“How is it that you can’t remember, David?”
“Because nothing happened.”
“Someone died that day, didn’t they?”
“I’ve already told you, there was no murder. No one died.”
The one named Shaw braced his arms on the table in front of me and hung his head between his shoulders, mumbling to himself in obvious frustration.
“Alright,” said the other one, called McNulty, from a darkened corner of the small room.”Why don’t you tell us what you do remember?”
“Am I being arrested?”
“No, you’re being questioned.” From McNulty.
“I’ve been here for 7 hours now, I want to go home.”
“You can’t go home, Mr. Lancer.”
“Then I want my lawyer. Have you called the number I gave you? Christian Bennett’s office.”
“We can’t reach him.”
“Give me my phone and I will call him.”
“We don’t have your phone.”
“I want to see my wife then.”
The one named Shaw slammed his fist into the table and then dragged his chair to the other corner of the room. He dropped down into it and kicked his legs up to rest his ankles on the doorknob and then pulled out a pack of smokes. “You know that’s not an option, David.”
“Why is it not an option?”
“Do you really not remember?” From McNulty.
“I’ve told you, I don’t know what you’re talking about. What I do remember is you guys showing up to arrest me out of the blue.”
“You aren’t under arrest, David.” Shaw said through the cigarette between his lips.
“Tell me about the party.” From McNulty.
“The one we’ve been talking about all night, Mr. Lancer.”
“I don’t know what else you want to hear. Jen and I showed up on time at the restaurant, we met my son’s fiance’s parents, we celebrated Andrew’s engagement for a few hours, we went home.”
“No one died! We ate, we drank, we paid the bill and Jen and I left!”
“How much was the bill?” Asked McNulty.
“I don’t remember. A little over $11,000.”
“That’s an awful lot of money for a dinner.” From Shaw.
“It was my son’s engagement party.”
“Your daughter-in-law’s parents didn’t chip in then?”
“No. My wife and I are well off and they are not. We offered to pay.”
“And your son didn’t contribute either?”
“Why would they? Andrew and his girlfriend have only just graduated from college. They don’t have a lot of money.”
“Has your son seemed interested in your finances lately?” From Shaw.
“No! What has my son got to do with this?”
“Why don’t you tell me what happened after that.” From McNulty.
“We went home and we went to bed.”
“Tell us about the murder, David.” From Shaw.
“I don’t know how many other ways to tell you people this – THERE WAS NO MURDER.”
“Mr. Lancer,” McNulty stepped from his dark corner but didn’t unfold his arms. He seemed to regard me with distant amusement while Shaw stared intently through rings of smoke. If this was a game of Good Cop/Bad Cop, it was obvious who was who. “Did you see your son again that night?”
“No, I did not.” I said through clenched teeth. “Why are you suddenly bringing up Andrew?”
“Are you sure?” From Shaw.
“Yes, I’m sure I did not see him again that night. Did something happen to my son? Is that what you’ve been trying to say to me? Is Andrew-”
“Your son is perfectly fine, Mr. Lancer. Perfectly alive, anyway.” From McNulty.
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“Are you sure you don’t remember seeing your son again that night?”
“I did not see Andrew again that night!” But then, right at that moment, it became untrue. Andrew’s face appeared in my mind’s eye, and from a scene I couldn’t remember happening. He had emerged from the dark, pale and frightened, holding something that wasn’t quite in the frame.
“Do you recall the murder, David?”
And then sound bled into the scene, too. A ragged breath from him, like tearing paper. A surprised utterance of his name from me. A burdened grunt, an unexpected crack in the darkness, and footsteps running up the stairs. And then I remembered it all suddenly falling away from me.
“Do you remember who died that night?” McNulty asked leaning against the wall next to the window. He was looking out of it into the darkness, into a world that I had failed to notice in my long hours there, or, perhaps, had tried not to. A world made only of sharp, gray angles and raw, white corners, a world without colors or curves.
“Yes, I think I do remember.” I said, staring out the same window, waiting for a sun that should have risen hours ago. “It was me.”