Short Story Sunday: “Password” [Part Five – 319]

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

Read Part Four Here

The two partners sat in Detective Dowen’s car in silence. The car was turned on with the heat on full blast, but the two remained in the parking lot at the hospital.

“I’m glad we reunited Elizabeth with her parents.” Witt broke the silence. “She has amnesia so there’s no way of ever knowing what happened to her.”

“Some mysteries weren’t meant to be solved.” Dowen shook his head.

“We can cross a missing person off that list, which is great. However, now we have a body to find.”
Dowen sighed. He shifted gears in the car and pulled out of his parking spot. “We’re not turning in for the night until Alisha is found.”

Witt nodded in agreement. Sure, their shift had ended two hours ago. But they weren’t going to rest until Alisha was found. Even if it was her body.

“Where are we going?” she asked. “Are we going to talk to Ben again or Eli? Or are we going straight back to the bridge?”

Dowen hesitated to reply. “Honestly, I wasn’t sure. I was just driving. Maybe we should talk to Ben though. There’s nothing we can do at the bridge. The police will notified us immediately if they find anything. Ben might have some information on Eli so I don’t want to go breaking the news to him just yet that we know he never reported his car stolen.”

“We’ll go visit Ben then,” Witt confirmed.

It didn’t take too long for them to make it to Ben’s house. When they did, Ben’s parents let the two detectives in immediately and called Ben down from his bedroom. His mother made the detective’s coffee while his father sat in the living room with them talking about how awful it was that Alisha had done what she did. They were happy she was found though.

“Well, we hate to say it, but the girl we found was not actually Alisha. She’s a missing person who just happens to resemble Alisha quite a bit,” Witt explained.

Ben’s father, Owen, sank into his chair. “Oh, no… poor Alisha… I suppose there’s no hope for her now?”

“Bite your tongue!” Ben’s mother, Louise, came back into the room with a tray filled with coffee mugs, cream, and sugar. “Don’t say that, especially when Ben comes down. There’s always hope.”

“I’m sorry.” Owen shook his head. “I can’t imagine this though… Alisha would never do something like this.”

Louise sighed. She looked at the detectives with a sad gaze. “Ben told us what happened and how he encouraged her. Will that reflect on him somehow? I don’t mean to make the situation all about Ben, but…”

Dowen shook his head. “You’re asking a valid question. It’s only right that you should be worried for your own son in this situation. As of right now, it’s hard to say. He was walking on the bridge when they shouldn’t have to begin with, so he’s going to get in trouble for that at the very least. Until we have a better handle on this case, though, I don’t want to say too much else.”

Witt leaned forward and poured herself a cup of coffee in an attempt to busy herself. She knew Dowen avoided telling them that Ben could be charged with involuntary manslaughter. She poured some cream into her coffee and then leaned back against the couch.

“Have you gotten in touch with Alisha’s parents at all?”

Owen shook his head. “We called a couple of times but they never picked up. We figured we’d go over there tomorrow with a fruit basket or something and let them know we’re here for them if there’s anything we can do.”

“A fruit basket?” Louise lightly whacked him on the arm. “I’m going to make them a macaroni and cheese or something. They’re not going to want to cook and they can’t survive on fruit.”

Owen shrugged. “Excuse me, no fruit. A warm, home cooked meal.”

“Thank you.” Louise poured herself a cup of coffee.

Witt looked at Dowen concerned. He returned the gaze. The police still were unable to get in touch with Alisha’s parents as well. If no one could get a hold of them, then something was clearly wrong. Dowen stood excusing himself. Witt assumed he stepped out to send a patrol car to Alisha’s house. Why they hadn’t done that earlier, she didn’t know.

Ben came down from the stairs as if on cue. He sheepishly looked at Detective Witt and held out a cell phone. “I’m so sorry I took this without telling you guys.”

Witt stared at him in confusion. She put her mug down on the coffee table in front of her and asked what it was. As soon as Ben explained it was Alisha’s cell phone, Witt put on a pair of gloves.

“Benjamin! Why on earth would you take that from the crime scene?” his mother scolded.

Ben sighed. “I know, I know… I’m sorry. I thought I’d be able to conduct my own investigation and figure out why Alisha wanted to… well, you know…”

“Where did you even get this?” Witt asked.

“On the ground. I noticed it after she splashed into the river. It must have fallen out of her winter coat pocket when she jumped off the bridge.”

“Her parents can track her cell phone, right?” Owen said. Ben nodded. “Maybe she dropped it on purpose then. She didn’t want to be found?”

Witt didn’t confirm or deny this. It was certainly a possibility Alisha didn’t want to be found. However, anyone who jumped off that bridge didn’t need to worry about not being found. They were as soon as dead and the moment the cell phone hit the icy water the GPS certainly wouldn’t work on it anymore.

The detective tapped the screen and it lit up. A message appeared saying the phone was locked out for another minute and seven seconds. She held it up to Ben.

