Crimes of the Fay, Chapter 28

Once again, I expected the worst. I thought he would confess to a horrible crime and then ask for my help in getting him cleared. I also believed that he could have used this chance to blackmail me into doing some illicit deed, and if that had been the case, I felt fully prepared to confess my technically illegal surveillance. I hadn’t considered him figuring out my plot before, but now that I had, it seemed like exactly the type of thing a sociopath would do! I was already going over how I’d word my admission to my department in my head as he began to explain what he wanted, “My sister’s father in law went to the hospital, so she asked me to watch the kids while they went to visit him. I can’t handle them all by myself right now, so would you mind coming with me when I take them out to dinner tonight? I know an arcade with five kids isn’t a great second date, but…”

My body flooded with relief upon hearing this! I prepared myself for much darker demand, and with all of the precarious scenarios that ran through my head, doing this seemed like a piece of cake! “That’s not a problem! I’ll do it!”

“You’re a saint!” I could tell he wanted to kiss me, but he stopped himself as he glanced at the two-way mirror behind my back. Instead, he gave me a little tap on my hand and told me, “I’ll text you the address. Meet me there around six?”

“Sure!” I grinned at him, and when he smiled back, I could have swooned! As I watched him leave, I pushed my suspicions about his criminal nature aside as I savored the affection I just received from him and imagined all I had coming to me later!

With a smirk, Sandra joked, “And Chief Mazarine worried about me acting like a school girl!”

As I pulled out my wand to turn the surveillance equipment back on, I gently chided her, “You shouldn’t have done that!”

“What? He was a friend of Jasmine, he had a right to know how she died!” she justified as the listening devices turned back on. I gave her a hard stare, and she awkwardly shrugged, “Alright, so maybe I just wanted to-.”

“Detective Nason! In my office, maintenant!” Chief Mazarine pointed out the door, and Sandra sheepishly left the room. I figured that he would chew her out for going off the record like that, and I almost felt bad for her. She tried to do something nice for me, and her stunt did score me another date with Aidan, but she could have gone about it in a different way. I walked back to my cubicle and came to the conclusion that her desire to get a confirmation of our relationship oversaw her sound judgment, and I hoped her curiosity on the matter would subside a little after this!

After I read an email from forensics saying that they didn’t recover anything from the cellphone but would continue searching as they repaired it, I decided to type up my report on the new evidence before I headed out. As I gazed at my notes about the killer in my serial murder case, I got reminded of how much his profile matched Aidan. Suddenly, it seemed foolish to go on another date with him! Once again, he picked the location too! I did feel a bit better knowing a bunch of kids would surround us, so he couldn’t do much with so many witnesses around. Plus, I’d get to drive myself this time, so I thought this rendez-vous offered less dangerous potential consequences. I really needed to find out the information he kept hidden from me, so I settled on the notion of continuing with the evening as planned but added the firm resolution of snagging what I needed to know from him!

Sandra came out of Chief Mazarine’s office pretty shortly after she went in. Apparently, he got the impression she went off the record so she could hit on him, which gave us both a good laugh. Before she could attempt to gather more details from me though, I had her look over my report so I could dash out. I did feel a little guilty for keeping a secret from a friend, but I assured myself she’d understand why once I uncovered the truth from him.

I drove to the address he texted me, and before I went in, I brought out my wand to doll myself up a bit. I know it may have appeared a little silly to dress my finest to go to some kiddie place, and he did already see me not that long ago, but I needed to do everything I could to get what I wanted from him! And yes, I realize that has a double entendre to it. A part of me wanted more than just kisses from him, and I had no idea how I’d accomplish that in front of his nieces and nephews, but as I saw him waiting for me at an empty table, it was all I could think about! I tried to keep my investigation at the forefront of my mind, but as I walked in, I didn’t know which side of myself would become the victor here!

