As far as attorneys go; Delia was good. When she met with me, she spoke with a certain mechanical detachment; asking me questions repeatedly as though trying to pick out whatever form of falsehood lay in my words.
She wanted to know what my relationship with Eleanor Bright was; she wanted to know what I was doing at Ruby’s house that night. She wanted to know everything.
“Everything you tell me is in confidence. But I need to know everything, even the littlest detail. This is a serious case here.”
So we went at it for an hour, she asking the questions, probing…me, spewing the answers I could remember and racking my brain for more.
“Am I under arrest?” I asked wearily, I was drained. I’d gone four hours without food or drink.
“Not yet. They don’t have enough evidence for that yet. But you’re gonna have to talk to them. I can’t stop that.” She replied, tapping her pen on the table.
“So, what’s your job?” I asked.
“To guide you. I can’t let you say anything to implicate yourself.”
“Okay. Then let’s get on with it. I want to get outta here.” I said.
Thus began another series of questioning. Delia sat beside me like a protective guardian angel as the cops interrogated me.
I told my version of that night’s event.
“So you’re saying she was dead by the time you got there?” Good cop a.k.a Neil Walker asked.
“I don’t know. When I got there, there was someone else in the house that knocked me unconscious. When I came to, that’s when I saw her.” I was short-wired now.
“Let’s go over this again. You got to the house and heard a noise and before you could turn someone bonked you on the head, right?” Bad cop Dwight spoke and I detected a hint of malevolence in his voice.
“Right.” I replied.
“And you woke up in the same room where the deceased was found.” He said.
“That’s what I said.” I reiterated.
“And you expect us to believe that?” He sneered.
“Is that a question, Officer?” Delia spoke sharply. “He’s told you what he knows and unless you have evidence to prove otherwise, you can’t dispute it.”
“Just leaving no stones unturned.” Detective Dwight said, somewhat taken aback. “And it’s Detective.”
“I’m sorry, what?” Delia asked in what I now know as her lawyerly tone.
“I said it’s Detective not Officer.”
Delia leaned forward and pushed her face into his. “I will call you whatever the fuck I want. Deal with it. By the way, this session is over. My client has been here all day and if you’re not charging him with anything…then we’ll be taking our leave.”
I watched, fascinated as she took charge of the situation. I’d never known this side of my wife’s best friend. Was this how lawyers had to toughen up for their clients’ sakes?
I imagined my wife doing the same thing for someone else and found myself smiling. I could see the instant dislike that had ignited between Detective Dwight and Delia and it amused me.
“We’ll be in touch.” Detective Neil said as we were leaving.
And I silently prayed that they would have nothing to look me up for.
Kemi was waiting for me outside. Her face was etched with worry lines as she ran and enfolded me in a hug and I was grateful for the contact. Spending three hours in a police interrogation room does wonders to your psyche, believe it or not.
At some point I’d thought that I wouldn’t be going home that day, maybe they’d find some reason to imprison me.
“Are you okay, baby?” She asked, touching my face as though she’d forgotten what it feels like.
“I am now.” I smiled. “Thanks to Del.”
Kemi turned to her friend and hugged her. “Thank you. I don’t know what we’d have done without you.”
“It’s okay. Though, you should know…Mo isn’t off the hook yet. I’m sure they’re gonna wanna talk to you again, Mo. Especially Mr Sour face cop there. He looks like he has it in for you. If they come to you, you know what to do. Gimme a call and don’t say a word.”
As Del turned to go to her car, she paused and asked.
“Do you know why the deceased would assume a fake name?”
“Like I said Del, I didn’t know her that well. She was supposed to be a client.” I replied.
She shrugged. “Just checking. Have a lovely day.”
With that she walked to her car.
Kemi and I drove home in silence. I was too exhausted to speak and she understood.
“I’ll get dinner ready.” She said as soon as we got home.
To say that our life went back to normal after that day would be telling a big untruth.
Especially for me: it was as though I constantly lived in fear. Fear of not just the police but the unidentified killer who’d murdered Ruby. The thought that I’d walked in on a murder haunted me every day.
This wasn’t a fear of something physical or of bodily harm, it was something much deeper. It was like I was in some sort of psychological hell. My mind tormented me with gruesome pictures of possible death scenarios. I began spending my time watching detective movies like Cops, NCIS and CSI where people were murdered and their killers were eventually caught.
Even Kemi noticed my sudden absent mindedness- times when I drift off while talking with her, or the nights when I just lay limp and lazy, not touching or holding her.
“I don’t understand Mo.” She said, almost in tears. “I feel you withdrawing. You’re with me one minute but the next you’re far away. What is going on?”
I wished I could explain to her the mental torture I was going through, how could I tell her I somehow felt responsible for Ruby/Eleanor’s death?
She’d called me and talked about a confession, setting things straight and answering my questions…then barely hours later she was dead. The thought that her death had something to do with me continually plagued me.
“I’m sorry.” Was all I could tell my wife.
“No, I don’t want you to be sorry…I want you to talk to me! At least if not me, talk to Pastor B or something. Have you taken a look at yourself in the mirror lately?!”
“Baby please don’t scream. It’s not good for the baby.”
“You know what else isn’t good for the baby? You. You mope around all day. You’re depressing me.”
Okay. I’ll talk to Pastor B tomorrow.” I conceded.
Tomorrow never came because the very next day the cops showed up at my door.
“Mr Mo Pepple, you’re under arrest for the murder of Miss Eleanor Bright. You have the right to remain silent, anything you say…”
I blocked out the rest of the Miranda rights as they led me away in handcuffs. The last thing I saw before being forced into the police car was Kemi screaming hysterically.