“I assume you’ve been trying to get into her phone?”

He nodded. “I don’t know her password and keep locking myself out.”

Dowen entered the room again. “What did I miss?”

Witt held the phone up to Dowen who took it. “Ben found Alisha’s phone on the ground after she jumped. It has a password and Ben doesn’t know what it is so we’re locked out of it at the moment.”

“Maybe one of the tech guys at the station can get into it,” Dowen said, staring at the phone.

“Ben,” Witt said, “why are you trying to get into Alisha’s phone? Do you think there might be something on there that explains what happened today?”

“She keeps getting text messages from the same phone number,” Ben explained. “There’s no name on the message, just the number, which means this isn’t someone who’s a contact in her phone. I don’t know if she was in some sort of trouble or what.”

Louise gasped and Owen put a hand on her shoulder.

“Has Alisha been acting strangely at all within the past few days, weeks, or even months?” Dowen asked. He put the cell phone in a plastic bag and pocketed it.

“Honestly, no. I didn’t notice anything strange about her. We were hanging out as usual. She was going to school and getting her homework done. I don’t know what came over her,” Ben replied.

Witt nodded her head. It seemed safe to say that Ben wasn’t lying. She didn’t think he had any part in whatever sort of plan Alisha had cooked up. He was merely used as a witness and that was it. The question was why. Why did Alisha jump off that bridge and why did she need a witness?

“Speaking of school,” Dowen spoke again. “You have Elijah Thomas as a teacher, right?”

Ben nodded. “Yeah, he’s a great teacher. Both Alisha and I really like him.”

“Was he at the scene of the crime today?”

Ben furrowed his brows. “Uh, not that I know of? Maybe he drove by on the bridge, but I never saw him.”

“The man who got out of that silver car to talk Alisha down before she jumped,” Witt said, “that wasn’t him?”

“No.” Ben shook his head. “I know I was freaking out and in shock, but I would have recognized him. I would have asked him for more help then what he did. In fact, he probably would have stayed to help Alisha and then me after she had jumped.”

Owen growled under his breath. “Who would someone do something like that? Watch a child jump off a bridge, her friend left in a panic, and then they just get back into their car and leave?”

“Some people are so sick,” Louise whispered.

“Do you know what your teacher’s car looks like?” Witt asked.

“Wait a minute,” Owen stood up, “You’re not suggesting Mr. Thomas had something to do with Alisha jumping, do you?”

Ben answered before the detectives could answer his father. He shook his head. “I have no idea what car Mr. Thomas has.”

“Okay, fair enough,” Dowen said. He turned his attention to Owen. “We need to rule him out as a suspect. The car that man was driving when he pulled over on the bridge to talk Alisha down, that was Mr. Thomas’s car, but he wasn’t the one driving it.”

Ben looked over at his parents and then back to the two detectives. “I don’t get it.”

“Unfortunately, neither do we. We spoke with Mr. Thomas this afternoon and he claimed his car was stolen from his driveway for approximately two hours. He said he called the police and reported it but when we checked, no such call came into the station at all today or yesterday,” Witt explained.

Louise covered a hand over her mouth. “Do you think Mr. Thomas is covering for someone?”

Witt shrugged her shoulders. “It’s a possibility. We don’t know why anyone would encourage Alisha to jump off that bridge.”

Ben gasped. “The phone! I need the cell phone.” He reached out his hands to Detective Dowen, who took a step back.

“No way, this is evidence and you already withheld it from us once before.”

“Do you remember the password?” Witt asked standing from the couch.

Ben nodded to her. He looked at Dowen. “Please, I’ll give it right back. Or you can put the code in yourself. Try one-two-three-one.”

Dowen took the phone out of his jacket pocket. He stared at Ben skeptically but did as he suggested. His eyes popped open.

“Wow, that actually worked.” He took out his notepad and wrote the password down to ensure no one would forget it.

“What’s the significance to that string of numbers?” Owen asked.

Ben shrugged. “It’s today’s date. December 31st.”

Witt and Dowen stared at each other. Maybe it was only a coincidence, but it didn’t seem likely. The two detectives wondered now more than ever that this was planned ahead of time. Alisha must have used it as her password to remind herself but also because there’s no way no one else would possibly guess that.

“Good for you, Ben.” Witt smiled at him. “We’ll figure this out, don’t you worry.”

Dowen scrolled through some of the contents on the phone. He turned it off and put it back in his pocket. “This is excellent information. We’ll have to bring this back to the station and go through it. We’ll keep you posted as best we can about the situation.”

“Thank you so much and if we can be of any further assistance, please let us know,” Owen said. His wife nodded in agreement beside him.

Witt pulled her card out of her pocket and handed it to Ben. “If any of you think of something new, please call me right away. Also, if you hear from Alisha’s parents, please call me right away.”

“Of course,” Louise answered.

