Further down the hall he crept, hefting the crowbar. It felt right, that weight in his hand, the slight imbalance it gave his steps as he padded along the carpet. He passed more irrelevant family photos — the cop winning a potato-sack race, or some other such stupidity. Who cared? All that mattered was the crowbar, and how it felt in his hand, and how it would soon feel to swing it down —
— he paused. Voices. Not just the cop, but one he thought he recognized. He slowed but didn’t stop, making sure to roll his soles along the carpet as he walked. He felt little jolts of static electricity between his hand and the crowbar, but didn’t worry. He just had to be quiet, to figure out this new information. Everything still felt right.
And just as he could make out what they were saying, he recognized the other voice: that redhead who’d been snooping around. That redhead he wanted oh, so much to take for a ride in his van.
He got to the doorway that opened into the living room and paused, one last little spark jumping between his weapon and sweaty palm.
With slow, syrup-flowing ease, he peeked just enough to see the two of them.
“I just wanted to know. I mean, if there’s any way you could tell me.”
There sat the cop. And beside him on the sofa —
“Well, why didn’t he come ask me himself?”
“You know Eugene — he’s busy with his little brother now. But Mary Beth getting killed really messed him up, and Oscar too.”
The cop laughed. “How can you tell, with that spooky little kid?”
The killer shook his head and pulled back out of sight. This wasn’t right. It was supposed to be the redhead sitting there with the cop, comparing notes on the murder. Not some Asian chick he’d never seen before. This didn’t feel right. Suddenly, the crowbar grew heavy in his hand. He had to leave. None of this was right. The — the pattern, what he knew had to happen, wasn’t happening.
He took a step back, paused again.
“Don’t be mean,” said the Asian girl, and he heard a soft slap, like she’d smacked him on the arm. “Both of them have been through a lot, and Mary Beth’s dying has really –”
“What about me?” the cop cut in. “Mary Beth Carver was my date to the Senior Prom. Maybe I’m hurting, too.”
“Poor Officer Jacob,” the girl said, flirty and fake-sad. “Did you get your feelings hurt?”
“Maybe,” said the cop, sulky.
The girl sighed. “Okay. How about this? You tell me what I want to know, and…we can go out. Take me to a movie or something.”
“A real movie? Not one rented from your crappy store?”
“A real movie,” she said. “Dinner, too. But not from your brother’s crappy burger place.”
“…Okay,” the cop said. “But it’s my ass if gets out that I showed you evidence. Hang on,” he said, and there was the sound of papers rustling.
And with that sound came a calm that swept over the killer. Things…even with this being the wrong girl, things started to feel okay again. The pattern, the way events were supposed to happen, was reasserting itself.
They were discussing the murder, just like they were meant to.
“Holy…” the girl breathed.
“Yeah,” said the cop, with a little bit of sick-sounding pride. “Whoever did this went to town on the poor thing. The coroner says a knife, but we haven’t found it yet.”
The killer didn’t move, but static arced between his hand and the crowbar again all the same.
“Ugh,” the girl said at last, after a few more seconds of shuffled papers. “Okay. All right. I’ll just take these to him, and –”
“Uh-uh. Bad enough I showed you them. I can’t let you take evidence. I have my place and respect in the community to consid–”
“…Shut up,” the girl said, urgently but not unkindly. “Hang on, Jacob, and just hush for a second. Let me see that second one again…”
More papers shuffled. More and more, the killer felt comfortable.
“I’ve seen that before,” she said.
“What, a dead body? You and me both…”
“No,” she said. “It’s just…just familiar, is all. I can’t place it. It’s right on the tip of…” A sound of papers being sat down, then: “Never mind. Maybe Mary Beth’s got me shook up, too.” The killer heard her stand, and shrank back further down the hallway. He was in direct line-of-sight of the front door. Best to fall back to the bedroom and wait. If he strained, he could still hear them.
“Don’t forget about that date. Fair’s fair.”
Another sigh from her. “I won’t. You know where to find me.”
“At the crappy video store, roger that.”
“It’s not that crappy. We’ve got a cat.”
“I’m allergic to cats. If you’re around the dumb thing, you better shower before our date.”
“You smooth talker,” she said. He heard the unmistakable sound of a peck on a cheek. “Thank you, Jacob. See you soon.”
The front door opened, then closed, and with that solid chunk of sound, everything locked back into place. He just had to kill the cop, now. And if the girl wasn’t the redhead, that was fine. He could still take this one for a ride in his van.
The only itch, the only bit of the puzzle that still sat loose, was whoever this ‘Eugene’ person was. She was going to discuss the murder with him, too, and the killer didn’t know what to think about that. Another person involved meant another person to kill, for sure.
The killer tabled that for the moment. He’d figure out what to do about ‘Eugene’ soon enough. But for now, his task was clear.
He heard the cop walking down the hall toward him. He wouldn’t be coming to the bedroom, though. Most likely, he’d turn and go to the kitchen instead.
The killer hefted his crowbar and listened to the footsteps, and for the turn that would put the cop’s back to him.
Today’s Words: 1034
Total Words: 9940
Notes: Still massively behind schedule at this point, but I’m going to try my best to finish by the deadline!