Fiction Saturday Encore – “A Safe Place” – Part Six
A Safe Place
“Stop right there, Cumberland. Don’t get any closer or I will shoot you dead.”
He stopped. “Can I just set this down? It’s getting heavy and it is hot. These are cheap oven mitts. I’ll put it down on the table and I’ll back up. OK?”
It seemed like a reasonable thing to ask. “OK, but no funny business. I’m a good shot.” That was a lie too. I’d be lucky to hit him at all even though he was only five feet away. I hoped that my shaking knees weren’t obvious.
He did like he said. He put the lasagna down on a straw trivet, then went back to where he started. He closed the oven door and threw his mitts on the range top. I didn’t like his additions to our agreement. I told him so. He shrugged and I pressed him some more.
“Tell me, Cumberland. Why did you come back here? I’d think you’d want to get as far away as possible.”
“Where would I go? And if I started running I’d never be able to stop. I came back here because I needed a safe place to stay. The Police were done with it and most of the neighbors aren’t real nosy. After you chased me away from the Mission – I came home.
“And I’m sorry about your office. I just went nuts. But I didn’t kill her. I couldn’t have killed her – even though…. I can prove I didn’t kill her. I have an alibi.”
“What kind of alibi?”
“I was already in jail.”
“What are you talking about – in jail? What kind of line are you trying to hand me?”
“I’m trying to hand you the killer – if you’re interested. Are you interested – or are you just going to shoot me and close the case?
My knees stopped shaking and my heart started pounding.
“I’m not going to shoot unless you force me to.” I hoped not, anyway.
“Assuming, for a second, that I believe you – you know who killed your wife?”
“I didn’t at first, when you showed me those pictures, but I do now. The pictures – they’re in my desk there. Can I get them?”
“I’ll get them,” I said. “Where?”
“Top right drawer. You don’t trust me? You think I have a gun in there”
I just stared at him. I was beginning to have doubts. What was done to that woman and the man standing in front of me didn’t match up so well anymore.
I opened the desk drawer. There was the Manila folder I’d given him, but no gun. He didn’t move until I tossed the folder onto the table.
“Show me. If you didn’t kill her, who did?”
He pulled out one of the photos and held it up facing me.
“He did,” he said, pointing to the dark haired man who was younger than either of us and in a lot better shape.
“Him,” I said? “What makes you think it was him? Just because he was…” He interrupted me before I could finish my sentence.
“He told me he did it.”
Off in the distance we both heard sirens. He looked at me, an anger beginning to build in his eyes.
To be Continued – Next week, the Conclusion