Short Story Sunday: “Legislature” [Part Two – 316]

Short Story Sunday: "Legislature" | Creative Writing | Short Story | RachelPoli.com

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Detective Witt followed her partner Detective Dowen down to the river’s edge. The bridge was still blocked off to oncoming traffic from both sides and Ben, their witness and the victim’s friend, stayed on the bridge with an officer watching over him. Ben wanted to come down and see Alisha, but Witt and Dowen didn’t think it would be a good idea especially since they weren’t sure what sort of condition Alisha would be in. It was a miracle they had found her alive after jumping off a 50-foot bridge into a freezing river.

Witt stood beside Dowen as they watched the paramedics treat Alisha with what little equipment they could carry down to the river through the snow. Officers and firefighters were back on the road trying to figure out a way to bring the ambulance or at least a stretcher down to the river so that they could properly carry and bring Alisha to a hospital.

“I want to speak to her the moment they’re done,” Dowen said to Witt. She nodded in agreement.

“I’m highly curious to hear what she has to say,” Witt agreed. “I imagine they’ll be a while with her. They’ll need to get all her information so her parents are notified.”

“ALISHA!”

Witt looked up to see Ben leaning over the railing on the bridge.

“YOU’RE ALIVE!”

Dowen growled. “Someone bring that kid home!” he shouted as an officer watching Ben pulled him away from the railing.

Dowen motioned another officer to come near him. “Go help that guy bring Ben home. Make sure his parents are aware of what happened and make sure they don’t leave town.”

The officer nodded and left right away.

Witt sighed. “That poor kid. I’m sure he’s in better spirits now that he knows his friend is alive, but he’s never going to be the same after this situation. I wonder how much of a handful he’s going to be now.”

“Who cares, we can handle him,” Dowen replied.

“He’s a kid.”

“Exactly, we can take him.” Dowen shrugged.

Witt sighed. “You’re hopeless sometimes, you know that?”

“How long do you think it’s going to take for them to get Alisha sorted out?” Dowen asked.

Witt tilted her head to the side. “Longer than we think, I imagine. They’re going to want to get her to a hospital and evaluated before they allow her to talk to us.”

“What are we still standing here for then? Let’s go look at those cameras and see if we can find that other witness. Ben called in and reported the incident. As far as I know, no one else did. Which means that witness didn’t even try to help after that,” Dowen explained.

“I agree, we definitely should go find that other witness while we wait for Alisha to get checked over. If that is Alisha, I mean.”

“What do you mean? No one else comes down here when it snows. It’s off limits. Who else could that be if it’s not Alisha?” Dowen asked.

“The bridge is off limits to pedestrians as well but that didn’t stop Ben and Alisha from walking across it,” Witt remarked. “I’m only questioning whether that’s Alisha or not because look at what she’s wearing. Ben told us she was wearing a blue puffy coat with gray knee-high winter boots. It’s hard to tell the length of this chick’s brown hair and what color her eyes are from this distance, but she’s in a gray coat with black boots that are definitely not knee-high.”

Dowen stared at the victim for a few moments. He then let out an exasperated sigh and whipped out his notepad again. He jotted down a couple of notes before closing it and putting it back into his pocket while staring back at the victim again. “Well, there are two explanations for this. Either that’s not Alisha or Ben wasn’t telling the truth.”

“If Ben wasn’t telling the truth then that could mean either he simply forgot what she was wearing under the stress and pressure of the situation or he lied on purpose,” Witt continued.

“And if he lied on purpose, then why would he need to do that? Why lie about her clothes of all things?” Dowen added.

Witt turned to a nearby officer. “Please let us know when this victim is ready for questioning.” He nodded and Witt jerked her head back to the bridge. “Come on, Dowen. Let’s head out. We have a lot of work to do.”

Dowen drove his car with Witt sitting in the front seat back to the police station. They rode in silence, both of them thinking about the current and what they were supposed to do with it. Even though it seemed as though Alisha jumped on her own accord, Ben still encouraged it – despite it being a joke – which made the situation messier. The good news was, since Alisha was found alive, Ben didn’t commit involuntary manslaughter. However, when the legislatures made the law, even though Alisha was found alive, Ben could still be charged with involuntary attempted manslaughter. It was a sticky situation for sure and even though Ben was wrong about what Alisha was wearing, Witt still didn’t think Ben was at fault for anything. It seemed as though he was just out for a walk with his friend and, in a way, happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Maybe Alisha had something up her sleeve and she needed a witness – Ben was that witness.

Why Alisha would want to stage something as such, Witt had no idea. It was all speculation on account she hadn’t even had a chance to talk to Alisha yet… if that was in fact Alisha and not someone else posing as the victim.

