Friday, April 12, 2013

FFF: Open And Shut

Every Friday, Kurt posts a new piece of flash fiction. This week...

Open And Shut
Word Count: 600

“We’re canvassing the neighborhood,” said Patrolman Barnes.

“Waste of time, if you ask me,” said Detective Jezelnik, flicking away a half-smoked cigarette. “Wife dead. Husband found trying to move the body. We’ve got our guy. Who called it in?”

“Neighbor,” said the patrolman.

“Yeah, this one’s open and shut,” said Jezelnik.

“Procedure, sir,” said the patrolman, but Jezelnik had already started walking towards the suspect.

He stood next to the husband—Ray Constapolis, who was sitting on a step, running a bloody hand nervously through his hair. “Mind if I sit?” asked Jezelnik.

“If you like,” said Constapolis, staring at the giant red stain on his living room carpet.

“I looked at your statement,” said Jezelnik. “When you found your wife dead in the living room, I’m curious why you didn’t call the police.”

“I’d rather not answer questions without my attorney present,” said Constapolis.

“Your decision,” said Jezelnik. “But you know how lawyers are. They just confuse everything. If your story’s true, then you’ve got nothing to hide.”

“Are you suggesting that I would be in a better legal position without someone who actually knows my legal rights?” asked Constapolis, casting a sideways glance at the detective. “Color me suspicious.”

Jezelnik chuckled. So, this guy wants to be a wise-ass, eh? “Just remember that we’re all on the same team,” he said. “We want to find whoever killed her. If I miss something important because we’re waiting for a lawyer for you, then that’s time lost hunting down the killer.”

“Lawyer,” said Constapolis.

“I just want to ask two or three questions,” said Jezelnik.

“Well, fortunately, I’m only looking for one lawyer,” said Constapolis.

“If that’s the way you want—”

“Do you know what I do for a living, Detective?” asked Constapolis.

“Yeah, you’re a librarian,” said Jezelnik.

“At a university library,” said Constapolis. “Free from traffic, free from construction, free from cubicles, free from telephones, and virtually devoid of students. It’s calming, relaxing, and very, very quiet.”

“Is there a point to—”

“The point, Detective,” said Constapolis, “is that my hearing has not been completely destroyed like most people’s in this city. So when you stand fifteen feet away from me and tell another officer not to bother investigating anyone else because you’ve already got your man…”

“Your neighbor did see you dragging the body across the carpet,” said Jezelnik. “What else are we supposed to think? You tell me.”

“I’m sure my lawyer can tell you,” said Constapolis.

“Fine,” said Jezelnik. “You don’t have to answer, but all I want to know is why you didn’t call the police when you found your wife murdered. That’s all I’m going to ask. Answer or don’t, it’s up to you.” He stood and turned and jammed a hand into his breast pocket, looking for a pack of cigarettes. Let the forensics team deal with it.

“Detective,” said Constapolis, quietly.

Jezelnik froze. “Yeah?” he said.

“I wasn’t dragging her,” said Constapolis, “when my neighbor saw me.” Jezelnik didn’t say anything. “I was holding her. I didn’t call the police because, when I found Alice, I couldn’t do anything except hold her. And cry.”

Jezelnik started walking again and flagged down Patrolman Barnes. “How’s the canvas going?”

“You said not to bother,” said Barnes.

“Just do it,” said Jezelnik.

“I thought you said we had our guy,” said Barnes. “Open and shut.”

“It’s back open,” said Jezelnik, lighting a cigarette. “I asked him to clarify his story, and I buy it.”

“Oh,” said Barnes. “You know those things will kill you.”

“Yeah, well, what the hell doesn’t?” said Jezelnik.

Edited by Carolyn "I Have Decided To Let It Live!" Abram.

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