||"Where were you on the night of Mr. Miller's murder?"
Murder ain't somethin' you really think about till it happens in your neck of the woods. It's just another chilling word in the news that makes you think about all the dangerous kinds of people out there. I remember thinkin' real hard about that night when I heard that word again. 'Cept I wasn't sittin’ by my bedroom window lookin' out at the sky like some broad with that innocent twinkle. I wasn't inside an office playin' cool and hard-to-get like ye see 'em do in the movies. Life ain't kosher like that.
I was sitting in my dressing room smoking away the grief that I should've had. The room had poor circulation and was lit by the dresser lights. Hot as hell to any other man, yet I couldn't feel it... I couldn't really feel anything at that moment. Even when I took the occasional glance at that picture; nothing. The picture on my dresser was an old one from a few years ago. My hair was shorter back then. Janet, the one on the right of the late Miller, was smiling like she'd just gotten hitched. Doll was a real class act back when I used to know her... but those greedy eyes were staring at Miller, my ex at the time... Part of me wished for somethin' sharp to poke out those eyes. But the other part can't find the heart to ruin a pretty picture. Me? I was on the left with my arms around a man named Vinnie who used to court me like some up-town gentlefolk. Last I saw of him was drowning in a bottle of somethin' he was caught smuggling. I took a long hard drag before admiring that final face in the picture. Mr. Harrison Miller. Status: deceased. Time of death: 9:34pm, on the second of October, 1929. Miller worked for the banks and everyone knew he was important. Never told a soul why though, but his ego flooded a room with it where ever he walked. I could've spend hours basking in the past, smoking the night away, sweating in my dressing room... when I heard a knock at my door.
I didn't need to answer. The door opened a second later. Whom, to my surprise—and slight disdain—should enter my personal ring of hell, but the archangels in blue and shiny copper badges. Without warning there were three men in my dressing room; all of them coppers; all of them men; all of them tugging at the collars of their suits from the heat. None of them expecting to see me without proper garments. Were it not for that large boa sticking to me like some censor bar, I might've had the nerve to scream. But even so I didn't break flow. Smoke was still hazing about and the world didn't seem to stop turning for me. Not like it did for those knuckleheads. Like they ain't ever seen a lady before... They had a nerve that I didn't, and I felt a tug in my green eyes. I hadn't the nerve to do a lot of things that night; like puttin' the picture down or bothering to get dressed or even screaming. Sometimes I dunno why I do the things I do, or why people act they way they do. Because they're taught? Because it's raw? I dunno what it was, but it sure got a reaction out of a face I didn't think I'd ever forget.
A fourth man entered my dressing room that night. He was no different from the coppers, but he sure wasn't like them others. His slicked-back hair and clever eyes knew better than to fall for a dame. I wasn't the prettiest damn woman out there, but that didn't stop him from lookin'.
"Ms... Jaquelin McBryde, I presume."
"Detective Arnold Meyers. I have a few questions for you."
He gave the nod to the others to vamoose outta my room, the greedy b*****d. Not that I cared. I felt so out of touch lately I could care less if the whole world saw me for what I was. I knew why Meyers was there, and he knew I was aware. But as the nature of things would have it, it would take more than a display of mental and emotional prowess to convince me he was the right way to go. Naturally, after a long exhale of smoky vapors, I lied.
"What's all this about?"
Granted, Meyers was no louse. The man had the headlines to prove me wrong, somethin' must've slipped my mind when I didn't set the picture out of sight. I'm never this sloppy.
"Oh— I don't know... Call it a hunch? I suspect you knew him."
Our little game of cat and mouse wasn't a very eventful one. Couldn't blame him. Somethin' wasn't too swell with me. Dunno if it was the idea of them prodding at this like a bunch of vultures or the smoke gettin' to my head. Things were nice and easy between us. He asked me to meet him at his office around 8:00 the following night for questioning. Dunno why he trusted me with a deadline. Could've skipped town in a heartbeat. Not that I could go nowheres, the world was lookin' worse by the day. Even a gal like me, 's gotta make a livin' somehow. Can't remember if it was the music or the acts, but the theater had a bit more in her that kept the lot of us performers going. It was something to hold onto.
The following day was an ordinary one save for the dress I was going to wear for when I went to go see that Meyers. Could've cared less what I wore any other day, but goin' to that office, steppin' through those doors after hours to talk about Miller was like attending a funeral... so I wore red.
The building didn't have the lights on. Everything looked to be closed, but the doors were open. The darkness was a whole new world on it's own without the lights and the people there. Couldn't even hear a sound. Save for the ring of electricity from one such office that saw no sleep like the rest. The name "MEYERS" decorated the window, and the scrawl of a pen could be heard from within. I was hesitant to open it, the option to head back out occurred to me, but I was through that door and sitting in a chair facing his desk like a child facing the principal... only... we were not terribly different. He and I. There was a moment of silence where he ceased his scribbling and set the pen down as if to address more pressing manners. The tension betwixt our untouched secrets seemed to draw the silence out like the calm before the coming storm. Naturally, I felt no shame in lighting a smoke. What I didn't expect was the courtesy of havin' him light it for me. I don't remember how it started, but it gave him an excuse to stand up and pace around while I sat there in that seat like the night before when we first met.
