Chapter 19 (WIP) – Investigation

Jessica spun around wildly, “No!!!!” She banged on the door behind her. “That is not…”

Before she could finish, the door was casually opened by one of the officers. “Please come back inside.”

Jessica collected herself and followed him back in the room she had just left. The men in the lineup had already been led out, and it was just Jessica and the officers.

Suddenly Jessica felt like there was a giant spotlight on her as she stood in the dimly lit room with all of those faces staring at her, looking for an explanation of her outburst.

She stood in silence, trying to gather her thoughts. She couldn’t tell them where she recognized number 4 from. They would think she was crazy. Maybe she was, maybe that was the kid, and she just put his face into her dream. Dreams are funny that way, maybe Rodney didn’t look the same every time she saw him. She couldn’t really remember what the kid looked like.

But somehow she knew that number 4 was not the robber. And now, because of her crazy dream world causing her to linger over that familiar face, she had gotten some guy she had never met into a lot of trouble.

And what was the deal with him watching her? Wasn’t it supposed to be one-way glass? He couldn’t have seen her, right?

After going through all of this in her mind, she finally said quietly, “The robber was not one of those men.”

The detective stood up and walked toward Jessica. Suddenly he seemed about twice as tall as Jessica was, and very intent on getting this over with as quickly as possible. “He wasn’t here, was he?” He walked around behind her back, “Then why did you look at number 4 for so long?” He walked back around her other side, “Has he threatened you?”

Maybe they did know that she had pegged the wrong man in a lineup before.

“Does he have something he is holding over you?” By now the detective was directly in front of Jessica, looking her in the eye, towering over her as she continued to shrink like a raisin.

What could she say? “No. I don’t know who he is, I have never seen him before, he just kinda looked familiar.”

“Like someone you saw in a panic and couldn’t describe even if he was standing right in front of you?”

Jessica couldn’t argue with this. She was seriously beginning to doubt herself. “No! I have never seen that man before in my life!”

“Are you really so sure?” The detective continued to pace around her, as she could hear her heart pounding in her ears. She had no idea how she knew, or why it was so important, but number 4 could not get in trouble for this.

“He looks like someone I met in dream!” She finally blurted out, before realizing that this will probably not help her case.

“You know that you only see faces in dreams of people that you have met before.” The detective was talking to the officers assembled in the room, and not to Jessica.

Jessica responded meekly, “I had the dream before the robbery.”

“There, you see, you must have met him before the robbery, dreamed about him, and then he showed up and shot Kenzie in cold blood before cracking open the safe and leaving before the authorities showed up.”

Jessica was amazed by this blatant disregard of the facts. “He didn’t mean to shoot her! He was scared! She opened the safe, not him!”

The detective had continued his slow stroll around Jessica until he stopped, facing the officers, “Man, I have heard some whoppers in my day, but wow. First she says it wasn’t him, then she tries to say that it wasn’t that bad!” The officers laughed in chorus. “What do you all think, is she brainwashed or crazy?”

Jessica was past nervous now, she was mad. “You are supposed to be impartial!!! You aren’t supposed to interrogate the victim!!!” She turned around and stormed out of the room.

As the door closed she heard a few whispers, “Mad,” “Crazy,” “Stockholm,” Once it was shut she broke down into tears and leaned against the wall, sliding down to sit in a heap on the floor.

Chapter 18 (WIP) – False Expectations

Jessica’s alarm clock woke her up, pulling her back into all her fears that she had just cried out. If her schedule worked as planned, she would never need an alarm clock. Go to sleep in the morning, wake up naturally, do stuff in the afternoon, and then go to work when it was time.

But in reality, she had a hard time staying up all night, despite the fact that this was her normal schedule. When she got home she couldn’t sleep, and yet didn’t have the energy to get up and do anything. So she mostly meandered around the house starting a project, and then getting distracted by another until the sun went down. Then she fell asleep, but couldn’t rest for more than an hour or two – if she was lucky. The alarm clock was an absolute necessity, and Jessica had deliberately chosen the loudest, most obnoxious one she could find.

Jessica got herself ready in the dark because she didn’t want to face the lights yet. Once she was dressed, she went out and was immediately surprised to find that the sun was up. She stood in the doorway for several moments trying to figure out why she was up at this hour. Finally it dawned on her that she needed to go ID the guy at the police station. She sighed before walking out and locking the door behind her.

