Monday 21 April 2013
‘Where have you been?’ The harsh voice mirrored the man it belonged to.
‘I was working, dad,’ Felipe replied. He walked straight through the house, into the kitchen, and retrieved a cold bottle of cola from the refrigerator. Leaning against the sink, he popped the top off of the bottle, and drained the bottle in what appeared to be one big gulp.
‘Really? Is that so?’ replied his father.
‘Yes, it is so.’ Felipe paused, and considered whether or not it was a wise decision to tell his father about the Steward debacle. ‘And then I had to go to the police station and give a statement.’
His father rose from his chair in the lounge room, and practically flew at high speed to join his youngest in the kitchen. The old man violently struck out against Felipe, slapping him repeatedly about the head.
‘What have you done this time? What did you do, you inconsiderate fool? Always getting into trouble. Always doing the wrong thing.’
Felipe raised his arms to protect his face and head after the first blow landed on his ear. It smarted, and continued to sting for the duration of his father’s assault.
‘I did nothing wrong,’ he screamed his reply in between his father’s slaps. ‘I turned up to a job and the police were already there.’
Sensing that his father’s assault had slowed down, Felipe grabbed the man’s wrists to prevent the old man from lashing out again. Unable to attack his son physically now that he was restrained, the old man switched to a verbal assault.
‘You always do something wrong. You bring shame on this family. Your mother would be so disappointed. You’re a good for nothing son, not like your brother.’
It was an insult that Felipe fully expected from his father.
‘There’s a lot that you don’t know about Miguel, dad, so I wouldn’t be pulling out that one if I were you.’
‘Don’t you speak about your brother in that way, Felipe. Don’t you dare.’
José Martinez had always favoured his eldest son over his youngest. He’d never been shy about letting Felipe know that Miguel was the apple of his eye, and could do no wrong. The elder son had been an all-rounder in high school – artistic, athletic, and academic, Miguel was valedictorian of his year, and had attended Harvard Law on a full academic scholarship. But to Felipe, his big brother was brutish, taking every opportunity he could to inflict pain, physical and mental, on the younger Martinez boy.
‘You never acknowledged that Miguel could do anything wrong. Probably because he was exactly like you. And where is this favourite son of yours now, dad? Is he here taking care of you in your old age? No, he’s off somewhere else, living it up, and you’re good for nothing son is the one who takes care of you. Ain’t that something? And not that you’d likely care, but one of my long-time clients was murdered today. I arrived at her home to do my job, and the police were already there. I was asked to go in a give them as much information about the woman as I could, to help with their investigation. That’s why I was with the police. I was helping them.’
Felipe didn’t wait for his father to respond, grabbing another cola from the refrigerator, and stomping off to his bedroom. José stood for a moment longer, then returned to his chair in the lounge room, mumbling as he went.
‘Worthless good for nothing . . .’
* * * * *
The chiming doorbell surprised Jenna Albany. She hadn’t been expecting anyone at this time of night. Cautiously, she approached the front door, and peered through the peephole. She relaxed when she saw the face of her visitor.
‘Detective Miller, how delightful it is to see you. Although, it is entirely unexpected.’
‘Ah, Ms. Albany, I hope that I’m not bothering you, but I brought dinner with me.’ He lifted up a bag, showing her the logo for her local Thai takeaway.
‘Ooooh, come on in, Detective. Say, you didn’t happen to bring dessert as well, did you?’ Jenna took the bag of food, ushered him into the hallway, and closed and locked the door behind him.
‘Actually, I did.’ He showed her the paper bag that he’d been holding in his other hand.
‘Tell me that you brought Swiss chocolate cheesecake, and I’m all yours.’
‘I brought Swiss chocolate cheesecake with me,’ he replied.
‘Lucas Miller, step this way.’ Jenna giggled as she led him through to the kitchen.
After they ate, Jenna made coffee, and she and Lucas relaxed outside by the pool.
‘Is it really as bad as the news makes it out to be, Lucas?’
He sighed. Discussing his work wasn’t something that any cop wanted to do once they had clocked off.
‘I can’t discuss it, Jenna. Ethics and all that stuff . . . plus, it’s not the sort of stuff that you’d want to hear before bed.’
‘I know, I know. I don’t know why I even mentioned it,’ she replied.
‘It’s okay. I just can’t talk about cases with you. What I will say though, is please make sure that you trust your pool guy, and don’t be alone with him.’
‘You think it is a pool guy? It couldn’t just be some weirdo who has a fetish with water?’
‘I don’t know what to think, but I do know that I want you to be careful. We don’t have a suspect as yet, but y’know, it could be anyone.’
Jenna shot him a sly glance.
‘It could be anyone? Even you, Lucas?’
‘Yeah, even me. You never know,’ Miller replied.
‘After all, we’ve only been dating for a few months. What do I really know about you?’ Jenna giggled.
‘Hey, that’s not fair. It works both ways, you know. What do I know about you, Jenna? Huh? What’s not to say that you’re not some psycho-killer? In fact, I better take you inside for questioning.’
‘Oh, that’s what we’re calling it now, are we? You’re going to question me overnight then?’
‘If that’s what it takes, then yes, I am. Now stand up, and I’ll read you your rights,’ said Lucas, who was just as unable to withhold his laughter as Jenna.
* * * * *
Lucas woke to a loudly ringing cell phone. He scrambled to find it before Jenna was woken by the rock metal anthem he’d chosen as his ring tone. Stumbling out of bed, Lucas reached for his pants, the last place he remembered having his phone. Fishing the cell phone from a front pocket, he whispered his greeting.
‘Miller, where are you that you’re whispering? Or rather, who are you with? Nevermind,’ his partner, Carrie Butcher, didn’t leave time for him to reply. ‘We’ve got another one.’
‘The Pool Man?’ he whispered in reply.
‘Yeah, and it’s a bad one. I’ll text you the address. Get over here as fast as you can.’
. . . To be continued . . .