Without another word, Witt and Dowen saw themselves out. They had more investigating to do. They needed to look over Alisha’s text messages, figure out who’s number those messages belonged to, talk to Eli about his car, and do their best to get a hold of Alisha’s parents.

If they could find any remnants of Alisha in the process, that was a bonus.

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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Short Story Sunday: “Thick” [Part Four – 318]

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

Read Part Three Here

Witt followed Dowen through the hallways of the hospital. They entered the ICU area. They showed their badges to the receptionist at the front desk and she pointed them in the right direction. It wasn’t hard to spot which room Alisha was in. There were two police officers posted outside. The two detectives asked for a quick update, but there was nothing big to tell. The girl was okay, as far as they could tell. Some tests were being run but they wouldn’t have the results on those for another day or two.

Alisha seemed to have no memory of what had happened on the bridge. She didn’t even seem to remember who she was. They had called Alisha’s parents to come down and confirm their daughter’s identity – or at least her whereabouts. However, they still weren’t able to get in touch with her parents.

“Something weird is definitely going on,” Dowen whispered to Witt.

“You don’t think her parents have anything to do with this, do you?” Witt asked shocked.

Dowen shook his head. “No, but it’s strange to me how their daughter went out early this morning, it’s now the afternoon and, assuming this is Alisha, they haven’t seen or heard from their daughter. Wouldn’t they be looking? Wouldn’t they have gotten in touch with Ben if they’re such good friends and he would have explained it all to them?”

Witt hummed to herself. “You’ve got a point. I know I would be worried sick if I couldn’t find my kid.”

Dowen let out a disgruntled sigh. “Well, let’s head into the room and get this over with. I hope you’re in this for the long haul because I have a feeling this case is going to run us in circles.”

Witt entered the room before her partner. Alisha had a room all to herself with the police officers outside the door and there were no nurses or doctors in sight. She laid down in her bed with her eyes lightly closed. Witt looked at Dowen and pointed to the girl and he rolled his eyes. His partner couldn’t help but crack a smile. Yes, Alisha was awake and ready to talk about twenty minutes ago, but she had a rough day. It was entirely possible she had fallen back to sleep.

Dowen sat down on the left side of the bed and Witt joined him. She remained standing. The two stared at Alisha in silence for a brief moment. Then Dowen broke the silence with a whisper.

“I’m sure the hospital cleaned her up nice, but there’s not even a scratch on her.”

“I know,” Witt said in agreement. “She looks pretty good from falling 50-feet.”

“How can she look like this after what happened to her? There are no bandages or anything.”

“Maybe most of her scars are under the blankets.”

Dowen shook his head. Witt knew he didn’t believe that. She didn’t believe it either but she didn’t have any other answers. Unless this girl was not in fact Alisha like they had noticed when she was first found.

“Do you think we made a mistake?” Witt whispered.

“What that?” Dowen looked up at her in confusion.

“We halted the search the moment we found this girl. Now that I see her lying in this bed, alive and unscathed… I wonder if the real Alisha is still out there somewhere. If she is, she has to be dead by now.”

“Yes, then we have to go with the involuntary manslaughter angle again but we’ll also have another mystery on our hands,” Dowen said.

Witt looked at her partner.

“Who is this girl, where did she come from, and what was she doing there?” Dowen continued staring at the girl in the bed.

Before Witt could answer, the girl blinked her eyes open. She immediately turned her head to look at the two detectives. She gave them a small smile.

“Hi,” she said, her voice raspy.

“Alisha?” Dowen asked softly.

The girl frowned. “I don’t know, but maybe. Everyone else seems to think that’s who I am.”

“How are you feeling?” Witt asked.

“Tired, but okay,” she replied.

“Well, I’m Detective Witt and this is my partner, Detective Dowen. We’re going to ask you a couple of questions but we won’t take up too much of your time. We know you need to rest.”

The girl lifted her head slightly and scooted herself up higher on the pillows with her arms. Once she sat up, she smiled again at the detectives. “Of course, please ask what you need to. I don’t know if I’ll remember anything, but I heard there was an accident.”

“An accident that involved you,” Dowen explained. “You jumped off the bridge falling fifty feet into the icy river below. It’s a miracle you’re alive and not as hurt as you should be.”

“I must be lucky. Someone must have been watching over me.”

“Sure,” Dowen said exasperated.

Witt took a couple of photos out of her pocket. She had printed them out back at the station when they were searching for the car’s license plate number. The first picture was of Ben and Alisha standing on the bridge talking. It was a screen shot from the camera footage. “Do you recognize these people?”

The girl leaned forward a little. She squinted her eyes at the black and white image but finally shook her head before leaning her head back against the pillow. “No, I don’t. I’m sorry.”

“This is Benjamin Lame and you right before you jumped off the bridge,” Witt said pointing to the people in the photo.

The girl gasped. “Really? How strange… I know I have no memory of the incident, but I would like to think I’d recognize at least myself.”

“Do you recognize the place?”

