Crimes of the Fay, Chapter 18

I had to use my magic to get back to Anaknock quickly, and coupling that with the flurry of different emotions I went through that day, I felt incredibly wiped out! As I drove to the coordinates that Sandra gave me, I struggled to keep my eyes open. I wouldn’t have the ability to sleep after all that, my body just wanted to curl up on the floor and do nothing for the rest of the night. Working overtime after dealing with an ex would have been draining enough, but getting my emotions played with bothered me the most! He managed to take a very deep and personal conflict of mine and made me believe that someone actually cared what I went through! I knew that there was a chance that they’d find Aidan totally innocent, but I didn’t have high hopes of that happening. The fact that Aidan skipped town right after another murder occurred seemed really fishy. It could have been just a coincidence, but until I heard evidence proving otherwise, I wouldn’t accept notions of his innocence! His DNA didn’t match the profile of the killer’s, but he certainly had the money and influence to persuade someone else to do it. As I pulled up to a spot in the woods by the Virginia border, I tried to collect myself in order to process this scene properly. I had so much anger built up about this whole situation, and what made me the most steamed was the fact that no amount of logic or reasoning seemed to dispel the romantic sentiments I now realized that I had for Aidan!

Sandra came up to my vehicle and gently knocked on my window. I hastily tried to disguise my feelings, but I guess Sandra had already seen what I was doing in there because she asked me, “Are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” I answered untruthfully. Sandra knew I had lied and gave me a disbelieving look, so I rectified my statement, “Okay, I’m not fine. Can we talk about this later?”

“Oh, you better believe we’re talking about this later!” Sandra responded as we walked into the woods towards the crime scene. “Aidan is at the station right now, and he’s probably telling us his side of the story, so, of course, we we wanna find out yours!”

I outwardly groaned upon that realization. I hadn’t considered it until right then, but naturally, they’d grill him about why he led me on a chase like that. That realization made me dread what he would tell everyone! We hadn’t done anything, really, but for a moment there, I thought I might! I didn’t want the whole world to know the story of what I went through with my family (Not at that time anyways! Obviously, this book shows I changed my mind later!), and I definitely didn’t want him to imply that the leading detective on this case developed an amorous interest in her top suspect! The possibility of that happening made me fret that Chief Mazarine would demote me back to petty crimes again! That would have been a nightmare! The more I thought about it, the more reckless I felt for doing what I did! As I wondered when the feelings for him would go away, I could tell that Sandra was dying to inquire more about the incident. Luckily, we stumbled across the crime scene pretty fast, and I felt so grateful to have a distraction in that instance!

We approached the public restrooms for the hiking grounds in the area, and a forensic investigator led us towards the women’s side of it. She advised us, “Hold your noses for this one, guys!” That’s never a good thing to hear before you go into a bathroom, but it sounded particularly stunning coming from someone who has had to deal with all kinds of odors from various crimes! When we got close, the the smell of sewage overwhelmed our senses! I didn’t think it was possible for something to wreak worse than Wade, but this proved me wrong! After she gave us a few seconds to regroup, the forensic investigator remarked, “It gets worse!”

She pointed her wand down to clear a path for us since the entire women’s room got flooded. Usually, my eyes got drawn right to the body, but the most eye-catching part of the scene was the message written on the wall: “The Earth is destined to get destroyed. Save yourselves and become a Fay!” The assertion’s creepiness would have scared anyone on its own, but instead of getting inked with blood, these words appeared to have gotten etched on by feces! “Holy crap!” Sandra exclaimed.

“I don’t know about holy, but it is, indeed, crap,” the forensic investigator confirmed. “The DNA from it matches your suspect.”

“They used their own poop?” I cried out in aghast and disgust. “Why didn’t they use the victim’s blood like usual?”

She pointed to a woman’s body lying on the floor. “I’m guessing it got diluted by all of the toilet water on the ground. It looks like the victim put up a fight, there’s several pipes that appear to have been burst open magically. Her pockets had some used needles and a wad of cash in it, but no ID or any other personal belongings.”

I noted, “So, she came for a drug transaction. That’s another deviation from the killer’s profile!” I remembered that Aidan mentioned working with former prostitutes and drug dealers, which I bitterly theorized didn’t bode well for him. “With all of this water, I’m guessing you didn’t find any footprints.”

Before the forensic investigator could reply, we saw the woman’s body suddenly convulse! It trembled as it slowly changed forms. It decreased in mass, and it shifted to a hue of green that reminded me of a crayon I had as a kid that the manufacturers dubbed “Electric Lime.” After her ears and nails elongated and grew more pointy, the woman abruptly bolted up! Sandra and I both raised our wands, and Sandra told her, “Don’t bother running! You’ve got no way out!” She looked around, and when she saw no other doors or accessible windows, she begrudgingly surrendered.

The woman now turned Fay refused to speak about her attack, she wouldn’t even admit that anyone went after her! Since we didn’t spot any other person there, we had no choice but to charge her with destruction of public property. We were hoping that she’d open up more after spending some time in jail, but we weren’t counting on it. You know who else spent the evening in jail? Aidan! They charged him with violating his conditional release and fleeing from an officer, and since he now had a history of escaping, he wasn’t even given the option of bail! I felt a little better since I knew it’d be a while before anyone questioned him, but I still worried about what he would say once our department questioned him. I wanted to be the one to do it, but I’d have to question my new witness instead, so the task would get handed over to another one of my colleagues. The one silver lining from all this woe was that I wouldn’t have been able to sleep that night even if I wanted to! Some of my new neighbors got drunk and rowdy, and I could hear a lot of hooting and hollering accompanied by loud bangs that lasted until sunup! The police officer in me wanted to have them all punished for all of the laws I knew they were breaking and all the ones that I probably didn’t know about, but I really didn’t want to deal with my peers again that day! If I had any desire to slumber that night, I would have felt furious about the constant disturbances, but if it had to happen any evening, I was glad it happened at that time! At least it temporarily distracted me from my nerves that got jangled just thinking about what the next day would bring!

The next day, I walked into the interrogation area, and I could tell what room Aidan got placed in because, once again, he had a large audience! It sort of amazed me that so many people found an excuse to come in on a Saturday, but I was sort of glad that they did because it made it easier for me to avoid Aidan’s section! I got another surprise when I saw that Sandra hadn’t participated in his fan club activities! She had been waiting for me outside of another interrogation room, and when she saw me and studied my appearance, she instantly concluded, “You look terrible!”

“Thanks! I feel terrible,” I rang out sardonically. “So, did-?”

“Wait, wait, wait!” Sandra interrupted me as we went into the observation room. “Before we talk about this witness, I wanna know what happened between you and Aidan that night! And don’t say nothing! You lost sleep over the matter, something happened!”

Sometimes it annoyed me to work with people who were good at reading other people’s behaviors! Nothing stayed private, it seemed! I really wanted to save my last remaining brain cells on getting as much information as I could out of this witness, and when I glanced into the interrogation room (looking for an excuse not to do it), I noticed that this Fay had a lawyer with her. So, I suggested to Sandra, “Let’s talk about that later. We don’t wanna keep her attorney waiting too long!”

Sandra saw the accuracy of my rationale, so she reluctantly relented, “Okay. But whatever happened clearly had an impact on you, which impacts the entire case, so when we’re done here, you’re definitely telling me what happened last night!” I didn’t say anything, and Sandra sighed as she was forced to move on. “This is Giada Midori. She was twenty-two years old when she got killed, and she has numerous arrests related to drug activity. That’s all we know so far.”

“Let’s go find out more!” As I walked out of the room, my curiosity boosted my mood. I didn’t want to rest all of my hopes on solving this case based on a witness who only cooperated out of her preference to not get incarcerated, but I had a feeling that we’d gather some clues that would propel us in the right direction!

As Sandra and I entered the interrogation room, the lawyer stood up and introduced himself, “Good morning, ladies! I’m Verne Bradshaw, and I’m representing Miss Midori.” He shook our hands and took a seat after we sat down. He then continued, “My client has some information for you on the condition that you drop the charges in her case upon receiving her statement.”

“As long as we can verify the information as accurate, then of course we will,” I assured them. “Okay, Miss Midori, if you didn’t destroy that bathroom, who did?”

With a sour face, Giada retorted, “What does it matter? Soon, your entire race will get exterminated! What does it matter if this scumbag gets arrested or not?”

“Well, I guess you’d rather spend your last remaining days in a federal prison then!” I shot back.

Her displeasure got heightened by my quip, and as Verne urged her to cooperate, I pulled out my notebook and pen, ready to write. She unwillingly revealed, “Fine! You really wanna know who destroyed that bathroom? I’ll tell ya! The guy who killed me did it, and he is…”

Crimes of the Fay, Chapter 17

I don’t know what I expected to happen. I guess since I had such a profound new perspective enhancing my case that I’d get significant communication that confirmed my theory about the killer’s anti-human mindset. To discover something so deep and meaningful only to have it followed by a trivial matter seemed unimaginable unimaginable until I saw the caller ID. Logically, I should have known it was just Ben returning my call, but it still disappointed me to lose that momentum that I had just built up! I begrudgingly answered the phone, “Hello, asshole! Taking a break from your whores to talk to me?”

He hesitated slightly before he told me, “Uh… I’m having dinner with my parents. They can hear you…”

“Oh!” At first, I regretted my choice of words, but then I realized that I didn’t care about sparing his feelings anymore. “Did you guys know that your son is a man slut?”

“Okay… I’m gonna take this call in another room…” As I heard him making his way to an area out of his parents’ earshot, one of my mother’s cats went onto my lap. I stroked its fur, but I really wasn’t thinking about the kitty much. The longer it took for him to get back on the phone, the more irritated I got! Finally, he got back on and chided me, “That was rude!”

I laughed derisively at him. “I’m being rude? You cheated on me and stole all my money, and you wanna lecture me on manners?”

He pointed out to me, “We’re married, so it was both of our money!”

“BOTH OF OUR MONEY!” I roared. I stood up so fat that I sent the poor cat flying across the room! Don’t worry, it didn’t get hurt, but it did give me a dirty look as I berated him, “Look, I didn’t like bringing this up when we were still married ’cause it didn’t matter to me, but I make a lot more money than you! You put me in a situation where I had to go out on my own, so I should have access to all the money I worked my ass off to earn! But fine, for argument’s sake, let’s say it’s both of our money. You didn’t split it evenly and blow your half, you spent almost all of it! I spent forty plus hours a week making most of that money, and all that effort got blown by your prostitution addiction! You didn’t even leave me enough to survive on! So, no, you don’t get to claim ownership of that money! You stole from me!”

“Woah, woah, woah! What do you mean, ‘when we were still married?’ We’re still married,” Ben brought up.

I let out a noise of disgust because I definitely mentioned divorce to him before, and he obviously still didn’t get it. I thought perhaps that I didn’t make myself clear before, but after that response, I truly believed that he was still in denial. It bothered me that I had to tell it to him again, and just as I prepared myself to let him have it, Wade unceremoniously burst into the house. “Whew! What a night! WE had this group of people come in from-!”

I indicated to my phone and informed him, “Um, I’m on the…”

“Oh, okay!” He plopped down onto his favorite chair, and I always forgot how badly he smelled until I got close to him. I stood up and headed towards my room to take the call, but then he blasted the TV and bellowed, “Hey, hon! Our favorite show is on!”

“Who’s that? Your new boyfriend?” Ben probed.

I tried to reply back to him, but Wade kept shouting to my mom about what was happening on the random show he turned on, and my mom only heard portions of it as she prepared dinner. He realized that I wouldn’t heard the call in any part of the house, so I stepped outside.

As I got onto the front stoop, I remarked, “That was my mom’s husband. Listen, you need to get it through your-!”

