Conviction of a One-Way Mirror: Part 2
If you missed Part 1, catch it here.
He cleared the strain from his throat. “I thought that she might be having an affair.”
“Huh.” I spared a beat to collect my thoughts, treading the subject carefully. “And was she?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “She claimed she wasn’t.”
“What made you think she was?” I prodded, my adrenaline heightening as I followed this new line of questioning.
He shook his head, new tears welling up. “It all seems so insignificant now.”
“But it’s not,” I assured him brusquely. “I need to know why you thought she was having an affair.”
“There was one incident a while ago where she wouldn’t let me in our room because she claimed that she had gotten sick and wanted to clean it up, but I swear I heard something, like someone else was there. I’m sure I was just making it up.”
“So one creak of a floorboard in an old house and you jumped to this conclusion?”
“It was more than that, though. It’s crazy, but she acted-” he grasped for the right explanation. “She acted happier.”
“You assumed she was happy because she was sleeping with someone else? What a commentary on your relationship,” I snarked.
“It was a different kind of happiness. She was bouncing around like she used to when we first started dating, but we were past that phase. The only reason I could think of for her acting like that again was that she had found someone else.”
I straightened up, resentful. “So you knew you made her unhappy?”
I clarified, “If you were noticing that she was happy lately, that means that you were aware of the fact that she was unhappy the rest of the time. It never bothered you that your wife was miserable?”
“I don’t think you have a right to tell me how my marriage was going,” he countered.
“I’m probably more qualified than you realize,” I retorted coolly.
“Are you a marriage counselor now?” he ragged.
I chuckled and shook my head. “Definitely not, but I am sure that doubt was itching at you. You probably got angry that night.”
“The discussion got heated,” he yielded, “but that was the end of it. I told her what I was thinking, she defended her side of it, said she would never do that, and then we moved on.”
“That’s the sort of accusation that can really put strain on a couple,” I pointed out.
“It didn’t. We were fine after that. She poured us both drinks and we reconciled.”
“So you were drinking?” I noted.
“One glass of wine,” he promised. “I was not drunk.”
“So you drink a glass, watch Pawn Stars, and go to bed. Was anything else said between the two of you?”
“How soon did you go to bed?” I baited. “Early? Earlier than usual?”
Perplexed by my accurate leap, he said, “I did. How did you know that?”
“I’m good at my job,” I replied slyly.
“I got drowsy quick, probably from filling up on dinner. I was practically asleep before I hit the pillow and I stayed that way until morning.”
“Do you usually get that tired? To where nothing disturbs you the whole night?”
“Honestly, no,” he acknowledged. “I’m sort of an insomniac.”
“So someone who usually has trouble sleeping decides to be dead to the world during the night that his wife turns up murdered?” I posited.
“I’m telling the truth,” he pleaded. “I don’t know why I slept so heavy, but I did, and someone broke in. I didn’t kill my wife, Detective.”
“There’s a lot I’ve uncovered just during this conversation. You kept a lot of really important details from us. You know that doesn’t look good, don’t you?”
“I kept things to myself because they didn’t matter. I didn’t-”
“Kill your wife, yes, you mentioned,” I snipped.
“There’s no evidence that says I did,” he challenged.
“And none that says you didn’t,” I retorted. I studied the anguish on his face and reclined back in my seat, contemplating. “As much as I hate to admit it, I think you really loved her.”
“Yes, I did."
I averted my own glare for the first time, uneasy with the coming inquiries. “As much as you cared for her, do you feel like you deserved her?”
He scoffed, “What is that supposed to mean?”
“It’s a simple enough question. Your wife was taken from you and you are clearly upset. I’m sure you have a list of regrets a mile long. Whether or not one of those is murder is what I’m here to determine but regardless, do you truly think you were good enough for her?”
“She loved me back,” he defended. “She wouldn’t have married me otherwise.”
“To be frank,” I cut in, “we’ve established that you were an abusive, unpleasant man to be around. She was unhappy with you. You even had the nerve to accuse her of cheating. If she was, then you lost her long before now and I’m sure that doesn’t sit well with an insecure, power hungry man like yourself.”
“These are judgements that have nothing to do with the case,” he growled.
“You’re wrong about that,” I sneered, rising from my seat, “because if you get wrongly accused and go to prison for this, I won’t feel bad about it. Either way, justice is being served, as far as I’m concerned.”