She shook her head. “I assume it’s the bridge you mentioned but I have no memory of the place, let alone going there.”

Witt sighed. She turned to Dowen with a look expressing her concern that they might be wasting their time. They couldn’t make any conclusions from the victim if they couldn’t explain anything that had happened to them.

Dowen returned the look and Witt sighed knowing the exact face he was making. He wasn’t entirely sure this girl couldn’t remember anything. Judging from the state the victim was in and how quickly she seemed to recover from the incident, Witt wondered the same thing. Was this all an act? Was Eli in on this act as well?

“I think we may be done here.” Dowen stood making the executive decision. Witt had no objections.

“That was quick. I’m sorry I couldn’t be more help to you,” The girl said.

“It’s okay, you focus on getting better. I’m sure we’ll be in touch again,” Dowen said.

Witt didn’t have anything else to say. Normally she was more sympathetic than Dowen but she was far too confused to say anything else to this… victim? Witness? Suspect? She wasn’t so sure.

The two detectives made it back out into the hall. They said their goodbyes to the officers and made their way back to the front desk to check out and give back their visitor’s passes. They were just about to leave when Witt turned back to the receptionist.

“Excuse me,” she said, “may we request to look at the medical records for the patient in room 203?”

The receptionist hesitated to comply.

“She’s the Jane Doe, but may be Alisha Davis. She’s a victim or possible suspect in another crime.” Dowen stepped in.

The young girl behind the counter nodded. “Would you like to see it now or shall I make copies? I can’t let you leave with it since she’s still a patient.”

“Copies would be great, thank you.” Witt smiled. As soon as the girl walked away, she turned to Dowen. “I’m curious about what the doctors think about her condition. I don’t think she’s Alisha at all. I think she’s playing us along with… well, either Eli or Ben. My money is on Eli though.”

“He had the getaway car.” Dowen nodded. “We’ll take these files back to the station and check on the stolen car report. If he never called and reported it, then I think we have means to pay him another visit.”

*

Witt tossed the copy of the medical records on Dowen’s desk. She had combed through them thoroughly while Dowen checked on the stolen car report. Before she could explain her side of the findings, Dowen leaned back in his chair shaking his head.
“It was never reported which means either Eli was the one driving the car or he let someone borrow it.”

Witt grinned. “Excellent, we’re getting closer. And all this girl has is amnesia. No concussion, no broken bones, nothing. The doctors are calling it a miracle.”

Dowen sat up and took the file folder in his hands. He opened and thumbed through the pages. “You’re kidding me, right? So this girl is not Alisha Davis. She can’t be.”

“I think we need to do a DNA test on this girl. She’s either lying to cover up for Alisha or Eli or whatever is going on here. Or she could very well be a missing person with amnesia who we just happened to stumble upon during our search for Alisha.”

Dowen shook his head. “That can’t be possible though, right? This Jane Doe looks exactly Alisha Davis. Although it would explain the change of outfit.” He put the folder down and began to type on his computer. “I’m going to look up all the missing persons that have been reported within the past year.”

Witt walked around to the other side of his desk and peered over his shoulder. “If we see this Jane Doe in this list, then we have a serious problem. That means Alisha is still out there somewhere.”

“It means her body is out there somewhere, though I’m sure it was washed away with the river at this point.”

“This case is laying it on thick for us, huh?” Witt sighed.

Dowen scrolled through all the missing persons – males and females. Finally, he stopped at a certain young girl. “Oh, man… that’s her. That’s the Jane Doe we just left at the hospital! Elizabeth Hammond.” He wrote down the name.

Witt shook her head in disbelief. “The resemblance to Alisha is uncanny. This can’t be a coincidence, can it?”

“I don’t know, but we definitely need to do a DNA test. We may need to call the parents of this Elizabeth girl. She’s even the same age as Alisha,” Dowen said. He reached for the phone.

“Wait,” Witt put a hand on his shoulder. “Shouldn’t we wait to contact Elizabeth’s parents? We should make sure it’s actually her before we get their hopes up.”

Dowen shook his head. “This can’t wait. I’ll explain everything to them over the phone and make sure they understand that they may not in fact be her. I’m pretty sure it is her though…”

“How long has she been missing?”

“Two months.”

“We’ve had such a harsh winter these past two months. It’s no wonder she’s lost her memory. I wonder what happened to her.”

Dowen seemed as though he were about to reply, but then he spoke into the phone. Witt walked away from his desk to give him some space. She made it back to her work station and looked at all they had figured out throughout the day. The case kept getting weirder and weirder. They might have solved the case of the missing girl but that meant they hadn’t solved the case of the girl who jumped off the bridge. Not to mention that seemed to be more than just her simply jumping off the bridge. Another man, possibly Eli, was involved. There was some plan that Witt and her partner were missing. She didn’t know if Ben had anything to do it or if he was just a pawn to be used as a witness. Some stories weren’t adding up and someone was lying about something. Witt put her head in her hands. It had been a long day and she couldn’t quite figure out what exactly was going on.