It started pouring down rain, and I knew that I couldn’t complete this conversation in the house, so I decided to run to my car. I wasn’t about to hang up, I wanted to get this over with! Before I could get to my car, I heard Travis’s voice call out, “Where’s my bike?”

“I don’t know!” I barked. I didn’t let him ask me anything else before I got into the car. It felt like such a relief to get out of the rain! I turned on the speaker phone as I pulled out my wand to dry everything off, and as I worked, I finally revealed to Ben, “I’ve already left you! I don’t wanna be married to you anymore! I want a divorce!”

“A divorce? Please, baby, I can change!” he moaned.

I hardly listened to his sniveling. The rainwater prompted my cellphone to open up several apps, and after I dried it off and started closing everything, I noticed the map from Aidan’s tracker showed him moving. I watched it as he headed eastbound. He had already gone out of Anaknock, but if he moved out of Slygow county, I’d have to go get him! From the way he was moving, I got the sense that he would go out of bounds, so I conjured my car keys and waited for the moment he crossed the line. He got closer and closer, and just when he neared the edge, Ben got my attention, “Babe? Babe! Are you listening?”

I bluntly said to him, “No. I gotta go! See you in court!” He tried to argue with that last tidbit, but I wouldn’t let him. I saw Aidan land on the border, and I used all my concentration to magick myself there. A flash of light enveloped the car, and then, poof! I disappeared from the lot.

As I tailed his bright yellow, luxury sports car, I paged dispatch, “This is Detective Shannon Vidette. I’m in pursuit of a suspect who’s under surveillance, he’s heading out of our jurisdiction. Requesting permission to proceed.”

“Detective Vidette, what is your location?” the dispatch operator responded.

“I’m in…” I saw a flash of light surrounding his vehicle, and I felt determined not to let him get away, so I stepped on the gas to propel myself forward enough to get included in his spell. It worked, and once again, I disappeared into the night air!

I landed directly behind on an unfamiliar road, and we were going too fast for me to check my navigation so I could determine my location. Dispatch repeated its request, but I didn’t know what to tell them. “I’m… I went to…” All of a sudden, Aidan hopped out of the car and began running. I ran after him and continued my conversation with dispatch on my cellphone, “I’m in a foot pursuit.”

The dispatch operator queried, “A foot pursuit where?” When I couldn’t come up with an answer, dispatch inquired, “Are you in danger?” Aidan unexpectedly stopped, and as I raised my wand in preparation of a possible combat, dispatch concluded, “It sounds like we have an officer down. I’m using your GPS to send back up immediately! Stay calm, Officer Vidette, help is on the way!”

I ignored my phone as I continued to hold my wand up towards Aidan. He just stood there gazing out into the distance. I didn’t think he planned to harm me, but I had no idea what his intentions were, so I commanded, “Don’t move!”

“I’m not moving,” he reacted with unexpected calmness.

“I know, I meant don’t move from this point further.” It irked me that had a snarky attitude after he led me on a chase!

He challenged me, “Why? You have no authority here.” I’d never admit it to him, but he had a valid argument! Despite that, I kept my wand raised in case he decided to attack. He turned to me with a slightly remorseful expression and put his hands behind his back. “You can cuff me anyways if it makes you feel better.”

I approached him with caution. It had to be some kind of trick, I thought. It didn’t make sense to me that he would take such a great effort to escape only to surrender so easily like that! I pulled out my cuffs, and my nerves were through the roof as I inched towards his hands. I fully expected him to suddenly lunge out and carry out his nefarious objective, and it truly shocked me when I put the cuffs on without trouble! I actually stood still for a second, waiting for some kind of catch, and when nothing happened, I couldn’t help but cry out, “What the hell! Why? Why would you-?”

“I knew you’d follow me,” he explained. “I could also tell you’ve been under a lot of stress lately, so I thought you could use the break.” Before I could scream that putting me through a pursuit like that was hardly a break, he added, “This is the beach town I go to when I wanna relax. You told me your work never brought you to places like this, well, now it has!”

“You did all this just as an act of kindness to me?” I stared at him with the utmost skepticism.

He asserted, “Well, I kinda got the impression that not a lot of people have been very nice to you recently, which I don’t think is at all fair! You seem like such a good person, and you deserve that kind of treatment!”

It really bewildered me to hear such an accurate assessment of my situation! I wanted to feel touched by the gesture, but I reminded myself of his adept ability to read and manipulate people. I didn’t want to fall for his ruse, and my apprehension still clutched to the notion that he had ulterior motives for doing this. I worried that accepting his attempt to cheer me up would put my guard down, which would cause me to leak vital information or get blindsided by an attacker lurking in the shadows. Either of those scenarios playing out would have made much more sense to me than what appeared to have been absolute honesty! I didn’t understand why he’d behave so compassionately towards me, but I also didn’t detect an ounce of deception, which just left me totally confused. “I… You… We’re really by the beach?” I know it sounds a little silly that, out of all the questions swirling in my head, I chose to ask about that, but I really wondered if we had actually traveled to the coast. I wouldn’t have put it past him to fool me into thinking that we did that so he could stir up my emotions and really expose my vulnerability.

“The ocean is right in front of us! Take a look,” he invited.

“No!” I fixed my focus purposefully to the ground. When my father planned out that seaside vacation twenty-seven years ago, I built up tremendous anticipation for the opportunity to travel, but once we caught my mom committing infidelity and their marriage fell apart, the idea of going anywhere outside of Anaknock scared me. That incident felt like a bad omen, and I lost any inkling to venture outside the city I resided in. The very concept that I had just done it didn’t feel real! Catching a glimpse of the coast would just confirm that I did, indeed, journey somewhere, and I didn’t know what would happen if I accepted this fact, but it frightened me to risk everything I had left just to see some water! I knew that lots of people traveled everyday, but if I did it, I believed that something bad would occur. I didn’t want to tempt fate, so I wanted to avoid the reality of my current circumstance if I could help it!

Aidan appeared to have inferred what I was going through because he correctly assessed, “You were scared to travel.” I didn’t say anything so I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of being right, but I think my lack of a response confirmed his theory. “We don’t have much time before they get here. You’re gonna have to face your fears eventually, so why not get it over with?” I didn’t want him to continue to bug me about it, but, once again, he was completely right. I’d obviously have to look up sometime, especially when my colleagues got here, and I didn’t want to risk freaking out in front of a large group of my peers. I mean, I saw pictures of the beach prior to that, so I reasoned that I wouldn’t see anything drastically new. I decided that I may as well relent to his wishes, and when I finally saw it, my jaw dropped!

Pictures didn’t do the beach justice! The water glittered like a jewel, and it stretched further than I could imagine! The colors of the sunset made it look like a painting, and I could feel a coolness in the air that I’d never felt before! I could hear the waves crashing gently against the shore, and even the aroma it emitted invigorated my senses! I could understand why Aidan frequented this place now, and it made me ponder what its effect on my family would have been if we had visited here all those years ago. Just the very thought of its inherent healing abilities brought tears to my eyes! Thinking about what could have been if we had come here was too much for me, and I couldn’t help but weep!

Aidan gently commented, “I’d hug you right now, but… you know…” He gestured his head towards his back where his cuffs were.

With the heavy weight of the tumultuous sentiments bearing down on me, I felt like I’d collapse if I didn’t brace something at that moment! Temporarily forgetting all of my previous prejudices against him in this instance, I threw my arms around him and just let myself sob into him! He leaned his head in so he could convey his support, and after the initial wave of this episode lessened a bit, I remembered my assignment. Through my crying, I stated, “This doesn’t change anything about the case!”

“I know!” he softly acknowledged while continuing to hold me. This comforted me in a way I had never experienced before! I began to feel a pleasant warmness in the pit of my stomach that radiated throughout my body. No one spoke a word, so all I could hear was the waves and my heart pounding. I picked my head up, and as my eyesight met his, I could see genuine care exuding from deep inside of him. It just heightened the beauty of his eyes! His lips curled into a tender smile, and a part of me thought they were so inviting… All of a sudden, it dawned on me- Sandra was right, I did feel attracted to him!

I heard sirens blaring, and I instinctively jumped away from Aidan. As I saw police from this town arrive, I could feel myself flushing. I hoped that no one noticed my brief temptation of impropriety, and I regretted letting myself succumb to any rudimentary desires that I unknowingly harbored. “Sorry for the confusion! My suspect used magic to transport us, and I lost my orientation.”

“Don’t worry about it!” an officer reassured me. “We’re glad you’re alright!” She turned to Aidan and warned him, “Don’t try any funny stuff with us! One way or the other, we’ll make sure you get back to Slygow county!”

As they escorted him to a squad car, I got reminded of his criminal nature, and I felt very irresponsible about what just played out! He found a weakness, and I wondered how he might use it against me! It hurt me to think he had faked his affection to get something out of me, and I considered that perhaps I had made incorrect assumptions about him. Just when I contemplated giving him an apology for my misconceptions, my cellphone rang. It was Sandra, and I could imagine this event made her worry about me, so I picked up the call and assured her, “It’s okay, I’m fine!”

“I know you are! I’m not calling about that! They just found another body with your killer’s DNA on the scene!” she revealed. As I watched the vehicle carrying Aidan drive off, I got angry again. Maybe he didn’t want to console me at all, I thought. Maybe he was trying to create an illusion of innocence so that I wouldn’t catch on that he had just fled from a murder scene!

Crimes of the Fay, Chapter 16

Before either of us could address him, a purple Fay popped into his office. “Hey, Aidan, I…” She noticed the police officer, Sandra, and me standing in there and became a bit flustered. “Oh, I’m sorry! I didn’t realize you had guests still…”

Aidan inquired, “Is everything okay, Jasmine?”

“Oh, fine!” Jasmine replied. “I was just gonna say I sold a wedding dress.”

“Oh, you made a sale? That’s great!” Aidan reacted joyfully. “We’ll do a bell ceremony in a minute.”

Jasmine seemed happy to have an excuse to leave the room and dashed out as soon as she could! Just as I was about to ask Aidan what in the world they did during a bell ceremony, the escorting police officer made a noise of disgust. “What?” I probed.

He looked alarmed by my question. “Oh, did I make that noise out loud?” Sandra and I both nodded. “Sorry, I meant to only think it.” We stared at him for an explanation until he finally relented, “I just don’t understand how you can work with the Fay Folks! I’d never be able to trust them!”

“Officer Finnigan, that’s rude!” Sandra reprimanded him.

“Well, you asked!” Officer Finnigan defended himself. “There’s a reason I wasn’t gonna say it out loud!”

Sandra remarked, “The Fay Folks may look different, but they’re not actually different than any other person! They’re just as greedy, selfish, and maniacal as regular humans! Just now they can’t do magic.”

I got a jolt of shock to hear her have such a callous attitude towards human beings! I had the impression that she had a very kind and generous nature, so to hear her say such a grim assessment of humanity really threw me off! “That’s not true!”

“No, they really can’t do magic,” Officer Finnigan corrected me.

“That’s not what I meant,” I clarified, “I’m talking about what you said about human nature. Not everyone has those sociopathic tendencies! There are good people out there!”

Sandra rectified her previous statement, “Oh, of course! I didn’t mean you! You’re a really good person!”

I differed with her, “I know that. Humans in general aren’t bad! Not everyone has strong morals, but most people will do the right thing when it comes down to it!”

“Really?” Officer Finnigan responded. “You’ve done this job for half your life and you still believe that most people are basically good?”

“Yes!” I affirmed. “There’s so many stories of people doing a lot of good for the community and the world! You’ve done this job long enough to see truly heroic acts happening! How can you believe such horrible things about people?”

Sandra put in, “There are a lot of decent folks out there, but if people were all basically good, then you and I wouldn’t have this job right now!”

