Short Story Sunday 211: Number One Suspect [Part 1 – Mystery Month]

Short Story "Number One Suspect" | Mystery | Flash Fiction |

            “I didn’t do it. I’m serious. I really didn’t do anything!”

Lilah stood behind a one-way mirror in a small room with George by her side along with two other police officers. They were at the police station watching Barney, George’s brother who also happened to be a detective at the station, interrogate a suspect.

She looked up at George wondering what he was thinking. She didn’t want to say anything out loud in case they missed what the suspect had to say. Still, she couldn’t tell whether the man was guilty or not.

Steven Bell was under the suspicion of murdering his wife. Of course he wasn’t going to say that he didn’t do it whether he did it or not. No one wanted to go to jail; no one wanted to get charges put against them for murder. However, to Lilah, he seemed as though he was genuinely upset and frightened. Either he was a really good actor or he really didn’t kill his wife.

“Are you listening to anything I’m saying?” Steven asked. He was practically leaning over the metal table. If that table wasn’t there, Lilah wondered if he would have lunged at Barney.

Barney nodded his head at the frantic man. “I’m hearing every word you’re saying, Mr. Bell. Still, things don’t quite add up. Everything points to you; your prints are even on the murder weapon. Yet, here you are telling me that you didn’t do anything wrong, but you’re not giving me anything else to go on.”

Lilah watched as Steven’s chest heaved up and down as he tried to calm his breathing, but it simply didn’t seem to be working.

“What do you mean?” Steven asked a little more calmly this time.

“I mean,” Barney grunted as he shifted his weight in his chair, “you keep telling me that you didn’t do anything wrong, but you’re not telling me why or how you didn’t do anything wrong. You’re just spouting out useless words to me.”

“But I’m telling the truth!”

“Prove it. If you really didn’t do anything, convince me.”

Steven’s demeanor shrunk in his chair. His eyes were fraught with worry and Lilah braced herself for tears behind the glass.

“I can’t do that…” Steven said quietly. He allowed his arms to drop by his side and hung his head.

Barney sighed. He closed the case file and gathered up his notepad and pen. “Then there’s nothing I can do to help you, Mr. Bell.” He stood up from his chair and Steven looked up at him nervously.

“Wait, where are you going?”

“I have no further questions for you. Someone else will be with you shortly. Just sit tight.” Barney said.

Steven grumbled. “Where am I going to go…?”

Barney exited the interrogation room and stepped into the small box that already held too many people.

“So,” he greeted everyone, “how did that go?”

“Not your finest.” George replied.

Barney narrowed his eyes at him. “Don’t be smart with me. You may be my little brother, but we’re at work.”

George smirked. “I know, I know.” He turned his attention back to Steven through the glass. The suspect was hiding his head in his hands. He looked as though he were about to rip his hair out.

Lilah tugged on George’s arm like a little kid trying to pull her father over to the ice cream truck. “Can we go now?”

“What’s the rush?” George asked.

“I think we’ve done all we can here, don’t you think?” she replied.

“She’s right,” Barney agreed. “You helped lead us to this guy and I don’t think there’s anything else you guys can do. We can’t even really do anything else. We just have to wait for the court date and see what the jury thinks.”

George sighed. “I guess you’re right.”

“I’ll pop into the chief’s office and let her know you guys helped. You’ll get compensated.” Barney said. He opened the door and stepped to the side to let George and Lilah out first.

Lilah lead the way out of the police station. Barney called to them saying he’ll mail them a check. George yelled his thanks, but Lilah was already just about outside the front doors.

“So,” George said as they crossed the parking lot, “what are you thinking? I can tell you’re thinking of something.”

“How can you tell?” Lilah asked. He was right of course, but she didn’t want to seem too obvious. She needed to work on her subtlety.

“You kept staring at me during the interrogation.”

Lilah sighed. She stopped in the middle of the sidewalk before George could haul a taxi. “Alright, don’t make fun of me, but… I don’t think this guy is guilty.”

“Well,” George waved his arm in the air. He looked at Lilah as the taxi pulled over. “For what it’s worth, I don’t think he’s guilty either.” He opened the back door for Lilah.

She smiled at him and climbed into the backseat with him right behind her. She was looking forward to getting home to really crack this case wide open.

Words: 852


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