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5. In the Spotlight

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Same act, different scene. Police station. With Irish standing behind me, arms folded, glaring at the officers running around from place to place, blatantly ignoring us. It is all part of the city experience. So it goes.

When someone finally gets to us, we’re led to the top dog of the precinct. Irish is asked to wait outside his office, to which she kindly inclines, despite her true desire to refuse. This is going to be political nonsense and she knows it. I’m in the most sedate state of concentration imaginable. I’ve spent our entire time waiting, studying some minute factors of people’s lives. From watching the crying woman in the desk closest to us, her child in her arms, to the man in the back, handcuffed to the bench. I watched the officers scurry around, returning to desks with their names marked with neat matching plates. I was in the office of Sergeant Sylum Bishop.

“Well, first off, let me offer my condolences.” He cleared his throat, looking through the paperwork briskly. After a few flips through, he closed the folder to rest his hands on it, just like Irish had on my version of the file. “I’ll try to keep this brief. You are?”

“Mister Hyde Dorrance.”

“Hyde?”

“Edward. But they call me Hyde. I’m sorry. Edward Dorrance.”

His face had been a slight mix of confusion and dismay, now he cleared his throat again. “Do you have an alibi for last night?”

“Yes. I was with my boss, Irish, and coworker Shirley at my job. I work at the Drowning Raven, a bar a few blocks down.”

His face lit up at the mention of the bar. I remembered this man’s face. He sat in a quiet corner to himself, away from the general crowd. He never came to the bar in uniform and most of the general crowd let him be. Sylum Bishop – always kept himself to himself.

“I’m familiar with the establishment,” he continued. “Anyone else?”

“Yeah, Caine, the guitar player that night.”

“Any way we could get in touch with him if we had to?”

“I suppose so. Officer, please, don’t give me the run around. What are you guys doing to find out who killed my parents?”

He coughed a bit, taking a sip from a cup hidden on his desk behind stacks of paperwork. I knew he was thinking over how much he could and couldn’t tell me. This was a police investigation – there were things that the general public couldn’t know. And I was still a suspect until they ran a check on my whereabouts. But he was obliged to tell me something.

“Well, we don’t have any real suspects, we’re going through your parents’ patient records to see who we can talk to. Unfortunately, they’re supposed to be classified files, so there might be some issues in bringing them in for questioning. They’re still going over the scene though for any clues we might have overlooked. We’re working hard on this, know that, Mr. Dorrance.”

“I’m sure you guys work hard on every case, Mr. Bishop,” I replied, getting up out of the chair. “I don’t think there’s much more for us to discuss. I’ll sign off on their bodies if you want. But your record said they had identification on them, so you don’t really need me. If you don’t mind, I have funeral arrangements to make. Good day.”

I got out of the chair, stepping towards the door. My fingers were just closing around the doorknob when I heard his chair scrape on the floor as he got up.

“Mr. Dorrance, we might advise you to be careful.”

I turned to face him. “Are you threatening me?”

“No, but please understand, someone was very upset for what they did to your parents, we can’t safely guarantee that you’re not in danger.”

“And let me guess, you are currently understaffed, so you can offer me no additional protection?”

His features dropped as his head sank, breaking eye contact. “I’m truly sorry…”

I opened the door. “Yeah. So you keep telling me.” And I slammed it hard, walking out without a look back. Irish came out of nowhere to join me, her arms folded across her chest. I kept walking, unsure of what to do next. I walked out of the police station and down the busy afternoon streets with Irish in tow. Not a word passed between us. We knew that the situation was bullshit and hopeless. But there were steps to be taken from here. We walked the few blocks that it would take.

Scene: The Tyme Funeral Home.

The owner, and namesake, had long since passed away, leaving the business to his brother’s son, keeping it in the family still. The kid was grown up, with teenagers of his own running around. The place had come through generations; they dealt with the majority of the neighborhood. My parents had plots, and they’d left specific instructions in the case of their passing. Irish understood what I had to do. The current owner was an associate of mine. We’d gone through high school together, but he was the elder of us.

Enter Jonathan Tyme, current funeral director of the home. He has a wife and two children, a fairly stable family life considering the circumstances. His parents are long since dead, leaving the business to him at an early age. His family is the last of the line that remains. Illness runs rampant in their family, taking most of them at a young age. The funeral business suited them. They all had a knack for connecting with people in times of grief. I stepped through the door, looking around slowly. Jonathan came out from the depths, from doorways out of my sight. He was dressed somberly, which was expected. He stepped forward, stopping suddenly when he saw me.

“Edward, I never expected to see you here, what’s happened?” His arm was out for a shake, which I returned politely. I swallowed hard, trying to act casual.

“My parents need a service.”

“Christ, I’m so sorry Ed, we’ll give them the best and you know it. They came in awhile ago to set up some of the foundations for a service, just in case.”

“I know. I wanted to finalize everything, set a date, finish this.”

His face looked heavy as he studied mine. “You holding up okay?” His gaze turned away from me to Irish, who still stood behind me silently. “I’m sorry, and you are?”

Irish reached her hand out politely. “His boss. Irish.”

He shook her hand, seemingly confused, his eye traveling from one to the other, trying to make some sort of sense of this situation. I shook my head as his eyebrow quirked up.

“Alright, let’s go through the paperwork,” he concluded when his wandering mind was satisfied. And we went off to go through the details and fine-tune what would be the darkest day of my life.

