oram short story

Vig by R.G. Oram

Vig by R.G. Oram

 

He just sat there, waiting. Sitting with his back gently resting on the chair. Hands on the table pressed together in the shape of a pyramid. His eyes looked straight at the two-way mirror. He was smiling at whoever observed from the other side, wanting them to witness his confidence, to see his superiority.

Detective Marcus Quill, sitting on the other side of the table, watched and studied the incarcerated suspect. He’d seen it many times before, that need to prove they are the strongest, to be in control. Quill chuckled every time he saw somebody thinking they owned the interview room, when they gave themselves that delusional mindset.

Detective Quill knew what they really were: frail. Everybody breaks. People need air to breathe, they bleed, their bones break; everyone is fragile and all it takes is a small amount of pressure to make them shatter.

The detective repeatedly flicked the switch on his lighter. Transfixed by the petrol-soaked wick’s feeble flame rising and falling, repeating it over and over again, yearning for a different result, waiting for the fire never to appear again. Eventually, he stopped rubbing his thumb up and down on the switch when its smooth brass surface began to bruise his increasingly tenderizing skin.

Staring at it, cradled in the palm of his hand now, it reminded him of what was missing. His lips opened in a reflex action, expecting a cigarette to bridge a gap between the lonely teeth and lips. He’d quit smoking the harbinger of cancer years ago but still couldn’t quite break the shackles of its grip. His daughter had ultimately forced him to quit. Well, not really forced—his choice—so she’d stop lecturing him about the health benefits of clean lungs.

Marcus’s core still craved that taste, the taste of death. It was like a gentle kiss, death tempting you but never taking you. And at his age did it matter? Retirement being just a few short months away.

“Are you going to smoke, detective?” the man on the other side of the table inquired.

oram short storyQuickly recovering his poise, Detective Marcus Quill replied, “No. You wanna light?”

The man swiped one of his cuffed hands through the air.

“No, thank you. I detest death.”

 

Marcus threw his suspect a lingering look. If he didn’t have a tanned complexion, the man could have been mistaken as a shadow in the room’s all-enveloping white interior. Tight black curls adorning his short, neatly styled hair. Close-fitting clothes shrouded his thin frame. Marcus thought he looked like a sprinter.

“So tell me, Mr. Reigns…”

“I prefer you address me by my first name, detective,” Reigns interrupted.

Marcus shot a quick glare at Reigns. The man never stopped smiling. Not the stretched-across-the-face kind, more a gentle maneuver across with a dimple painted on both ends.

“Let’s keep this objective, Mr. Reigns. Your first name is Dean, and last name, Reigns. But, first names are for close acquaintances only. So let’s move on.”

“Okay. Whatever you’re comfortable with.” Dean retained the smile and nodded his head as a token of agreement.

Quill opened the manila file on the table.

“So what happened?”

Dean shrugged his shoulders.

“I killed him.”

Detective Quill snapped back at him.

“Is that your confession?”

“It’s the truth.”

“Do you confess to murdering Arthur Grayson? To intentionally pushing him so that he fell to his death?”

“I confess to my decision to end his life.”

“That’s it?” said Quill quizzically as he rotated his hands outward.

“I think so,” Dean said.

“Is that the truth?”

“Of course,”

“Really?”

“What can I say, detective? I’m compulsively honest.”

“Compulsively honest? Okay, why’d you do it?”

Reigns broke his eye contact with the detective and looked up to the ceiling.

“He was poisoning people,” he said.

“ Ha-ha. What?”

“I don’t make it a habit of repeating myself, but perhaps I should elaborate… He preyed on the less fortunate and saw profit by selling them illegal substances knowing full well what it was doing to them. He was making a fortune on ruining people’s lives. Grayson saw power in selling illegal narcotics and I despise the abuse of power.” His eyes broke away from the distant ceiling, back to the detective. Their hazel coloring stared at Quill as if they were patiently watching his every move—waiting.

Quill’s response was off balance and he scoffed, with little energy.

Reigns kept on.

“You think I’m a monster, don’t you?”

The detective calmly shrugged his shoulders. No words followed.

“I suppose everybody’s got a right to their own opinion, even you, detective,” Reigns chuckled lightly.

“You are a monster.”