I countered with, “If we had more bad than good, then Reed Radley would have turned into a Fay! He didn’t, he’s just plain dead, and his killer is on the loose right now! We may not be able to rid all of the world of evil, but we can restore a little justice to people who deserve it! That alone is enough to convince me to keep faith in humanity! How about you?”

Officer Finnigan and Sandra looked a little ashamed of themselves, and no one spoke for a moment. Eventually, Aidan broke the tension by asking, “So, am I going to jail or can I go back to work?”

“We’re giving you a conditional release,” Sandra informed him. “You had a presence at two murder scenes, so your activities are suspicious enough for us to put you under surveillance for the next forty eight hours. If you go anywhere that’s non-essential, we’re going to follow you to see what you’re up to.”

“Oh, goody! What a fun weekend!” Aidan retorted sarcastically.

This prompted Sandra to remember something. “Oh right, it’s Friday! My husband and I have reservations at Oberon’s tonight! You don’t have any plans tonight, do you Shannon?”

I told her, “I was gonna deal with my ex-husband, so if Mister Maddox makes me miss that… I won’t be mad! I’d love an excuse to not deal with that prick!” I saw a twinkle in Aidan’s eye, so I added, “That’s not a green light for you to misbehave!”

“Well, I could just misbehave at my home then and you’ll never know!” Aidan kidded.

“Do you want more surveillance put on you?” I prodded.

He answered with a wry smile, “Obviously, I totally meant that. It’s been so much fun so far!”

I curtly expressed, “If you wouldn’t do illegal things, then we wouldn’t need to keep watching you.”

“I didn’t do anything wrong and yet here we are!” He gestured to everyone in the room. I folded my arms in disbelief, and he pointed out, “If you found any evidence of wrongdoing, I’d be heading to jail right now!”

“Ugh, that’s true!” I regretfully acknowledged. He grinned triumphantly, so I pulled out my wand and reminded him, “It’s not over yet!”

He commented, “I never said it was.”

I regarded him, “You were thinking it though.”

“You can read minds now?”

“If I could, then I’d already know your secrets and surveillance wouldn’t be necessary.”

He grinned and told me, “Touché!” He posed in a way so that nothing obstructed him, and after I concentrated a little, I released the spell. As soon as he saw that it had taken effect, Officer Finnigan removed the other cuff. “Excellent! Well, it’s been a pleasure, really! But my team does need me, so if you’ll excuse me…”

“We’ll talk soon, I’m sure,” I shot at him as we left.

He didn’t seemed fazed by that. He simply waved to us as we exited and bade us, “Have a good weekend!”

He gave us a little wink before we took off, and I just rolled my eyes and marched out. Sandra girlishly giggled and simpered, “Bye now!” I gave her a peculiar look, and as we went out of the building, she came back at me with, “What? You’re allowed to flirt with him, but I can’t?”

“I didn’t flirt with him!” I vehemently denied as we got into the car. “He’s a criminal! I would never!”

“Is that why you’re mean to him?” she wondered as she started the car. “You wanna oppress your feelings of attraction to him in case he’s guilty?”

I claimed, “I’m mean because he’s trying to run his game on me and I won’t let him!” She didn’t look like she believed that, but she didn’t say anything else about it, which I felt grateful for. I considered her a friend, so I didn’t want to keep arguing with her. Oh sure, I thought Aidan had good looks, but I really thought he had criminal tendencies, so I didn’t accept her claim… At least not yet…

When I came home, I saw that my mom and Wade weren’t home yet, which meant the Roadkill Diner actually had customers! I couldn’t imagine who on Earth would want to spend their Friday night there, but I didn’t want to ponder that point too much since their livelihood depended on it. My mother requested that if I got home before her that I feed the cats. I always wondered why she fed them all (I actually counted eight!) in separate rooms until I aimed my wand at only the bowl in the kitchen. Cats from all different directions swarmed in, and aside from the displeasure of getting knocked into, I noticed that the cats were all fighting over who got to get to the bowl first. After fully comprehending her reasoning for doing so, I also fed the cats in the other two rooms that their bowls were stored in! I offered to help my mom out with chores using my magic since she had a hard time with hers, but she insisted on doing it herself. I didn’t fully comprehend why, but she had a good reason for her feeding method, so I figured she had a good reason for doing that as well!

After dealing with a complicated task like that following an emotionally taxing day, all I wanted to do was relax! Unfortunately, I promised Ben I’d call him to clear my intentions, so I sighed really loud before dialing his number on my phone, which I now relabeled his contact ID as Future Ex. It rang on his end, and I dreaded the instance when he’d pick up the call. To my astonishment, that moment never came! I got sent to voicemail, which ticked me off, so I yelled, “Really? You spent all that time and effort to get me to talk to you and now you’re not answering the phone? What, are you out screwing another whore? Well, fine, asshole! You’re the one that wanted to talk, not me! I’m perfectly fine communicating through-!” The voicemail system cut me off before I could say “my attorney.” I felt thoroughly vexed until I realized that I didn’t really want to talk to him anyways, so I just exhaled to release my ire, plopped onto a couch in the living room, and turned on the television.

The TV had a local news station playing already. With the kind of day I had, I really needed to watch something more relaxing. I hadn’t familiarized myself with their cable channels yet, so I pulled up the menu and started scrolling through to find something more cheerful and uplifting. The news program still played in the background, but I didn’t pay any attention to it… That is until I heard the anchor say, “…an increased number of Fay Folks attacks…” That caught my attention, and I turned off the channel guide to listen to this information. “Breena Alfred has the story.”

“Thank you, Shay! A number of viewers have contacted us regarding hostile encounters with this group. What used to be a few harmless nuisances has turned into a series of aggressive agitators.” Breena shifted to a nearby screen that played the scene she described. “Earlier today, a bystander caught this footage of two Fays harassing this elderly woman…”

“The Fays shall inherit this land! The Fays shall inherit this land!” the two Fays in the video repeatedly shouted as they pushed and poked an old lady, who could hardly defend herself.

Breena went on, “A lot of people are claiming similar ambushes with the same anti human rhetoric. Our sources at the Slygow County police department have revealed that in the last couple of weeks, reports involving Fay Folks have tripled! It leaves us wondering… What the heck prompted this sudden shift in tactics for them, and what exactly is their end game? Everyone is hoping for a peaceful ending. Shay.”

As Shay started talking about another news item, I sat there totally perplexed. The increased attacks from the Fay Folks started around the time that Reed Radley got killed, and the evidence left on the scene proved that the killer adopted a similar attitude. My double homicide had nothing to do with these other crimes at the moment, but I couldn’t help but think that my suspect had a little more than just murder on his or her mind! Maybe their goal had much greater stakes…

Before I could continue contemplating this possible connection, my cellphone suddenly rang…

Crimes of the Fay, Chapter 15

We had to let him go. He hadn’t uttered a single word about his attacker, which he had the right to do, I just seemed odd. If someone cut me off in traffic, I wouldn’t hesitate to report them to authorities, so it felt hard for me to imagine not feeling motivated to tell law enforcement about someone who actually killed me! I’ve seen that happen a few times in my career, and usually the victim got hurt during the commission of another crime that they wanted to cover up. I assured Mister Cielo that if that was the case with him, it didn’t matter to us, all we cared about was catching the perpetrator who did that to him, but he still refused to say a word. The only other time I ever came across a Fay who refused to speak about an atrocity committed against them was Dahlia. Their similar behavior did make me wonder if Dion had some kind of involvement in that event, but I couldn’t find anything that legally tied him to it, so we released him. As we watched him leave, I couldn’t help but wonder if the Fays really were banding together as the signs at each crime scene suggested!

I didn’t have the time to think about that much though. Despite Dion’s refusal to cooperate, we still had proof of a crime taking place, so we worked analyzing other evidence to solve his murder. We searched through his phone history and saw that he arranged to meet someone in that alleyway around the time of his attack! We tried to call that number, but it appeared to have been destroyed. Someone obviously learned from Reed Radley’s case and did more to cover their tracks. We did learn one thing from his cellphone though- his work number registered as Tarahill LLC! Not only did that make Aidan his boss, but it tied Aidan to the two crime scenes! It seemed like too much of a coincidence for him to not have played a role in this double homicide, so I felt sure that I had found our suspect! We just needed to find the proof we needed to get him convicted in court!

It didn’t take long for us to get a warrant to search Aidan’s business! Sandra and I arrived shortly after a police officer escorted Aidan out of his vehicle. As we approached the entrance, Aidan proudly told me, “Did you hear? My DNA didn’t match your suspect’s!”

I actually had gotten that notification prior to my arrival, but it still made me cringe to hear him remind me of this. I tried not to let it show to give him the satisfaction of knowing that he got to me, but I felt sure that he had seen my disappointed expression. To keep him from crowing about it, I quickly came back with, “That doesn’t let you off the hook, Mister Maddox! The only reason you’re not in jail right now is ’cause of all the security measures you got on the place! Don’t get too comfortable! Whatever you’re hiding, we’ll find it!” To my disappointment, he didn’t seem worried. As soon as the police officer who escorted him there uncuffed one of his hands, he took out his wand and waved it to release the protective spells around the area. Afterwards, he lowered his wand and patiently waited. It irked me slightly to see him display such a lax attitude, clearly he expected to get away with this just as he had everything else! I marched in determined to find the evidence we needed!

The front doors opened up to a giant warehouse full of desks with computers and telephones on them. A couple dozen people worked feverishly at their individual stations, and the place lit up with the sounds of typing keyboards and phone calls getting made. When we got closer to them, we caught glimpses of their screens, and we observed order forms as well as ads featuring a variety of things like antique jewelry, appliances, used wedding gowns, old movies, and a number of other random objects. I really expected to see some black market items, so it actually shocked me to not find anything illegal! As if he could read my mind, Aidan remarked, “Does it surprise you that we actually sell what I told you we sold?”

I inwardly grimaced, but I made sure to keep my face neutral because I knew he wanted to get a rise out of me. Instead, I simply directed him, “Just show me to Dion Cielo’s workspace.”

“Yes, ma’am!” he complied in a little too cordial manner. His escorting police officer closely followed him as he led us towards the other side of the building, and I glanced around at my surroundings. This place had the appearance of a factory still, so I found it strange to see such a prestigious hyped up sales company set in a less than glamorous facility! I had a sneaking suspicion that everything displayed at the moment was just a front for something more precarious that they used this space for! Before I could ask him about it though, he declared, “Here’s Dion’s area!”

“Really?” I reacted skeptically as I stared at a nearby and practically empty desk. Everyone else had office supplies arranged the way that functioned best for them as well as personalized pieces for decorative purposes, but Dion’s section looked nearly empty! “Did someone clean things up after Mister Cielo went missing?”

“No!” Aidan replied very casually. “We just hired him not that long ago. He was living on the streets when we found him, so he didn’t have much to bring here yet.”

I heard Sandra’s adoring sigh, and when I turned back to gaze reprovingly at her, she immediately excused herself, “I’m gonna look around, maybe talk to a few of his coworkers…” She then dashed off as soon as she could!

Aidan watched as I pulled out my wand and used it to cipher through Dion’s activity. As I searched, I asked him, “So, you recruit homeless people too?”

“Occasionally,” Aidan answered with a shrug. “A lot of the homeless men and women I recruit are very people savvy. Well, they kind of have to be for their own survival, and the drug dealers and prostitutes wouldn’t get any customers if they didn’t know how to work people. That’s actually how I found Dion. He had a very friendly banter that made buying his crack almost tempting! I convinced him to come down here to work.”

“What do you mean, come down here?” I inquired as I continued to study his browsing history. “Where did you recruit him from?”

