Chapter 7: Assistant
Chapter 7: Assistant
Charles is getting impatient with my progress so I decided to do some serious investigations. I tried throwing some flowers at the goddess pond, but she didn't answer my calls and the relaxing nearly magical feeling of the place was gone. I tried looking at the scene of the crime again, but found nothing new. That didn't surprise me since it's been so long since all of this happened. Then I went to town to have another talk with the doctor. On my way to the clinic, I stopped at the super market due to some yelling coming from inside.
"It's all too much for him! It's a heart attack!" Sasha screamed as she half dragged and half tried to carry Jeff. Manna is running around in circles in front of the counter, yelling nonsensically.
I rush inside without thinking and offer, "I'll carry him." Sasha doesn't trust me, but she's too panicked to think about who's helping her. She only knows that someone is helping her. Jeff is a short man; I throw his limp arm over my shoulder and manage to get him to the clinic, which is thankfully very close by.
By now Manna's yelling has made half of Mineral Town gather in the street in front of the clinic while I pass the limp Jeff over to Dr. Trent. "Is he dead?" Karen arrived on the scene and jumped to conclusions. "My father's dead! It's all your fault!" She points at me.
"I didn't do anything!" I yell back. "I helped carry him here!" The angry Karen and the rest of the town look like they want to kill me and I instinctively back away. There's too many for me to physically fight and since they are civilians who have yet to be proven to have committed a crime I can't point my gun at them. I look back at Elli who seems ready to slam the door shut and throw me to the wolves.
Suddenly, Skye arrives on the scene and walks over to Elli. I'm looking at the angry Karen, bracing myself in case she decides to pounce and Skye is facing Elli, with his back to the rest of the villagers. A chill runs down my spine and I get an odd feeling. Strangely, I'm reminded of the time when Skye looked into Diamond's eyes. He was supposed to be returning her to Forget Me Not today, he must have just returned to Mineral Town. I instinctually look at Skye and he quickly pulls me into the clinic passed a stunned Elli. The nurse just stands there with a stupefied expression, as if she's been petrified and Skye closes and locks the clinic's front door, while the villagers protest.
Trent's voice calling Elli snaps her out of whatever trance she was in and she rushed to assist the doctor in the examination room. As soon as we're left alone in the waiting room, with the noise of the townspeople behind the door, I stare at Skye. "What was that?"
"You should be the one to explain it to me, fair maiden." Skye bats away my question with a request for information of his own.
I shake my head and quickly spill out what I know. "Jeff was apparently having a heart attack. I heard the commotion at the super market and brought him here." I haven't forgotten my curiosity though. "What was that just now? How did Elli end up looking so stunned?"
Skye offers me a radiant smile, "all I did was this."
I blink, his handsome face is indeed very distracting, but I still have the feeling that there was something else he did. I can't imagine what it was; I mean he was standing right next to me, though I was looking away. "Okay..." I decide to accept his answer for now.
We wait quietly for a while longer until Trent comes out of the patient's room and looks around. "Where are Sasha and Karen?"
"Outside," I tilt my head towards the door.
Trent steps forward and opens it. The villagers want to run him over, but he grips the door frame and stands firm. "Only his wife and daughter can come in. Only them, please stand aside, let them through!" Finally, Trent closed the door when Sasha and Karen were inside. He took a deep breath and addressed their worried faces. "Jeff is not having a heart attack; he's just suffering from heartburn."
"Oh..." Sasha and Karen chorus, wiping away their tears.
"Jeff is resting now, you can see him if you want," Trent offered.
I wasn't about to go out there to face the villagers, so I hung around the waiting room sitting next to Skye. He suddenly placed his hand on mine. "Don't look so distressed, my princess, it's not like we're sitting here waiting for some fatal news."
"I'm not making any progress." I should have pulled my hand away, but I let it be, I could use the consolation. "This investigation isn't going anywhere."
"Maybe you should let things be," Skye suggested. "Finding the culprit won't help Miss Alice now, will it?"
I nodded, not questioning his knowledge of the case, everyone in town must know by now. "Charles still wants justice. I can't blame him. I would want revenge too if I was in his shoes. There has to be a clue somewhere, there just has to be."
"Maybe I can help," Skye offered.
I didn't like the idea of having to ask someone to help me with my job, but I was desperate. I needed to solve this before I got fired by Charles' impatience. I can't believe I still try so hard for him. If it was anyone else, I would say the trail went cold, write a report and call it done, let the cold cases division handle it. Charles made me join the law department on a whim, then I ended up as a detective. Even without meaning it, he pulls the thread of my fate. "Okay," I finally agree.
Skye smiled, satisfied with my answer. "Alright, detective, what should I do first?"
"Go out there and explain to the villagers what happened with Jeff so that they don't kill me." I felt cruel asking him to do such a dangerous task, but it was something I really needed.