I thought the expression on his face displayed an impatience for waiting, but as I got closer to Aidan, I could tell he had gotten irritated by all of the children running around. Based on his previous description of his sister’s kids, I could pick them out from the crowd pretty easily! I previously assumed he exaggerated on their behavior, but as I watched their rambunctious antics, I saw that I stood corrected! I totally understood why he wanted some help for the night now! As soon as he noticed my arrival, he beamed and then joyfully greeted, “Hey! You didn’t run away the moment you saw the reality of the situation!”

“A promise is a promise!” I giggled at his quip as I sat next to him, and he gratefully gave me a kiss.

“Ew!” the two youngest reacted in repulsion.

Aidan directed them, “Go play!” After they ran off, he turned his attention back to me. “How did the rest of your day go?”

I shrugged. “It was pretty uneventful. Do they serve food here? I’m starving!”

“They just have pizza I think.” He handed a small menus over to me, and then he amended his statement, “Oh, they have a salad bar too.” He spotted one of his nephews playing with the food in that area, so he scolded him, “Hey, get out of there! That’s not a toy!”

“I’ll probably skip the salad bar.” I made a face just thinking about all of the other kids that dipped their hands in there!

He said with a grin, “I don’t blame you!” We shared a laugh, and then he began searching around the restaurant slash arcade area. “Is there a waitress or-.” One of the workers came over to our table, and he pleasantly regarded her, “Oh, hi! Can we get a large pizza for the table?” He asked me, “what kind do you like?”

I answered, “Pepperoni is my favorite, but whatever you guys want is fine.”

“One large pepperoni, please,” he politely requested.

“Um, okay, I can do that, but I actually came over to ask if that was your kid over there…” She pointed to a child that had climbed on top of the skeet ball games and was currently trying to go inside the air vent.

Aidan groaned and then yelled, “Harper! Get down from there!” The little girl pretended like she couldn’t hear him, so he took out his wand and used his magic to float her down. He apologized to the employee, “Sorry about that.” She sort of half smiled before she ran off to the kitchen. Aidan gave me an appreciative look and then commented, “I can’t believe you agreed to this date! Then again, I’m still in shock you wanted to go out with a guy like me in the first place!”

I shook my head in exasperation as he played the humble card again! I’m a decent catch, maybe a bombshell to a loser like Ben, but I couldn’t accept a man this handsome, fit, charming, and rich wanting to act like he wasn’t good enough for someone like me! “Why do you keep saying that? I’m a plus sized woman who’s about to get divorced, and I live in a crime-ridden trailer park with my mom and crazy stepdad, that’s a lot of baggage! I haven’t even had the chance to dress my finest, and you keep saying I’m so pretty! I got so stressed that you had to teach me how to have fun again! Why do you wanna take all that on? You’re funny, talented, you make decent money, and you’re one of the most gorgeous men I’ve ever seen in my life, so why do you want me? Why do you want me when you could have the most beautiful woman in the world?”

“Oh, I can have you?” He gave me an amorous smile as he spoke.

“I was serious!” I thought the gesture was cute, but I truly wanted some honesty here. If he wanted to manipulate my feelings in order to pull the wool over my eyes to his potential crimes, then this operation of me going out with him to gather evidence against him would have been pointless. I pondered what story he would come up with, and if I detected any hint of deception, I readied myself to walk out and let him deal with these wild kids on his own!

With an intensely serious face, he looked me right in the eye and insisted, “So I was!” I hadn’t expected any authenticity, and the concept stunned me in the best kind of way! He went on, “When I first saw you, I had to look twice ’cause I thought an angel just walked in! I swear! You’re smart, and you seem curiously adventurous, but what really drew me to you is a strong sense of decency that’s very rare and very attractive! You’re a better person than me, and I’m lucky you even gave me a chance! I know you almost didn’t.”

After blushing furiously for all of the sweet ways he described me, I felt a little guilty for my initial hesitation of dating him. “Well, you gotta understand, I just left my husband, like, a week ago…”

“Oh, that makes sense.” He nodded in comprehension.