He replied, “A little beach town on the other side of Maryland. I didn’t have any clients there, I just needed a day off to relax, and the ocean is so good at clearing your head, you know?”

The mention of the beach made me flashback to that awful day in my childhood, and it wasn’t easy for me to just toss it aside to concentrate on my investigation. I know that my mother had a reasonable explanation for her behavior, but I just remembered a lot of hurt feelings that day, so it still felt awful to have that memory resurface. I tried to sound as nonchalant as I could as I regarded him, “No! I don’t do that.”

“You don’t do what? Go to the beach or relax?” Aidan queried.

“Both,” I admitted truthfully. I could tell he wanted to find out more details about my assertion, so I cut him off by letting him know, “It does seem like he worked here a couple days prior to his murder, but it looks like he spent more time shopping for things instead of selling them. Were you aware of this?”

Aidan shrugged again. “Not really. When someone works on commission only, not working means not getting a paycheck. If a new person takes too long to make their first sale, I might coach them or give them additional training, but I wouldn’t freak out about it.”

I felt sure he figured out that I was fishing for a motive, so I assumed that any anger he may have harbored towards Dion stayed buried within him. It then occurred to me that perhaps he didn’t feel angry towards him. With the two signs that showed up at each crime scene, I started thinking that maybe his ire stemmed from a much greater hate! At that point, I knew that if I wanted to find out more about Aidan’s perspective, I needed to search through his things, not Dion’s! “Show me to your office.”

We walked over to a large, oak door on the wall just behind all of the sales people’s work stations. I expected it to contain a factory-like feel to it too, but instead, I walked into one of the most sophisticated rooms I had ever seen! Not only were the walls updated with a smooth paint, but it had expensive furniture and very posh knick-knacks placed in just the right spots. I felt like I had just walked up to the front desk of a luxurious hotel rather than the manager of an industrious sales force! “I did it for recruitment purposes,” Aidan stated as if he were just asked a question.

“Excuse me?” I puzzled.

“All of this is to impress the people I interview,” he explained. “I know it doesn’t match the rest of the business, but when we have potential new hires, I put a privacy curtain up for my current employees so that all they see is an empty hall space before they see my office. I tell them that this is the end goal! If they work hard, they’ll get to my level someday! I’ve opened up franchises in three different states now, and…!” I could tell he wanted to tout more of his success to me, but when he caught a glimpse of my unimpressed and increasingly impatient face, he somewhat bitterly invited me, “Feel free to search through it.”

I walked over to his desk and said sardonically, “Well, forgive me if I don’t take your word for it!” He seemed a little insulted by my quip, but he didn’t put up a fuss as he pulled out his wand and lifted some security measures on his computer. We stood in silence for a moment, which didn’t bother me at all. I preferred to have it quiet so I could process everything I found there. I didn’t see anything noteworthy until I happened to see the time of his activity. I discovered that large gaps of time hadn’t been accounted for! I felt sure he had deleted certain things knowing he’d get his computer searched through, so I tried to draw the truth from him, “Why are there so many gaps between your different work activities, Mister Maddox?”

He didn’t seem fazed by my attempt. “I was probably talking to people in person. I use my cellphone sometimes too.”

“Can I see it?” I requested.

“Do you have a warrant?” he probed. “It’s my personal cellphone, and I’d hate for you to get in trouble with your boss…”

His refusal told me that whatever he wanted to keep hidden from me was on that cellphone, but his rejoinder had a different effect on Sandra, who stood in the doorway and sighed dreamily. I walked over to her and whispered, “Did you find anything?”

She reported, “This establishment seems really professional, a little too professional, actually! No company is run that flawlessly! I don’t even see a break room! It’s weird, I’ll admit it, but there’s nothing we can arrest him for!”

“So, what do we do now?” I wondered.

“If he’s up to something, he’s too clever to have it hidden here,” she informed me in a low voice so that he couldn’t hear us. “We’ll need to meet him on his own turf…”

Crimes of the Fay, Chapter 14

“A homeless man found him this morning,” a forensic investigator told us as she led Sandra and me to an alleyway next to a business adjacent to Town Square. “I think, given his dissheveled appearance, no one took him that seriously. The responding officer said he walked all the way to a mattress store before someone called nine-one-one.”

“The mattress store where Reed Radley worked? That’s a coincidence!” I remarked.

The forensic investigator politely differed, “Hardly! Take a look.”

She used her wand to pull aside a white sheet that surround the crime scene, and it stunned us to see a man lying dead beside the trash can with a sign that read: “He’s not the first, and he won’t be the last! Surrender to the Fay!” The message got hung up using discarded hangers, and it, too, got its ink from blood! “This is just like Reed Radley’s murder! Except they left the body here. Maybe they had too many potential wtinesses nearby.”

“We think that the victim put up a good fight,” the forensic investigator informed us. “We found a blood smear on the wall behind you.” After Sandra and I jumped a little to distance ourselves from the evidence, the forensic investigator added, “The DNA matches the sample obtained from your previous crime scene.”

“So, we have a serial killer on our hands,” Sandra stated.

Thinking about how the forensic investigator mentioned the witness finding the body this morning, I followed up with, “When’s the estimated time of death?”

She replied, “Somewhere between three and six a.m.”

“Ah, so Aidan’s not off the hook yet!” I concluded. “We need to test his DNA against the killer’s samples. Damn, why didn’t I think of that this morning? It could have saved us several hours of questioning!”

“Not necessarily. He could’ve orchestrated the murders without doing it himself.” When it clicked for her that she had been talking about someone she fancied, she suddenly amended herself, “Not that Aidan is capable of doing anything like that…”

I tried not to roll my eyes. Sandra struck me as a very intelligent person, but something about Aidan really fogged up her logic! I just simply commented, “Well, let’s see where the evidence takes us. Did you take a look at-?”

Before I could finish my sentence, I heard some sappy, old-school love ballad blaring from Town Square, which seemed a little strange but I tried to ignore it. I attempted to ask my question again, but then I heard a familiar voice echo out, “Shannon, Baby, please come home!”

I buried my face into my forehead, but I could sense the investigators and officers still on the scene’s eyes all fall on me. I couldn’t believe that he had done something so drastic and utterly stupid! Sandra tentatively queried, “Uh… isn’t that Ben?”

“Yes!” I admitted with my hands still covering my face.

“Did you tell him you were coming here?” Sandra inquired.

I responded, “No!” She brought up a good point, and the very idea of her concept pushed aside all of my embarrassment and prompted me to march right over to his little stunt. The rest of my colleagues followed me out of sheer curiosity.

It totally mortified me to see a crowd surrounding Ben, who dressed like a character from a cheesy, eighties’ romcom, and they all cheered at my appearance. Ben used his wand to lower the music from his boombox (where he got that from, I’ll never know!), and he addressed me, “Shannon, I know I screwed up, and I’m really, really sorry! I miss you so much! Please, come back to me!”

The crowd began chanting, “Do it! Do it! Do it!” He conjured up some roses and tried to hand them to me, and I wouldn’t take them. The crowd really urged me to forgive him and take him back at that point. He really made himself look like a romantic, and I looked like a jerk for not accepting his apology! They had no way of knowing what he did to me, and then it suddenly occurred to me the best way to end this…

I pulled out my wand and pointed it at my throat so I could amplify my voice against the cacophony of the crowd. “This man cheated on me with several hookers and stole my money to pay for them!” The crowd grew disgusted at him and hurled insults at him before they dispersed. It pleased me to see my plan working, but it also annoyed me that I had to air out our dirty laundry in order to do it! He just stood there in a humiliated astonishment, so I seized the moment to let him have it, “You son of a bitch! You left us homeless to feed your addiction, and you expect I’ll just fall for that stupid gesture and forget everything you did to me?”

“I wasn’t gonna leave you on the streets!” he protested. “I had it all worked out for us to stay at my mother’s house ’til we got our own place again.”

“You mom lives all the way in Baltimore! You expected me to drive three hours to get to work each day? And three hours back?”

Ben argued, “You could’ve used your magic to get you there faster!”

I yelled, “Ugh! Really? You think I have the energy and the concentration it takes to do a spell of that magnitude twice a day, five days a week? I may be smart enough, but I… Wait, what am I saying? That’s assuming that I’d forgive you for sleeping with the hookers and the Fay!” That last word renewed my focus on why I had come to Town Square in the first place, which led me to ask him, “How did you know I was here?”

“I got a police radio,” he confessed. When I gave him a reproachful look, he defended himself, “Well, you wouldn’t answer my texts or return my calls! I had to find some way to get you to talk to me!”

“So, this is your solution? Harassing me at work? You see that crime scene over there?” I gestured towards the alley. “A man just died! I’m investigating a gruesome murder, it’s kind of important! So, I’m going back to my job now! Any future communication should be done through an attorney!”

I turned to leave, but he stopped me by saying, “An attorney? Why would I need an attorney? I already did my time for the whole prostitution thing!”

I bellowed, “A divorce attorney, you idiot!”

His face contorted into confusion, and he actually asked me, “A divorce attorney? Wait, you’re leaving me?”

The idiocy of that question made my head hurt. I didn’t know how to respond, and I honestly didn’t want to explain it to him. I needed to get back to my investigation, and I was about ready to tell him to shove off when I saw a blue streak pass me. Sandra chased after it while commanding, “Stop in the name of the law!” I shot one last dirty look at Ben before I joined her pursuit.

When I caught up with Sandra, I realized that we were chasing a Fay! I wanted to ask her what he did to warrant that pursuit, but with both of us running at top speed, neither of us had the breath to talk about it. I took a mental note that I really needed to get back into shape, and then I concentrated on catching this Fay. I had no idea why Sandra started chasing him, but I felt positive that she did so for a very good reason! He turned down an alleyway, and after we did too, we saw multiple pathways that he could have ran and we had no indication of which way he went. We stopped to catch our breath, and then Sandra half joked, “I’m getting too old for this!”

A garbage truck tried to go down the path opposite from us, but when the driver saw us, he stopped and waited for us to finish our operation. I suggested to Sandra, “Well, since we know he didn’t go that way, how about you look left and I look right?” She nodded in agreement, and we split up.

I kept my wand in the ready in case he decided to ambush us. I had no idea who this Fay was or what he was capable of, but I figured that if it hadn’t been urgent, Sandra would have let him go. I crept quietly and checked behind every trash can and dumpster, but I saw no sign of him. It smelled pretty badly though, and I hoped that we could find the suspect quickly so that the sanitation worker could continue doing his job! All of a sudden, I saw some bins ahead of me rattle, and I knew that the Fay was about to make a run for it. I really didn’t feel like doing another chase, so I used all of my remaining concentration on a spell. Luckily, I pointed my wand at just the right spot at just the right time and I nailed him! He got knocked to the floor, and I rapidly swooped in to cuff him. As I did so, the Fay bemoaned, “This isn’t right! You can’t arrest the victim!”

“This isn’t an arrest, you’re just being detained,” I told him as I snapped the cuffs on him. I had a lot of people pronounce that I had no legal authority to arrest them after they ran from me, so it had become customary for me to explain that I just needed their cooperation until a thorough investigation was conducted. Sometimes people at the scene ran for arbitrary reasons, but we needed to know what happened before we just released them! I prepared to explain to him that we needed to make sure of his claim before we released him, but the last part of his statement now stood out to me. “Wait, what do you mean, victim?”

Sandra had seen me apprehend the subject, and she ran over to assist. “Nice work!” she complimented me.

“Sandra, who is this?” I asked her. “What happened?”

She answered me, “This is Dion Cielo. He’s the murder victim from your crime scene!”

