The morning paper had the same old news. I flipped through the paper looking for anything that would catch my eye. My stomach dropped when I flipped to a page with this headline: “Wanted for the Murder of Tina Golden.” Underneath the headline my name showed up in bold print with a grainy photo taken of me. I squinted at the photo of me as my heartbeat kicked up a notch.
Is this some kind of sick joke?
The door of my condo shook as someone knocked on my door. The paper shook in my hand.
“Open up. This is the police.”
I felt myself go numb.
Who is Tina Golden?
“We know you are in there Mr. Jones. Open up the door and let’s talk.”
Panic coursed through me as I headed to the door. I tightened the tie around my neck and straightened my suit jacket.
The police stood with their pistols drawn when I opened the doors. I warily raised my hands and gestured for them to come in.
A woman with beautiful blond hair stood on the threshold with her goons. “I didn’t think you would open the door, Mr. Jones.” She smiled sweetly at me like I just had asked her out on a date, rather than what she was actually doing, invading my space. She peered around my living room taking stock of the empty pizza box sitting on the coffee table and the empty glasses strewn around the room. She rounded on me with her blue eyes zeroing in on her suspect. “So, how long have you known Tina Golden?”
“Who? I don’t know who she is.”
“Come on Caleb. I can call you Caleb, right?” She didn’t wait for my acknowledgment before pushing on. “You were seen at the scene of the crime running away.”
“I tell you, I don’t know who this person is and I certainly would not kill anyone.”
“That is what they all say.”
She rolled her eyes and pointed to my bedroom.
“We have a search warrant to search your house. Smith and Jacobs will search the place for any incriminating evidence.” She motioned for the other men to start searching the house. “As for you, you have the right to remain silent…” She continued her speech, the speech that no citizen ever plans to hear in their lifetime.
“You got this wrong! I didn’t do anything.” I tried pulling away, desperate for her to understand, to believe me. Her eyes just got harder and she yanked me towards the door.
“Don’t make this harder on yourself, Caleb.”
I wanted to kick her and run away, but I had to trust the system. I had to trust that they would give me a fair trial. Anyone with any sense would know that I didn’t do this, I couldn’t have done something so wrong.
Several hours later I sat at a metal desk. The cold metal reminded me about my new reality. My voice was raw from trying to convince everyone that I had not done it. I drooped my head as I heard the door scrape open again. The click clack of heels let me know it was a woman. She smelled like floral. I looked up as she threw a folder on the desk.
“You have no criminal record to speak of, Mr. Jones. Nothing. Zip. Nadda.” She sighed heavily. “However, you were at the scene of the crime with blood all over you. Yet you say you’ve never seen this girl in your life.”
She held up a picture of a beautiful girl of about seventeen with dark hair and startling green eyes. I stared at the photo, but could not recollect ever seeing her before in my life.
“She is a beautiful girl. Young. Vibrant. Full of life. What would possess someone like you to take her life away from her?”
I shook my head. I didn’t feel lead to say anything. I prayed that I would wake up from this nightmare eventually, but I hadn’t yet and I might never.
She leaned forward and looked me straight in the eyes.
“Was it a lover spat? Were you jealous of her? Did she have something that you wanted?”
I remained silent. My once pristine shirt was dirty and limp from sitting at the metal desk. My hair had lost the little gel that I had in it from my constant rubbing of my hands through my hair. The metal cuffs on my wrists shafted against the skin, a constant reminder that I was no longer a free man. I had only been here for eight or ten hours tops and they had already broken me. I had no will to refute for the twentieth time today that I had never met Tina Golden.
The woman sat back in her chair and tapped the metal desk in front of her. The silence stretched for so long that I looked up to see her studying me.
“I’m Christine Ender. I’m here to get you out.”
I looked at her in surprise before suspicion took over.
I sat back in my chair.
“Why would you want to help me?”
“You didn’t do it.”
“I didn’t, but how do you know?”
“Because I set you up.”
I blinked before I tried to lunge only to be hindered by the metal around my leg.
“Why would you do that?”
She blinked and smiled.
“Because you have certain skills that we need.”
She pushed the folder towards me and flipped through the content.
“We both know that although you do not have a criminal record, you have obtained some skills.”
She smiled too brightly for me.
“We want those skills.”