Detective Dowen stood beside her desk. He tapped her on the shoulder and she looked up at him. He put on his winter coat. “Elizabeth’s parents are on their way to the hospital. We’re going to meet them there. In the meantime, I ordered a team of officers to go back to the bridge to start the search over for Alisha – just in case. I told them to expand the perimeter down the river as well. If she’s there, she’s bound to be washed up ashore somewhere.”

Witt stood grabbing her coat. She nodded to her partner and followed him out of the station. They were in for a long night.

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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Short Story Sunday: “Ignorance” [Part Three – 317]

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

Read Part Two Here

Dowen knocked on the front door to the man who owned the silver car. The car, matching the color, make, and license plate number, sat in the driveway. The two detectives assumed him to be home or at least someone was home and could inform them a little more about the man.

As they waited for someone to answer the door, Witt checked her cell phone. “The victim is still being evaluated. It doesn’t seem like we’ll be able to question her for another hour or so. But she’s awake and conscious at least.”

“Good, that will give us plenty of time to talk to this guy,” Dowen said. “Do they know anything about the victim at least? I assume they’ve gotten her name at least, right?”

Witt sighed. “Well, that’s the bad news. Apparently she doesn’t remember anything.”

Dowen muttered something under his breath. “I guess that would make sense… she’s lucky to be alive.”

Witt was just about to reply when the door opened. A young man with short brown hair, wearing a red pull-over sweater, stood before them.

“Hello, can I help you?”

Witt and Dowen flashed their badges at the same time.

“I’m Detective Dowen and this is my partner,” Dowen jerked his head to his partner, “Detective Witt. We’re investigating an incident that occurred on the bridge this morning. May we come in and speak with you?”

The young man hesitated. “Um, sure. Although I’m not sure I know what any of this has to do with me.” He stepped to the side and allowed the detectives to enter his home.

Dowen allowed Witt to go ahead of him and she did. He whispered in her ear as they entered. “He better not be ignorant or else I might lose my-”

Witt elbowed him and she turned around to face their suspect. “First thing’s first,” she began, “are you Elijah Thomas?”

The man closed the front door and nodded. “Call me Eli, shall we sit?” he pointed to the living room to their left. The two detectives obliged and down down at the leather sofa.

“Can I get you guys anything? Water or coffee?” Eli asked.

“No thanks.” Dowen shook his head. “We just need to ask you a few questions and then we’ll be on our way.”

Eli nodded and he sat down on the leather armchair across from the sofa. “Okay, so you said this is about an incident that happened on the bridge this morning?”

Dowen and Witt nodded.

“So… you’re not here about my car?”

Witt furrowed her brows. “Well, in a way, we are. Are you the owner of that silver car that’s parked in your driveway?”

“Yes,” Eli replied.

“Did you drive it to the bridge this morning?” Dowen asked.

Eli shook his head. “I haven’t driven it anywhere today. My car was stolen from me and then before I knew it, it was back inside my driveway unharmed.”

Dowen and Witt exchanged perplexed expressions.

Eli cracked a nervous smile. “That’s kind of why I thought you guys were here. I called my car in stolen the moment I noticed it was gone. My wife is out of town on a business trip so it’s not like she took it without telling me. I’m home alone for the week. I called it in, the police said they’d send someone out right away but no one arrived. Then, a few hours later, I noticed the car was back inside my driveway. I don’t think I imagined it being stolen, but… if you’re saying you saw it on the bridge this morning, that makes me wonder.”

“First,” Witt began, “I apologize no one arrived when you called your car in. We’ll report back about that and see where the wires got crossed.”

Eli nodded.

“Next, whoever took your car is looking more and more suspicious. Even if he didn’t have anything to do with the incident, he’s still a thief,” Dowen explained. “We need to figure out who this guy is and catch him.”

“Why would he steal a car and then just happen to go across the bridge when the incident occurred though? I have all the more reason to believe he had something to do with the incident after all. It’s almost as though he knew we’d track the car and it would end up leading us to a red herring,” Witt added her two cents.

“I’m sorry.” Eli raised his hand. “What incident was my car supposedly involved with?”

Dowen turned his attention to their host, admittedly forgetting he was there. “A young girl jumped off the bridge this morning.”

Eli gasped. “Is she okay?”

Witt nodded. “She was found alive and is currently at the hospital being checked over. Her friend was with her and we learned from him there was another witness. That witness had your car. He stopped on the bridge and attempted to talk the girl down. After she jumped, he got back into the car and fled the scene. We have no idea who he is or where he went.”

“We tracked the car here and assumed it was you who was the man,” Dowen added.

Eli leaned back in his chair with a hand over his heart, shocked. “Wow… that’s a lot to take in. No offense to the kids, but I can’t believe someone would steal my car that would basically put me at the scene when I wasn’t actually there. That’s pretty crafty.”

