***Read Part 9 HERE
Charlie reaches for his jeans, finding his wallet he frantically searches in it for another business card.
He dials the number from the hotel line and after a few rings, the receiver of the call answers.
“Hello Malloy, its Steinfeld. I’m gonna need a favor.”
Malloy stands on the other side of a double sided window in a precinct.
“Let me guess, you’ve got a hand in the Wakefield murder case?”
“Why would you say that?” Charlie says his eyes widening.
Malloy turns to the interrogation room as a very defeated Sage sits there waiting for her questioning, her hands handcuffed in front of her.
“I’ve got a Sage Renly down here who fits the description of the suspect and not more than 20 minutes after she walks in with a confession, you call me. Please don’t tell me you are in some kind of messed up trouble with this chick.”
“I wouldn’t put it like that, but I do know her, and I can tell you, I think she’s lying,” Charlie says starting to throw on his clothes.
“You think, or you know?”
“She’s protecting someone, and she won’t tell me who or why? Every time I try and get the truth out of her she freezes or lashes out. She’s scared.”
“Well then, maybe you should get down here, now. There may be some way we can get the truth out of her.”
“I’m already on my way.”
Charlie grabs his jacket and rushes out the door.
Charlie rushes into the station to be met my Malloy.
“Tim, hey where is she, is she ok, can I see her?”
“Slow down Steinfeld, she’s fine. She’s not being questioned just yet. Look I’ve got a plan, its guerilla style but it’ll work. You just have to trust me.”
“Are you asking me to trust the system?” Charlie says rolling his eyes.
“No. I’m asking you to trust me.”
“Well then alright. What do I do?”
“Follow me,” Molloy says leading Charlie back towards the interrogation rooms.
He pauses and turns to Charlie.
“Look, between you and me, my intelligence unit, we do things a little rougher. We know when to throw the old rule book out the window and when to follow it. We get answers. But our methods aren’t always agreed upon, so you have to let me know if you’re on board now. Because once we get into things I can’t have you undermining me. Because you handed in your badge a long time ago. In that room, I call the shots.”
“Got it. Just tell me what I have to do to help you get her to tell you the truth.”
“Well for starters, you just have to wait here, you’re the bait. You’ll have a front row seat in here,” he says opening the door to the viewing side of the interrogation room Sage sits in.
Charlie walks in as Malloy closes the door behind him and walks into the interrogation room.
Charlie looks up and sees Sage, her face full of fear and anxiety.
His heart breaking, he stands closer to the window, wanting to comfort her.
“Ms. Renly…or is it Mrs. Renly?” Malloy says waltzing in and sitting on the corner of the table looking down at her with a smirk.
“Ms. Renly.” Sage says, her voice low.
“Ms. Renly it is. You’ve made a confession, haven’t you?”
Sage gulps, nodding slightly.
“Ah yes. A confession to committing murder.”
Sage looks away her eyes watering.
“Am I understanding that correctly, Ms. Renly?”
Charlie watches her his heart pounding, unsure of whether his instincts will be proven right or wrong.
“Yes. I have confessed to killing someone,” she says barely getting out the words, her voice cracking.
“Mmm and who is this someone you killed?”
Charlie looks at her, studying her facial expressions, her body language.
She’s fidgeting, her eyes keep drifting away, her voice hoarse, her eyes welling with tears threating to spill over at any time.
“The man found with his head bashed in; the Wakefield murder case.”
“Well this case has been all over the news, you’ve become quite famous.”
Sage looks up at him with a glare.
“She didn’t do it,” he whispers.
“One may wonder why you would be coming forward now, after all this time.”
“I couldn’t run anymore.”
“Mmm, takes a toll on you doesn’t it?”
Sage nods, breathing heavily.
“What is your relation to Mr. Black?”
“He is my best friend’s husband. Well, he was my best friend’s husband.”
Charlie stares intently as the story finally starts to unfold.
“You know, I was assigned this case from the very beginning Ms. Renly and I gotta say that blood bath you left was quite a scene. What caused such a deadly altercation between you and Mr. Black? And where was Mrs. Black?”
“Megan. Her name is Megan.”
