Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Before and After (05/14/09)
TITLE: Memory of Dread
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A prison guard stepped ahead of Brenda. “Move along. Don’t dawdle.”
Brenda moved one foot in front of the other, oblivious to the handcuffs that dug into her wrists.
“Your lawyer’s here to see you.” The guard unlocked another heavy door. “You have half an hour. Don’t waste it.”
The door opened with a creak and Brenda entered. A table and two chairs were the only items in the small room. The door slammed. She shuddered with the echo.
Frank Burns spoke solemnly as he stood to greet her. “Brenda, please sit. You look pale.” He sat opposite. “I’m sorry about this. I’m working on an appeal for bail.”
"Why am I here, Frank?” Her eyes stung but no tears came. “I … I want to go home. I want to go back to the way it was before,” she gulped. “Before I found him; I was happy.”
“You know that can’t happen, Brenda. He’s gone. If you didn’t do it, please, let me find out who did. You have to talk to me.”
Nothing seemed real to Brenda except the coldness of the interview cell. She shivered. “My life was complete … before I found Charles lying motionless on the carpet – soaked in blood.” She covered her mouth with both hands and dry retched.
Frank’s face contorted and he handed his client a large handkerchief. “Take a deep breath.” He sat back and waited a few moments. “Keep going, Brenda.” He took a pen from his coat pocket. “You haven’t told anyone anything. Not even the police. Think, Brenda. What happened before you found Charles? What happened after you found him?”
Brenda wiped her mouth and tried to gulp away the lump in her throat. She blew her nose before continuing. “Charles got a late night phone call. It was unusually late, but it does happen with international clients.” She took a deep breath. “From what I could understand from Charles’ side of the conversation, a contract fell through.”
“Do you remember the time of the call?”
“Yes, we had just arrived home. I remember because we both looked at the clock when the telephone rang. It was twenty minutes after one.”
“Who answered the phone?”
“Did you recognize the caller?”
“No. But it was a man. He was impolite and demanded to speak to Charles.”
Frank wrote some notes before looking up. “Did you stay in the room while he talked on the phone?”
“Only for a few moments. Charles signaled me to go upstairs and ... blew me a kiss.” Brenda sniffled quietly. “When I got to the top of the stairs, Charles’ voice raised something awful. I waited a moment but he seemed to have calmed.”
“And you didn’t hear anything more?”
“Nothing. I had the radio on in the bedroom.”
Frank tapped the notebook with his pen. “How long was it before you realized he hadn’t joined you upstairs?”
“Well, I had a shower and … oh, I think it must have been almost two. I set the alarm clock for seven. Charles had a meeting at nine.” She paused and studied her wedding ring. “I didn’t wait. I just went downstairs.”
“After the incident, the police said you were covered in blood and your fingerprints were on the gun. How can you explain that, Brenda?”
Brenda bowed her head and pushed her fists into her stomach. “I saw Charles. I saw blood … and the gun in his hand. I just froze. I couldn’t speak.” Her voice weakened. “I just wanted him to be alive.”
“And after you realized he was dead,” Frank pushed on. “You called the police?”
“No, not immediately. I didn’t want Charles to leave me. I tossed the gun aside and held him. His eyes were open … staring.” Finally the floodgates opened and Brenda sobbed uncontrollably.
Frank stood and placed a hand on Brenda’s shoulder. “I believe you. I’ll get your bail organized.” He packed up his notes and placed them into his briefcase. “I’m sorry things won’t be as they were before. We’ll find answers and get you cleared. After that, I hope you can move on.”
With the interview over, Frank Burns called the guard.
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