling the gritty dirt crusting the old paint as she threw her head back, eyes blurring. “I threw the stone horse at him,” she heard herself say. “I must have hit him just right…” She laughed bitterly. “Just wrong, rather.” She felt her sister come up behind her and embrace her.

          But as she stood there, Debbie’s mind started twisting; rebelling. Her fingers tightened on the window-frame.

          “I am so sorry!” Cindy rested her cheek on Debbie’s back. “I guess I just made it worse. I panicked, and I tried to make it look like a burglar did it.”

          Debbie tensed and then spun and cut her sister off as Cindy’s words crystallized her thoughts. “A burglar!” Pieces were starting to fit together as she began looking at her situation as a lawyer-in-training instead of as a poor helpless victim. One thing in particular suddenly came to mind.

          “I left the door to the apartment open when I ran out,” she said, glancing at Tanya. “If I killed Billy, then the door would have been open when Cindy got there. But,” she looked back at her sister, “you said the door was closed.” Something else came to mind. “Did you take my jewelry with you to make it look even more like a robbery?”

          “No,” Cindy answered sheepishly. “I guess I was too upset to think that far ahead.”

          Debbie started to feel giddy. “Well, my jewelry was gone, so there was a burglar!”

          “Who was also a killer?” Cindy looked at Tanya, wide-eyed.

          The lawyer’s face was cracked in a cautious smile. “I’ve got another point for you, counselor.” She looked at Debbie. “The coroner said Billy had been hit twice. It was the second blow that killed him. How much you want to bet that the first was from when you threw the horse at him, and the second was from the burglar.”

          “He might have heard the fight and come to investigate,” Debbie guessed. “And Billy might still have been out of it from when I hit him. The burglar might have thought Billy was dead and decided to go through the place, and found my jewelry. And maybe Billy woke up to find him there and tried to stop him?” Then she remembered again the curious eyes staring out from behind a cracked doorway in the hallway to her apartment, as she was running away. The building burglar? “I might even know who! But it wasn’t me, and it wasn’t you,” she turned to Cindy in relief, and then she looked back at Tanya who was staring at her.

          “You might know who?” the lawyer asked.

          Debbie explained her memory of the curious eyes and Tanya nodded thoughtfully. Then she grabbed the lawyer’s arm, “let’s get Morrison.”

          “Not so fast,” Tanya warned. “Let me do the talking. Now that we have an idea of what might have happened, I’ll have you both out of here soon enough. The only thing left to explain is the phone call.”

          “When were you at the apartment?” Debbie asked Cindy, interrupting.

          “Around two,” Cindy answered.

          “The burglar might have heard or seen you and decided to try to get you caught, to take the heat off himself,” Debbie guessed, raising a questioning eyebrow at Tanya.

          The lawyer nodded thoughtfully and knocked on the door. Then, as it opened and she was let out, she turned back to Debbie. “Could be. I’ll mention it to Morrison.”

          As the door closed behind the lawyer, Debbie looked over at her sister. Her mind was churning. “How do I say thank you?” she wondered out loud. “You put your whole life on the line.”

          “You’re my little sister, dammit! I love you.” Cindy was crying, Debbie realized as her sister reached out for her and feeling a little disoriented, Debbie held her. She didn’t feel so much younger now, Debbie realized. And she really wasn’t alone. Not ever, anymore! she thought fiercely. And there would never be another Billy!

          Together, they sat down to wait for Tanya to return.

 

                                                        – end -


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