“I didn’t expect to date again for a while, and then you came along, and it just felt so fast…” I almost spilled my guts out about how attracted I grew to him, but then it occurred to me that a window of opportunity to discover the secret that I needed to uncover for my case just opened up, and as much as every fiber of my body wanted to elongate this romantic occasion, I couldn’t let my community down by not seizing this chance! If he did play a part in the murders, I needed to know right away! If I acted too selfishly, I could put innocent lives in danger, and I refused to let that haunt my conscious! So, I came up with, “I like you a lot, and I’m ready to be yours, but only on one condition… You have to tell me what’s in those missing files at your work!” His face soured a little, but I pressed on, “I need to be able to trust you, and I can’t date someone who doesn’t tell me what they really do at work!”

He contemplated my offer for a few seconds, and then he concluded, “Okay, I’ll tell you. I just hope you don’t hate me too much when I do!” He mentally prepared himself to expose his secret, and I waited with bated breath…

Crimes of the Fay, Chapter 20

“No! That’s impossible! That can’t be right!” My entire body froze upon hearing that, and my brain just didn’t want to accept it. I had convinced myself of Aidan’s complete and total guilt, and I couldn’t comprehend how anyone could think otherwise! It just didn’t make sense to me that suddenly everyone believed in his innocence! It seemed completely unfathomable that anything he said or did would convince our finest investigators and legal team to let him just walk out free! If I didn’t know that Chief Mazarine had no sense of humor, I would have thought he had fabricated that story as some kind of joke ! A part of me still waited for him to deliver the punchline as I anticipated the explanation on how Aidan got cleared of all charges- it just didn’t seem sane enough to be true!

“We found ties to him in Reed Radley and Dion Cielo’s murders, but we didn’t find any links to him on this one,” Chief Mazarine relayed to me. “His DNA doesn’t match the killer’s profile, and we have zero evidence that this killer worked for anyone but themselves. We had no choice, we had to let him go.”

His logic made perfectly reasonable sense, but I just could not make peace with this as everyone else did! Aidan was now a free man, and with no one monitoring him, I could only imagine the mayhem that he would unleash! This gave him the knowledge that he could get away with anything, and I shuddered to think of what he would do since he had immunity to the law! I tried to reason with Chief Mazarine, “He had large gaps of unaccounted for time! We’re just supposed to ignore his shady business dealings?”

Chief Mazarine affirmed, “Yes! Shady business practices have nothing to do with our department! If you want to file a federal case against him, be my guest, but otherwise-.”

“What about his frequent interactions with the Fays?” I brought up. “And his habit of honing his magical abilities? He’s a charismatic and powerful, he has all of the profile traits of this serial murderer! How can we just-?”

“He didn’t get tried for this crime, so if you find any new evidence showing his guilt, we’ll bring him back, but as of right now, we have no legal justification to keep him included in this investigation!” Chief Mazarine noticed my sour expression, so he added, “Being a sleazy person isn’t a crime! You know that! Just let it go and move on to the next person of interest!.”

Every fiber of my being held on to the notion that he was hiding something, and I just couldn’t let it go like he suggested! I expected Sandra to rally by my side and renew the case against Aidan, but to my astonishment, she seemed to have sided with Chief Mazarine! “In our witness’s account of last night’s attack, she didn’t mention anything about the killer working for someone. She told us this guy was working to destroy the world, so I think he’s in charge. I think Aidan’s done some fishy stuff, but I don’t think he had anything to do with these murders.”

As Chief Mazarine agreed with Sandra’s viewpoint, I felt like I just got betrayed. Sandra had stood by me more than once and vouched for me when my instincts prompted me to go a certain direction, but at a crucial moment like this, she abandoned me! I decided quickly that I’d have to get used to fighting for this stance on my own, but I still gave it one more try to sway them to my side, “He could have altered his DNA! It hasn’t been done before, but I think it’s entirely possible that he-.”

