Short Story Sunday 266: Thoughtful (Part Four)

Short Story Sunday: Thoughtful | Short Story | Flash Fiction | Mystery | Mystery Writing | Mystery Month | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

Lilah found herself leaning against the one-way mirror staring into the interrogation room. Beth Wiley sat at the metal table, her back facing the mirror. Her shoulders were shaking and her elbows were propped on the table. Lilah knew well enough Beth was bawling her eyes out. Whether she was crying because she was nervous that she had been caught or it was an act, she wasn’t sure.

“Have you talked to her yet?” George asked.

Barney shook his head. “She was hesitant to come with us when we found her wandering the side of the road. She didn’t fight us at all, she was just in a daze. It was almost like she didn’t know why we were picking on her.”

Lilah kept a steady gaze on Beth while she listened in on George’s conversation with his brother.

“She was scrawny too.” Barney continued. “I know she’s been missing for a couple of days and didn’t take anything with her, not even her wallet. I don’t think she’s eaten at all. After we explained to her that we found her car, we brought her back here. We tossed her into the interrogation room and fed her lunch. Her husband is on his way. Once he arrives, we’ll figure out what to do.”

“Did you mention to her about the body?” George asked.

Barney sighed.

Lilah wasn’t facing them but she had a feeling that sigh was a no. She thought that might have been why Beth was crying so much, but maybe it was just because she was scared.

“Did you tell Richard about the body?” George asked.

“No,” Barney replied. “I figured the less he knew before he got here, the better.”

A knock at the door came. Lilah and George looked at each as Barney pushed past his little brother and opened the door. An officer had brought Richard into the room.

Richard looked horrified as he entered. He jumped when the officer closed the door behind him. He wrung his hands together and swallowed without saying a word.

“Thanks for coming here, Richard.” Barney said. He led him over further into the small room and pointed through the mirror.

Richard saw his wife and frowned. “Thank you for finding my wife. Can I go in and see her?”

“Not yet,” Barney shook his head. “We need to talk to her first. Is it okay if we speak to her and ask her some questions or would you like a lawyer present?”

“Should I have a lawyer present?” Richard asked. He turned to George for help, but he just shrugged in response.

“There was a body in the car. Unless you think Beth might have had something to do with it, it might be wise to get a lawyer.” George explained.

Lilah noticed a quick glare from Barney to George. She saw George shift his gaze to his brother but he didn’t fully acknowledge him.

Richard drew in a breath. He turned his head to look at his wife again shaking his head. “No, Beth didn’t do anything. There’s no way she killed a man and tried to hide the body.”

George bowed his head to Barney. “And there you have it.”

“Alright, here I go.” Barney said. He opened the door and then paused to look over his shoulder. “Richard, I’ll ask her a few questions and then I’ll call you in to join us, okay?”

Richard nodded and Barney disappeared. He turned back to George. “I guess you’re off the hook, huh?”

“Excuse me?” George replied. Lilah stiffened pushing herself off the mirror on the wall. She narrowed her eyes at Richard. Whatever he meant was probably harmless, but his tone didn’t sound it.

“The police found my wife. I hired you to do that and you didn’t.” Richard explained.

Lilah looked at George wondering how he’d respond to that, but Barney began talking on the other side of the wall. Immediately, all their attentions were shifted to the mirror.

“How are you doing, Beth?” Barney asked. He handed her a couple of tissues and she took them willingly. Then he sat down and casually leaned back in his chair. “Do you understand what’s going on?”

“No,” Beth said over her sniffles.

“Your husband reported you missing. You were gone for about three days before we found your car abandoned and hidden in the woods and you wandering around the streets not too far from Simmond’s Park.” Barney explained. “Can you tell me where you went for three days or why you left?”

Beth shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t want to say anything. I don’t want to get into any trouble.”

“Why would you get into trouble?”

“I don’t know, I just have a feeling I did something bad. Is my husband okay?”

Barney nodded. “Richard is fine, yes. He’s worried about you.”

Beth sniffled again. She picked up a tissue and blew her nose. “I didn’t know what else to do. I was confused and I couldn’t get away so I thought I’d run away. Maybe then I’d lose him and Richard and I could be safe.”

“Lose who?” Barney inquired leaning closer to her.

“I wish I knew…”

Lilah glanced over at George and she noticed he was staring at Richard. Richard watched Beth carefully, unblinking. She couldn’t read the expression on his face though. He certainly wasn’t worried and it didn’t seem like he was concerned for whatever his wife was going through. What happened to the caring, open, and honest man who they met in their office just a few hours ago?

“Does your husband know about any of this?” Barney asked.

“No,” Beth said. She buried her face in her hands and sobbed more. “I’ve never lied to him before!”

Barney looked up into the mirror and frowned. Lilah knew he was looking at them even though he couldn’t see where they stood. She sighed and looked to George.

“Should you go help him?” she asked.

“He knows what he’s doing.” George replied.

“Beth, maybe your husband should be here when I tell you this news.” Barney said.

Beth looked up hopeful. “My husband is here?”

“Yes,” Barney said. He waved to the mirror.

George took the cue. He opened the door for Richard and pointed to a closed door on the outside. “Just go through there.” He said.

Richard did without a word or even bothering to look at George.

George closed the door. He walked back over to the mirror and folded his arms over his chest as he watched Richard embraced his sobbing wife. “I have some suspicions.” He said.

Lilah turned to him. “What do you mean?”

“This Richard isn’t the man we met a few hours ago.” George stated.

Lilah let out a breath of relief. “Okay, I thought so too. I think there’s something strange about him. But do you think it could be because he’s nervous for his wife?”

“I think he’s nervous, but not because of her.” George countered. “He seems less concerned for his wife and the he rubbed me the wrong way when he said we were off the hook.”

“Well, yeah. That rubbed me the wrong way too. This means we’re not going to get paid.” Lilah said with a huff.

“It means, his job is done.” George said narrowing his eyes at Richard through the mirror. Richard was still holding Beth and rubbing her back. Barney, on the other hand, was leaning back in his chair waiting them out.

“I’m confused.” Lilah sighed. “What did you figure out?”

“Richard was searching for Beth not because she’s his wife but maybe because he was afraid of what she would do and who she would talk to.” George stated.

Lilah opened her mouth and then closed it shaking her head. “I’m not sure I’m following you, George. Stop being so cryptic.”

“I bluntly told him there was a dead body in the trunk of his wife’s car and he didn’t even flinch.” George stated. He turned to look at Lilah. “That was the first he heard of the body. Barney said he didn’t tell him.”

“Maybe he was just in shock?” Lilah suggested.

“But then when I asked him about a lawyer, he refused and said there was no way Beth could kill a man. There’s no way Richard should have known the body was a male.”

“Okay, I see what you mean… but maybe he just said man in a general sense? Besides, I assume you’re suggesting Richard killed the man? If that’s true, then why would he refuse the lawyer?”

“Are we ready to get started?” Barney asked.

Lilah’s attention was brought back to inside the interrogation room. Both Richard and Beth had nodded to him.

“Because,” George said, “Richard is too confident. Everything points to Beth and he believes she’ll take the fall.”

Words: 1,476

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