Authors: Gary Jonas
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Contemporary, #Urban, #Paranormal & Urban
“I’ll pay double your standard rate.”
“This isn’t a haggling session.
It’s a waste of time.”
“You have friends on the police force.
Will you at least take a look at the DVD?”
“I’d rather be buried naked in a pit of fire ants.”
“What good will it do?”
“I’m hoping you’ll see evidence of magic.”
I know what you’re thinking.
You’re thinking my ex-girlfriend is a total loon.
Actually she’s a low-level wizard from a long line of wizards.
Her father is well respected in the magical community.
I doubted many people would hold him in high regard now.
I didn’t say anything.
Naomi stood and moved closer to me.
She placed a hand on my arm.
“Will you look?” she asked and met my gaze.
Naomi’s touch brought back too many memories—most of them good.
Still, I didn’t want to watch Kathy’s murder.
She was a nice woman and had always been kind to me even after the breakup.
I stared into Naomi’s eyes and opened my mouth to say no.
“I’ll look at the recording,” I said.
Somehow that didn’t sound like “no” to me.
Naomi hugged me.
“Thank you so much.”
“And I’ll charge you my normal rate.
I expect this to be over by noon, but you’ll be charged for a full day.”
“You can charge me for a week.”
“A day will be fine.”
Naomi released me and tilted her head up to smile at me.
“I knew I could count on you.”
I smiled back at her, and one part of me thought things could work out.
The other part of me was screaming that no good could come from this.
David was obviously guilty, and proving that, which was a foregone conclusion in my mind, would not win Naomi back.
It would drive her away forever.
What can I tell you?
My heart has selective hearing.
Naomi and I stepped into the hall.
I could see Esther sitting on the stairs, drumming her translucent fingers on the cold tile floor.
Naomi walked with me to the elevator.
“Go home,” I said.
“I’ll call you as soon as I have something.”
“I want to go with you.”
I wanted to be with her, of course, but I shook my head.
“Do you really want to watch a DVD of your father killing your mother?”
It was hard to argue with that sort of logic, so she didn’t try.
“None of this feels real to me,” she said.
“I can’t believe Mom is gone.
I just feel numb.”
My parents both died when I was sixteen.
I spent the first year pretty much in shock, with each holiday slamming home the emptiness, so I knew exactly how she felt.
I also knew that there was nothing anyone could say or do to make any of the pain go away.
Some things you simply have to carry with you.
I didn’t try to say anything.
Instead, I pulled her into my arms and held her.
I could feel her trembling as she held on to me.
My heart broke for her.
The elevator arrived.
I kissed her on the forehead then brushed her tears away.
“I’ll call you as soon as I know anything.”
She nodded and stepped onto the elevator.
She pulled a tissue out of her purse as the doors closed.
I stared at the steel doors for a moment then turned and walked down the hall to Esther.
“You ready to go back to the office?”
Esther refused to look at me.
She turned her head to stare at the wall, her nose in the air.
“Oh, come on, Esther.
If you don’t talk to me, who can you talk to?”
Kelly was my partner, but she spent most of her time teaching martial arts at her dojo on Colfax.
“You’re still carrying a torch for Naomi,” Esther said, finally deciding to turn toward me.
“Always have, always will.”
“Don’t let her make a sap out of you.”
I picked up the typewriter and started back toward the office.
At first, Esther didn’t bother to get up, but as soon as I was fifteen feet away, she slid along the floor behind me.
“Hey!” she said and I stopped.
She got up, brushed imaginary dirt from her dress, and gave me a rude look as if I’d affronted her.
“Have I assaulted your dignity?” I asked.
She made a face and strutted past me.
Patrick O’Malley answered my call on the third ring.
He was a homicide detective with the Denver police, and when I told him I wanted information about David Miller, he tried to push me off by saying it wasn’t his case.
Of course, nobody was actually on the case, so he couldn’t get rid of me that easily.
“Stick a fork in him; he’s done,” O’Malley said.
After some back-and-forth, he agreed to get me a look at the DVD.
It cost me only a cheeseburger and some fries.
After making a few calls, I picked O’Malley up at his house and we hit a drive-through on the way to the District 3 substation on University.
While the Millers lived in Castle Pines out in Douglas County, the murder had taken place in Denver.
“You knew the victim, didn’t you?” O’Malley asked as he wolfed down the burger.
“I used to date her daughter.”
O’Malley jammed the rest of the burger into his mouth.
Around the mouthful, he said, “Naomi, right?”
Small pieces of the burger flew from his mouth as he spoke.
“Dude, you’re getting shit on my windshield.”
He brushed off the windshield and wiped his hand across the dashboard for good measure.
“You should have held on to her, Jonathan.
She was a looker.”