When she arrived at the station, Jessica was greeted by a secretary with large dark circles around his eyes, and the same expression on his face that Jessica had when she hadn’t managed to get any sleep. She told him what she was there to do, and he slowly moved to use the intercom to let the detective know. The detective seemed agitated as he said “Well send her back! And step on it!”

The exhausted secretary started his sentence quickly “He will ..see ….you…… no..w.” but soon his pace slowed down again as he directed her to the room.

When Jessica walked in, it was clear that they had been waiting for her. They didn’t say anything, but everyone was just a little too stuck to their chairs, feet up, several empty soda cans on the floor, that type of thing.

Detective Haskell stood up and greeted her with a confident handshake. “I think we got ‘im, by george I think we got ‘im. Come ‘ere, come ‘ere, take a look.” With that they flipped the light on in the next room.

All Jessica could see was Rodney staring straight into her eyes. It was no doubt the man from her dream. The man she had just trusted with so much information about herself. And now he was staring at her through what was supposed to be a mirror on his side with a big number 4 on a card in front of him. She had a hard time pulling her eyes away to see the other men. But she was able to tell that none of them was the nervous kid with the gun.

When Jessica was able to pull herself away for long enough to make any observations at all, it seemed clear that the police had just cleared out a homeless encampment and brought all the guys in here. “None of them, he isn’t here. He was more put together, he looked more like a college or…” she paused, “or even a high school student. Not a bad kid from the looks of it, the good kid who just can’t make things work anymore I guess.”

Jessica was still very well aware that the Rodney twin was still staring straight at her when Detective Haskell asked her to take another look, and walked with her as she looked at each of the men in their worn out clothes. He slowed way down as he passed number four. “Are you positive that you have never seen any of these men before? I just want to make sure that you absolutely certain.” They continued walking and looking. And number four’s eyes followed her.

Jessica turned to the detective, and gathering her wits a bit looked him straight in the eye and said, “No. none of these men is the guy you are looking for.”

The detective just said “Very well.” before opening the door to let her leave. The heavy door closed slowly, and Jessica could hear the detective say, “Number 4. Book ‘im.” before it clanged shut.

Chapter 19 – Investigation

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Chapter 16 (WIP) – Facing the Past

That night Jessica went to work after an unsuccessful attempt at a nap. Her trainee, an energetic, enthusiastic young man named Justin was quite capable of keeping her awake. He was able to run the shift on his own, so Jessica had very little to do, except show him a few of the things that she did to make sure everybody else was on the ball. Since it had been so long since she was at work there were plenty of errors left to find, even though it had been so quiet. Jessica thought about the irony that when the manager filled in her shifts, she didn’t catch the bookkeeping errors that Jessica would find.

This was the least busy time of the year, and after the robbery some long-term guests left in a panic, repeat guests decided to find somewhere else, and unsurprisingly it had made it to the reviews online. With so few guests, that review was still at the top of the list.

Jessica found herself a little jumpy at work, especially since she was so used to being there alone. Justin was very friendly and more than willing to fill Jessica in on what had been going on in her absence. As she had suspected, the lobby had been roped off for a few days while the police took their time investigating the scene. This meant that employees were using their own tablets to run the hotel and one of the rooms had been re-labeled “Lobby” for awhile. From the decline in business, it was clear that all of this fooled no-one, but it was not clear who had leaked the actual event to the reviewer. Justin seemed to be under the impression that the reviewer was the shooter and no-one would know the difference since he had never been in the lobby at night.

“How else would he know about the safe?” he said.

Jessica remembered Kenzie opening the safe, as if it was a gift for the boy. She remembered Kenzie waving at around as if it was meaningless. Jessica closed her eyes to try and block out the images, but they just got brighter as she remembered the scuffle and the shot. Her eyes shot open and she shuttered with the sound as it echoed through her mind. She could not bring herself to tell Justin how the boy really got the money from the safe.

It did not take long before Justin realized that Jessica probably did not want to hear more about the robbery. “I’m sorry, I forgot, they said that you were there. I won’t talk about it anymore if you don’t want me to.”

“It’s alright, I’m probably overreacting. You filled in all the blanks I had been curious about. I know I will have to face it at some point anyway. If they catch the guy I may have to go to court and tell a bunch of strangers about it. But I would like to put some more time between it and me before I do. Thank you.” And nothing more was said on the subject for the rest of the night.