“Go home, Shannon!” Chief Mazarine directed me. When I reacted as if he had fired me, he expanded on his idea, “You haven’t had a day off in a while, and clearly you haven’t gotten a lot of rest lately. Take a couple of days off to relax, and come back with a fresh mind for the case.” I must have still looked hurt because he elaborated, “Technically, you’re due for time off anyways. I know stuff keeps happening that calls you back on your time off, but HR will have my head if I overwork you on purpose!” He turned to Sandra and told her, “You too, but I want to hear more about Giada’s story before you go.” He turned back to me and reported, “Go home, Shannon. We’ll see you on Tuesday!”

I still wanted to argue my stance on Aidan, but I certainly couldn’t disobey a direct order! Instead, I just sighed and unwillingly went back to my cubicle to gather up my belongings. As I grabbed my purse out my desk, I cheered myself up a little by reminding myself that I had at least bought some time before I had to tell Sandra what happened between Aidan and me last night. I didn’t make eye contact with any of my colleagues as I headed out, I really didn’t feel like explaining myself to anyone else that day, so I just left as fast as possible. As I neared the exit, I lost the small hope that a more veteran detective would stop me and say how they agreed with my conclusions. I gave up on anyone joining my cause and started wondering how on Earth I’d fill in all this free time that I’d apparently have. All I could think of was dealing with the uphill battle to finally rid myself of Ben, and the premise of dealing with that made me really dread my weekend!

As I went outside the station, my focus on all of the recent and upcoming unpleasantness made me miss who was standing by the exit. All of a sudden, a familiar voice rang out, “Oh, you’re off earlier than I thought!” I nearly had a heart attack from getting snuck up on like that! I whipped out my wand in a defensive mode, thinking that with this amount of surprise had to include some kind of ambush, and I got a jolt of shock to see Aidan standing there! He didn’t seem to have any aggressive inclinations, but I didn’t lower my wand. I had absolutely no intention to trust him right then! He didn’t seem offended though. He held up his hands and apologized, “Sorry! I should have known better than to startle a cop like that!”

“Boy, I’ll say!” I concurred with my wand still drawn. He gave me a sheepish glance, and so I asked him, “What do you want?” I expected him to demand an apology in the best case scenario. I doubted that he would confess to any wrongdoing, and I really hoped that he hadn’t planned on any sort of attack- I was in no mood for that!

“Actually, I just wanted to know… Would you like to have dinner together tonight?” he requested.

I uttered, “You… Did you just.. What?” He completely threw me off by asking me that! That man had women fawning over him left and right, he could have had anyone he wanted, and he picked me! Not that I thought so little of myself, I just always figured a guy like that wouldn’t go for an imperfect woman. Men of that caliber had their pick of the litter, and they usually pursued girls in top physical form, young, loose… I had an hourglass figure, but I had a lot more sand than a lot of ladies did! I liked my shape, but I didn’t think that perfectly fit people were interested in anyone overweight. Plus, I was in my thirties, not young, and I still hadn’t technically divorced my husband, so I didn’t have any temptation of going to bed with anyone for a while. He knew that, and yet he still asked me out! I grew highly skeptical of his motives for doing that!

He kicked his feet bashfully, and I could see his cheeks redden. “I guess I shouldn’t have bothered. I figured you’d say no, but I thought I felt a spark between us, and I didn’t wanna pass up the chance to go out with a woman like you! Sorry!”

“What do you mean, a woman like me?” I could have let him leave, but he really struck me with that last statement!

“Well, I …” He seemed a little embarrassed to admit it, but eventually, he confessed, “You’re classy, and you don’t deal with low lives like me. You’re a boss, so you’re very selective in who you associate with. You probably go for CEO’s and college professors, not some sales person like me! I mean, I make decent money, but you’re probably looking for someone more prestigious. You’re so pretty too, and now that you’re single again, you can have any guy you want! Why would you want me?”