"As you may have already guessed," he began "I've called you in here to discuss the matters that pertain to the murder of Mr. Miller."
"Yes... At an obsolete hour of the night, no less."
Perhaps mimicking his particularly well-learned dialect wasn't the most polite way to begin a conversation. But it was, in some ways, getting back at him for the sarcasm from the night before. I guess he picked up on that.
"Well, consider it a means of respecting someone with your occupation."
I could've sneered at the man but found myself humored for a second by his consideration. The only way to complete this picture was with a bottle of somethin' illegal. He reminded me of Vinnie in some ways. Can't say I'm the easiest to sway, but ya can't blame a girl for falling in love with the wrong types. Thankfully, the law ain't my type. These were very reassuring thoughts for what he asked of me.
"Ms McBryde, tell me, where were you at 9:30pm on night of Miller's murder?"
"Talkin' to Nick after the show at the Ranart Theater. Y'know the joint, detective."
"We talked to Nick Sullivan earlier today and he mentioned seeing you at 9:00pm. Where were you at 9:30?"
"Was it only 9...?"
I ain't the smartest dame, but nobody keeps their eyes glued to their watches on ordinary nights. How could I have known it was only 9? I spent the next few seconds recalculating what I was doin' to the best of my abilities. So I figured I'd start there; and there was that feeling again. The numbness of truth and lies... It was not of my character to say the least. I couldn't explain it. I wouldn't.
"Let's see... I talked to Nick for a bit and then I walked home. Had dinner and went out for some late night shoppin'."
"Ms McBryde... we have an eye witness who claims to have seen you enter the establishment where a Mr. Harrison Miller lived."
"I didn't kill him if that's what you're askin'!"
I dunno what happened there. But I stood up real quick like I got pricked on the rear. I dunno what got into me at that second, but there was that pull in my green eyes, like tunnel vision after one too many. That was probably the most feelin' I've felt since that night. Scary thing too. Soon as I got up the detective was standin' right there in front of me. Bit closer than I remember him bein'. He saw somethin' there while I was tryin' to get a grip on myself. It was like I was bein' judged for somethin' wrong. I'd been in all kinds of wrong by then. He knew things I didn't and I had only yet to give him what he wanted... And then I felt hands on my arms. Warm hands. They were all kinds of wrong in holding me but the understanding we came to in that moment was beyond words. Were it not for that one soft lamp light on his desk, I don't think I would've been able to catch the man's smile. I felt life in that moment of weakness... I felt somethin' I didn't think I could feel given the circumstances. And it would've all come crashin' down around me like a silly fantasy if I didn't say it.
"It—... I didn't... "
Words were a many splendid thing of writers to produce... I was a showgirl. So me and my damn mouth buckled under pressure. Any attempt to use a charm on the man and keep this whole business a secret was a thing of the past, like Miller's murder. I had given into his charms. Two paths were lain before me, even when I tried to tell him in that moment. The path had already been decided for me—Meyers decided it for me. It was like being in my dressing room heat all over again. So I figured I'd tell him in the morning... he'd understand.
The following morning wasn't my greatest moment. I skipped out on my job so I could write a written confession to Arnie Meyers. Didn't think the man would be too thrilled with the pet name. It came with the disappearing act. I had a one-way ticket to Manhattan booked for 10:30am that morning. A letter and a fond farewell was all he'd remember me by.
" This is the last you ever hear of a Ms Jaqulin McBryde. Arnie, I know it ain't
right to keep you in the dark, so I'll tell you everything you want to hear... just
not in person.
I went to Miller's place that night to give back a loan I owed him. The guy said
he needed his money because an old friend of mine: Janet Larson was in the
gutter after giving birth. I had the money. Every penny of it. $800. When I get
up there I saw Ms Larson herself spread out in a heaping mess. I ain't never
seen so much red in my life, Arnie, I swear. But the broad was coated in the
stuff, like make-up. I can only tell ye Miller was there, painted all over her size
3 waist... That ain't what muthers are supposed ta be like... What could I do? I
was speechless. But she wasn't. She gave me 200 out of 2000 to keep quiet
and dump the body. And after years of putting up with that b***h, I did. I took
the dough, dumped the body and now I'm leavin'. That's the truth and every
bit of it. Whatever's left of him is probably six miles down the river by now.
Maybe I'll find somethin' nice up in the big city. Wish me luck Arnie.
Don't follow me.
One way or another, it's always about the money. Sure... I told him about the bribe, the scene, and Janet. Though I still felt responsible in some ways. I told him what I did with Miller's body... but I never told them what I did with Janet...
· Sun Aug 12, 2012 @ 01:08am · 0 Comments