‘Okay, Cheryl, let’s get this interview over quick.’ DCI Trevor Nelson is sitting at the metal table in the centre of the room. He wears a three piece suit, charcoal grey with a pinstripe. His hair is slicked back, clearly an avid user of Brylcreem to tame his unruly mop. His hands are a fighter’s hands, calloused with pronounced knuckles and a host of grime beneath his fingernails. He uses his stubby fingers to straighten the ostentatious cufflinks in the style of a snarling bear. ‘Where were you on the nineteenth of May between the hours of three and five PM?’
Cheryl, on the other side of the table, slowly chews a piece of gum that she has been nursing since Nelson arrived at her flat. She simply keeps chewing, staring Nelson down with her green eyes set in a face caked in makeup. Occasionally, she pops the gum, never breaking eye contact.
‘Miss Jones, do you recognise this man?’ The third occupant of the room places a photograph on the table. He is wearing denim jeans and a leather jacket over an open collar shirt. His hair is cut short, practically to his scalp. The photo is a stark contrast to the gleam of the table. It shows a young man, bright smile that spreads from his mouth all the way up to sparkling blue eyes. The photo is clearly a college headshot and the blue blazer carries an American Flag pin in the left lapel.
Cheryl picks up the photo, breaks her gaze with Nelson to glance at it, then puts it back down. Anybody who wasn’t trained would have missed the momentary flash in her eyes, but Nelson didn’t.
‘Something you’d like to share, Missy?’ Nelson says, leering with nicotine stained teeth. ‘We found your phone number in his wallet. Cheating on Mr Stromberg, are we?’
Peter Stromberg is Cheryl’s boyfriend. He is six foot two, scrawny, with a weaselly smile. He operates as a petty thief and pickpocket. ‘I never cheated. I met Chad in a club, he said he wanted to talk about something. Some shit he was doing. I gave him my number, yeah? That’s it.’
The guy in the leather jacket, takes the other seat at the table. ‘Miss Jones, you expect us to believe that you just randomly gave this guy your number because of ‘some shit he was doing?’ He snorted in disbelief. ‘What kinda ‘shit’ was this?’
‘I dunno, he just says it’s something about mirrors. Say’s it’ll take me places. That’s all.’
Nelson laughs, a throaty chuckle that fills the small room. ‘This guy spins a line like that and you believe him? Man, I’m gonna change the world right here. Do I get your number?’ He stands up explosively, sending the chair flying back. ‘Where is Chad now?’ He yells. ‘You wanna see what he meant by mirrors?’ Another photo is slammed down onto the table. ‘That’s what your little boyfriend’s been doing.’
The photo shows a crime scene. There is a mirror, cracked in a spiders web flashing out from a central missing portion. Blood drips down the wall below it, pooling around the the bisected body below. ‘That’s right.’ Nelson grimaced. ‘Chad went and cut someone in half. Gotta say, if he was my magician I wouldn’t be paying. Eric?’ He turned to the bald man next to him.
‘No, me neither.’ Eric stood up and walked over to the one-way glass behind him. ‘What drives a man to kill over mirrors?’
‘This.’ A voice says as a pair of hands come through the glass, wrapping around Eric’s throat. These hands are a fighter’s hands, calloused with pronounced knuckles and a host of grime beneath chewed fingernails, jutting out beneath a grey suit with snarling bear cufflinks. Nelson rushes to his colleague’s aid to the soundtrack of Cheryl’s screams as another arm erupts from the glass, this one protected by a leather jacket. The hand is holding a knife that thuds into Nelson’s neck. He chokes, once, and collapses with a surprised look in his eyes. Eric’s eyes also dim as he sinks to the floor.
Cheryl sits there, unable to form words. She gibbers, unable to form words, just vague sounds that may once have resembled words.
DCI Trevor Nelson emerges from the window, swinging his legs over the sill. He is accompanied by DI Eric Williams. ‘Right then Cheryl. Should we get you out of here? Someone wants to see you.’ They hustle her out of the room. Nobody looks twice. It’s just two detectives. They put her into a police car and drive her down to the warehouse district. They bring her out of the police car into the sodium glow of the streetlamps. And before her, he stands.
He is tall. He wears a blue blazer and smiles a smile that spreads from his brilliant white teeth to his sparkling blue eyes. On his lapel, an American flag gleams in the light. ‘See, Cheryl?’ Chad says. ‘Mirrors will take you anywhere.’
The Idiot in Tin Foil