It felt eerie for him to echo something similar to what I had just been thinking! He came across as very authentic, and it definitely flattered me! I just didn’t know how much of that I actually believed. I could concede his impression of my class and career ambitions, but I really doubted that my level of beauty really had the prowess to sway men like he alleged! I considered the luxurious sports car he drove and the amount of swank he maintained for his office, and it didn’t make sense to me for a guy like that to show such humility! I couldn’t figure out what he wanted from me, and as I caught a glimpse of the station out of the corner of my eye, it dawned on me- he probably wanted to keep tabs on me so he could glean how much I knew about his involvement in the case! I felt a little foolish for daring to consider feeling flattered from his advances! I didn’t think he had any other interest in me, which hurt a little, of course, but I steeled myself up so that I could reject him out of sheer prudence. It wouldn’t make sense to risk my case and my safety just to pretend a man like that took interest in me! Before I could tell him no, he surmised my response from my silence. “Sorry to bother you!”

He started to leave, and I resumed thinking about my weekend ahead again. I would have had a pretty mundane time at home dealing with my split from my soon-to-be ex as well as potential drama from Wade’s odd behavior unless I got called in for another murder. I wondered if my refusal would prompt Aidan to kill someone else, and then I suddenly got inspired for a new weekend plan! I called after him, “Hey, Aidan!” He halted in his tracks and gazed at me curiously. “I’d love to have dinner with you tonight!”

“Great!” He beamed at me, and I smiled broadly too, but not for the reason he thought! As we walked to his car (which I assumed got released after the charges were dropped), I smugly relished in the concept that I had just flipped his game on him! He wanted to date me to get information, and I decided to do the same to him. I could watch him and get clues about his plans. I thought that maybe I could gain his trust and he’d let something slip out to me! Something verbal, I mean. I hadn’t planned on sleeping with him, although I would have had a hard time saying no since he was so hot! I didn’t think it’d go that far though. Anyways, I also reasoned that he couldn’t do anything precarious in my presence, so I thought one life would get saved as I spent time with him that night! If he did anything in front of me, I could stop him right away! I almost laughed picturing the jealousy I’d cause if my colleagues found out I went on a date with someone they were drooling over! I inwardly celebrated in the fact that Chief Mazarine may have pulled him out of the scope of the case, but that didn’t deter me from finding a way to investigate Aidan after all!

The Clearfront Balcony Club, Scene 5

Scene 5: As the sun is starting to set, Drew sits outside drinking a bottle of beer. Jessica comes out with a bowl of pasta. Drew makes eye contact with her and waves.

DREW: (jokes) Is that your dinner or another craft project?

JESSICA: (sits down on her bench and laughs) My apartment felt a bit stuffy, so I thought I’d eat outside.

DREW: What’d you make?

JESSICA: Spaghetti. Well, not really. All the store had was this pasta that I think is supposed to be for soup. (shrugs) Whatever, it still tastes good to me. Oh shoot! I forgot my drink!

DREW: You want a beer?

JESSICA: Sure, I’d love one! Thanks!

DREW: No problem!

Drew uses a bottle opener to loosen the cap and hands it to her. She takes off the cap and holds it up in a toast.

JESSICA: Cheers!

DREW: Cheers!

They clink their bottles together, take a sip, and sit back down.

DREW: What did we just toast to?

JESSICA: (takes a bite of food before she answers) I dunno, we’ll think of something later.

Drew chuckles as he takes another drink.

DREW: How was your night after we finished crafting?

JESSICA: (playfully sarcastic) So exciting! I walked all the way down to the mailbox!

They both laugh.

DREW: I guess the halls are pretty empty now, huh?

JESSICA: Yeah! It’s weird! Usually when I get the mail, I pass by the gym and it’s always full. Today, not only was it empty, but the room was dark! I’ve never seen it like that!

DREW: I miss going to the gym!

JESSICA: I miss having the option to go! I never could get into a habit of exercising since my schedule was constantly changing for whatever gig I landed. Now I wish I went! Maybe I wouldn’t be so out of shape!

DREW: What’s wrong with your shape? I like your shape!

Jessica looks up in surprise, and Drew gets embarrassed.

DREW: I just meant that you appear in decent physical shape. I mean, based on the glue stick toss, you’re obviously not athletic, but…

JESSICA: Hey!