"That won't be necessary," Karen suddenly makes her way from Jeff's room to the waiting room. "You tried to help even though we haven't been nice to you, even after all the things I said. I guess I shouldn't blame you, if I had the chance I would also be seduced by the glitter and glamour of the city too. I'll talk to the villagers and tell them you're not a bad person."
"Thanks..." The part about the glamour and glitter wasn't exactly how it was as much as the conveniences of the city, but I'm not going to say to much, least I ruin what good karma I managed to obtain.
After that was taken care of, I remembered why I was going to the clinic in the first place and had a talk with the doctor about Alice. He described the result of the examination in detail and even showed me some medical records, since I was an officer and all. Blunt hit to the head, almost drowned. From what I can piece together, she was pushed off the bridge and hit her head on one of the rocks on the river. Said rocks by now have all been washed of any traces of the occurrences by the river itself. I asked if she presented other bruises and the doctor gave me the negative on that. There was no struggle, she was caught off guard, thrown off the bridge and lost consciousness on impact.
This means that she wasn't on her guard from the start or rather she was caught off guard. It must have been dark already and someone snuck up on her, but who? The wood of that bridge squeaks and screeches like there's no tomorrow and I don't think it was any quieter the night of the almost murder, it's the same noisy old bridge that's been there since I was a kid. How could anyone sneak up on her then? Maybe the almost murderer tried to talk to her to get her to lower her guard, pretended to negotiate. Yet Charles describes Alice as a capable business woman who doesn't lower her guard and the tension in town must have been obvious. How was she caught off guard then?
If I didn't know Charles, I'd throw the blame at him, but his concern is without a doubt genuine. Who was capable of making Alice lower her guard? Who? Realizing that my thoughts were going in useless circles, I decided to leave the clinic with Skye, my new assistant, tagging along with me. I headed for the church. I knew there was no way that Carter would spill the beans if anyone confessed to him, but maybe I could read between the lines of his silence if I came up with a conversation.
As Skye and I entered the church, Carter seemed to be busy reviewing his next sermon, or more like practicing it. He had the Bible in his hands and the topic seemed to be about the ten commandments. "Thou shall not murder!" He spoke gravely and seriously, as if trying to put feeling into the importance of this rule.
Skye froze beside me, his face suddenly whiter than normal. "I think we're interrupting something," he finally spoke when he noticed I was looking at him.
"Thou shall not..." Carter paused in his speech as he noticed that he wasn't alone. He was one of the few who were civilized and nice to me from the start upon my return. "Oh, hello, welcome, welcome, don't be shy. Sorry if I was a little loud there, I was rehearsing my next sermon. People sometimes tell me I don't put enough emotion into my voice and it bores them."
We finished walking to the front of the church where Carter stood. "Hi, Carter, do you have time? Can I confess? Oh and by the way, this is Skye, in case you two haven't met. Skye, pastor Carter is one of the nicest people in this whole town." I would confess my frustration as a detective and how I wish I could do something to protect the world from that murderer that was on the loose, supposedly hiding among the innocent villagers. Then maybe Carter would try to encourage me and I would cling to his every word for hidden clues. It's a sneaky and underhanded tactic, but it's for the sake of justice, right?
Carter smiled gently, "it is nice to meet you, Skye."
There was a hint of relief in Skye's eyes, "likewise." They shook hands and time froze.
Carter looked into Skye's eyes as if searching for something, but decided not to voice what it was. After that split second, the relief that overtook Skye became alertness instead. "Of course I have plenty of time," Carter agreed. "Would you both like to confess? Separately naturally."
Skye smiled innocently, "maybe another time."
"Very well," Carter smiled gently, but he still held a look of alertness in his eyes. Because I asked if he had time and perhaps also because of all the commotion attached to my presence, Carter must have assumed that this would be a long confession. It would be long, but more so because I'm looking for clues. "In the mean time," Carter glanced at Skye, "You can occupy yourself in praying or reading. I have another copy of the Bible at the confessional, so you can read this one if you want." Carter hand Skye the Bible.
Skye took the Bible and didn't breathe a word, moving his hand back quickly, as if not to even brush the pastor's fingers again. As I walk to the confessional, I can't help it but to wonder what that silent exchange between Skye and Carter when they shook hands was about? From the corner of my eyes I saw Skye sitting down and opening the Bible to a random page to look at, only to look at it, not really to read.
I could tell Skye's mind was elsewhere and he would read nothing beyond the title spoken aloud, possibly for Carter's benefit, "Proverbs six..." Skye was deep in thought and would only stare blankly at the page. He would pretend he was doing something, in case anyone else came in, so that they wouldn't interrupt his thoughts with conversation. Then the door to the confessional was closed and I had to force myself to focus my attention on the task at hand.
To be Continued
Carter knows something. :o