Twisting Fate: Ch. 3

Tuesday, June 11, 2019


I should’ve ran.

I should’ve jumped out of this bed, and gotten the hell out of here.

I probably wouldn’t have made it very far, but it would have been worth the shot.

That’s what I’m thinking when the detectives enter the room with Dr. Diaz. One of them is short, fat, and bald with big bushy, black eyebrows and a greying beard. He’s wearing a khaki suit with a bright blue tie that his wife probably gave him when they first started dating in the eighties. 

His partner is a woman who looks like a former basketball champion, tall, broad-shouldered, angular jaw, and black hair slicked back in a tight bun at the nape of her neck. She’s wearing a grey pantsuit with a maroon blouse underneath, and matching maroon clogs on her feet. She doesn’t smile when she sees me, though the other one does. 

Good cop, bad cop game, I figure.

 Bring it on then.

“Hello, Miss Youvella,” the short one says. “I’m Detective Gold, and this here is my partner Detective Toya. If you don’t mind, we’d like to ask you a few questions about the incident on the night of October tenth.”

I shrug. “I don’t remember anything.”

“You don’t remember the name of the man you went home with?” the woman, Detective Toya asks.

I don’t like the accusation in her tone. She’s definitely playing the bad cop. I steal a quick glance at Ben, but he’s looking at the Detectives. I shake my head.

“No, I don’t,” I say.

“The paramedics said they found you naked in the car that was reported stolen from the Lucky Lounge that night. Do you have any idea how you ended up there?” Detective Toya questions.

I have a flash of a memory, waking up in the backseat of a strange car, the red, wool blanket wrapped around my naked body, my reflection in the rearview mirror. I shiver as I recall the quake of thunder and the streak of lightening from the storm outside, and the blood on the back of my head.

I shake my head again. “I don’t remember. The last thing I remember is leaving the bar. Lucky Lounge, I mean.”

“And you don’t remember who you left with?” Detective Gold asks, his eyes more concerned than accusatory.

“I remember I called him Sweet Breath, and I vaguely remember what he looks like.”

“Sweet Breath?” Detective Toya scoffs. Her partner shoots her a warning look.

“Can you describe what you remember?” Detective Gold asks, pulling a pen and small notebook from his jacket pocket.

“Um, tall? White. I think he had like dirty blonde hair that was kinda short. And maybe brown eyes? I’m not really sure.”

Ben clears his throat. “I might be able to get a name,” he says. 

****

“Do you come here often?” he asks, taking the ball from her dogs mouth. He throws the ball across the park, and her dog rushes to catch it. He smiles at her. “I don’t think I’ve seen you here before.”

If it wasn’t her first experience in this kind of situation, she may have been able to perceive that he is flirting with her. 

But Jennifer hasn’t ever been flirted with before, and it has been a long time since she had a conversation with someone other than her family.

She tucks her hair behind her ear, feeling awkward and bashful. She can feel the gaze of his eyes on her skin, and she likes the way it feels, even though it makes her shiver.

“I try to come every night, even though I’m not really supposed to be here,” she answers to fill the silence. “My mom lets me come when my father has to work late. He doesn’t really like me being out of the house.”

“How old are you?” he asks.

“Nineteen."

He laughs, and her cheeks suddenly feel hot. She has the impression he’s laughing at her. She wasn’t trying to be funny. She doesn’t understand her own joke.

“Perfect,” he says, and winks at her.

****

“I’m sorry, who are you?” Detective Toya asks Ben.

“Ben Barlow. I own the Lucky Lounge.”

“Hey, didn’t your pops used to own that brewery right outside town? What was it called again?” Detective Gold asks.

“Barlow’s Brews,” Ben answers with a flat expression. “Yeah, that was him.”

I know Ben hated his father. Who could blame him? The man left Ben’s mom on Christmas for another woman, started a new family right outside town, opened up the brewery with mild success, and only ever acknowledged his first son even existed when he left the brewery to Ben as an inheritance. 

Ben sold the place and used the money to open up the Lucky Lounge.

“I’m sorry, but what is your connection to Miss Youvella again, exactly?” Detective Toya asks.

“We’re roommates,” he says. I snort. That’s one way of putting it, I guess. Ben glares at me. Detective Toya looks from Ben to me and back again.

“I see,” she says. “And how long have you been living together exactly?”

“Six months,” I say at the same time Ben says, “About a year.”

The Detectives exchange glances. Detective Gold clears his throat. “Well, Mr. Barlow, if you don’t mind, we’d like to get a formal statement from you at the station as soon as possible. We have a couple more questions for Miss Youvella here, and then perhaps you’d be willing to meet us there?”

“I’m not leaving Jasmine here alone,” Ben says.

“I’m sure Dr. Diaz and his staff will continue to take great care of her here,” Detective Gold says. “It shouldn’t take long to gather your statement.”

“I said I’m not leaving her,” Ben says, a hard edge to his voice.

He knows I’ll run as soon as I get the chance.

“You understand it’s a crime to withhold information from the police,” Detective Toya says.

“I’m not withholding information,” Ben says.

“You said you might be able to get us a name.”

“I’ll have to check the receipts from that night. I’m pretty sure I remember him paying with a card, but I could be wrong. It was a busy night.” 

“We would like to see those receipts.”

“I’ll get them to you as soon as Jasmine is better, and I have time to return to the bar.”

“We’d like them sooner than that, Mr. Barlow.”

“Then you can get a warrant.”

Detective Toya stares hard at Ben, her expression full of fury. Ben stares right back, unflinching. I can’t stand the tension.

“I’m starting to feel a little tired,” I say. All eyes turn to me, the tension put on hold.  “Can we wrap this up, please?”

****

“You don’t get out much, do you?” he asks.

They’re sitting on the park bench together now. She can feel his thigh pressed against hers, and the weight of his arm around her shoulders. His breath is warm against her neck. It feels a little uncomfortable to be this close to a stranger, but at the same time, she feels a little thrill. This is the closest she’s ever been to guy. Her father would be furious. 

“Not really,” she says, smiling bashfully.

“Where would you go if you could go anywhere?”

She shrugs. “I don’t know. I haven’t really ever left the city.”

“Why not?”

“My father…he’s a little overprotective.”

She tucks a lock of hair behind her ear. She doesn’t like the way he’s looking at her. Like she’s a species his brown eyes have never seen before.

“Would you like to go somewhere?” he asks.

“With you?” she asks.

“Sure,” he shrugs.

“But I just met you!”

“And?”

There’s a twinkle in his brown eyes as they make contact with hers. She feels a fluttering in her stomach that she’s never felt before.

She doesn’t return home that night.

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