“You’re the murder victim?” I stared at him incredulously. He acknowledged the validity of these words, but he didn’t say anything else. His behavior flabbergasted me! In every other case I came across that involved a Fay, I had never seen one who refused to explain how they became a victim! Normally, they like to stir things up by really making the crimes against them seem worse than they actually were. Like, when I was a rookie cop and met my first Fay at that trailer park, he really hammed up his chihuahua bite as attempted murder, but someone actually killed this man and he refused to talk! “Why’d you run? Who did this to you?” He pursed his lips and didn’t say another word.

Crimes of the Fay, Chapter 13

“Let me guess, one of my former clients implicated me in a crime they committed,” Aidan regarded me sardonically. “Whatever they said I did, they’re lying! I’m not that type of guy!”

“Oh really?” I responded in a tone of disbelief. “And just why would one of your clients implicate you in a crime?”

He explained, “Spite. Most of my clients are satisfied with our transaction, but you can’t please everyone. All of my sales are final, so if a client isn’t happy, then they might resort to drastic measures.”

I asked him, “What is it exactly that you sell?” I was dying of curiosity to know the answer to that question!

“Anything I can get my hands on,” he claimed. Obviously, I grew skeptical of that one, and it must have shown on my face because he then clarified, “Anything I can sell legally, I mean. Furniture, used cars, clothes… You’d be amazed how many people can’t use free selling apps! Or some people try to use them and can’t figure out how to do it properly. My staff and I sell it for them and make a living off of the commission.”

“I see…” I didn’t actually completely see what he meant, I just needed a moment to mail this information over. His explanation made sense, but it felt like something was missing still. I remembered the details of his website, and then it hit me. “Why doesn’t your company’s site give any examples of what you sell? Not even any success stories?”

Aidan replied, “I’ve found that an air of mysteriousness draws more people in. They ask us questions, which forces them to talk to a sales rep. Plus, I have the website for people I’m trying to recruit. I want to make my business seem as prestigious as possible, and selling old lamps and trading cards doesn’t seem very lucrative. Most of our clients are obtained through face to face interactions, so I don’t really need to use the website to describe what we sell.”

He appeared to have an answer for everything, which made me think he must have frequently dealt with law enforcement prior to this. He had a clean record, but that didn’t mean he never had any interactions with the police. It doesn’t go on a citizen’s record when we just have a conversation with them. His quick replies led me to believe that he talked to several officers in the past, which meant he got reported for suspicious behavior a lot. He may have had a smug expression, but his body language indicated to me that he was hiding something, and I felt bound and determined to unearth what he wanted to keep secret! “So, tell me, Mister Maddox…”

“You can call me Aidan,” he smoothly offered to me.

“Mister Maddox…” I didn’t take his bait. “…tell me why I would find your card tucked inside the wallet of a prostitute.”

He frowned slightly as he spoke, “Sometimes I try to recruit prostitutes and drug dealers to convince them to make a living in a more honest way. A lot of them think they have no other option, especially the Fay Folks. So many Fays died after leading a life of crime, and when they return, they continue in the same pattern. I try to be a good influence so that they can get into Heaven no matter what they did in the past!” I didn’t buy that drivel, but evidently my colleagues did. Aidan and I both heard an audible sigh from behind the two way mirror! I shook my head in disapproval, but Aidan chose to ignore it. “Is that why I’m here? You found my card in a dead hooker’s purse?”

I reacted listlessly, “No. Now, do you happen to recruit other sales people to your business? Besides drug dealers, people who sell things legally.”

“Of course!” he responded. “I worked in sales long enough to know a good sales person when I see one! I always wanna work with people who have the same skills and passion for the industry as I do!”

“So, you got into sales just ’cause you love to sell things?” I questioned. “There’s no other explanation for doing what you do?” I didn’t really believe he sold other people’s random junk, especially for the pure joy of selling things. I had an inkling that whatever he actually sold, he did it for another motivation.

He differed with my premise, “That’s not the only reason. I’ve already mentioned that I like to help people. But there’s other reasons too! Like, I get to travel all over the state and sell in amazing places that I never would have thought about going to if my work didn’t take me there. You must know what that’s like, right? Haven’t you had to work on a case that made you go to a small town in the middle of nowhere that was so charming that you stayed and just hung out at the shops and cute little restaurants and stuff?”

After the incident that occurred right before my father tried to take us to the seashore, the subject of travel made me feel uncomfortable. “I only work in Slygow County. It’s very rare if I have to go anywhere outside of our district.”

“What about your husband?” He glanced over to my left hand. “Do you ever do any traveling with him?”

“My husband…” I had gotten so used to wearing my wedding ring that I forgot that I was still wearing it. I twisted it around a bit, and a pang of sadness swept over me. I had mostly accepted my fate of becoming a divorced woman, but this felt so final to me! Just like the graduation ceremonies I participated in, this signified the end of a chapter and showed the whole world what happened. Taking it off would make it official- I was single again! There was no going back for me, there was no way I’d ever take Ben back after everything he did, but it still seemed sad to say goodbye to my old life! I took it off at that moment both because I wanted to let go of the notion of ever returning to the past and because I didn’t want to recount to anyone else what was happening. “My personal life is none of your business!” I noticed that he raised an eyebrow as I pocketed the ring, so I changed the subject by bluntly querying, “How did you know Reed Radley?”

He had to think about the answer to my question. “Reed Radley… Reed Radley… It rings a bell… Was he a drug dealer?”

I snapped, “He didn’t sell drugs, he sold mattresses!”

“Oh, him!” He recalled, and I paid full attention to this crucial detail. “I’ve seen him at different charity events in the area. Real nice guy! Why, did something happen to him?”

“Uh, yeah! Do you think a detective would bring someone into the station for questioning for kicks and giggles?” I pointed out. “And did I mention something about a murder?”

His expression grew dejected upon this revelation. “He’s dead? That’s too bad! He seemed like such a good dude!”

I probed, “A good dude who was quite the womanizer! What happened between you two? Did he steal your girlfriend?”

“I don’t have a girlfriend!” Aidan denied that allegation. “And none of my exes were worth fighting over!”

“Did you and Reed ever argue over anything?” I inquired.

He denied that he had. I continued to press him for hours, and he stuck to the same story of knowing nothing about Reed outside of charity events. The logic of his statements didn’t deter me from figuring out what he wanted to hide from me! I kept trying different tactics to squeeze it out of him, and no matter how many times he thwarted my efforts, I refused to give up on this! At first, anyways. After a while, I started to grow frustrated and needed a break. When I requested that another detective take over for a while, I had numerous volunteers. Chief Mazarine handed the reins over to someone who didn’t find men attractive, which disappointed a lot of people! Apparently, he got tired of everyone not working and kicked them out of the observation room, but some of my colleagues still tried to sneak over there, including Sandra. She came over to my cubicle and argued with Chief Mazarine, “It’s my case too though!”

Chief Mazarine shot back, “The only note you took was the words ‘He’s single!’ And you underlined single several times! Maintenant, arrête d’agir comme une fille prébubère et retourne au travail!”

“Yes, sir!” she reacted cordially. After she complied, Chief Mazarine stormed back to his office.

“You speak French?” I conversed with her.

She sat down next to me as she replied, “No, but I know he says the word ‘travail’ when he wants people to get back to work, so I do.” Before I could ask why he burst into French when he got upset, Sandra informed me, “I’m assuming his parents came from a French speaking country and he learned that language first. I’ve never asked him though. He doesn’t talk about his personal life much.”

I remarked, “I don’t blame him! I wish my personal life was still private!”

“Oh, don’t worry about that! Everyone’s too busy talking about Aidan Maddox right now, so I’m sure they all forgot about that!” she assured me. Or at least she tried to. I felt sure that once the excitement of a studly suspect wore off, they would resume gossiping about Ben’s sordid affair! Sandra leaned over my shoulder and observed me researching a page on social media. “Ooh, is that Aidan Maddox’s profile? I already checked it out… for case research, of course… I didn’t see much there.”

“It’s actually Reed Radley’s profile,” I let her know. “I wanted to see if he had any connections to my current person of interest. I don’t see any mutual friends between the two of them. I see that they have some mutual interests in charity groups, but no other links. He must have covered his tracks and got rid of any connections that tied him to Reed Radley!”

Sandra countered with, “Or maybe he’s innocent.”

I differed with her on that, “He’s hiding something! I can tell! I’m gonna figure out what he doesn’t want us to know!”

She obviously didn’t want to believe that her crush did anything impure, but before she could argue, Chief Mazarine suddenly burst in! A part of me thought that the detective currently questioning Aidan had found something, which would make me happy to get a break in the case but would also make me jealous since I wasn’t the one who brought him down. Chief Mazarine’s expression seemed too alarmed for that, and our attention peaked when we realized that! Chief Mazarine directed us, “Go to Town Square right now! There’s something you should see…”

Crimes of the Fay, Chapter 12

“Tarahill LLC, a sales company,” Sandra read out loud. “Hmm, that does seem like a vague enough business description to be a front for a prostitution ring, but what makes you think this came from her boss and not just a potential john?”

I replied, “It’s the only one in her wallet. And it came from one of the inner compartments, not like she stashed away contact information from an interested customer. She kept it safe, so this obviously means something to her!”

Sandra agreed with me, “We definitely need to check this place out! Ooh, I hope their website is as shady as this card!”

It actually was! As we sat at my desk and used my computer to research this company, we discovered that, like the business card, it appeared very chic and sophisticated but didn’t tell us much about the establishment or any day-to-day operations. “It doesn’t even say what they sell!” I noted.

“Oh, there’s a section about the owner,” Sandra very keenly pointed out. I clicked on the link, and a head shot of a very striking man appeared. He had slicked back, blonde hair, sparkling, light blue eyes, and a broad, toothy grin. This picture didn’t show anything below his shoulders, but anyone who saw the picture could tell that underneath his fine suit he had a well sculpted body too. Sandra gushed, “Oh, he’s hot!”

“Yeah, and he probably uses his good looks to get away with murder!” I meant that almost literally. While his picture conveyed a nice, easy-going personality, I immediately didn’t trust him. I thought he put up a pretense of benevolence and used that to lull people into a false sense of security. Reading his biography only deepened my suspicions of him. “Started off in his garage, and fifteen years later, he became Maryland’s top salesman. Still doesn’t say what he sells. Spends his free time honing his magic… Well, clearly he’s a powerful magian. He could definitely have the skills it’d take to scare a street-savvy person like Dahlia!”

Sandra appeared to have been listening, but she seemed to engrossed in that page to look at me while I was talking. “Sounds plausible. Aw, he likes to give to charity!” She probably sensed my reproachful stare because she tore herself away from the computer and apologized, “Sorry! I’m not setting the best example for you, but… Wow! He’s gorgeous!”

Her eyes flickered back to the screen and glued themselves to a photo of him planting some trees with a group of kids and adults wearing foster care tee shirts, and I rolled my eyes. “Mister Maddox undoubtedly staged this to fool people into trusting him!”

“Mister who?” Sandra hadn’t taken her gaze off of the picture.

“Aidan Maddox. That’s the name of the guy you’re drooling over.” I showed her where his name appeared on the page.

Sandra, once again, pulled herself away from the screen and suggested, “You investigate that site. He’s got me acting like a school here! I kept trying to see if he had a wedding ring, and I forgot that I’m wearing one! If you meet my husband, don’t tell him about this!”

I couldn’t help but grin at her quirkiness. “I won’t! Personally, I don’t see what the big fuss is…” I saw something on that site that made my eyes go wide.

“Ah, he’s got you under his hypnosis too!” Sandra chimed.

“Oh, please!” I refuted. “Take a closer look at that charity photo again.”

I covered Aidan’s image so she wouldn’t get distracted and could see what I saw. When she spotted it, she gasped, “That’s Reed Radley in the background!”

