The Stranger (Short-Story) - A young woman on a night out finds a body dumped in an alley under a car. TW: alcohol, drugs, graphic detail
The Stranger - Part 2
She took a seat on the uncomfortable chair of the interrogation room. The police were playing the whole manipulation game she saw in every crime show, making her wait alone in the room for longer than necessary with only a cup of stale coffee to keep her company. Although it wasn’t a result of their sick game, she did feel nervous. She had regretted her call the second she hung up the phone, but there was nothing she could do now.
After what seemed like an eternity, a female detective entered the room. It was the same detective that had led Lillian to the interrogation room when she arrived at the police station, but Lillian couldn’t remember her name. The detective was perhaps in her mid-fifties, but she stood tall as though she owned the entire world. She was dressed impeccably in a gray suit that fit her really well. Her graying blonde hair was up in a bun, and she had a pair of glasses hanging from a cord around her neck, resting on her chest. She took a seat and smiled briefly at Lillian, without saying anything. Lillian stayed silent. After a couple of minutes, she finally spoke.
“Could you describe how you found the body, Ms. Turner?” she asked in a rather harsh tone, getting straight to the point.
“I was out with a few friends,” Lillian’s voice faltered and she cleared her throat. “and I had left the club we were at so I could find a place to pee. And I went in the alley on U street, between a bar and a pizza place.” She paused at that. What if the police contacted her friends? Claire would tell them that she’d actually gone into a McDonald’s, and they would know Lillian was lying. Panic started to rise in her, but she did her best to keep her breathing steady.
The detective shifted in her seat and let out an annoyed sigh. She was probably bitter about letting her off with disorderly conduct. “Go on.”
“Well, I didn’t! Pee, I mean, I didn’t pee” she explained quickly. “I found the body before I could pee. I did… puke, though.”
“Alright.” She let out a sigh again but this time her eyes hardened. “So you found a dead body, and then just went home?”
“Detective, I was incredibly drunk and-” Lillian looked down and lowered her voice. “I chugged down a shot of vodka with an ecstasy pill my friend gave me. I could barely think, I could barely breathe. I could barely see! I thought it was a dream, I thought I was imagining things. I just kept thinking that I was dreaming, that it was a bad trip. That’s why I went home.”
She vomited all the words at once, barely stopping to breathe.
The detective explained to Lillian that the dead woman’s name was Amy Greene. She was celebrating her twenty-ninth birthday the night of her death, and she had been a curator in training at the National Gallery of Art. Her friends had called her incessantly for about an hour, but then decided that she must’ve been drunk and gone home. It wasn’t until the next day that the body was found that they got the news of their friend’s death. She had cuts on her arms, face, neck, and chest. These wounds were inflicted by a sharp but small object, probably a pocket knife or a butterfly knife. The cause of death, however, had been strangulation. The detective showed Lillian pictures of the dead body as she went over all the injuries inflicted on the young woman. Lillian had tears in her eyes and tried to stop herself from sobbing. The detective’s face remained impassive.
Lillian kept looking down until she heard the detective gather the notebook and pen that were sitting on the table. She watched as the detective stood up and went to leave the room.
“Am I under arrest or something?”
The detective paused with her hand on the knob and turned her head towards Lillian. “Should we arrest you?”
“Well, no, I just want to know how long I have to be here for.”
“Not much longer. Someone else will come in to sort everything out and let you go. Thank you for your help, Ms. Turner. We’ll keep in touch.”
For the next few days, Lillian lived in constant fear. Every day she went to the coffee shop where she worked as a bartender expecting that the police would show up and arrest her. She knew that they wouldn’t have anything solid against her, and she knew that she hadn’t done anything. She’d just found the body. But she had been dumb, and she would pay the consequences for that. The detective - and by now she knew that the detective’s name was Rose Montez - had called her on the first couple of days, just so she could tell her story again. Over and over again, tirelessly. But then she simply stopped, and Lillian hadn’t heard from them for the past three days.
When Friday finally came, it had been a week since she’d found the body of Amy Greene. Claire called when Lillian was taking her lunch break and invited her to go out, but she declined. She hadn’t even told Claire or anyone else about the whole ordeal. They had no idea of what was going on in her life right now. She walked home after her shift and planned only to stay in and watch TV and eat popcorn until she fell asleep on the couch.
That evening, at around eleven o’clock, Lillian got a call. She had expected it to be Claire, probably already drunk and trying to convince Lillian to go out. When she looked down at her phone, however, she saw that it was an Unknown Number. She dropped the handful of popcorn that was in her left hand back in the bucket, and took the call.
“Hello?” she said a little louder. She heard soft breathing and quickly hung up the phone. She looked at the screen, frightened. Could she be imagining things? Had it been her own breathing? The phone rang again. She picked up. Again, all she heard was soft breathing, no matter how many times she said hello or asked for the person to say who they were.
She turned off her phone and took a couple of her sleeping pills. She turned on the TV in her room and listened to it as she drifted into sleep.
© 2020 Carolina Correia dos Santos