“And where was Megan during the say 30 minutes it took you to bludgeon her husband to death with a baseball trophy.”
Sage looks up at him.
“That’s right, we found the murder weapon, and after we run your fingerprints, I am sure we will have everything we need to haul you off to prison for a long long time.”
“You’re probably right, and I deserve it. I took a life, and I deserve to be put away for that.”
Charlie winces and begins pacing the viewing room.
“Where was Megan?”
“She wasn’t home,” Sage says, her answer brief, her cold glare ahead steady.
Charlie notices; she’s gone. Her hope is gone. Her smile, her laugh, her innocence and youthfulness, all- Gone.
“Did Megan and Daniel, did they have any children?”
“4 and ½”
“And the son, was also not home that night you murdered his father?”
“No Megan had taken Simon out for ice cream.”
“Which brings me to the question, if Megan and her son were not home, why were you over there in the first place. I mean you did say that she was your friend, not him. So why go there is she wasn’t there?”
“I was out, and I dropped by spur of the moment. I didn’t know she wasn’t there.”
“So what made you stay?”
“Daniel seemed uneasy, unhinged. He just lost his job and he and Megan had a really big fight earlier in the day. He had been known for his temper and he had been drinking and when that happened, things would happen. Horrible things. I was worried of what could happen if Megan and Simon came home while he was in that state.”
“Was Daniel abusive to Megan?”
Sage looks down at her hands. As Malloy walks the room, making Sage more anxious.
Charlie looks on, his mind filling in the blanks from his previous conversation with Sage.
“It was a domestic dispute.”
“Who said it was my dispute?”
“It was Megan,” he whispers, his eyes widening.
“Ms. Renly, answer the question. Was Mr. Black abusive to his wife when drunk or otherwise?”
“Yes. Ok yes. For years I watched her put on a smile at parties and hold his hand, while at night she’d call me in tears and agony. Her body covered in bruises, sometimes it got so bad he’d break her bones. I was scared to death that one day it’d be too late. So I did something. The only thing that I thought to do.”
“You killed him.”
“I was protecting my friend.”
“But she wasn’t home. What were you protecting her from?”
“From a monster. Sure she wasn’t home at the moment. But I took it upon myself to stick around, tried sobering him up, and tried talking some sense into him. I brought up rehab, thought maybe if he heard it from an outsider maybe he’d take it into consideration and get some help. But he flew off the handle. Started screaming at me and shoving me around. Telling me to mind my own business. I finally saw what it was like to live in Megan’s shoes. In fear of her own husband’s touch. I begged him to stop but he pinned me against a wall and hit me, so I grabbed the nearest thing I could find and I hit him over the head with it. I just wanted him to stop, I wasn’t trying to kill him.”
“Ms. Renly are you a righty or a lefty?”
“What does that matter?”
“Humor me.” Malloy says shrugging.
“I’m a lefty.”
“Interesting. And this scuffle the two of you had, took place in the kitchen?”
“Yes. He pinned me against the wall near the island, the one shared with the living room. There’s a small table near it with a few of Daniel’s post prized baseball trophies. I swear some times you’d think he loved them more than his family, the way he’d go on about the glory days of college baseball. I grabbed one, and you know the rest.”
“Interesting. Because the scene that you created. The scene that you’re describing, for it to actually work, the killer would have to be right handed.”
Sage looks up at him.
“Based on the evidence we found and the position of the head wound that killed Mr. Black, well the only logical explanation would be that someone picked up the trophy from the small end table to the right side of them and struck Mr. Black on the left side of his head, which leads me to believe that the killer is actually right handed.”
“So maybe I grabbed it with my non dominant hand, who cares. When you’re fighting for your life, you just act on impulse.”
“That is true.”
Sage looks up at him and glares, her eyes darting around the room, her heart pounding, her chest heavy.
“Ms. Renly after you killed Mr. Black and attempted to hide the murder weapon, you fled the scene? Where did you go?”
“I just kept running, and eventually found my way to an old motel.”
“I don’t remember the name.”
“Convenient. So you walked, by yourself, presumably covered in blood and no one saw you. You didn’t raise any suspicions?”