She jokingly threatens to to throw the bottle cap at him.

DREW: You’re throwing it? I’ll be fine then!

They both laugh.

JESSICA: It’s funny, I haven’t been told I’m in good shape in ages! You don’t get that often as a plus size model!

DREW: You’re a model?

JESSICA: Just a plus size model.

DREW: What’s wrong with being a plus sized model?

Jessica blushes and looks away bashfully.

JESSICA: Well, I did a bit of modeling to help pay the bills. After I finally landed a leading role, I didn’t think I’d have to worry about that for a while! I have enough to last a couple months, but if this thing lasts longer than that, I’ll have to figure something else out!

DREW: Join the club! Half the tenants in Clearfront gotta worry about that!

JESSICA: Probably more than half! Hopefully soon, it…

An ambulance blares loudly. Jessica and Drew watch as it pull up in front of their complex.

JESSICA: Oh no!

Brisa and Owen run out to see what happened.

BRISA: That did pull up in front of Clearfront!

Rob and Nedra emerge from their apartments.

ROB: I was just in that hallway! It better not be that damn virus!

Juniper comes out to see what’s happening, and Carla and Mendel curiously watch too.

NEDRA: It was only a matter of time before it reached us!

JESSICA: Don’t say that! It might not be that!

JUNIPER: (pointing down) There they are! Oh goodness, they’re so young!

NEDRA: They could have underlying health problems, but really, this thing affects people at any age!

DREW: Wait, look at his arm!

JESSICA: You’re right! That’s broken for sure!

JUNIPER: Oh, thank the heavens! It’s just a broken arm!

Everyone breathes a sigh of relief. Carla, Mendel, Juniper, and Nedra all return to their apartments.

OWEN: Whoo! Thank god! (mulls it over for a moment) We’re happy about a broken arm! We’re living in weird times!

ROB: That’s for sure! Man, I did not need this today! Work was stressful enough!

BRISA: What happened?

ROB: We got a shipment of toilet paper in this morning…

Everyone perks up when they hear this.

OWEN: The bodega has toilet paper?

ROB: It had toilet paper! For, like, three seconds! People stormed the place and fought over it like it was a plasma TV in a Black Friday sale! After it was gone, I spent the whole day trying to explain why we’re out!

JESSICA: What’d you tell them?

ROB: The truth! At first. I got tired of explaining it, so I started telling people that Crumbs took it to make a cat house! They didn’t think it was funny. Whew! I need a drink!

DREW: I got you!

He reaches into his cooler and pulls out a bottle for him.

DREW: (to Brisa and Owen) You guys want one too?

BRISA: That sounds great!

OWEN: Thank you!

Drew loosens the cap to three beers and passes one down to Rob. He passes two to Jessica, who passes them to Owen and Brisa. They all take a moment to take a drink and let the effect of the alcohol calm them a bit.

BRISA: If I change my wedding registry to the bodega, do you think I could get toilet paper?

They all laugh.

ROB: Oh, I haven’t gotten to that certification yet. It’s just been…

OWEN: We know! It’s gonna take a couple of days for her gown to finish anyways, so it’s okay!

They take another moment to savor their drinks.

JESSICA: So, what on earth do you think that guy was doing to twist his arm like that?

DREW: I’m not sure I wanna know! It’s a helluva time to go to the ER though! I wonder if he’ll even be able to get a room!

BRISA: All those poor people stuffed together, risking exposure…

ROB: I feel bad for all those healthcare workers! My job’s tough right now, but compared to what they gotta go through…

They contemplate it all, and their expressions grow grim. Jessica is suddenly struck with an idea.

JESSICA: I’ve got it! I know what we can toast to!

She holds her drink up high.

JESSICA: To their good health!

Drew holds up his drink.

DREW: To their good health!

ROB: Saluté!

BRISA & OWEN: Saluté!

They toast to each other from a distance, take a drink, and then continue to chat with each other as the lights fade.Jessica & Drew