But where the hell are the records?
***I’m a bit OCD about washing my dishes. I have to scrub them until they’re shiny enough to use as mirrors before loading them into the dishwasher. Maybe that’s my competitive streak at work—me versus the dishwasher. Woman versus machine.
Whatever the reason, it takes awhile; especially after we have big, messy dinners like tonight’s stir fry chicken. “Awhile” doesn’t even begin to describe that cleanup.
“Azalea?” he asks gruffly, and I roll my eyes as I stare at the suds surging through my fingers.
“There’re Doritos in the cupboard,” I sigh.
“Actually, I was thinking that we should talk,” he says, and something in his voice sends a shiver down my spine. “About that divorce you keep thinking about.”
Oh, boy. Here it goes.
He’s right about it being constantly on my mind, pestering me to take action. Now that the time has actually come to take that first step, though, my heart is leaping away from me, threatening to leave me breathless over my almost-clean dishes.
But I can’t let hyperventilation get the better of me, and I certainly can’t go wedging myself between the sofa cushions and never resurface, although I desperately wish I could.
***“Detective Sir-etty! I found them!”
I’m so pleased I don’t even correct Ben’s horrific mispronunciation of my last name.
“Excellent! Who owns a .45 automatic?”
Ben scans through the papers. My foot develops a nervous twitch while I wait for him to find the information. I hate waiting. I’m always the jumpy one during a stakeout. Come on, Ben, murderer running loose, possibly closing in on his next victim. Remember?
“Oh, God.” Ben drops the papers.
“What?” I ask him. Maybe more than one person owns a .45 automatic. I had suspected that might happen. It’ll mean interrogations, lock-up, and more work than if there was only one person. Not that big a deal though. We’ll still have our killer.
“The killer… it’s the mayor!” Ben is aghast.
“The mayor owns a .45 automatic?”
Ben nodded, muttering, “the mayor, the mayor…”
“He is the only person in this town who owns a .45 automatic?”
Ben nods again, still muttering to himself. He is going to need to get a grip.
“Pull yourself together, Ben, we have an arrest to make,” I say as I stand up and grab my gun.
“Not what I am going to do; what I have been doing. As I already told you, it has all been about you. All the deaths that came before. They were all for you, Azalea. For the purpose of killing you, that is.”
“I...I still don’t understand,” I manage, though I’m afraid I’m lying to buy time on this precious, if fundamentally flawed and inherently evil, earth.
“I couldn’t let you divorce me, Azalea,” he explains with a sigh. “It would ruin me. In the court case, you would get the house, the kids, the cars, the money. I might even have to pay you money. And of course I would never be reelected. If you divorced me for an affair, it would be political suicide. I would lose everything. Maybe even Jezebel.” He grins at me, his calm facade gone, and I’m stuck with a sudden terrible truth. After Warwick kills me, and it is clear he fully intends to, he will have my kids. Oh, God. This lunatic will have my kids.
He’s panting heavily and takes a breath to calm himself. “This is the end, Azalea.”
***Ben and I are at the house. The one with the murderer. We walk towards the door with purpose, guns drawn. The front door isn’t closed all the way. Did we miss him? Has he skipped town? That would be a major letdown and a hell of a lot more trouble.
We are at the door now, pressed to the wall on either side. There are voices. Good. Hopefully this means he is still here.
Ben’s eyes widen and he nearly drops his gun as we hear what the scum inside is saying to his wife. I shoot him a sharp look and communicate to him with hand gestures to keep quiet and follow me.
This is going to be tricky.
“Get him to the back of the car, Ben, get him to the station, lock him up, and if he shuts up for a few minutes, read him his rights” I look at the wide-eyed woman on the floor, “and radio in for an ambulance, she needs to be treated for shock.”
I wait until the perp has been hustled out of the house screaming profanities and I hear Ben pull out of the driveway before turning to the woman.
I walk over and squat next to her, “How are you feeling, ma’am?”
***“How are you feeling, ma’am?” the angel asks soothingly.
Well, as soothing as a gruff and scruffy detective can possibly be. This is not how it happens in the movies.
It takes me a moment to find my voice, but when I do, it’s unusually high-pitched and breathy. I must sound like a blond beauty pageant contestant. “I-I’m o-o-okay. I-I’m fine.”
The man smiles. A gruff and scruffy smile, but a smile all the same. “Good. You’re safe now. You’re going to be alright.”
“Thank you,” I whisper, then reiterate in a stronger, more assured tone, “thank you. Thank you.” Somehow, just saying the words pulls me back into reality.