“Considering it took me to come in and confess, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve done a pretty good job of flying under the radar.”
“I think you’re right. But considering the fact that you had no car, no money and nowhere to go, I think you had some help.”
Sage’s eyes shoot up at him as Malloy smiles from his current seated position across from her.
“I acted alone.”
Malloy leans over the table looking at her.
“We have video footage of you and a blonde haired male, at a motel just outside town. Sooner or later after some digging around, I’m sure we’ll get a name. In fact maybe we already know who he is. You know with him being an ex-cop and all.”
Sage’s head shoots up.
“That’s right, we know you’ve had some help on the run, in fact we’ve got Mr. Steinfeld in custody right now. And well if you don’t talk, we have ways of making you talk.”
Charlie cringes at Malloy’s manipulation techniques.
“Charlie had nothing to do with the murder, he was kept completely in the dark, he doesn’t know what happened, he was just trying to help me. He didn’t know who I was, or what I did.”
“Really because he seems to think otherwise, he says the two of you have been on the run together since the day of the crime, he’s been paying for things for you and driving you from place to place, why he also seems to think the two of you are in love. Imagine that.”
“I may have let him think that, so he’d continue helping me.”
“Why you would just break his little heart if he could here you right now.”
“Let Charlie go, he doesn’t have anything to do with this murder.”
“That’s where things get fuzzy for me Ms. Renly, see because aiding and abetting is defined as A person who acts as an accessory and is usually not present when the crime itself is committed, but he or she has knowledge of the crime before OR after the fact, and may assist in its commission through advice, actions, or financial support. And your friend Charlie certainly fits the bill, even more so, he’s owning up to it like a hero.”
“That’s just his nature. He’s just trying to protect me.”
“Like you’re trying to protect Megan.”
“I don’t know what you mean,” Sage says her eyes diverting his glare.
Charlie watches on. Just wanting this to stop, to be over. So that he can hold Sage and keep her safe forever.
“It wasn’t you was it?”
“It was me.”
Sage begins to feel faint her mind spinning, her heart pounding, she feels like all the air in her body as vanished and she can’t breathe.
Malloy looks at her.
“Ms. Renly are you ok?”
Sage slinks in her chair as she passes out.
Malloy rushes to her aid, as Charlie rushes into the room.
A few moments later Sage comes to and is in the detectives office, laying on a small couch.
A female officer looks at her from across the room.
“You’re ok, you just passed out for a bit. Here, drink up” she says handing her a bottle of water.
“Thank you,” Sage says taking it.
“Sip slowly.” The officer says with a smile.
Sage takes a small sip, as she peaks outside her eyes go wide. She stands up and rushes to the door.
“Megan, what are you doing here?”
“I can’t let you do this. I know you want to protect me, but this is too much, I can’t let you go away for something I did.”
Sage sighs as she looks around seeing Malloy and Charlie standing nearby. Malloy has a pad as if he was taking her statement.
“Sage, she told us everything,” Charlie says looking at her saddened yet somehow relieved eyes.
“She’s lying,” Sage says in slight hysterics.
“Her prints match the ones we took off the trophy, she’s also right handed. The evidence-it all fits.”
“So what,” Sage says crying. “She has a son, ok you can’t take her away from her son. He’s been through hell living with a father like that, she’s been through hell. Look at the bruises all over her body, she fought for years. And no cop was ever going to take her side.”
“I would have,” Charlie says looking at a very broken Sage.
“Well you aren’t a cop anymore, now are you?”
Charlie grabs her hand and pulls her off to the side as Malloy turns to Megan to continue with her statement.
“Hey, are you feeling a little better, you scared me pretty bad, passing out like that,” Charlie says cupping her face and looking her over intently.
“I’m fine, I’m not worried about me, I’m worried about my friend.”
“Please try and calm down, ok? Everything is going to be ok. They’re going to take care of Megan, she’ll get a fair deal. Malloy isn’t like the other cops I’ve worked with, he knows that some cases aren’t always what they seem.”
“She can’t go away. Simon… he’s so young and he needs her.”
