Mr. Stokes and I were interrupted by a knock on the door. We jumped from our seats as if we were horny teenagers caught having sex or curious little boys playing with Daddy’s pistol. My tutor reached for his eye glasses, which were resting abandoned on the table in front of us and placed them on his face. He slipped his hands in the pockets of his trousers and waited for the door to open. I struggled to refocus my attention from what I had just learned concerning Mr. Stokes to the current events that were unfolding before me, though it was challenging. As I’m sure you can imagine, I had questions; I always had questions, but I wondered if he would have the answers. And I was uncertain as to how this new information would aid me, aid us in finding out what happened to my aunt.
We had to go to Aunt Rachel’s house. I felt like she was there … somehow. Maybe she was trapped in another vortex by The Ancestors just as she had been in our foyer only days, or was it weeks, ago?
“Good morning Mr. Stokes,” Mother smiled as she entered the library followed by the police detectives she had been speaking to in the living room.
“Mrs. Williams,” he greeted her with a slight bow of his head.
Do you have a moment to spare?” she asked as she swept her arm towards the men as if they were a prize to be won on some cheesy daytime game show, “Detective Moore and Walker would like to speak to Angie.”
“Of course,” he replied as he returned the chair he had previously occupied to its original position at the table before retreating to his usual seat behind the oak desk. He busied himself with the contents of his well-loved messenger bag.
“Good morning Angie,” greeted Detective Moore as he extended his hand to me. I was bored already. It felt as we had just gone through this routine together, even if it had been close to six months prior. “We just have a few questions we’d like to ask you about a colleague of your father’s. Would that be okay with you?”
I shook his hand. “Yes.”
Detective Walker removed a photograph from the inside pocket of his jacket and handed it to me.
“Do you recognize this man as Peter Morrell?” asked Detective Moore.
“A neighbor identified this,” he exchanged the photograph I was holding of a smiling Mr. Morrell with one of a red BMW, “as a car that was parked in your driveway the afternoon of,” he consulted the notepad he held in his free hand, “Wednesday, September 20th. Were you home that day?”
I nodded. “Yes. I have lessons on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday during the week with my tutor,” I gestured to Mr. Stokes who looked up from his iPad at the mention of his name.
Moore nodded and jotted something in his notepad with the pen he retrieved from the inside pocket of his suit coat. “Do you recall seeing this car in your driveway?”
“I don’t know. Maybe.”
“Did Mr. Morrell come by the house that day?”
“I know he stopped by recently, but I’m not sure of the date,” I answered. “Sometimes I get my days confused.”
“Her medication has that side effect,” my Mother reminded them from her position by the door. Her hands were clasped in front of her, but she was constantly twirling the rings she wore on her fingers; beginning with the index finger and ending with her thumb then repeating the process. Clearly she was uncomfortable with the inquisition because up until the moment when Detective Moore posed the question of me she had been blissfully unaware that Mr. Morrell had even been at the house that day.
“Pardon me,” Mr. Stokes said, clearing his throat. “I can confirm that date for you.”
“And your name is …?” asked Detective Walker as he extended his hand to my tutor.
“Gerald Stokes,” he said, shaking hands with Detective Walker then Moore.
“And how is it that you are able to confirm this date?”
“As Angie said we have lessons here on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays,” he began, “and on that particular Wednesday I had an appointment scheduled for three-thirty in Providence so I left a little earlier than usual and as I was leaving Peter Morrell rang the bell. I passed him at the entry way when Angie opened the front door.”
Walker frowned. His partner scribbled another note.
“Why did he stop by?”
As I contemplated the detective’s question I found myself in a serious conundrum and I was uncertain as to what was the best way for me to proceed for the benefit of everyone involved in the situation. Should I reveal the truth; that sleazy Peter Morrell came to the house to visit and perhaps fuck his colleague’s wife while that co-worker and longtime friend was at work unaware of the betrayal, which would reveal at least one of the skeletons that my Mother was hiding in her closet, or should I blatantly lie to the detectives and make up some believable reason for Mr. Morrell’s being there in the middle of a work day? It would’ve been helpful to know if Mother had already informed the detectives of her affair.
I glanced at over at her hoping for some hint as to how she might want me to respond, but even though she was uncomfortable with the questions her composure never faltered. From where I stood I could sense that she was distressed, but the energy was a complex jumble of guilt, fear, sorrow, and … what was that? Jealousy?
“I thought he came to see my father,” I said. It was the truth; no lie was necessary. “So I told him that he wasn’t home.”
“And what did he say?”
“I don’t remember,” I shrugged; now that was a lie. I remember what he said, but I decided that I didn’t want the responsibility of being the one to reveal my Mother’s adultery if she hadn’t done so already. “I don’t think he said anything.”
“How long was he here?” asked Detective Moore. “An estimation will be fine.”
“Maybe five minutes,” I guessed. I knew The Shadow’s Bride wasn’t a particularly long musical piece and that my Dad’s whiskey he had consumed made the process of resonance and entrainment happen easier and quicker than it had if he had been sober.
Detective Moore nodded and scribbled in his pad again.
“Did you see him drive away in his car?” Detective Walker inquired.
“No, I guess I didn’t. I assumed he did,” I explained. “But I shut the door before he got to his car.”
“That car?” he asked pointing to the photograph I still held in my hands.
“Did you see him drive away?” the detective asked my tutor, as he retrieved the photo from me.
“Me?” Mr. Stokes pointed to himself. “No, no. I left when he was still standing at the front door.”
After giving the detectives a description of what Mr. Morrell was wearing that day they left the library in the company of my Mother, who glared at me over her shoulder before firmly shutting the door behind her.