“You think I deserve a life sentence because I lost my temper a few times?”
“No,” I seethed, my loathing seeping through, “you deserve this because you didn’t bother remembering me.”
He knit his brow in fearful confusion. “I don’t understand. Why would I? It was one little domestic dispute call. I’m surprised you even remember it.”
“I remember lots,” I chaffed, pacing around the room as I lost hold of my excitement. “It’s true that most calls begin to blur together, but I’ve had the pleasure of visiting your home quite a few times.”
His thick skull struggled to comprehend. “What for?”
“Joselyn was a woman in a bad situation. As an officer of the law and a fellow woman, I wanted to be there for her and make sure she was alright. I didn’t expect things to go as far as they did, but I couldn’t be happier with how everything worked out. You were so blind to it all. You even saw me outside several times when I was leaving, but you never gave me a second glance. And that time you suspected Joselyn was hiding someone. I admit that was a close call. My heart was pounding so hard. I learned the hard way that your windows are not made for climbing out of very easily.”
Dumbstruck, he pushed his chair out from under himself so he could stand and confront me. His mind abandoned the fact that he was restrained and the chains caught him in his attempt to approach. He settled for speaking from his place at the table.
“You?” He gawked, flummoxed, before stammering, “But you’re-”
“What?” I challenged, already predicting his small minded train of thought.
He blathered, “You’re a woman.”
I straightened my jacket. “It’s the twenty-first century, Mr. Cartwright.”
“She cheated on me,” he considered, distracted, “and now she’s dead. You killed her.”
“Nope, you still haven’t put all the pieces together yet,” I hinted.
“I don’t understand,” he babbled. “I didn’t do it. And if you didn’t do it, then who else is there?”
“You’re leaving out one possibility,” I expounded. Holding one of the photographs of his murdered wife in front of him, I fetched a small container of makeup from my pocket and indicated at a violet that matched the bruises on her throat. With glee, I revealed, “She’s not dead.”
Relief and horror managed to tug at his face all at once. He mumbled, “Joselyn is alive?”
“Yep, so you don’t have to waste all your time in prison grieving.”
“Wait,” he barked, “if she’s not dead, then there’s been no crime, except for maybe the two of you. I’m not even sure what a fake murder is, but I’m sure it’s illegal.”
“As far as the law is concerned, she is dead. Someone strangled her to death. And when forensics matches the fingerprints on her neck to yours, it’ll be enough to put you away.”
His jaw hung agape. “How could you possibly manage to convince everyone of that?”
I whirled around myself, triumphant. “If you hadn’t noticed, I work here. I know which strings I have to pull to make things happen.”
“I’ll tell them,” he threatened, waving at the camera for help. “You’ve confessed everything and I’m not afraid to tell them.”
“Just to be clear,” I cut in, “the main suspect in this case is going to give a statement to the police saying that he didn’t kill his wife, and the real story is that she’s not even really dead, she’s only faking it so that she can escape the terrible life you made for her and run away with your arresting officer. Did I get all that right? Please feel free to do that. I would love to see how it plays out.”
“Why are you doing this?” he despondently asked.
“You already know the answer to that,” I retorted.
Downcast, he said, “I know I’m not a good man. But does the punishment really fit the crime here?”
“I don’t know,” I admitted. “Proper justice is a hard thing to measure. My priority is to keep Joselyn safe from you. I crossed lines to get here, but I don’t regret it because I love her. You claim to love her too. So if that’s true, is this so hard for you to understand? The woman you love was being mistreated. Don’t you want to save her, even if it means saving her from you?”
Peering at the table with a vacant air, he muttered, “I don’t want to go to prison.”
“But you will for her?” I ascertained.
“I love her, Detective Hendrix,” he firmly asserted.
“And you want her to be happy.”
After a moment, he breathed, “Yes.”
I resumed my place across the table from him. “Then that’s all I have to say to you, Mr. Cartwright.” I offered a hand, close enough that he would be able to reciprocate even within the confines of his cuffs.
He fumed, “We’re not friends, Detective.”
“Would never expect to be,” I concurred. “This is simply my apology and my thanks.”
Begrudging, he accepted my shake. Before releasing me, he implored with earnest, “Be better than me.”
I gave him a sincere smile and nod. With this, I rose and fled, abandoning a past of oppressive misfortune to pursue a life of freedom, glory, and bliss.
© 2020 by Kelsey Garber