I was trying to hide the fact that I had been crying and was on the verge of starting again.
The policeman in front of me was watching me steadily, staring right at me but remaining silent. I looked down at the table and rubbed my arms. The air conditioner above me was blasting cold air right down the back of my shirt. The tarnished metal door to the interview room opened and a second policeman came in slowly, looking at the papers in his hand. He sat next to his partner and looked up at me.
“So, Thomas, do you want to tell us where you were last Thursday?” he said.
“I already told you.” I muttered. “I was at home. You came to my house to tell me that Max was…,” my voice caught, and I had to stop talking.
“Ah, yes,” the policeman said, looking at the papers. “Ok. then, what were you doing at home?”
“Revising, I’ve got exams in a few weeks,” I said.
“All night?” the other policeman said. “Exams aren’t until next month, seems odd for someone to be revising so hard already.”
“I want to pass,” I said, still looking down. The policeman grunted but said nothing else.
“All right, tell me then, if you were at home revising how was your car involved in an accident?” the second policeman said. “An accident that killed three people and put two others in a hospital?”
“I already told you, I lent my car to Max,” I said.
“It’s very trusting of you to lend your car out,” the policeman said.
“I did it a lot, Max was on the insurance,” I said. “He always borrowed it, he was a good driver.”
The wall of heat hit me hard as I opened the door to the department store and stepped inside. I kept moving forwards, stepping under the fan that pumped heat into the doorway.
“Oh, I’m sorry sir, we’re not officially open yet,” the girl who came towards me looked about my age, an older teen, or maybe in her early twenties. She looked flustered as she tried to shoo me back out the door.
“Hey,” I smiled, “Um … I’m looking for Mr Williamson.”
“That’s fine, but you must wait until we open,” she said.
“No, you don’t understand, I’m his new assistant, I’m Oliver,” I reached into my pocket to pull out my phone intending to show her the text messages. “I was told to come here this morning.”
“Where’s your store identification?” she asked.
“I’m new, no one’s given me anything yet,” I said as she stepped forward, trying to back me out the door.
“Anna stop tormenting my new dogsbody.” Mr Williamson said approaching behind the girl, Anna, who lost her rigid posture and relaxed. She grinned at me.
“Got you, newbie,” she snorted a giggle. I rolled my eyes.
“You got me,” I said. “Hilarious.” She turned to look at Mr Williamson.
“Aww, Jack your new one’s not got as much spine as the last one, he will not be much fun.”
“Hey, Oliver’s got plenty of spine. Just maybe he didn’t want to mouth off the minute he walked through the door on his first day.” Mr Williamson came over and smiled at me. I offered him a smile back and tried to quell the nerves in my gut. Mr Williamson was my best friend’s dad. I’d been around him plenty over the years, but it still felt strange to be working for him. “Come on,” he said gesturing me to follow him. “I hate the perfume section, the damn place stinks.” He turned and headed off at a brisk pace.
I followed, jogging at first to keep up. We walked up the escalator which hadn’t been turned on yet, Mr Williamson lead me over to the photography section where his little studio was.
In the spirit of Halloween, I wanted to share a short story. I originally write this longer ago than I would like to admit, and it was published in Danse Macabre.
“What awful racket is this?” I asked, raising my voice over the stereo.
“It’s Howling Moon’s latest song, James gave me a copy,” Holly shouted back at me.
“You know Holly, just because James’ band sings a song doesn’t mean we all want to hear it,” Amy leaned forward from the back seat and turned the volume down.
“Thank you,” I said.
“It wasn’t that bad,” Holly muttered. “I liked it.”
“Don’t sulk,” Amy said. “After the fuss you made about Lucy being extra careful with James’ van you probably shouldn’t deafen her. It might effect her driving.”
“Between that noise and this rain it’s not the best driving conditions,” I said keeping my eyes on the road. It had started raining when we left the city, a light patter that had rapidly evolved into a torrent. The wind had picked up, steadily pushing us to the left. The van felt oversized and clumsy.