“Yes, you are right. But there’s one thing you find with people. They’re quick to judge, yet slow to understand. They are so caught up in the present that they forget the past. They’ll never ask what made me into this… this…deviant to society. I can guarantee you right now that they’re thinking of what would be the best end for me.”

“Can you blame them?” Quill said.

“Of course not. I’ve broken the rules; now I must face the consequences. But have you asked why I did it?’

“I don’t care,” Quill retorted sarcastically.

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t it your job to understand the motive for what I did, detective?”

“No, it isn’t. My job is to put you in jail for the crime you’ve committed.”

“Aren’t you in the least curious?”

“No. If anything, I’m getting tired wasting my time here.” Quill got up from his chair.

“That’s quite disappointing,” pouted Reigns, his bottom lip sticking out beyond the upper.

Quill was about to move his chair back; instead, he hesitated, then edged forward over the table and whispered tersely.

“Guess what? Your opinion doesn’t matter to me.”

Reigns rubbed his hands together.

“Understandable. You have free will after all. I ask you to please just indulge me once more, detective. Please sit.” Dean Reigns motioned his hand at the detective’s chair.

Quill tensed the corners of his lips and slowly, reluctantly sat down.

“Good. Now, what if I were to tell you that Arthur Grayson wasn’t the only one.”

The detective momentarily caught his breath.

“Only what?”

“Not my only kill. You could say that Grayson wasn’t working alone.” One side of Reigns’s lip stretched further out.

“I’d say you’re lying.”

“Again, that’s up to you, detective. Now, however, you have to decide if I’m being truthful. Can you ignore the possibility that you let a serial killer slip through your grasp? So, tell me, Detective Quill, am I lying? Am I telling the truth? Or am I just crazy?”

Reigns brought his cuffed hands together tenderly and shaped them upward to form a pyramid.

Quill checked his thoughts to control his breathing rate and ensure his blood pressure did not rise, not wanting for the man in front of him to gain any satisfaction that this new revelation had surprised the street-hardened detective.

“Okay, how many?”

“How many do you think?”

“Okay, let’s not play guessing games. Why did you decide to kill them?”

“Because they just wouldn’t stop.”

“Wouldn’t stop what?” The detective impatiently said.

“They wouldn’t stop breaking the law,” said Reigns, who chuckled loud enough for even the men in the other room to hear him.

“That’s funny,” retorted Quill, smothering a burning desire to start slapping the smug suspect. “You sound like a vigilante.”

“You’re absolutely right, detective,” Reigns’s smile left and now his face hardened, his eyes now boring deeply into those of his interrogator.

“So it’s your mission to preserve justice. Ha-ha,” Detective Quill laughed, not quite masking the contempt in his voice.

“Someone has to.”

“Haven’t you heard of the police? Law enforcement?”

“I have. In fact, I encountered one of your esteemed colleagues just the other day.”

The warm joy inside Quill had long been replaced with a chilling touch of coldness.

“Oh yeah? And who would that be?”

“Your partner, Detective Rand.”

The detective’s jaws locked tight. His upper and lower teeth pressed against each other. He looked at Dean Reigns. The man just sat there unblinking, eyes unwaveringly focused on the detective.

“What?!”

“I’m afraid he’s no longer with us.”

“You murdered a police officer.”

“Correction. A corrupt police officer.”

Quill stretched his arm out across the table and pointed his finger at Reigns.

“That’s garbage.”

“Well, I suppose you would say that. After all, you and Rand were working with Grayson. Sharing the profits.”

“Wow, you’re delusional.” Quill tried to keep himself still, but his hands under the table were fidgeting uncontrollably.

“Are you scared, Quill?”

He couldn’t control his breathing. The detective could hear and feel his chest pounding.

“What have I got to be scared of?”

“That right now your colleagues on the other side of that mirror are looking at photos of you and Rand on your law-breaking days.” Reigns once more brought out his lop-sided smile.

“You’re nuts,” said Quill in a slightly broken voice.

“Tell me, detective, are you a criminal?”

Detective Quill could feel that his hair was now drenched in icy sweat.

“How could you know? I’ve always covered the…” Quill froze in midsentence, realizing his guard had slipped.

“I mean… No I am…” He stopped himself again after another slip.

The detective glanced down at the table, noting a faint reflection of himself on the shiny metallic surface before slowly turning his head to face the one-way mirror, where his colleagues watched. He imagined the expressions on their faces, displaying their shock and anger of his betrayal.

 

 

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