Or Maybe I Have

“You want to repeat that?”

They had brought me in some time last night. I’d been too sleepy to know much more than the sun wasn’t up yet. The neighbours, oblivious as they were, were all locked up in their beds. They’d probably think that something had happened at night, but have no idea what it was.

Would still blame me though. That’s what they do.

I stared at the cop. He leaned over the table. Figured I could be easily intimidated. On a normal day, he’d be right. But then my level of normal is … well.

Not.

So I didn’t bother saying anything. Just waited for the blow.

->#<-

I have to say. I was surprised he didn’t hit me. Suppose that is part of the “normal” thing. He just sat there for a while. Like he was trying to wait me out. I almost laughed. Maybe the room was bugged. Cop didn’t want it on his permanent record that he’d hit a suspect. Or a witness. I’d been sitting in this chair for hours, and still didn’t know which I was.

“What is your name, asshole?”

He knew my name. Or, at least, I assumed he did. Hmm. Maybe they never actually asked. I sighed. There was no point antagonising him about it.

Though, I suppose I am always going to do that.

“Carl.”

The detective eased back into the chair. Smirk on his face. Like he’d won something. The great “Get me to say my name” challenge. I wonder if they’ll give him a medal.

“You’re lying.”

Oh, so he did know my name.

“Says here your name is John.”

Honestly, I really don’t remember what it is. I think I used John to check into the hotel. But the name I was born with? What relevance does that have.

The thing is, you call yourself a different thing every day? You ain’t ever finding your way back.

“What were you doing at the hotel, John?”

I eased my head back. Rested it on my shoulder. Wondered how serious this was going to get.

“I was sleeping.”

“Funny. Well, you can sleep in here then.”

->#<-

He didn’t come back for hours. Was probably only minutes though. Unless he has identical outfits at home. Whatever tailor makes those cheap suits must make a fortune. I used to be able to keep track of time. Four walls and no windows plays with my mind.

When he came back in, I was still where I had been. Hadn’t bothered getting up to walk around. That’s the problem with this sort of place. You get up, they think you’re worried. Guilty. You sit there quietly, they think you’ve accepted being caught. Guilty.

“Let’s talk about the girl.”

Ah. So that’s why I’m here. Nothing to do with the hotel. He wanted to know why a 6 year old girl was dead. Probably asked about the hotel to clear a path with his bosses. Make it like he had reasonable cause to bring me in. Figured he was running short of time. He wouldn’t be jumping topics otherwise.

That or he just wasn’t very good.

He didn’t care about the hotel. Neither do you. You just won’t admit it. I ran a count through my fingertips. Tapped each one once on the table. Suppose I could have given him the line he was looking for. /What girl?/ All innocent and confused. But I knew what girl.

He slammed the piece of paper down on the table in front of me. “Sarah Jade McKenzie. Age 6.”

I stared at it. Meant nothing to me.

“I don’t remember her.”

He stared at me. “Are you saying you didn’t kill her.”

I shrugged. “No, I’m saying I don’t /remember/ her.” I sighed. “There have been so many.”

The detective’s mouth fell open. I really had to stamp on the urge to laugh. He didn’t know what to do. I’d thrown him more rope than he’d seen in his life. Didn’t know which way was up.

“H- ahem how many?”

I smiled. Lying is fun. “Four or five.”

A part of him died. Right behind his eyes. A little deflated? Well, let’s fix that right up.

“Dozen.”

He fell into the chair. Just stared at me. I smiled.

A knock on the door. Someone came in. Woman in a suit. I tried to stop smiling. Can’t ruin the punchline, after all. She whispered in the cop’s ear. His eyes went wide.

“You’ve got to be kidding me. He just confessed.”

She turned to me. “My apologies, sir, for the misunderstanding.”

The cop was on his feet, pulling the woman away from me. “Five dozen kids killed! The bastard is right there.”

See how quickly rumours can spread?

She shook her head. “Wrong hotel room. Illegal arrest. We can’t hold him.”

I got to my feet. Smiled at the cop. Walked out of the room. He is going to spend the rest of his life trying to prove that I killed those little girls.

Little girls that I just made up. Like I said. Never heard of Sarah Jade McKenzie. Never killed anyone.

Or maybe I have.

By Tom Wells. © 2011