I don’t even have my fucking cell phone on me to call nine-one-one, but I can’t leave her to get it.
“Don’t worry,” Don says from somewhere behind me. “I’ve already called the paramedics.”
As though they could possibly help now.
There is blood everywhere—all over her face, matted in her hair, on her hands, in a pool around her body. Streaks of it mar the walls and floor, as though she’s pushed her heels through it, while trying to get up. It’s on me now, too—on my knees and palms from where I’ve been on the floor beside her. I’ve never seen so much blood.
I’m so shocked and grief-stricken that it doesn’t even occur to me to check where Don is or what he’s doing. I don’t know how much time passes while I scream and wail over my mother’s body, but at some point, both the paramedics and police arrive. Strong arms lift me from the floor, but I cry out and struggle against them, not wanting to leave her. I know when they take her away it’ll make the whole thing real. My mother will be gone, and I’ll never get her back again.
But I don’t have either the physical or emotional strength to fight them, and they carry me into the kitchen and deposit me on a chair.
“Let the paramedics do their job,” one of the police officers tells me. “You’re not helping anyone by causing a scene.”
I’ve been so caught up in my grief and horror that I’ve forgotten about my stepfather.
“Don?” I say the officer. “Where’s my stepfather?”
“He’s talking to one of my colleagues about what’s happened. We’re going to need to ask you some questions, too.”
The memory of me walking in to find Don washing off his golf club flashes into my head. Now I’m putting together the red I’d seen him washing off the golf club with the red of the blood over my mother’s body.
The truth of it hits me.
“She didn’t fall down the stairs. I don’t care what my stepfather tells you or what it looks like. Ask him about the golf club. Ask him why he was washing blood off it in the sink when I came in, right before I found her.”
The young police officer’s gaze shifts away from me uneasily. “This is Detective Don Bowen you’re talking about.”
“I know who I’m fucking talking about!” I scream. “He killed my mother. That fucking bastard murdered my mother.”
Don is back in the room with me, flanked by two of his colleagues.
“I apologize for my stepdaughter,” Don says. “She’s hysterical after finding her mother that way. She doesn’t know what she’s saying.”
“Yes, I do! I know exactly what I’m saying. Ask him. Ask him about the golf club.”
The officers turn to him.
He shakes his head, as if in confusion. “My golf clubs are out in the garage, where they always are.”
“Check his hands! Why are they so clean? If he tried to help her, why doesn’t he have blood on them?”
“I had to wash them. My fingers were covered in blood, and I couldn’t get my phone screen to work to call you guys. I didn’t have any choice. If you find any traces of blood in the sink, that’ll be why.”
I stare at him, understand sinking in, dread causing the world to slow around me, my blood pulsing through my veins like thick sludge. He knows this system. He knows how crime scenes work. He’ll have covered every single angle to make sure he doesn’t go down for this.
His eyes challenge me to dare say another word.
Nausea and dizziness sweep over me, and the strength goes out of my legs. I land heavily back on the chair and put my head in my hands. I’m shaking all over, and I just want to vanish.
Don killed my mother. He knows I know he killed her.
And he’ll do whatever it takes to keep me quiet...
I’M BROUGHT BACK TOthe current day.
There was a full investigation, of course, but the coroner recorded her murder as death by misadventure—her falling down the stairs. Maybe she did, but then Don finished her off. The police never believed my story about the golf club. Don simply said I was mistaken. Of course they were going to believe him over me. They always protect their own.