I nodded vigorously. “He knew our victim, and the murderer’s accomplice. Sounds like enough to bring him in for questioning!” Sandra’s eyes sparkled at that thought, but she immediately corrected herself and acted ultra professionally.

After we got a warrant issued, it was time to go home for the day. With all of the exciting developments of the case, I forgot how tired I felt! I snuck a couple more donuts so that the sugar would keep me awake for the ride home. Even though I didn’t feel totally comfortable with my living situation, just knowing I could lay down and rest made me feel at ease! That changed quickly as Travis saw me coming and popped out of his house to ask, “Did you find my bike?”

I lied, “Not yet!” His expression showed signs of wanting to ask more questions, so I rushed inside the house.

Immediately after I stepped inside, Wade confronted me from the kitchen table, “Why’d you throw away my food?”

“Huh?” I only felt half awake at that point, so I didn’t have any idea what he meant.

“You threw away my bagels!” he yelled.

I argued, “They were moldy!”

He scolded me, “You could’ve eaten around it! God, don’t you dare make decisions about the food in my house again!”

It struck me as odd that anyone could get upset about losing moldy bagels, but I also felt very hurt to have an allegation like that sprung on me the minute I got home. I didn’t know what else to say, so I just quietly promised that it wouldn’t happen again. I walked to my room in a defeated manner and thought that the donuts I had eaten would suffice for a meal. I decided to distract myself from any lingering hunger by opening up my phone. I had dozens of messages from Ben, and I realized that I had forgotten about him. I figured that the stress of dealing with him would ruin my appetite, so I steeled myself up to call him. Just as I was about to dial, I heard my mom shout, “I’m just feeding the cats!” She peeked inside my room and whispered, “I brought you some dinner!”

“Thanks, Mom!” I smiled gratefully as I took the rice dish she had made. She returned my smile and hastily tiptoed into into her bedroom. I was glad my mom secretly fed me, but it sort of felt humiliating to have landed myself in a situation where I had to go through that just to eat! I let it go though, and as I ate, my weariness really crept in. My phone started to ring, but I ignored it. I had a big day ahead tomorrow, so I decided he could wait another day and went to sleep.

I really didn’t think I’d wake up so late after going to bed so early, but when I looked at the clock, I realized that I only had fifteen minutes to show up to the office! I mean, we didn’t have a set clock in time, but we tried to stick as closely to the nine to five schedule as possible. We were allowed to come in early and leave early, and the same went if we showed up late, so I wouldn’t have gotten penalized for my lack of promptness, but I hurried to get there as fast as possible in case they had my witness ready for questioning. My mom insisted on giving me a hug goodbye, which I found odd until I saw that she had sneaked some biscuits into my purse! As I dashed out the door, I got a call from Ben. I thought about talking to him on the way to work, but then Travis came out to question me about his missing bicycle again. I lied again and said that I didn’t know what happened to it, and as I got into the car, I felt uneasy. I absolutely detest lying, so I felt really bothered by this continuation. I had no inclination to talk to Ben after that and just sped to the station.

When I arrived I expected to hear the full gamut of my fellow detectives working on their cases, but to my astonishment, most of the cubicles were empty! I got utterly confused by this and wondered if I had accidentally shown up on a Saturday. As I checked my phone to verify what day of the week I had shown up for, I suddenly heard Chief Mazarine shout, “Interrogez votre témoin pour que mon personnel retourne au travail!” I glanced up and saw him staring at me as if he had just given an order that he expected me to follow. I looked at him in confusion, and he responded sarcastically, “What? Am I not speaking English here?”

“Uh, no…” I told him truthfully. “I think that was French.”

“Oh!” He seemed rather gruff about his error, but he made no mention of it. In a language that I could understand, he ordered, “Go interrogate your witness so that my staff will go back to work!” He stormed into the break room without saying another word. I found it strange that my witness would prevent a whole team of detectives from doing their jobs, and very curious now, I walked over to the interrogation room.

I got a jolt of shock to see the observation room packed to the brim with people! When I stepped inside, I could see that most of the women and some of the men were ogling him and whispering excitedly as if they were in proximity to a celebrity! “Oh, for Heaven’s sake!” I pushed past a few people to find Sandra because I felt sure she would participate in this frivolity, and she was, front and center! I snidely mentioned, “I wonder how many people it’d take for this room to lose its soundproof quality!”

Sandra frowned a bit as she inwardly knew that I had a point. She didn’t take her eyes off of him as she informed me, “I can’t go in there with you. I’ll probably cross professional boundaries. You’re the ideal candidate to go in there! You’re single now, so it’s okay!”

“You can’t date a witness!” I objected to her premise.

“You can once he’s cleared!” Sandra brought up.

I shook my head and slowly exited the room. He hadn’t uttered a single word and already had most of my colleagues on his side! I didn’t trust him at all now, and and as I finally escaped from that observation room, I vowed that I wouldn’t get bewitched by his antics!

I charged into that room full of steam, but when I caught a glimpse of him, I froze in my tracks! I had never met someone so gorgeous that they literally took my breath away until that day! He did a double take when he saw me, and suddenly I felt very frumpy! He had a much higher level of fitness than me, and after many years of lovingly calling myself curvy, I now viewed my body large like a cow! I had at least gotten a decent amount of sleep in the last night, but I didn’t think I had fully recovered from my previous insomnia. Plus, I thought my face and skin probably gave away just how stressful my life had become! He gave me a warm smile, and a part of me had the urge to excuse myself from the room and get dolled up, but then it dawned on me why I had come in there in the first place! In a huff, I grabbed the chair across from him and coldly introduced myself, “I’m Detective Shannon Vidette.”

He held out his hand for me to shake as he greeted me, “Aidan Maddox! Pleasure to meet you!” I refused to shake his hand, and he somewhat dejectedly put his hand down. “I see, straight to business!”

I stated, “This isn’t a social call! I’m not a floosie you found at closing time at the bar! I’m sure you’re used to flirting your way out of trouble…” He nodded to acknowledge the truth of my claim. “… but you’ll need more than that this time! It won’t work on something as serious as murder!” His face fell, he seemed genuinely scared, and that made me feel certain that he had something to do with Reed Radley’s death!

Crimes of the Fay, Chapter 11

I could hardly sleep that night. Oh sure, I had a comfortable bed and plenty of blankets, but it felt strange to lay on a mattress that didn’t belong to me. It was also the first night where I didn’t sleep next to Ben in over a decade. Not that I had any inclination to cuddle with him ever again, but it did seem strange to have no one with me in the room at night. I had gotten used to the feel of that bed we shared, and it irked me that he’d get to use it when he came home! Well, for a few days he would. Unless he pulled a miracle, he would have to leave it all behind when our old place got foreclosed on. I really wanted to rush over there before he got a chance to get rid of anything because he didn’t deserve to pocket any money he made from our stuff, but I wouldn’t have any time for that since I needed to question a suspect. While I felt excited to potentially break this case wide open, I couldn’t get my mind off of all the little things that I’d never get the chance to experience again!

When I woke up… What am I saying? I didn’t really get any sleep! Well, when I gave up on trying to get any rest, I got dressed and tried to conjure the muffins that I had at my old house, but I couldn’t summon them. I realized that Ben had already gotten home and probably put a block on the property since I wouldn’t give him access to the few bucks he didn’t steal for his prostitutes. I tried a couple more items, and none of it worked, so I knew that’s exactly what he did! I noticed several dozen unread text messages from him on my phone, and I knew that he had a lot of questions for me. I didn’t have the time to deal with him that morning though, so I ignored him and ventured into the kitchen to see what I could find for breakfast there. My mom and Wade were still sleeping, so I had to guess at what food they’d be willing to spare. I found what I thought was blueberry bagels and toasted them, but then I noticed on the label that they were supposed to be plain. I really didn’t have any time to search for anything else, so I threw the bagels out and dashed out the door.

When I got to the station, I learned that the police were still processing our person of interest, so I decided to use a portion of what scant money I had left to buy myself something to eat. I hated to watch my bank account shrink even further, but I had an important day ahead of me and it didn’t make sense for me to go into that interrogation room feeling both exhausted and starving! I had a paycheck coming in a week, but I had not idea how much of it I’d get to keep after I filed for divorce, so spending anything at that moment made me feel uneasy. I talked myself into it though, but when I went into the break room, to my delight, someone had brought a box of donuts! Normally, none of us liked to eat those things due to the stupid stereotype, which is why I imagined that they laid there uneaten, but they felt like a blessing that day and I happily munched on a couple of them!

Sandra came in holding two cups of coffee from a local shop, and she stared at me in surprise when she saw me actually enjoying scarfing down some donuts. It took me a few seconds to sense her presence, and when I did, I felt a little embarrassed, like I just got caught receiving charity. Luckily, she decided not to comment on that and offered me one of her cups. “I figured you might need an extra boost today!”

“Thanks!” I gladly accepted the coffee and immediately began slurping it.

“Did you get any sleep last night?” Sandra conversed as she stood by my side.

I shook my head. “I had a lot to think about.”

She remarked, “I can only imagine!” We both took a sip from our cups, and she abruptly mentioned, “Her name is Dahlia, by the way.”

“Huh?” My mind had briefly considered taking the rest of the donuts for breakfast tomorrow. It seemed a bit unethical since the donuts were meant to get shared with everyone, but it seemed unlikely that anyone else would take them. Plus, I had no idea how much of the food at my new home Wade would feel willing to share, and based on the bagels, I didn’t know if I’d want to! When my thoughts got back on track, a pang of sadness ran through me at the mention of the prostitute who had slept with my husband. It really wasn’t her fault, and I knew she wasn’t the first one he’d done it with, but I had really hoped that my job would provide me a much needed break from my failed marriage. I sighed, “Oh, I know!”

“Do you still wanna do this?” Sandra wondered.

I firmly assured her, “It’s fine, I can do it!”

She looked pleased to hear me rally like that. “Let’s go wait for our witness then!” I agreed, and we walked towards the interrogation room.

From behind the two way mirror, Sandra and I observed Dahlia sitting alone and waiting impatiently. I noted, “She didn’t ask for a lawyer, that’s surprising!”

“She must think she has some kind of leverage,” Sandra surmised. “She’s probably gonna make this difficult for you.”

“She can try! I’ve dealt with a lot of other people’s crap in the last twenty-four hours, I’m not putting up with it today!” I marched towards the interrogation room, and Sandra followed.

As soon as I entered, Dahlia sneered, “I knew you were behind this! This is harassment! You’re just after me ’cause I screwed your husband!”

I coolly responded, “If I wanted to shake down all the women who slept with my soon-to-be ex, I’d have a lot more people in the room with you!” She couldn’t help but concur, and then I went on, “We’re not here for me, we’re here about Reed Radley. And don’t act like you don’t know him! Based on our interaction on the phone, I know you know him!”

“Yeah, I knew him,” Dahlia acknowledged, “but that doesn’t mean I know what he did outside of our sessions. He was a client, that’s all I knew about him!”

“If you’re so worried about getting into Heaven, why do you keep lying?” I retorted. She seemed offended by my quip, and I sincerely hoped that my slight would compel her to stop the charade. “A couple of weeks ago, he called you. A minute later, he looked up directions to the location where we found his blood. No one saw him again ’til we found his body in the nearby river. Now, don’t tell me you didn’t know what happened to him! Tell me why you lured Reed out there!”

I thought that Dahlia would confess at that point, but she simply pointed out, “You can’t prove I was the reason he went out to the woods that day.”

It sort of flabbergasted me that she still tried to cling onto the notion of her innocence, but I didn’t let that discourage me. “It’s pretty unlikely that he’d phone a prostitute and then go meet up with another Fay!”

“It’s unlikely but not impossible!” Dahlia reasoned.