“So, tell us. When did you notice your car was stolen?” Dowen asked.

Eli sat forward again. “Well, I don’t know when exactly it was stolen. I got home from work around 6:00 last night. With it being dark so early, I turned off my outside lights and closed all my blinds. I never looked outside again. I woke up at about 6:00 this morning and still never looked outside. I went about my normal morning routine – I showered, had coffee and breakfast. I didn’t have work today so I took the morning slow and spent a little time reading.

“It was about 8:30 this morning when I decided to go out and run some errands. I went outside and there was no car in the driveway. I don’t know when it was stolen or how long they had it. I immediately took out my cell phone and called the police. They said they’d send someone right over but as I said before, they never showed up. I was going to call them again but when I looked back outside my kitchen window – it overlooks the driveway and front yard – my car was back in my driveway. That was at about 10:30,” Eli explained.

Dowen wrote all this information down in his notepad. He shook his head as Eli explained the times.

“So, we’re thinking the car could have been stolen from anytime between six-pm last night and 8:30 am this morning. That’s a 14 and a half hour window,” Witt explained.

“I know,” Dowen scratched the top of his head. “I think this whole thing was somehow planned before it happened, but if the car was taken late last night, then that means this has been in the works for quite some time.”

Eli nodded in agreement as though he were another detective in the case. “And why me?” he added. “Why my car? I haven’t heard of the incident, maybe that’s why? They didn’t think I’d have any inkling?”

Witt narrowed her eyes. “Do you know Benjamin Lame and Alisha Davis?”

Eli stared back at her blankly. “I have them in my English class at the local community college.”

Dowen wrote that down and Witt sighed turning to her partner. There were still more pieces of the puzzle to put together, but some of the image was becoming a bit clear.

Eli held up a finger. “Wait, Ben and Alisha weren’t the kids on the bridge… were they?”

“I’m afraid so,” Witt said.

Eli put a hand over his mouth. He leaned back in his chair gazing at the ground. “But they weren’t the ones who stole my car, right? You said another man did it? At least, that’s who was caught on camera?”

Dowen and Witt glanced at each other other before Dowen shook his head at the college professor. “It wasn’t the kids who took the car.”

“That’s a relief. I’m sorry something shady is going on with them, but I’m glad they didn’t steal a car. They’re good kids, you know. I wouldn’t expect this from either of them,” Eli explained.

Dowen nodded. Witt’s cell phone vibrated. She looked at the screen and there was a message from an officer who was stationed at the hospital. Witt put her phone back inside her pocket and looked at her partner.

“She’s ready.”

“Finally,” Dowen said. He stood up from the sofa, buttoning the bottom of his jacket. “Thank you for your time, Eli. I ask that you do not go anywhere or leave town. I’m sure we’re going to have to ask you more questions about your car.”

Eli nodded as he stood. “Of course.”

Witt bowed her head to the witness and she lead the way out of the house with Dowen close behind. The two walked to the car in silence, Witt wanting to look over her shoulder but she didn’t. When she made it to the passenger side of the car, she turned around to look past Dowen but hoped it seemed as though she was looking at her partner.

Dowen, with his back still to the house, looked at Witt. “He’s watching us through the window, isn’t he?”

Witt hummed in confirmation. She turned away and got into the car with Dowen as he got into the driver’s side. Neither of them spoke until they pulled away from the house.

“Something was off with him. I didn’t think so at first but then he slipped up,” Witt said, breaking the ice.

“I’m glad you caught onto that too. We never told him how we saw his car or the man who was driving it. He shouldn’t have known about us catching it on camera,” Dowen agreed.

“On the other hand, everyone knows there are cameras set up on that bridge for various reasons. So, if we wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt…”

“I’m not giving him the benefit of anything. Even his story about calling his car missing is fishy to me. We never heard anything on the radio that there was a stolen car reported. There is no reason no one at the station would show up and question him about his car.”

Witt rested her head against the back of her seat. “I know… I was trying to be optimistic.”

“You can hope for the best all you want, but you still have to expect the worst,” Dowen said.

His partner nodded in agreement. “Where do we go from here? We have quite a laundry list to take care of.”

“We need to check and see if his car was ever truly reported stolen. If it was, then someone definitely wasn’t doing their job and we need to deal with that. We should also take a look at the footage again and see if we can somewhat match Eli and the guy driving the car together,” Dowen counted.

“That will hard since we only saw the back of his head.” Witt shook her head.

“It’s still worth looking at. We also need to talk to Ben. He said never specified whether he knew the man who stopped or not. I would assume he’d mention if his college professor stopped to talk to them. Finally, we need to have a chat with Alisha… or whoever that girl is.”

“My vote is on going to the hospital. We’ve been waiting around for this moment and I want to catch her while she’s awake and feeling fresh. I know they said she doesn’t seem to remember what happened, but I think right away is our best option.”

