Welcome to part seven of the current long story cycle (Cracked Windows). The links will be laid out in sections to cut down the total number we see on each post. You will be able to follow from week to week as needed when new sections appear.
There was a knock at the door and then a face in the window. The officer closed up his paperwork but left the pictures on the table before he left the room.
Jerome pulled at the cuffs on his wrist, to no avail. He was stuck, at their mercy and the way the interrogation had been going left him little hope that it would switch back to his favor.
But it was the pictures on the table in front of him that concerned him the most. The dead woman flashed his mind back to how he had found his wife. Through all this he hadn’t wanted to accept that she was gone. She would be waiting for him at home when they finally got their heads out of their collective asses and let him go.
He would never have hurt Ariel. Hell, the thought of it turned his stomach. Couldn’t they see and understand that if he had been the one to do it, he wouldn’t have dialed 911 the moment he found her in the garage?
Jerome glanced around the room. His reflection in the two way mirror did little to comfort him. Lack of sleep, assaulted his bloodshot eyes with dark circles. His face had turned a grey hue that he thought would be impossible to replicate. He couldn’t fake this shit, it was down right criminal for them to think otherwise.
After a while of him stewing and fuming and building up a head of anger, the officer had returned to the room. Jerome wanted to yell, wanted to scream at the man to let him go. But he swallowed, and his stomach churned with his anger and indignation. The heartburn to follow had been epic.
They let him go. Jerome had called a cab to pick him up in the early morning light of dawn. Hours of his night gone to the cops and a fruitless inquisition. How or why he had been treated like that, well, he was going to talk to a lawyer.
He hadn’t been thinking straight, even through the adrenaline energy that fueled his rage, Jerome could barely make heads nor tails of the jumble of events that led him here. It wasn’t until the cabbie had dropped him off at the end of his driveway that he remembered he would be coming home to an empty house.
His memory flashed to his last sight of Ariel, the one way he never wanted to remember her. He couldn’t push it away. The more he thought of it the more it burned into his mind. But in his confused state the memory began to warp and change. For a few minutes he thought he could remember seeing something strange within the air of the garage when he found her body.
He shook it off as tiredness. But that didn’t stop the wild conjecture. He laughed at times, the morose thought of what could have done it. Even then he thought the reality would be something even worse than what he could imagine. By the time he had stumbled from his front door to his bedroom, chills had traveled through his system so often that his body shook as he stripped to crawl back in bed.
Jerome stared at his ceiling as his thoughts turned to Ariel again. And the tears finally came. He couldn’t stop them, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t breathe. His world crashed and there was nothing he could do to bring it back.
Jerome reached across the bed to find it empty. Arial had gone. No, it wasn’t right. The memory of her on the garage floor hit him again with a surge of pain and anguish. His body wracked with sobs as the image flashed through his mind.
Sleep had never come. Not needed sleep at any rate. Instead it had been a listless turning and tossing of the days flashing through his mind. He knew what had to be done. Confront the neighbor, find what he had been hiding all this time. The man did this, Jerome knew it without a shadow of doubt. He would get the truth and the man would pay. Not only for his own wife but for all the other crap that had insinuated into their lives and the lives of everyone else around him.
His eyes burned and his body ached but these were only minor inconveniences. The pain and aggravation fueled and emboldened him. There was no stopping him now. He near jumped into his pants, pulled fresh from the top of the dirty clothes hamper. His shirt too, crumpled under a damp towel. Socks were a mystery he didn’t explore as he tied his shoes just enough to keep his feet from sliding around.
Chilly morning air rushed past him into the house when he opened the front door. An unseasonal frost had hit the world outside. Gray light of dawn had done little to warm the neighborhood. A death like pallor reached through the thin fabric of his t-shirt, enough for him to question whether he wanted something heavier but even then it felt to him like he was making excuses. He wouldn’t let the chill stop him.
The neighborhood hadn’t awoken yet.
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