A few weeks ago, I posted the first part of the mystery I am writing. Today, I share part II. I would love your feedback.
“Lord, help me please. What am I supposed to do now?” I prayed. I am generally very sensible woman, although my decision to allow Reggie to move into my place certainly contradicted this. I knew in my heart that I shouldn’t have allowed it, but Reggie’s charm was stronger than my willpower.
As I was praying, there was a knock on the door. Who can that be? I wondered. I peered through the peephole and was astonished to find Mr. Magic himself on the other side of the door.
“Well, hello,” I said, opening the door. I tried, but failed, to hide my enthusiasm.
Mr. Magic smiled. “Let me introduce myself. My name is not Mr. Magic. It is Detective Marc Jones. I’m sorry for disappearing on you earlier, but I needed to get your attention pretty fast. Don’t be misled. This isn’t a romantic call, nor are you in trouble. I’m here to help you.”
“How did you know I called you Mr. Magic?” I asked.
“The same way I knew your typical route home, where you lived, and that you were in trouble.”
“So, you’ve been spying on me?”
“Not exactly,” he said.
“Are you a cop?”
“No. Not anymore at least.” Marc answered.
“So, you are a private eye then?”
“You might say that. Do me a favor. Give me some time, and it will all become clear. It will take a while for you to accept all that I have to tell you. Before we talk much about me though, you need to see about Reggie. Send him a text telling him to call you back from another phone. If he’s able to, it might be wise to buy a disposable phone.”
“I’m not so sure I’m ready to talk to him,” I said.
“Have you already forgotten how much you love him?”
“Since you seem to know so much, you must have known he was cheating on me with Sheila.”
“What evidence do you have to support this accusation?” Marc raised an eyebrow as he spoke.
“None, except that he kept canceling our dates to meet with her. Have you SEEN her? She dresses seductively and flirts shamelessly.”
“Nothing you said proves that he was unfaithful. Give him a chance to explain what happened. He really needs you right now-without the attitude.”
Maybe Marc was right. I dropped the attitude and sent Reggie a text. Five minutes later, the phone rang. Assuming it was Reggie, I answered.
“Reggie, I’m so sorry I missed your calls. My phone wasn’t working. I heard your messages a few minutes ago. I saw the news story too. Where are you?”
“Near the airport at a motel,” Reggie’s normally sexy voice sounded distant and defeated.
“Can we meet somewhere?”
“Yes, there is a Doubletree Hotel nearby. Google it. Their restaurant, Jackson’s, is empty this evening. I’ll be in a booth in the back. When are you coming?”
“I should be there in thirty minutes,” I said. “See you then.”
“Marc, are you going with me to meet Reggie?” I asked.
“No, Janet. I cannot do that. Just go and listen to Reggie’s story. Make sure you find out where he was when Sheila died, when he last saw her alive, and who else may have had access to her office that evening. Be sure to take a notebook to record everything he tells you. I’ll tell you what you should do after you hear what he has to say. I’ll meet you here in two hours.”
“Oh yeah, I almost forgot… tell Reggie to power off his phone, take the battery out, and then place it in a tin can. He should also park his car as far away from where he is staying as possible. Those things will make it harder for the police to find him,” added Marc. “Grab his toothbrush and some clothes before you leave. He will really appreciate being able to freshen up a bit. If you can afford it, hand him some cash too.”
I jumped in my car, and headed west, toward the airport. I put in my Mary Mary CD hoping it would lift my spirits. The song, “Can’t Give Up Now”, always did the trick. I began to sing along,
But when my back is against the wall
And I feel all hope is gone,
I’ll just lift my head up to sky
And say, help me to be strong…
I just can’t give up now… ..
Nobody told me that the road would be easy.
I don’t believe he brought me this far to leave me…”
As I drove, memories of my first date with Reggie filled my mind. He was stylish, smooth and suave. He opened doors for me, pulled out my chair, and listened to me as if everything I had to say was interesting. He had a beautiful smile with deep dimples and a captivating voice. I fell hard and fast. We had only been dating a month when Reggie said he didn’t want to spend one more day without me. He started falling asleep at my place. Then a toothbrush appeared, followed a few days later by some clothes. He continued to pay rent on his upscale apartment downtown, and retained it as his official residence, but he spent most of his time at my place, even though it was much smaller and not as nice. No matter how this current predicament worked out, I resolved to send Reggie back to his place until he was ready to make a lifetime commitment.