“Agreed,” Dowen said. He turned the steering wheel taking a hard right and headed in the direction of the nearest hospital.

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

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

Read Part One Here

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.

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Short Story Sunday: “Joke” [Part One – 315]

Short Story Sunday: "Joke" [Part One] | Creative Writing | Flash Fiction | RachelPoli.com

“It was just a joke, I swear. I didn’t think she’d actually do it.”

Detective Dowen cast a side-eye to his partner, Detective Witt. She returned the same look. He wrote something down in his notepad while shaking his head. He always tried to keep a balanced pokerface but it was always difficult for him. His partner often made fun of him for it, but he couldn’t help it. Some people were so ridiculously stupid. He wondered how the human race got this way in the first place.

Their witness cupped his head in his hands and weeped uncontrollably.

Dowen rolled his eyes and pointed to the witness in a heap on the ground, in the middle of the bridge surrounded by yellow caution tape. There was too much going on and other police officers were trying to redirect traffic away from the crime scene. This was not the time for their eye-witness to be in the fetal position on the concrete.

Witt shrugged her shoulders in response to her partner’s exasperated stare. She looked over her shoulder watching the police officers buzz about. She ducked under the caution tape that blocked her way to the edge of the bridge and peered over the guard rail. She gazed into the river down below, not a soul in sight.

Dowen stood beside her and he too looked down into the river. “That’s a 50-foot drop. There’s no way anyone could survive that – even if she missed the rocks at the bottom.”

“Do you really think she jumped because her friend told her to?” Witt asked.

Dowen drew in a breath through his nose and lifted his shoulders into another shrug. “Not to speak ill of the dead or anything, but if she did jump simply because her friend told her to, then they’re both idiots.”

“You don’t know she’s dead yet.”

“Are you kidding me? I just said it’s a 50-foot drop. How can anyone survive that?”

Witt shook her head. “I’m not buying something here. I’m not saying we can’t rule out involuntary manslaughter here, but something’s not right.”

Dowen looked back over at their witness, who still sat on the cold concrete though he didn’t seem to be crying uncontrollably anymore. He stuffed his hands in his pockets and let out a breath of cold air. The freezing temperature as well was another factor. If the victim survived, she was sure to be wandering around somewhere with hypothermia.

Witt stepped forward, ducking back under the caution tape and squatted beside their witness.

“Listen,” she said sternly, “My partner and I are cool to hang out on this bridge for a week if you’d like to take your time talking about what happened. The longer you hold off on saying anything though, the farther away your friend slips from us finding her.”

“You’re allowed to talk with a lawyer present if you wish. In that case, we might as well hop in the squad car and take this down to the station where it’s at least warm,” Dowen added through gritted teeth. He normally didn’t mind the cold but they had been standing out there for two hours now and there were getting absolutely no where.

Their witness stood up, wiping his damp eyes and snot-filled nose with the back of one hand and then the other. He gazed at the ground. “No, it’s okay. I’ll talk. I’ll talk if it means we’ll be closer to finding Alisha.”

“Ah, we have a name.” Witt grinned at Dowen knowingly.

“What’s your name?” Dowen asked ignoring his partner’s smug expression.

“Benjamin. Benjamin Lame. Though a lot people just call me Ben… you can call me Ben.” The witness stammered, his voice drifting softer the more he spoke.

Dowen wrote his name down and mouthed, “Lame?” to his partner. Witt elbowed him before turning her attention back to their witness.

“Alright, Ben. This is a good start. Can you tell us about Alisha? What’s her last name? What does she look like? How tall is she? Can you tell us her eye and hair color? The sooner we know these things, the sooner we can send officers down the river in search of her.”

Of course, they had already sent officers to look for a body down by the river, but Ben didn’t need to know that. They had sent a search party out to check for a body the moment they received the call but when Ben wasn’t cooperating right away, they pretended they couldn’t get any more work done the investigation until he helped out. They didn’t know anything about the victim other than her gender and that was because Ben kept calling her a “she”. Witt had a feeling Ben was too afraid they would arrest him for a homicide. He kept saying it was joke and he didn’t think she’d actually jump. Sure, that counted as involuntary manslaughter if Alisha had killed herself because she was given instruction to. So, Ben was most likely going to get arrested regardless. However, nothing sat right with Witt and she had a feeling there was definitely more to this case than met the naked eye.

“Alisha Thorne,” Ben said quietly. “She’s about a foot taller than me, about five feet. She had brown hair that goes down to her waist and hazel eyes. She was wearing a blue winter coat, it was pretty puffy with a hood that had frills around the rim like an Eskimo. She had gray winter boots that went up to her knees over her black jeans. Is that enough?”

Witt motioned to a few police officers to head down to the river and give an update to the on-going search party. “That’s perfect for now, thank you.”

“Do you think they’re going to find her?” Ben asked sniffling.