“You have mustard on your chin.”
When we reached the station, O’Malley led me to an office.
“They have Miller on suicide watch.”
A detective exited the office as we approached. “What’s up, O’Malley?”
“Your weight, Tanner.”
“Damn blood pressure too,” Tanner said.
“Don’t forget, poker night on Friday.”
“Easy money,” O’Malley said and ushered me into the office.
He pointed to a computer then said, “Miller hasn’t lawyered up yet.
I’m gonna go grab a cup of joe.
Back in a few.
Don’t do anything I wouldn’t.”
O’Malley was telling me that if David Miller had obtained legal counsel, there was no way I’d be able to see the DVD without his lawyer’s permission.
I wasn’t really supposed to see it, but the DVD just happened to be in the computer.
A quick click of the mouse, and the image loaded.
I leaned over to watch.
The picture was in color, but it was a bit grainy.
The camera was positioned above the entrance to the store, so it showed the lobby and the first check stand from a high angle.
The store was busy.
Customers entered and left.
Tanner had queued the recording so I didn’t have to watch long before Kathy pushed her cart into frame.
She was with a man, but I couldn’t see his face.
A moment later, David Miller entered the frame and grabbed Kathy by the shoulder.
Miller wore a long, tan trench coat, even though it was June.
David and Kathy spoke agitatedly for a moment as customers filed past.
The man with Kathy started out by looking around, as if embarrassed by the scene, but when David shoved Kathy against the cart, the man caught her and kept her from falling.
The cart rolled out of frame as David pulled the sword from his coat.
It looked like a Japanese katana.
He lunged forward, slashing down, then up.
Blood splattered the floor and sprayed in all directions as David hacked and slashed.
It was far worse than the paper had indicated and, although I knew it was coming, it hurt to watch.
David kept hacking at her as she fell to the floor.
He slipped in the blood, trying to slash at Kathy’s unknown companion when the man tried to intervene.
The man tried to jump back, but he also slipped in the blood and hit the ground.
David resumed hacking away at his wife.
Chunks of flesh littered the floor.
I wanted to turn away but couldn’t.
The blade sliced into Kathy’s face, and though I’ve seen worse, I flinched.
While I was inured to violence, it’s always different when you see it happen to someone you know.
It’s more immediate and it hits deep emotional levels you don’t expect.
At least, that’s how it was for me.
Memories of the kind things Kathy had done for me flashed in my mind, and seeing her get slashed apart almost made it feel like the blade was slicing into me too.
In a sense, I suppose it was.
It seemed like an eternity passed before the security guard, a large, Black man, rushed in and tackled David.
The man with Kathy scrambled over to help hold David down.
He was clearly yelling, and when he turned his face toward the camera, I recognized him.
His name was Al Davidson, and he worked with David and Kathy.
He was another wizard.
David fought for a moment, but the guard and Al managed to keep him pinned down.
Then David looked over at his dead wife and the growing pool of blood on the fresh, white floor, and he suddenly stopped struggling.
He stared for a moment as if he couldn’t believe what he saw, then he tried to move toward her, but Al and the guard prevented it.
David clutched Al tightly and buried his face in Al’s sleeve for a few seconds then looked back at Kathy.
It was hard to tell from the camera angle, but it appeared that David was crying.
I clicked the mouse to stop the image.
Then I noticed I was seated.
I didn’t remember sitting down.
I sat there in silence for a time then shook my head.
O’Malley stepped back into the room.
“Ready to rock and roll?”
I remained seated, just staring at the frozen image on the computer screen.
When I spoke, my voice was practically a whisper.
“Can I see David?”
“You just saw that he did it, Jonathan.
No ifs, ands, or buts about it.”
“I need to know why.”
“We’re just in the habit of catching bad guys.
We don’t worry too much about the why when we nab one with his pants down and his pecker in his hand.”
“Can you set it up?”
“I can make a call, but that’s mostly up to Miller.
He doesn’t want to see you, there’s nothing I can do about it.”
“Make the call.”
“It’s gonna cost you.”
“I just bought you lunch.
You can’t still be hungry.”
He waved off my comment.
“You still working with that dyke?”
“Kelly isn’t a lesbian.”
O’Malley puffed out his chest.
She turned me down for a date, so she’s gotta be a rug muncher.
I’m a lovable kinda guy.”
“Let me guess, you want me to put in a good word for you?”
I’m not in middle school.
What I want is for you to bring her to my Fourth of July barbecue.
You do that, I’ll set up a visitation pass for you.”
“Kelly hates socializing so I can’t make any promises, but I will invite her.
“That’s all I’m asking.
She’s one damn fine-looking woman.”
He opened the door and gave me a wink.
“You’re on for two o’clock at the P.A.D.F.”