I pulled into the Doubletree expecting to see Reggie’s car, but did not. I parked and went inside. I found him sitting in a booth near the back like he said, drink in hand. I could immediately see why he chose this place; there were no windows, it was rather dark, and except for Reggie, it was empty.
“Hey Reggie,” I said.
“Hey,” he attempted a smile, but the sparkle was gone. His eyes were bloodshot and it looked like he hadn’t slept.
“You look awful. Have you slept at all?” I asked.
“Not much,” he answered as he took another sip from his glass.
“How can I help you, Reggie?
“Just seeing you cared enough to come helps. Thanks.”
“Have you eaten?” I asked.
“Not much. I don’t have much of an appetite.”
Since neither of us was really hungry, we decided to share the small barbecued chicken brick-oven pizza and a Greek salad. While we waited, I pulled out my notebook, and prepared to listen to his version of yesterday’s events.
“What happened to Sheila, Reggie?” I asked.
“Not what the news said, that’s for sure,” he began fidgeting with his napkin. Sheila came to my office briefly at about 5:00. She told me what she needed me to bring for our evening meeting. I was to meet her at 6:30. When I went to her office, I found her slumped over. I was too late. She was already dead. As I was checking her pulse, Brandon, the weird IT guy came in and started screaming, ‘You killed the wicked witch!’ That really freaked me out. I got scared and left the building. I called the police from my car, telling them who she was and where they would find her. I’m betting Brandon told them I was the one who had killed her. If only I had stuck around until the cops came…”
“Who else might have gone in her office between the time you last saw her and the time she died?” I pulled out my phone, and turned on the recorder just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Wish I had thought to do this earlier.
“I can see her office door from my desk, so I can tell you a few of the people who were there. Brandon was there working on her laptop for about fifteen minutes. Marshall, the president of the company, went in next for about five minutes. I also saw Shamisha, our administrative assistant, go in at least once. There were times I was not watching the door, so there could have been others.”
“Can you think of anyone who would want her dead?” I asked.
“I think you mean to ask me if I knew anyone who didn’t want her dead. Sheila was mean, pushy and vicious. Nobody could do anything right. I heard her really rip into Brandon yesterday afternoon when he was trying to fix her computer, and that was not the first time. Brandon is disabled and brings his service animal to work. Sheila hates dogs. She was even mean to the dog.
Sheila was having an affair, but not with me. She and Marshall thought no one knew, but it was kind of obvious. If I noticed, others probably did too. Shamisha and Marshall’s wife talk pretty much every day. It’s quite likely that his wife knew about the affair.
Sheila was planning to leave the company and take some of her clients with her. If Marshall found out about this, he may have tried to stop her. Is that enough people with reasons? Oh yeah, add yourself to the list since you seemed to think I was sleeping with her. Actually, I might be the only one I know who didn’t have a reason to kill her,” Reggie added.
“Wow,” was all I could manage to say. I did as Marc suggested, and wrote down all that Reggie had told me. How on earth would Marc be able to sort through all of this before the cops found Reggie?
When we finished eating, I got ready to leave.
“Reggie, I need to get home. Here’s a few clothes and a toothbrush,” I said, handing him the bag Marc told me to pack. “I brought some cash if you need it too. Would you like to meet here tomorrow for an early dinner?”
“Yeah, I guess. What time?”
“I’m thinking I can get here by 4:30. Does that work for you?”
“Sure. Where else do I have to go except jail?”
“Oh, I almost forgot. A friend of mine gave me some tips to help you stay under the radar.” I handed him a page from my notebook. “He’s some sort of detective and has offered to help. I’m going to meet him briefly and share what you told me. That’s why I was taking notes. Stay strong. This detective and I are going to figure this thing out.”
Before leaving, I gave Reggie a quick hug. Even his hug felt weak and defeated. I pulled away as I found myself fighting off tears, and headed back home to meet with Marc.