The slap across my face when I opened the door unwittingly to Elanor blacked out all rational thought. There must have been a sign of it in my face because she immediately flinched. I could feel muscles contort and the flash of my anger heat my entire face. I think I might have actually snarled at her. There was a second, just a moment that I could have been capable of murder. But only her. Elanor, who I have made one mistake with when we were in high school has never let me forget it. She never let go and because she could never let go, she blames me for what Mara did. There’s an irony in that, because I couldn’t let go either. I tried and somehow somebody died or it. When the moment passed, Elanor took that as her cue to be Elanor again and not a scared child.
“You knew about it, didn’t you!”
“Know about what?”
“Sam’s affair with that secretary!”
“Sam wasn’t having an affair with her. She was trying to get to know me.”
“Really? Then why do the police have him in custody for her murder?”
She could have slapped me (again) and she couldn’t have dazed me anymore than the news that Sam was taken as a person of interest. I just spoke with him! This had to be either a misunderstanding or Elanor was playing a game. Nobody in their right mind would believe Sam killed her; if anything, I was becoming more convinced that the belligerent, yelling woman in front of me was responsible somehow. I used to think she had a right to put the weight of Mara’s death on my shoulders, but one night with Veronica shook me from that five year fog.
I motion for her to come in the house, because on top of everything else, I didn’t need this berserking bitch making my neighbors feel the need to call 911. Surprisingly she complied with brisk purpose past the threshold and into my living room. Elanor was always moving quickly, speaking quickly and constantly in a hurry. Even moving the few feet into my living room was a hurried act of impatience. While a very attractive woman, it was one of her many little annoying quirks that drove her and I apart way back in high school. That and me cheating on her. Even under the circumstances, the thought of that still managed to take a grating front row seat in my mind.
The police must have come to get him minutes after our phone call. If he said he was on his way here, that might also make me look like a more attractive suspect. This was all getting very deep, twisted and filled with tangling vines of implication. Nevermind that I still had Veronica’s cellphone. That might be the key to exonerating Sam from this nonsense that he murdered her. Of course, the opposite could also be true. Thinking about it made me want to punch Elanor all over again, just to punch somebody. Instead I mutely motion her to a chair, while I take a seat on my couch.
“Sam’s no murderer, Elle.”
“I don’t know what to think. I didn’t think he would be unfaithful either. Our sex l—“
“I really don’t want to know. We both know Sam is a lot of things, but a killer isn’t one.”
“Maybe. But I think you knew about his affair. He knew about yours.”
“You mean my fling because I had a moment of indiscretion?”
“You’re a lying pig. You cheated on poor Mara for months and now you’re covering for Sam!”
“You’re…not even remotely concerned somebody died today, are you?”
The blank look drawn in her pale blue eyes illustrated just how indifferent she was to the fact that Veronica Stiles was killed by somebody. Elanor has always been selfish but it took an entirely different color now. She didn’t care and moreover, as I watch a brief flicker of a smile manage itself onto her lips before she forces it away, I now realize Elanor is happy she’s dead. She’s only upset because she thinks Sam killed this girl to cover up the affair. I stop looking at her to stifle the resurgent desire to hit her again. I’ve never hit a woman in my life, but the one before me keeps finding new ways to volunteer to be the first. With the return of that emotionally bereft expression, comes with it more discussion on the matter at hand.
“I…I’m sorry, I don’t know what to think about any of this.”
“Why did you come here? We dislike each other a good bit.”
“Dislike? No Patrick. I hate you. I hate you deep into the core of me. But you’re all that’s left.”
“All that’s left? Did you come here for sympathy and a confession?”
“And if I did?”
“I’d say you’re shit out of luck, Elle. Sam didn’t cheat on you. He’s been faithful…and framed.”
“Are you so sure?”
I hate it when Elanor gets inside my head with her words. They were like termites eating away at the confidence I had in Sam. I couldn’t believe what she was telling me; to even consider it would be a betrayal of a friend I’ve known since we were kids. This was more of Elle’s poison that she was seeping into me now. As she left me with those words and swiftly, smoothly strode out of my home, I knew there was only one way to be sure. One means to prove one way or another that Sam was innocent.
Except I still wasn’t sure if I wanted to hand it over to the police, or find my own answers.