“What, were you a lawyer while you were human?” I clapped back.

Her face soured by my sass. “I don’t like to talk about my past self! I did a lot of awful, bad stuff that I’ll probably never get a chance to make up for!”

I replied, “So you think the way to start is to get involved in a murder?”

“I didn’t kill anybody!” She scowled at me.

“Do you really think the way to get into Heaven is to help a murderer go free?” I argued. My words definitely stung her, but she didn’t say anything for a while, so I kept pressing, “I see, so you’re just giving up then, huh? You’re just gonna let this killer drag you down to Hell with them?”

She curtly explained to me, “I don’t wanna go to Hell! But I also don’t wanna die before I get a chance to make it to Heaven! If I get killed before I’ve used my second chance to make up for what I did as human, then I’m going to Hell for sure, so I’m not risking it!”

I leaned in and changed my tone to something more sympathetic, “I get it. Only a really powerful magian could summon enough magic to send you over to steal a bike and then back again! This person doesn’t leave footprints, and they managed to kill a man without leaving a drop of evidence except for what he or she left on purpose! I’d be scared too! But we can protect you here. Dozens of magians guard the women’s prison, and you won’t get into trouble there! Not the same way you would in the streets, anyways. You’d not only have a roof over you head, but our facilities do give you the opportunity to do some good deeds too. They don’t call them correctional institutes for nothing! So, just tell us what dirt bag tricked you into landing yourself in this position!”

Dahlia began to weep, and I really believed that she was going to break and let us know who masterminded the crime. Instead, she coldly stated, “Since I’m going to prison either way, I’d rather preserve my life! You can’t prove I did it, so I’ll take my chances at trial!”

Although I felt frustrated and disappointed, I tried not to give her the satisfaction of letting her know that she got to me. I gave her one more shot at cooperation, “We have enough to charge you with conspiracy right now. If you give up the name of the person threatening you into silence, we can recommend a much lighter sentence.” She didn’t react to that other than to fold her arms in a pout, so I sighed and paged the guards, “Go ahead and take her now.”

Sandra and I watched her get cuffed without a fuss. When we were alone, Sandra praised me, “Great job!”

I had expected her to commend me for trying, but I didn’t expect to get a compliment after that! “I didn’t get a confession!”

“We don’t get one every time!” Sandra reminded me. “Your detective work brought us to this point! You got a suspect in custody, and we got a pretty good confirmation that she’s working for someone!”

“We have enough evidence to charge her, but we need more to get a conviction,” I brought up.

Sandra suggested, “Then let’s go get some! Maybe her personal effects will give us a clue who’s threatening her.” I knew she was right, and I felt a little silly for letting myself get discouraged. I didn’t realize that she had any property with her upon her arrest, and since I knew it now, my curiosity peaked! We both darted up to go search through her belongings.

I combed through her wallet while Sandra sifted through her purse. “Woah!” Sandra exclaimed.

“What?” I momentarily paused my search thinking that she had found something important to the case.

“Oh, nothing!” She blushed and put the object out of her sight. “Why do I always find the dirty stuff?”

I giggled, and then I told her, “Maybe forensics should examine it to see if anyone left behind some DNA.” She made a grossed out face, but then we both laughed. Seconds later, I echoed her previous sentiment, “Woah!”

She joked, “Oh good, I’m glad I’m not the only one to come across that kind of stuff!”

“Look!” I tried to show her what I discovered, but she averted her eyes. “No, it’s nothing provocative! Look!” She glanced over and saw that my wand had a business card suspended in the air. “I think I just found her boss!”

Crimes of the Fay, Chapter 10

“You found him?” I got a jolt of shock hearing that, and it took a while for me to absorb it. I hadn’t expected to hear this information so soon! Not only did I get my case back, but we had a major break in it! I felt a huge weight of relief fall off my shoulders because I got to continue doing the job I loved! Plus, I finally go some good news after such an emotionally exhausting day! I didn’t have to make plans to start over in Europe, and I thought maybe after a couple of paychecks, I could start to look for my own place!But I couldn’t think about that right then. Sandra said that she needed me in right away, which meant something drastic happened. I briefly wondered if something had happened to Ben, which would make separating from him easier but would make collecting money from him impossible! I thought that perhaps Reed Radley laid a major bombshell on them, but then I realized that she didn’t say that she found him alive! “Did he say anything? What happened?”

“I’ll tell you in the car,” Sandra responded. “I’m on my way to get you right now.”

It quickly occurred to me that she didn’t know my new address, so I swiftly informed her, “Oh, I don’t live there anymore! Come pick me up at Brigid’s Garden.” Sandra laughed as if I had told a joke, so I iterated, “No, I’m serious.”

I could sense the level of surprise she felt when I revealed that to her. “Oh! Okay… I’ll be there soon!”

I replied, “See you soon!” After she hung up, I packed up my wand and thought about what else I’d need to bring in for this encounter, but I had no idea where we were going. If she planned on taking me back to the police station, I wouldn’t need much. If we went anywhere else that required me to bring supplies, then I reasoned that I could go back in and get it. It then dawned on me that I didn’t have much of anything here. Most of my things were either in my department issued vehicle or at my old house. I fretted for a minute, but I recalled that she didn’t instruct me to bring anything out of the ordinary, so all I needed to worry about was sprinting out the door as soon as she arrived. At that point, I figured out that I hadn’t given her the space number of where I now lived, so I knew I should wait outside for her so she could find me faster. I grabbed my jacket and dashed towards the door.

I saw my mother and Wade in the kitchen, and I forgot that they had no idea why I’d have to rush out, so I hastily filled them in, “We had a major break in the case, I gotta go!”

“What’s the case about?” Wade inquired as he finished up the last of the ham, which shocked me that he was still going at it!

“It’s classified.” My rejoinder was true, but it also left me with a valid excuse to not linger too long.

Before I could step out the door, Wade stopped me by saying, “Oh, I bet you is after them bohunks! They’re always causing trouble! One time, back in Michigan, I was playing on my grand-pappy’s farm, and we-.”

I interrupted him, “I don’t mean to be rude, but it’s kind of an emergency, so I gotta go!” His expression seemed a little put off by my abruptness, but I really didn’t have time for one of his never-ending stories, so I darted out before he could say another word.

I didn’t see Sandra outside yet, but then again, I didn’t know exactly where she had started from. I decided to make my way to the front of the park so she could find me faster. Not long after I began walking, I noticed that Brigid’s Garden didn’t have street lights. Most of the neighbors had porch lights, but it didn’t do much to actually illuminate the ground. I deemed it prudent to turn on my flashlight, so I brought out my cellphone to use the app. Before I could click on it, I got a call from the Slygow county jail. Thinking it had something to do with Reed Radley, I answered it, “Hello?”

“Hey, Babe! It’s me!” Ben greeted me as casually as he could.

“Ben?” I got so thrown off by hearing his voice after expecting a call from work that I temporarily let it slip my mind that we had a lot of issues together. We were married for so long that it didn’t feel unnatural to him contact me, but after I recollected everything that happened, I seethed, “You’re not allowed to call me that anymore!”

Clearly, he didn’t expect such a hostile attitude from me. He paused for a second, and then he came up with, “Okay, so you’re mad!”

Paying no mind to any resident of the park who could possibly hear me, I shouted, “You’re damn right I’m mad! You almost put my whole case in jeopardy! And that wasn’t even the worst part! I found out what you did, you asshole!”

“I know you did! I was there when you caught me!” he remarked.

“No, I mean…” I almost divulged how I discovered that he drained out all of our money to pay for hookers, but then the location of his call came to my mind. “So, they’re charging you for prostitution?”

He confirmed, “Yeah, and I used my one phone call to talk to you. Listen, don’t come bail me out. I deserve to get punished for what I did!”

I knew he didn’t mean that. He didn’t think I had figured out his greatest offense to me, and considering that his call was being monitored by my former colleagues, I didn’t feel like revealing everything. In addition to that, I could see some headlights in the distance, and assuming that they were Sandra’s, I really didn’t have the time to explain why I decided to leave him. I did take a mental note to freeze our bank account to save what little we had left, and I decreed that since he stole most of our funds already that he didn’t deserve any of it. I knew he might need it to go home tomorrow, but I also knew he might drain the pittance we had left to have one more romp with a lady of the night. I figured that he deserved to walk home after what he did, and when he came to our empty house, I’d tell him the news then. I wouldn’t have that conversation under the circumstances! Especially since Sandra just pulled up! I simply advised him, “You have a disease! Get help!”

He questioned, “I do? Do you know what disease she gave me? Gonorrhea? I bet it’s gonorrhea!” I shook my head, and after I hung up, I took another mental note to get myself tested for things…

After I got into the car, Sandra commented, “Not afraid of being conspicuous, huh?”

“Huh?” I puzzled while I buckled my seat belt.

“Hey, I totally understand you going rogue in your situation, but I’m just surprised that you’re not more quiet about it,” she expressed as she starting driving.

I refuted that claim, “I’m not going rogue! I meant it when I said I live here now!” She had her eye on the navigation system, but her face showed that my statement stunned her, so I explained, “I had to move in with my mom and her husband. After I got home, I found out that Ben drained our bank account to the point where there’s almost nothing left! We were days away from being homeless just so he could feed his addiction to prostitutes!”

Sandra appeared to be astonished to learn that, but not as astonished as she got when she learned where I moved to. Once this revelation sunk in more, she disclosed, “Oh, well, that explains some of his behavior during questioning. He acted really nervous and fidgeted a lot, so I could tell he was hiding something. I honestly thought he played some part in the crime ’til we got the call about Reed.”

I almost forgot about him, and now that my train of thought got off my miserable marriage, I realized that we were heading in the opposite direction of the station. WE passed by the Roadkill Diner, and as far as I knew, nothing else had gotten built or placed in this general direction. Usually, the people who took this route intended to travel somewhere in West Virginia or Virginia, and I didn’t think we were leaving our jurisdiction because there’s protocols for that, which could only mean one thing. I joked, “I’m guessing we’re not meeting him at some remote cabin!”

Sandra parked the car along the edge of the forest before saying, “After seeing what I saw in his apartment, I wouldn’t agree to meet him in any kind of vacation destination! I’d be too afraid to touch anything!” I tittered a bit, but a part of me felt very curious about what she saw in there. I didn’t bring it up though. If she had seen anything relevant to the case, she wouldn’t have been so cagey about it! Besides, I didn’t feel comfortable speaking ill of the dead!

After walking down to a small river, we headed down to the bank where his body rested on a tarp. Scores of forensic investigators scoured the area, and a couple of police officers were questioning a man in fishing gear. One of the policemen came up to me with the intention of delivering their findings, but instead, he queried, “Do I know you from somewhere?”

“You should! I’m Shannon.” When I saw his blank stare, I grew a little irritated. “Officer Vidette! We worked together for, like, ten years!”

“Oh, yeah!” He flushed a little when recognized his error. “Sorry, you look different out of your uniform! I mean, in regular clothes!”

I really didn’t have a lot of patience after going through so much drama that day, so I snapped, “Tell me about my body!” He obviously misinterpreted what I conveyed to him, so I clarified, “The dead guy behind you!”

His blush deepened, and he hastily tried to get back on track, “Oh, yes! This man was fishing a little farther out when he saw a shadowy figure conjure the body and throw it in the river. When the witness got up to see what he threw, the shadowy figure disappeared.”

“Interesting…” I wrote all of this down before asking, “Where did the suspect’s footprints come from?”

“We didn’t find any footprints,” he briefed me.

Sandra and I looked up in surprise, and I echoed, “No footprints?”

The police officer shook his head. “Not even by the bank where they dumped the body! We searched all over, there’s none!”