They pulled up to the police station and Witt hopped out of the car before Dowen had even turned the ignition off. She began to walk into the station with her partner lagging behind just a bit. Witt wanted to check the cameras of that bridge as quick and thoroughly as possible. She wanted to find and speak to that other witness as soon as possible. The moment Alisha was ready to be questioned, Witt and Dowen wanted to be the first to speak with her about the situation. They didn’t want to waste any time.

The two detectives walked down into the security room where the traffic camera feeds were shown. An officer sat in the room eating lunch when Dowen and Witt barged in on him.

“Oh, hey guys. What brings you here?” Officer Preston asked.

“We need to look at the camera feed from this morning at the bridge,” Dowen said.

Preston nodded. He turned around in his chair and immediately brought up the footage. “I heard about what happened and had a feeling you’d want to take a look at the jump.”

“It’s not just the jump we want to view,” Witt said. “There was supposedly another witness. He stopped in his car, tried to talk the victim out of jumping, but as soon as she jumped, he got back into his car and fled the scene.”

Preston’s eyes grew. “He didn’t stay with the other kid or help to make sure she was alright? He didn’t call it in?”

Dowen shook his head. “Turn the feed on.”

Preston obeyed turning a circle knob on the control panel. He fast forwarded the footage from the early morning until two young kids walked into frame. He played the video as normal. “Alright, this is from 9:07 this morning. You can see the two kids arriving on the scene on the right side, the same way the traffic goes.”

“There doesn’t seem to be a lot of cars passing through.” Witt observed.

The video showed Ben and Alisha stopping for a brief moment chatting. Then two turned their backs to the camera and peered over the edge of the railing.

Dowen snorted. “You can’t tell what color her clothes are in the black and white footage, but did you notice her boots?”

Witt nodded. “Knee-high. So I’m going to assume they’re gray and her coat is blue.”

“Which mean Ben was telling the truth.”

“Which also means the girl they found may not be Alisha.”

Preston stared at the detective open mouthed. “Wait, they actually found a body? I didn’t hear that.”

“They didn’t just find a body, they found a young girl matching the victim’s description. She was alive and they were transporting her to the hospital,” Witt explained. “However, our witness described the victim’s clothes to us and the girl they found wasn’t wearing those clothes.”

“But this footage here, aside from the coloring, the boots match,” Dowen added.

Preston rubbed the back of his neck. “Ah, so this seems like it’s going to be one of those cases, huh?”

Dowen sighed. “Unfortunately.”

The girl in the video then pulled herself up and stood on top of the railing. Ben put his hands on his head in a panic and, despite there being no audio, his mouth frantically moved and it was easy to assume he was trying to talk his friend down off the ledge.

“This is it,” Dowen said pointed to the screen. A car pulled into frame. Ben said the car was silver and it seemed to be so but they couldn’t be sure since the feed was in black and white.

A man got out of the car. The driver’s side was just out of frame so when they saw him enter the scene, his back was to the camera. He talked to the kids for a minute. Alisha looked over her shoulder, smiled, and then jumped. Ben, in a panic, ran over to the railing and reached out to grab her – just as he said he did – but she was already gone. He leaned over the ledge peering down. The man in the car backed away out of frame never once showing his face to the camera.

Witt narrowed her eyes. “It’s almost as though he knew the camera was there and he didn’t want to show his face.”

“Everyone knows the cameras are there,” Dowen corrected. “But it is strange than he left as quickly as he entered and seemed to know exactly where to go.”

Preston nodded. “He definitely knew he was just out of frame of the camera. His car was on the wrong side of the road.”

Dowen rolled his eyes. “Of course it is, why didn’t we see that!”

“We’re focused on too many things, that’s why. Thank you, Preston,” Witt said.

Preston nodded and turned back to the screen. “I’ll pause it…” he waited until the end of the car was shown on camera. “Now.”

Dowen and Witt leaned closer to the screen and Preston chuckled. “Hold on, guys. I can zoom in.” The two detectives stepped back.

Preston worked his magic on the footage and sure enough, they got a clear image of the license plate with the last digit cut off. The car was at too awkward of an angle for the camera to get the whole thing.

“Hm, this might be a tough one but at least it’s mostly narrowed down,” Preston said.

Witt nodded. “Don’t worry, it’s easier than we think. We believe it to be silver of color and we can clearly see the make of the car. We just need to run license plates with the first five digits and then narrow it down further by the make and color.”

Dowen patted Preston on the shoulder. “Thanks, man. We have to go now. There’s no time to lose with this one.”

Witt followed her partner out of the room after a quick wave to Preston. They needed to find this other witness before he fled. Whether he had a hand in this or not was unknown, but he was certainly suspicious.

Both detectives went to their own desks and conducted searches on the license plate number. Dowen found a match first after about ten minutes and the two of them hopped back into the car and headed the other witness’s house.

I hope you enjoyed the story. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Please feel free to share this post.

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