Thursday, July 21, 2016

Death's Honesty (5)

Chip Morowitz stared across the jail table at Blow with a look of put-upon frustration. Blow suspected his own face, with its lack of even feigned sympathy, contributed to his client's disgruntlement. He wanted to respond, So fucking what? but said instead, trying to keep the irritation from showing at least in his voice, “Are you straight now?” The boy held his crinkle-eyed stare but tipped his head to one side, as if to get a better purchase on just what sort of creature was addressing him. When it appeared he either had no intention to speak or was struggling to comprehend the question, Blow added, “Because if you aren't, if you're still stoned, I'll leave right now.” 

The staring duel continued, the boy's yellow curls dangling toward a shoulder, puffy eyes crimped in apparent puzzlement, until Blow decided he'd had enough. He clicked off the recorder and returned it and the yellow pad to his briefcase. He stood and was reaching down for his briefcase when he heard the frog croak once again. “Wait, man.” The voice had a touch more animation than before, which Blow found encouraging. He looked up, but kept his grip on the briefcase handle. The croaking continued. “I'm straight, man, I'm straight. I'm just, you know, really bummed and all that. Really, man, just--don't go. Please? I'm cool. I'm--”

Blow held up a hand. “Okay, Chip. You want some water? Coffee?” The jabbering continued while Blow returned to his seat, and retrieved his recorder and yellow pad from the briefcase. He detected no response to his drink suggestion, although the boy's voice at last had gone silent. Blow turned the recorder back on. He started again, in the friendliest voice he could manage. “Why don't you tell me what happened.”

Incrementally, with tedious prodding for the first ten minutes or so, Chip Morowitz croaked out a story that in part sounded uncomfortably close to the Hardy Boys mysteries Blow had lost himself in at a tender age, younger than this boy and his friends. They'd hung out together all through high school, he said. They were family. “The Three Moskeeters. That's what we were, man. We, like, buuuzzed.” He chuckled privately, shaking his head sadly, not looking at Blow. There was disbelief and bitterness on his face and in the muted sounds from his throat. After graduation their lives had begun to diverge—Ty to Harvard, Kitty to Julliard, and Chip to drift awhile “until I, like, find myself, man, ya know?” He went silent, lips apart, face slack, staring at something behind Blow. The sobbing began as Blow was turning to see what had distracted the boy. Blow heard a couple of squeaks that sounded like dry wheels on a cart or chair. By the time he'd turned back the third squeak had stretched and was crescendoing into a terrible keening. The boy's face was tilted down toward his hands on the table. His face scarlet, glistening with tears. Eventually some choked words worked their way out.

Man...I...I loved them!”

Blow nodded, keeping his eyes fixed on the kid's face, hoping for eye contact.

I loved them! Can't you see?”

Blow nodded, murmured affirmatively. Finally the face turned up, eyes seeming to force their way through the wet, swelling flesh.

Love, man! You know? You know what that is?”

Blow nodded.

I mean I would have died for them! I mean it! Died for them, like I know they would have for me. It was love, man. No way I killed them! No way!” He wiped an orange sleave roughly over his face. When his arm dropped back to the table, the face was glaring at Blow, the eyes bulging now, gleaming, challenging.

Blow continued nodding. He held the kid's stare. The kid's breathing was strained. He seemed to be finished speaking, waiting now for a response. Blow decided to push. “Did you love one of them more than the other, Chip?”

Puzzlement squinched the muscles in the kid's face. He leaned forward. “What?” It was more challenge than question. Blow raised his voice a little, but kept his face blank. “Did you? Love one of your friends more than the other?”

Understanding appeared in a flash with a condescending smile. He shook his head. “You mean did I have something going with Kitty? Like I killed them because I was jealous or some shit like that?”

“Did you or Ty have something going with Kitty, or with each other?”

“What the fuck, man?”

“Answer the question, Chip.”

“You're supposed to be my lawyer. What the fuck are you doing?”

“If I'm going to represent you, you need to be completely honest with me. Do you understand that?”

“I am being honest with you, Mr. Stone. But now you're saying maybe I did kill them.”

“Not quite. I'm asking you the kind of questions the police will probably ask, or the Commonwealth's attorney. We need to go over them first. So you're prepared.”

After a long wait while it seemed to Blow the kid's outlook was adjusting to a new terrain, an incorrect answer to what had been interpreted as a hostile question finally came. “No, man. I see what you mean. No, I was not jealous. I had no reason to kill them.”

“That wasn't my question, Chip.”

Blow saw the shoulders shrug. The face tilted down again. “Yeah, I know.”

“So?”

“I loved Kitty more. I loved Ty, too, but I was...um, in love with Kitty. But I didn't kill them. You got to believe me, man. I didn't do it.”


Chapter 6 -- https://mdpaust.blogspot.com/2016/08/deaths-honesty-6.html


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