We sat and talked over everything for an hour or so. Then we sat down and just talked about whatever came up, casual small talk. With two hours gone, we bid our farewells and set out for home. The newspaper obituary was written, the wake was set, and I had a list of people to call. I had to go to my parents’ apartment to find their phone book and inform their more prestigious colleagues of their untimely deaths.

On the walk from the funeral parlor, Irish kept as close to me as she could. I didn’t know how to tell her that I needed to go to my parents’ place alone. It was my childhood home, my safe haven when I got down. My parents and I hadn’t been on the greatest terms recently, but I couldn’t explain the feelings that come with that place to her. Or anyone else. It was just…beyond words. We were walking slowly, watching the day die down.

“Listen,” I coughed. “I appreciate all you’ve done for me, really, but I’ve got a stop to make alone. I’ll meet up with you at the bar when I get back?”

She nodded, putting a hand on my shoulder. “I’ll be there. Take care huh? And watch your back.”

I nodded at her, and she took her leave, disappearing into the crowd. I waited until she was completely out of sight then burst out running uptown. I wanted to get there before it got dark. For some reason, a flood of panic came into my system. I couldn’t stay in space. I felt that the eyes of the world were on me. Paranoia was overwhelming. The words from Officer Bishop hung in my mind, forcing me to reconsider my life. This was my life. This was the hardest thing I’d have to go through. Ever. I had no more family to lose. No close friends. This is it.

And I’m scared out of my mind.

It’s dark by the time I get to my parents’ place. I have a key; I always have, so I let myself in without question. The rest of the building probably doesn’t know what’s happened. Their neighbors, people they see every day. I would have to enlighten them. It was all part of the responsibility that I would undertake in losing them. The main idea was trying not to lose too much of myself in the process. If that was at all possible.

By the time I found what I needed and made all the phone calls, I was mentally and physically exhausted. It was pitch black out, so I decided to just spend the night in my old bedroom. There was an eerie feel to the place in general, the sudden absence of life. The place was meticulously kept, nothing out of place. You could barely tell that anyone lived here. I had called the housekeeper and dismissed her during my calling spree. The apartment was adorned with all manner of priceless art and artifacts, small treasures to express the simplest of my parents’ interests. There was nothing that shouted out, that spoke volumes for the kind of people that they were. Shelves lined with various books on psychology. It was everything you’d expect from a happily married couple of prosperous head shrinks. No surprises, just how they liked it.

I hit the bed in a slow collapse, my body sinking into it slowly. Looking around, I found my room just as I left it, everything free of dust. My parents were very meticulous. I dozed off, letting the darkness settle around me, losing myself to the world of dreams. I considered calling Irish to let her know I was okay but thought better of it. I was a grown man, and she had a business to run. We all had our own concerns. I popped a few more pills and slept peacefully, free of any dreams or torments.

The next few days were all a blur of black and tears. I won’t go into the details. It was painstaking enough for me to go through once, without having to relive it in order to write it down. My family’s friends all came – it was a huge turnout. Everyone from the bar came as well, some of the bands, the people who knew who I was. I think Irish made them come to make me feel better. The vague looks on their faces showed that they had no idea what was going on, and that they cared even less. Some of them looked too sedate, hung over, possibly due to chemical or alcoholic involvement. Either way, the wakes were packed, as was the church. We were a family of Catholic practice, though I seldom went to church anymore. I went for holidays, confession if the mood struck me. I had lost a lot of my faith anymore. I think we all did.

So to summarize. My parents were murdered. Waked. And buried. Case and point. That’s it, the end, no more. And I was left with their apartment, constant phone calls from detectives with all manner of silly questions, and my part time job at the bar. I had my art, which was currently going nowhere. And as they always say, I had my health. The day my parents died, I started using again. And smoking.

And the day after they were buried? I started writing more. Painting more. Drawing, taking pictures, you name it – I did it. And I went to galleries and pitched my case the week after. After my parents died, I took the initiative to pull my life together. To get the ball rolling and live to the best extent that I could. I decided to sell most of my parents’ possessions, keeping things that struck me. The apartment I kept, furnishing it simply. It would be a safe haven of sorts for myself whenever I needed distance from the bar. From my observations. Irish had a key to it, we agreed to share costs involved. It would become one of the places where she could send the lost should they need a place. There would be a schedule. If I needed it, then it was mine, no questions asked. And that was my life. Observations were put on hold.

This was my new life. This was the first days of the rest of my honest career as an artist. This was starting over. I smoked a whole pack as I wrote furiously, finally back home. I looked around the apartment a few times, looking at my old work. I puffed away as my hand moved over page after page. I didn’t know what to do with my life, with my inheritance. I kept drawing and sketching, racking my mind about what to do. The building that my parents were living in was mostly vacant, hence why my parents took it. It wasn’t far from my own. There used to be a business underneath it – a purging fire had wiped it out, requiring the rest of the building to be newly rebuilt. Something about its history left the owners eager to sell the whole thing, despite the renovations. After all that work, they couldn’t nail down steady tenants. My folks were in the process of putting their office in the same building, but they were leery on it being so close to home. When you think about it, it worked out well. As I sat and wrote, smoking up a storm, I decided to head over to the available space downstairs. I wanted to see the cause of all this superstition. And buy it. What I’d do with it would come later, but for right now, I wanted the space. I had the means to make it work. I had money. My parents had all kinds of investments, as long as I was careful, I’d have money pouring in for the rest of my life. I was set. And it was a nice thought to have.

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