After work Jessica needed a jump start since the car had been sitting in the parking lot for so long. Justin did not even seem to notice that he had been up all night and gave her a hand. He even sat outside with her as she let the car run to charge up the battery. Even though she knew she should let the car charge more Jessica decided she had better get home and let Ashley know nothing crazy had happened. She wished Justin good luck and told him that if he needed help when he started his own shift to give her a call. Jessica drove home looking behind her just to make sure she wasn’t being followed. Of course she was not, but she felt it better to be safe than sorry.

When she got home Ashley was ready for work and ran out to the car to greet her.  “Hey Jess! I just wanted to see how you were doing before I left.”

“I’m fine, the battery was dead so now I have to sit here for a few before I can go to sleep.”

“I wish I could join you but I gotta run. Glad everything is okay.” Ashley gave Jessica a hug before she jumped in the waiting sedan that belonged to her co-worker.

Jessica sat reading in the car until she could not stay awake. She turned off the engine and went inside. A bowl of cereal sufficed as dinner before she crawled upstairs to bed.

She had been there just long enough to change and lay down when the phone rang. She considered letting her mother leave a message until she realized that it was not her mother.

“Hello?”

“Can I speak to Jessica McGuire please?” Said a gruff voice on the other end of the line.

“This is her.”

“Hello this is Detective Haskell. I spoke to you in the hospital.”

“Yeah, how can I help you?”

“I just wanted to let you know that we have picked up some scumbag trying to use your credit card. We would like you to come in to ID him.”

“I just got off work and I really need to sleep now, can I do that this afternoon?” Jessica asked, knowing that she would probably not be able to make it to the station in one piece.

“We can only hold him for so long, but this afternoon should be fine. We will have your co-worker come by as well.”

“Sounds good, thank you.”

Jessica found herself sitting awake, wondering if this was the guy. Was she ready to face him? The detective did not know it, but she had been called in to ID a suspect before. She knowingly identified the wrong man. She told herself that this time she would not be intimidated, no matter what. Justice would prevail. This time, she would do the right thing.

Chapter 17 – Where Do We Go From Here?

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CHAPTER 9 (WIP) – ANCHORS

Jessica found herself sitting in a classroom. Surrounding her were people cheerfully discussing their class project. It did not take her long to notice that there were young kids in the class with adults, seniors mentoring teens, while the teens helped the grownups with the technology.

Suddenly Jessica heard a voice from behind. “Haven’t seen you around lately.” Jessica peered around to find the source of the voice. “How have you been doing?”

Jessica finally noticed a gentleman sitting nearby her looking at her in anticipation. She suddenly felt uneasy. “I am doing alright, I guess.”

“What are you doing for your project?”

Jessica forgot where she was for a moment. “Project? Oh, uh, right the, uh….project…” She trailed off.

“You seem a bit lost, are you sure you are alright?”

Jessica looked around to get her bearings. She knew she recognized the man but could not place him, she tried to figure out what she was supposed to be doing, or rather, have done already. For a few moments it felt like Jessica lost herself. She had trouble focusing on any one thing as she tried to remember where she was and what brought her here.

Faces flashed in front of her and a voice – “Are you alright?”

She saw the classroom again and realized that the room was geared towards teaching history.

Again the faces flashed before her – “Do you know your name?”

Jessica tried desperately to hold on to the classroom, since it was the only thing that made any sense at that moment as she found her bearings enough to mutter “Jessica.” The name came out of her mouth as a reflex, but it did not feel like it belonged to her.

But the classroom was slipping away and Jessica slowly realized that she was in the hospital and all the terrible memories came flooding back.

“Hi there Jessica. Do you know where you are?”

“Hospital, -Who?” She managed to get out through her confusion.

“I am so sorry, my name is Rodney.” For the first time Jessica had a specific person to focus on and things began to clear up. “Do you remember anything?”

“There was a robber, he had a gun…” Jessica trailed off for a moment as the rest sunk in. “How is Kenzie?”

“She is doing well, but you need to focus on you right now though. You have been through a lot, and I am afraid that these guys won’t help, but they are insistent.” Rodney waved to the nurses. Soon two men in cheap suits entered the room.