Witt looked over her shoulder to her partner, but Dowen was back on the other side of the caution tape and looking down at the river. She sighed and turned back to their witness. “We’ll do our best, Ben. Don’t worry.”

Ben sighed. He sat back down on the concrete. Witt sat down beside him. “You need to tell me what happened though. What were the two of you doing on the bridge? There’s no walking here, it’s only for cars. Also, you need to tell me how everything started. What made you jokingly tell her to jump off the bridge? What happened after?”

Ben burst into tears again. Witt cast another glance to her partner and now Dowen was watching the two of them. He rolled his eyes again and made his way over. He squatted down right in front of Ben and gave him a stern look.

“Crying isn’t going to help the situation right now. There will be plenty of time to do that later. But right now, if you want to help your friend, you need to be brave and work with us.”

Ben sniffled again wiping his face with the back of his coat sleeve yet again. Witt twisted her face in disgust. There wasn’t much that grossed her out but she hated runny noses. There were times where she thought Dowen was too harsh on witnesses, especially depending on how old or young they were. In this case, however, she wasn’t about to stop him from speaking the Ben in such a tone. Dowen was right. It was nerve-wracking and scary, sure, but Ben needed to cooperate if they had any hope in finding Alisha.

Ben drew in a sharp breath and nodded his head. “Alisha and I were just taking a casual walk. We take walks together a lot. We never go this way but for some reason, she wanted to.”
Witt glanced at Dowen who returned the look. She knew there was something more to this case. What made the victim want to come over here and walk across the bridge in the first place? Especially since it was off limits to pedestrians and they supposedly never walked this route to begin with.

“I knew we shouldn’t have, but I listened to her and we walked this way anyway,” Ben continued. “As we avoided cars, we stuck close to the railing. Alisha looked down and said that she would love to dive into the river in the summer sometime. I told her that wouldn’t work because it’s too high up and there are so many rocks at the bottom.” He paused his explanation as he got choked up.

“Keep going, you’re doing fine,” Witt said.

Dowen stood back up and looked down at the witness from his six-foot height.

The tears began to roll down Ben’s cheeks again. “I told her, if it were possible, I’d be more impressed if she jumped in right now with the freezing temperature and ice at the bottom. She said okay and jumped on top of the railing. I tried to get her to come down but she laughed at me and told me she never let a dare go unchallenged. She said she was going to do it. A car drove by and the man got out. He seemed angry wondering what we were doing.”

Witt stiffened. There was another witness? A driver pulled over and spoke to the two of them. She looked up at Dowen and he was busy writing something in his notepad.

“She wouldn’t listen to him either. She laughed at the both of us and told us she would be totally fine. I tried to grab her to bring her back down but she jumped.” Ben burst into tears again.

“Who was the other driver? Where did he go?” Dowen asked.

“He d-drove,” Ben hiccuped, “away after s-she j-umped.”

Dowen growled under his breath. “What was the car like? Did you get a license plate?”

Ben shook his head. “It was silver… that’s all I noticed. I’m sorry.”

Dowen clenched his fists. Witt stood and stepped in between her partner their witness on the ground. “Keep your cool,” she whispered. “He shouldn’t have fled the scene, no, but there are cameras on the bridge. We can narrow it down.”

Dowen nodded and let out a sigh. “You’re right. When this kid is in a better state of mind maybe we can ask what this other witness looked like.”

Witt stared down at Ben, who had his face buried in his knees, his shoulders shaking. “Honestly, I don’t know what adult in their right mind would witness such a thing and then leave both kids behind like that.”

“It’s super weird and he’ll definitely be hearing it from me when we find him,” Dowen said.

Witt rubbed the back of her neck. It seemed as though they weren’t going to get much more out of their star witness at the moment. She didn’t know where they were supposed to go from here. She didn’t know how well Ben’s story would hold up in court if they couldn’t find the other witness and certainly if they couldn’t find Alisha – or worse, if they found her body. It didn’t seem as though Ben had any malicious intent. It seemed as though Alisha had something planned from the beginning, especially since she chose to walk across the bridge when it’s closed. She clearly had some other motive planned other than just taking a walk with her friend. Still, because of what Ben told her, he was going to look guilty of involuntary manslaughter. If it came to that, Witt looked at the sobbing Ben, she hoped he’d have an easy and understanding judge.

She couldn’t think of that right now though. Their next steps were to find this other witness and hear what he had to save and also to find out why he left the moment a minor jumped off a 50-foot bridge. Witt watched as her partner absent-mindedly walked back over to the railing and took a peek downward. She didn’t know why he kept looking over the edge. She didn’t know what he was looking forward or what he expected to see. Unless he just enjoyed watching the police search for some reason.

Witt sighed to herself. Was there any more reason for the two of them to stay on this bridge? Most likely not. She opened her mouth to ask Dowen if he was ready to leave. When she looked at him, she saw a shocked expression on his face.

“Dowen?” she called to him.

“Holy crap,” he said. “They found her!”

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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