This story is by S.F.Prescott and was part of our 2018 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“Would you like me to repeat the question?” Jack asked with impatience. Gary lifted his arms, followed by a clanking sound.
“You know what I’d really like?”
Jack shook his head, “No can do.”
Gary sneered, “Can we forget about what happened over the last 48 hours for a second?”
Jack shot him a sideways glance, “There is a team positioned at your house right now and it’s only a matter of time before they find something.”
Gary ignored him, rolling his eyes. “Straight to it then.”
“Get that through your thick skull, we’re not friends anymore. Those days are long gone!” Jack reached inside his jacket pocket. “Now, I brought something I know will jog some memories, since you seem to be forgetful lately.” He pulled out a tight stack of photographs with a rubber band wrapped around the middle.
“What are those?” Gary asked, peering over the edge of the bed.
Jack sifted through them, searching for one in particular.
Gary fell back against the stale bed sheets, pushing out a lungful of air in one loud whoooosh, his eyes darted around the room, but there was no escape.
Jack held up a picture, “Look at this one, a nice family trip to Disneyland. You recognize this girl?”
Gary avoided the picture, focusing his attention on a painting hanging at the end of his bed.
Jack pressed on, “How old was she? Thirteen maybe?”
“I have no idea who that girl is,” Gary said, calmly.
Jack persisted, “We found her backpack in the trunk of your car.” He pulled out another, “Or, maybe you’ll remember this.” He held up an image of a lake at sunset, and a small fishing boat complete with father and daughter sitting side by side wearing matching caps and fluorescent vests, holding the lines they’d cast out on the water.
Gary’s attention settled on it, “Yeah I remember. Kind of reminds me of your dad’s boat we used to fish on as kids.”
Jack cut in, “Fifteen years old, still has braces! My daughter went to school with her.”
Gary picked at something stuck to the bed sheets, his eye twitched. He glanced towards the darkened bathroom in the corner and remembered the mildew-stained shower curtain; fastened to a rail with round silver hooks. They could cut through flesh or maybe even unpick a lock. He could excuse himself for a bathroom break, bring one back.
Jack spread the photographs across the bed like a deck of cards. “I know you killed those girls. Things would be a lot easier for you if you’d just confess. If you’re lucky, you might even escape old sparky.”
Gary let out a hearty laugh, throwing his head back. “Let’s be serious. You won’t be able to pin this on me. No body, no crime remember?” His voice bellowed out like a hyena. A heart-shaped face appeared at the small round window in the door, stern and shaded with judgment. She held up a skinny wrist, and tapped at the watch fastened to it. Gary leaned forward, whispering, “I mean, even if I did kill’em, I’d never tell you where they were.”
Jack glared down at him with narrowed eyes, and fire blazed inside his chest, spreading through his arms and legs like poison. He fought the impulse to grab Gary’s throat and calmly stepped closer to the edge of the bed. “We sprayed your house with Luminol,” he said, leaning in.
Gary inched back, “Where?”
“Everywhere.” Jack’s face deadpanned, “It painted quite a picture.”
The door to the room swung open and a nurse strode in carrying a tray table. Her white sneakers squeaked against the recently mopped floor as she approached the bed and placed the tray down on the opposite side. Jack glanced over at the plastic tray containing various globs of blended color, each in a separate compartment. There was a small shot glass sized paper cup with pills inside.
“These are for after his meal,” she said, holding the cup up for Jack to see.
“I want them now,” Gary said. “He shot me,” he motioned to his bandaged arm with an unsteady finger.
Jack rolled his eyes, looking back at the nurse. “Can you come back in a little while? I’m not finished with him yet.”
The nurse looked at her watch again and shook her head. “Try not to get him too riled up. I’ll be back in a few.”
“Yes ma’am,” Jack said. A pleasant aroma drifted over from the tray table.
Gary perked up, “Why don’t you stay and feed it to me?” He let drool trickle down his chin as he let out a gurgling sound. The nurse glared back at him, her lip curled upward.
Jack kicked the bed frame with the steel toe cap of his boot, “Behave.”
The nurse turned, gliding back toward the door then paused before pulling it open. She placed a hand deep in her skirt pocket and turned to face Jack. “If he gets a little hyper, I can always give him this.” She pulled out a syringe and waved it in the air, motioning over at Gary with a smirk.
He countered with a toothy grimace, “Your time will come, bitch.”
Her eyes narrowed, “five more minutes, that’s it.” She turned and marched out.
Gary raised an eyebrow. “If you think using nurse Ratched to come in and threaten stabbing me with a needle is going to get me talking, you’re kidding yourself.” An air of pomposity leaked out, settling on each word and Jack’s blood boiled. He straightened up and pulled a photograph out of the deck, holding it up in front of Gary’s face. Gary gazed back at it vacantly. The face of a doe-eyed girl with freckles and short pigtails stared back at him.
“Why’d you take her, Gary?” Jack asked, his eyes welled up.
Gary sneered, “You just can’t give it up, can you, Detective?”
Jack’s cell vibrated and he glanced down at the screen, scowling back at Gary through clenched teeth. He reached down and grabbed the cold metal cuffs clamped around Gary’s wrists and twisted them. Gary cried out, a long trail of saliva rolled down his front.
“What the fu–Stop, stop, OK.”
“OK, what!?” Jack screamed. “I can make this real uncomfortable for you, just give me more of a reason–PLEEEASE!!!” He let go of the handcuffs and Gary lurched forward panting, bullets of sweat rolled down his forehead. The room fell silent. Jack half-expected to see the nurse return with the six-inch needle in hand. He leaned into Gary’s ear, “You’re going to fry for what you did.”
Gary’s back stilled and he straightened up, turning to face Jack. “So what’re my options? Something along the lines of, I lead you to their graves and get a lesser sentence?” He shifted awkwardly, the restraints clanking together.
“Maybe,” Jack said, eyeing him carefully.
Gary leered back at him. “So what exactly do you have on me?”
“They found a piece of one of the girls,” Jack said. “The Luminol led them straight to her.”
Gary froze, “It was an accident,” he shouted back, desperate.
“That’s right.” Gary stared back with dead eyes.
“Her head was found buried underneath your garden shed,” Jack said. Gary swallowed hard. “There’s no jury in the world that would accept your plea of innocence against that.”
“Maybe I’ll say I panicked. I could plea insanity too, you know.” He smirked, watching Jack’s reaction.
“You’re a monster,” Jack spat.
Gary shot upright, the metal squeaking as it held him in place. “You can’t pin them all on me! Especially her,” he nodded at the school portrait in Jack’s hand.
“She’s still missing,” Jack said, grasping at the picture. His heart hammered in his chest and he shook his head, placing a hand firmly on his gun belt. “How could you do this to me, man?” Gary paused, watching closely as Jack unclipped the safety button with his thumb, and released his SIG Sauer P225 from the holster at his side. Jack rested his hand on top of the rubber grip and Gary stared up at him like a wild animal.
“What’re you gonna do, huh? Shoot me? Your oldest friend.” The words froze in his throat.
Jack said, “We have found enough condemning evidence at your house that suggests both of those girls were murdered there. But this one…” He held up the last picture again, shoving it in Gary’s face, “this one is still missing. Now tell me where she is!” His face was beetroot. A large vein beat in his neck, sticking out like a snake in the sand.
Gary sighed, “You shouldn’t take things so personally, Detective. It’s unhealthy to take your work home with you, especially to the family.” He smiled at Jack sending fire through his veins.
Jack eased his gun out the holster and leaned forward, whispering into Gary’s ear, “She is my family.”