“Hi there, I hope you are feeling all right, I am Detective Haskell and this is my partner Barnes. We just had a few questions about the other night.”

“How long has it been?”

“You have been out for about 24 hours now.”

“Shit.” Muttered Jessica as she slid deeper into the bed.

Barnes turned to the doctor, “Can we have the room please?”

Rodney looked at Jessica and said, “Please try not to upset her.” before he reluctantly followed the nurse out of the room.

Jessica felt that her anchor had been taken away, and tried not to panic. She sat up a bit and tried to re-arrange the pillows.

Haskell continued, “I know you have had a traumatic experience, but anything you can tell us will help to put this guy away.”

“Can’t you just look at the footage from the desk?” asked Jessica, who just wanted to hide.

“We would, but cameras have not been working for a few months according to the owner.”

“Well I lost a dollar for nothing.” muttered Jessica.

Barnes looked at Haskell and shrugged.

“The drawer is always off. One day I added a dollar from my purse. The next day the drawer was over by a dollar. I knew that no-one would pay any attention to me adding a dollar, but taking one would be frowned upon. So I left it. Turns out I could have taken it back anyway.”

Haskell glossed over this statement, and seeing that Jessica was finally talking he got down to business. “So what did this robber look like?”

Shocked by the abruptness of his question, Jessica took a minute in answering, which clearly irritated the detectives. “Um, he was young, probably younger than me. He was wearing jeans and a T-shirt.”

“Hard to see ‘em going bad so young” muttered Haskell as he wrote in his notebook. “So was he black, Hispanic, Muslim…?” Haskell trailed off.

Jessica shook her head, “I don’t really remember, white I think.”

“How about that, a white kid…Who knew?” Haskell muttered to his notebook. “Do you think that you could describe him to a sketch artist?”

“I am really bad with faces. I wouldn’t be able to describe either of you even if I were looking right at you.”

“Oh well. Guess we gotta hope the other one comes out of it.” He muttered before asking Jessica, “So what can you tell me about what happened?”

“I dunno-it all happened so fast. I hit the floor as soon as I saw the gun. He wanted all the money we had. I tried to get Kenzie to safety, but she wouldn’t…She just kept talking to him. She got the money from the safe,” Jessica stopped. “–somehow… But she wasn’t giving it to him,” She started trailing off a bit, “That’s how the fight started.”

Haskell looked up from his notebook, “Fight?”

“Yeah, he grabbed for the cash that was in her hand and fell over the counter. In the scuffle the gun went off… While he grabbed the money, I dragged Kenzie to the back to take care of her. That’s when I called 911.”

“Thank you miss, if you can think of anything else, here is our card.” Barnes slid the card over on the tray next to the bed.

As soon as they left Jessica heaved a big sigh and closed her eyes.

She was back in the classroom, this time it was the students’ faces staring back at her as they stood around her as she laid on the floor. The same gentleman from before helped prop her up. “Are you alright?”

“Yes, thank you. I am fine, um—” She looked at the man questioningly.

“You don’t remember me? I am hurt. Rodney, we met at the diner.”

“Oh, right, thank you.” Then she directed a quick, “Thanks I’m good.” to the group that had gathered around her. They hesitated for a little more reassurance, but when Rodney nodded to them they backed away and filtered back to the tables. Rodney helped Jessica to sit up.

“You know if you aren’t feeling well you didn’t have to come to class today.” Rodney sat on the table next to Jessica. Jessica felt better having him nearby, like an older brother.

“But isn’t there a project due today?”

“Yeah it’s the last day, but you can just join the next week’s class to finish it out. It is much more important that you are healthy.”

“I feel much better now. But I don’t have a project to turn in.”

“I will tell you what. Let me take you home so that you can get some rest.”

“No, no, that’s not necessary.” Jessica stumbled over herself as she tried to explain all the reasons that he shouldn’t. “I couldn’t impose, –your project,– I’m fine, I don’t need help.”

“Just listen to yourself, you need to take some time for you. I can turn my project in next week too.”

Jessica got up to go alone, but Rodney got down off the desk to give her a hand. “So where do you live?” The question stopped Jessica short. She didn’t really know this guy. She didn’t want to go to his place, but she didn’t want him to know where she lived either.

“Can we just go to a park or something?”

“I think that sounds like a fantastic idea.”

Chapter 10 – Settling In

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