Honestly? Would you like the truth?
Well, if I’m being honest and telling the truth, I didn’t know what to think other than: How bleeping cool is that?
I didn’t know how they’d done it. I didn’t know what any of it meant. I wasn’t particularly concerned with the long game I presumed they were playing because damn did these guys have a penchant for style. They were the magicians and I was the willing audience seeing only smoke and mirrors.
I’ve given it a lot of thought since, obviously, and now wonder how they knew we’d search the bookshelves to see their note first then check the book and see our note. And I don’t think it matters. The order of discovery, that is. Whether that passage was written by them or us first is beside the point. What counts is that that passage was written. Ascription doesn’t really matter, does it?
Take this for instance. Right now. I’m here telling my story about someone else’s story, to you, sir, who will then provide your account—or tell your story—to someone else. The most vital piece is the story, not the teller, right?
Regardless, there we were—standing slumped and slouched, struck and stung by the intensity of feeling the full weight of fate, two-step dancing into exhaustion with destiny.
Griff sighed and bottomed his palms in his pockets. He turned around and walked straight out of the shop. Man defeated.
Back in the car, I looked away from the road when we slowed to a stop at a red light and turned to Griff. I told him it was going to be okay. That it’ll always be okay.
‘Maybe so,’ Griff said to the window and the nothing beyond it as much as to me, ‘but are they right? The two Trevor Loves—or the one Trevor Love—or another Trevor Love? At this point, who gives a shit about Trevor Love? But are they right? That the only thing set between the nothingness of beginnings and endings is the bizarre?’
Normally, Griff likes to talk about football and gambling and broads with lower back problems and broads with built-in seat cushions and broads with particular dispositions to positional gymnastics—as he refers to it—so when even he began waxing weird about the note care and The Days of Yesterday are the Days of Tomorrow I knew we had to take a break, to call it a day. Instead of driving back to the precinct and chugging coffee to the point of diuresis, I drove him home.
‘Thank you for today,’ Griff said while the car idled in his drive. He opened the door, stepped out, and leaned over, looking back in the open door. ‘I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, how this case will end, but let’s end this son of a bitch like the bastard it is.’
I nodded and, when he walked away, watched him stagger, wounded and weary, up the drive, along the path, to his front door before closing his house and himself off from the world.
What happened next is entirely my story. Griff wasn’t around to corroborate it. Other people wouldn’t be able to identify me because they didn’t pay close enough attention because they never pay close enough attention to other people. I suppose there’ll be cameras, surveillance, but, as my wife likes to say, ’You’re farting in your sleep again, baby.’
What was that, sir?
You already know what happened?
How in the world can you possibly already know what happened?
Deduction? Sure, I know what deduction is. You take that, yes, and extrapolate until you find the most possible outcome. And then play the odds. Well that’s very good, sir. But that still doesn’t prove you know what happened after I dropped Griff off and before I entered the precinct the next morning.
Fine, go ahead. Make my day. Tell me what happened that night.
Okay. Uh-huh. Hmm. Uh-huh.
Meh, fair point.
Yup, I see.
So that’s what you think?
You think that I drove from Griff’s house to the hospital where the Trevor Love with the stolen heart was? That I parked the car down the street and walked half a block to the front entrance because I just felt like getting some head-clearing air? That the night was humid but not as humid as the day had been, so it felt like a break from the overwhelming weight of the case?
Trevor Love was under guard supervision, just in case the heart thief visited and decided to finish the job—or perhaps visited to see the result of their crime, the fruits of their labor—thus, I went to talk to him about the developments about Food for Thought and the shop owner Mr. Love?
This is your guess, sir? That I rode the elevator up to the third floor and walked the corridors, the three left turns, the two rights, and arrived at Trevor Love’s room? An officer was sitting aside the door, across from the nurse’s station, and I walked past all the nurses, past the officer, and into the room? The room keeping Trevor Love secure and alive? The room the hospital staff would have brought him to after they examined him and determined that he, indeed, had no heart within his chest? That his body was impossibly alive? That they didn’t know how he wasn’t dying or dead? The room that the hospital staff would have wanted to keep him within, so they could keep him alive, with an artificial heart, and so others could study his bizarrely working body? That I walked past the guard, past the nurses, into the room, to find it empty? Without a single soul inside?
Trevor Love was gone because he’d escaped and I didn’t know either where he went or where he was or how he’d escaped? Because the officer on duty didn’t see him leave? The nurses didn’t see him leave? But someone, surely, had to have seen him leave? Cameras? Eyewitnesses? Someone, something, somewhere, somehow had to know the whereabouts of the Trevor Love with the stolen heart?
Facing this defeat, I walked back to my car, phoned the precinct to put in an APB on Trevor Love, and drove home? I slipped my key into the front door lock and entered my home, kicking my shoes to the side, the second one thumping against the wall, before landing on the first? That I walked up the stairs, slowly and methodically? Walked how one does when they’re confounded and search like hell to find the answer to the problem that plagues them?
Inside my bedroom, my wife lay sleeping, snoring only ever so slightly? The snore that only those attuned to her every sound and step and movement and being could discern from the white noise of the working air vents and the footsteps and the clinking of the buckle of my belt and the swooshing of my slacks slipping off my waist and down my legs and folding around my socked feet and the groan of the bed under my weight and the wind-swept whisper of the sheets dropping, conforming to my body? You think I wrapped an arm around my wife, tucked my hand into hers, and moved into the curve of the woman I love, the woman I said ‘I do’ to, the woman I’d die for, the woman I’ll grow old with? That I told her I loved her and that I knew she was sleeping but I had had a long day and wanted to say aloud something concrete, something far removed from doubt or speculation, something I was positively sure about? I kissed her cheek, ran my other hand through her hair, and lowered my head onto the pillow before falling fast asleep?
That’s what you think happened before I woke the next morning and came into the precinct, sir? You would guess that if you had to guess?
Oh, no? You don’t need to guess because you know?
Is that what happened?
Are you asking me or telling me?
You’re asking me. You’re asking me if my story can be told by you despite you not having lived it. Despite you not having evidence that any of that happened, despite—
What? No, I’m talking.
Yes, sir, that is exactly what happened.
Yes, sir, you’re perfectly accurate, that that is exactly what happened.
No, sir, I shouldn’t have to say that. It seems unprofessional to make me—
Okay. Okay. Fine.
Sir, yes, sir, you’re the better detective.