“Wow! That means the footprints we saw in the other crime scene belonged to Reed and the killer’s accomplice.” I thought about it a little and then directed him, “Search the area between the two scenes to see if they left behind any clues.”

“Yes, ma’am!” he readily obliged, which I assumed he did to make up for our previous conversation. Once he did that, I suggested to Sandra, “Why don’t you talk to the witness while I see if forensics found anything.”

Sandra agreed, and as as she approached the fisherman, I went over to Reed’s body and stared at it curiously. It looked pretty pristine, so I hoped that the river hadn’t washed away anything pertinent. As one of the investigators came up to me, I commented, “Given his… unique… lifestyle, I’m surprised that he didn’t turn into a Fay!”

She nodded in agreement. “It certainly is a lot easier for us when they can get up and tell us what happened to them! It doesn’t look like we’ll get that luxury, but maybe this will speak volumes.” She held up a cellphone in an evidence bag.

My hopes surged ot see that this had been recovered! I pulled out my wand and had his cellphone float out of the bag. I used a spell to unlock it, and after I looked through it a bit, I thought out loud, “This phone definitely belonged to Reed Radley!” When I explored his contact history, I saw something that made me gasp, “Sandra!”

“Hold on one second,” she regarded to the witness before coming over to me. “What did you find?”

I answered her, “I know who was the last person to see Reed Radley alive!”

Crimes of the Fay, Chapter 9

So, it turned out I really had no other option. My dad would have gladly took me in if I could go to Spain, and while the country looked gorgeous and my stepmother’s family seemed really nice, I couldn’t give up my job! I know I was just a rookie detective, but I finally had the chance to fulfill my childhood dream! It gave me everything I had ever wanted in a career, well, except for the whole husband becoming a suspect in a missing person case thing. I supposed that if they didn’t clear him that I could have considered becoming a detective in Spain versus going back to petty crimes, but I really hoped it didn’t come to that! Besides, it wouldn’t solve my problem on where I could go right then. Most of my friends from high school had moved elsewhere, and I didn’t have a close relationship with the few that did stay, so asking them to let me live with them for a while would have been really awkward! I didn’t realize it until that moment, but I had become totally dependent on Ben for socialization! I really didn’t have much of a life outside of him, and I know that I’d have to something about that so it wouldn’t persist as an issue in the future! I considered renting a place temporarily, but I’d have to pay for it with a loan or credit, and I didn’t want to take on any extra payments until I knew how much it would cost to leave Ben. I figured I’d have to litigate him for the debt he incurred with the house, and I knew that could end up becoming a pricey divorce. I briefly contemplated living in my car as opposed to Brigid’s Garden. I know that sounds a bit insane to prefer that as opposed to having a roof over my head, but I reasoned that it would be like camping, I could go wherever I wanted and just sleep under the stars… I seriously almost requested to Wade to drive me to the police station so I could get my car and do exactly that, but I remembered how little I had in my bank. I couldn’t afford the gas to constantly go places in my car, I barely had enough to feed myself right then! So, I concluded that I didn’t have any other choice, I had to live there!

As we pulled into the familiar grounds, I reminded myself that it’d just be temporary. How temporary it would become still wasn’t clear, but I buoyed myself up with that fact. With all of the crime that happened there, I thought that maybe they could use someone in law enforcement around. When I considered the possibility that perhaps my presence there would make the citizens that live there safer, it really lifted my spirits!

…For about three seconds. When we got out of the car, my heart nearly stopped! We were right next to Travis’s house! Wade and my mom were the new neighbors that he had talked about! It took me a while to realize that the nasty odor I detected had come from Wade! I cringed knowing that I’d have to get used to that smell, but I also felt a little uncomfortable knowing I’d live next to my initial crime scene! I wondered if the bike thief slash the creator of that threatening message would ever come back and figure out that the lead detective on his or her case moved into Brigid’s Garden! In that instance, I couldn’t count how many different ways that this situation was totally awkward! Maybe ten or eleven…

Number twelve popped up before I could reach the doorstep of my new house. Travis came out of his home and recognized me. “Hey! You’re that detective lady looking for my bike!”

I grimaced and sincerely hoped that not too many people heard that. I didn’t know what their general attitude was towards law enforcement, but most of the criminals and even the victims that I dealt with here didn’t seem too keen on having my presence around! I had hoped that they would get to know me as a person before they learned what I did for a living, but that was out of the water now! I hoped that they heard what a lame case I had and not feel threatened, and I also inwardly prayed that the suspect in my case didn’t hear that! If he or she had any suspicion that I might have been on to him or her, that could cause them to do something drastic! “Yes, that’s me!” I tried to sound as pleasant as I could towards him. His young age and close proximity to me made me want to maintain a cordial relationship with him.

“Have you found my bike yet?” he avidly asked me.

“Uh… The case is still open.” In the midst of all of the chaos in my assignment, I hadn’t thought much about the state of the kid’s bicycle, and I certainly couldn’t tell him the ugly truth! I just quickly excused myself and dashed inside.

When I came into the house, I immediately saw that the home opened up into a small kitchen with a dining table in it. The counters seemed a bit dingy, and I observed a lot of rustic knick-knacks strewed about. Wade had taken a cooked ham out of the outdated refrigerator, and after overlooking the state of their appliances, I suddenly felt incredibly hungry! I forgot that I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast, and it comforted me a bit to get some food right then. “Oh, nice! A ham dinner!”

Wade grabbed a fork and knife out of one of the drawers, and he responded, “Oh, I love ham! What are you having?”

“Um…” A surge of disappointment coursed through me when I learned that he hadn’t intended on sharing, but then that thought got quickly replaced with disgust as he sat down at the table and began eating from the ham as if it were a meal for one!

“Don’t worry, I have some leftover pasta!” My mother reached into the fridge and put a large bowl into the microwave.

I didn’t mean to stare at Wade, but it just occurred to me that he had absolutely no teeth and still somehow managed to consume that ham quite easily! He interrupted my train of thought by inquiring, “So, what do you do for a living?”

After I broke out of my stupor of my previous concentration, I answered him, “Oh, I’m a detective for Slygow county.”

“A detective, huh?” Bits of food spat out as he talked. “You hunt them Bohunks?”

“I don’t know what that is, but no, we don’t hunt anything. We solve crimes.” I furrowed my brow trying to think of where I might have heard that term. I also tried not to sound too condescending, but it amazed me to find someone who didn’t know what a detective did!

As my mother split the pasta onto two plates, she clarified for him, “He means Eastern European people.”

I had no idea such a silly sounding word was used for such an ugly concept! “Oh, we don’t judge people on their ethnicity! And we certainly don’t hunt them! Well, we do track down criminals, but…” I didn’t do a good job of hiding my appall, and I hoped that I hadn’t offended him. I hated the racism, but I also really needed to a place to stay for a while…

Fortunately, he didn’t seem to have been listening to me. A couple of cats had come to the table and began begging for scraps. As he fed them bits of the ham, he chuckled, “Yeah, we’re both hunters, you and me! I started learning how to do it when I was a kid in Michigan…”

He began telling a rambling story that didn’t seem to go anywhere, and it didn’t seem like he planned on pausing long enough in order for me to reply back to him, which I felt fine with since I didn’t have the motivation to talk much anyways. That changed a bit when my mom handed me the pasta. I remembered the Roadkill Diner and noticed chunks of meat in the dish. As hungry as I had gotten, I didn’t think I could stomach any of the random creatures that Wade had “hunted” on the side of the road. I had no idea how I’d ask my mother what she put in our dinner since I couldn’t get a word in edgewise! To my relief, my mom leaned in and assured me, “It’s chicken, I swear!”

I laughed as the bit of tension that this worry had garnered me got released, and I then proceeded to try the food with more confidence. I was so hungry that I didn’t even care that the food was still a little cold! I ate like a ravenous wolf! Once I had gotten over my initial hunger, it suddenly came to me that I had eaten this dish before as a child! For a split second, the ill feelings of that memory made me want to stop eating, but then I reminded myself about the reality of my mother’s past. Addiction is a disease and not her fault, so I pushed aside my old feelings and let myself enjoy the nostalgia. As I continued my meal, I saw a couple more cats had come to the table and began begging from me. While I found it amusing that they were willing to accept food from a total stranger, I felt too famished to share anything! Just as I wondered how many cats they had there, I tuned into Wade’s conversation again. I felt a twinge of guilt for not paying attention, but luckily, he didn’t seem to have noticed!

My mom and I finished our meals around the same time, but Wade was still going at it with that ham! It repulsed me to watch a person go through an entire ham in a day, but I hoped that my face didn’t show what I really thought. So far, Wade seemed like an oblivious person, but I didn’t want to take any chances. I wanted to leave the table, but Wade kept on talking and I didn’t want to be rude. My mother cut him off as if it were pretty routine, “Wade! Wade! Wade! I think Shannon wants to see her room now.”

“Oh, okay! Go ahead!” Wade permitted with a mouthful of food.

“Come this way!” My mom invited me after she put our plates in the sink. I could see that six cats were in the room before we left, and I tried not to gag as I saw him let one eat right off of his fork!

We walked into a small living room that had enough furniture to make it quite cramped and hard to navigate. My mother informed me, “This is our living room! Feel free to use it, thought don’t sit in Wade’s chair!” I didn’t need to ask her what chair belonged to him- one of them had a huge sweat stain on it! My mom must have seen the grossed out look on my face because she whispered, “He only showers once a month.” I actually gagged a little at that, and my mother totally understood why. “I know, I know!” She led me to a small hallway, and then she explained, “Wade and my room is over here on the right, the bathroom is at the end of the hall, and here’s your room.”

When my room got revealed, I hadn’t expected to see it look so cute! While the bed took up most of the space, it had cozy-looking blankets and a couple of fluffy pillows that made it quite inviting. The wooden nightstand had an antique feel to it, and a couple of old-fashioned pictures hung on the wall, giving it an aura of a classic home. It even smelled better in here too! Clearly, she had put a lot of effort into making me feel welcomed! I turned to her and commented, “I love it!”

“Oh good!” She seemed relieved to get my approval. “I had to use magic to clean it up. It’s been kinda hard to conjure anything since I got off that stuff, but I had to do it! This used to be the cats’ room, so you can imagine how messy it got! Oh, they might still think that this room belongs to them, so I hope you don’t mind if they sneak their way in sometimes.”

“Oh, I don’t mind! I like cats!” I reassured her.

I wanted to ask her how many cats she had accumulated, but before I could, my mom said, “I better get started on the dishes. If you need anything, let me know!”

I reacted genially, “I will!” She gave me a warm smile as she exited the area.

Once she left, I drew out my wand and made some of my clothes and necessities appear. I thought about what else from the house that I’d like to save, but other than a small dresser, I really didn’t have a lot of space to put anything else. The rest of the house looked pretty full too. That’s when it clicked for me, I’d have to give up a lot of my stuff! I’m not very materialistic, but the thought of giving it all up really depressed me! In my wildest dreams, I never thought I’d get heartbroken over a vacuum cleaner, some pans, or even the trash can, but it actually crushed me to get rid of it all! I know all of those things could get replaced, but I had no idea when I’d get to do that! It consoled me a little to think I could sell it all and pay off some of the debt that my husband left us or pay for the divorce, but I didn’t like how fast I had to give it all up! Just this morning, I woke up as a married woman with an exciting and growing career, and in a matter of hours, I lost it all! All of it! Even the dish towels! I sunk onto the bed and teared up!

All of a sudden, my cellphone rang, and my heart leapt to see that it had been Sandra calling me! I hoped that my voice didn’t give away the fact that I was crying, and I crossed my fingers that she had some good news for me! “Hello?”

Sandra immediately reported, “Ben was cleared, and we need you to come in right away! We found Reed Radley!”