“It’s gonna be ok,” Charlie says pulling her into a hug, he kisses the top of her head.
Sage hugs him tightly, worry etched on her face.
-A few hours later-
Malloy comes out of the interrogation room, to find an anxious Sage and Charlie sitting there waiting.
Sage sits up.
“How is she?”
“Considering what the two of you went through, she’s doing well.”
“So what’s going to happen to her, and to me?”
“You and Charlie are both free to go.”
“What happened to aiding and abetting? I mean I know you were just threatening Charlie with that to get me to tell you the truth, but that does actually hold true for me.”
“Are you just determined to go to jail?”
“No. I just have an unbearable conscience.”
“In my experience the people who say things like that, are the people who don’t deserve to be put in jail. We now know the full story, we know that Megan called you that night, scare of the vicious mood Daniel had been in. She asked you to come over. You heard the calls for help…” Sage envisions that dreaded moment in detail detective Malloy replays the scene.
Sage rushes up past the white picket fence, she pauses as she reaches to ring the doorbell. Just then she gets halted by the same familiar scream ringing in her ear.
“Help! Help me! Please.”
Megan, Sage thinks. Sage rushes into her friend’s house. She finds her in a choke hold at the hands of her violent, abusive husband. After a failed attempt to pull Daniel off of Megan sends Sage flying to the floor, causes her to knock her head into the molding of the island cabinets. Megan with worry and fear in her eyes reaches for the nearest object, knocking Daniel over the head with it, with tremendous force, allowing Daniel to fall to the floor.
“What did you do?” Megan says to herself as Sage turns toward her, both women’s bodies shaking in fear and adrenaline.
Sage’s eyes fill with panic as Megan freezes, she drops the trophy and sinks to the floor.
Sage rushes to a sitting position, slipping and sliding in the pool of blood that has accumulated next to her on the floor. She checks Daniel’s pulse.
“He’s dead,” Sage says her eyes wide.
Megan sits. Frozen.
Sage looks at her in a panic as police sirens can be heard faintly in the background. Neighbors must have called from hearing all the screams.
“Ok. ok. It’s ok. It’s going to be okay,” Sage says looking over at her friend, she grabs some paper towels and wipes the blood off Megan’s face and hands.
Grabbing some more paper towels off the counter and grabbing the trophy with it, she puts it into the trash and tying it she rushes it out to the dumpster in the back alley of the house.
Sirens are closing in, Sage turns to her friend and shakes her.
“Megan. Hey….Megan…Go! Go to your folks, be with Simon, I’ll draw the cops away. I’ll handle this ok. Go!”
Sage shakes Megan harder, grabbing her face.
Megan finally blinks.
“I killed him,” she says her voice breaking.
“Megan. GO! Get out of here, now!” Sage forces her friend up and out the back way, while she rushes out the front door, into the hot seat and into visual sight for all the neighbors to see, her clothes all bloody. A perfect guilty suspect, or so it would seem.
Malloy continues to describe the altercation as Sage’s memory of that night is brought back to life.
…And you rushed in to find the same scene you described but it was Megan who was being pinned against the wall, and when you tried to help by pulling Daniel off, he shoved you onto the floor causing you to cut your forehead right there, he says pointing to her cut. We also know that it was Megan who grabbed the trophy and knocked her husband over the head with the trophy. One knock did the trick. It was fueled by years of fear, and pain.”
“The minute she did it, she was in shock. She dropped the trophy and sank to the floor, most battered women would have probably kept going, kept hitting, but Megan was just in shock. She didn’t mean to kill him,” Sage says her voice low and defeated.
“We know. We know the whole story. We also know that Daniel Black wasn’t a good man, he has quite the record. Which is why Megan won’t be charged. She acted purely out of self-defense.”
“So she’s free to go?”
“You all are.”
“Oh my god,” Sage says sighing heavily as she places her head in her hands.
“It’s over” Charlie whispers, rubbing her back.
Sage hugs him tightly.
“Sage,” Megan says stepping into the lobby.
Sage rushes over to her friend, hugging her.
“I’m so glad you’re ok,” Sage says.
“Are you kidding, I’m so glad you’re ok. I’m so grateful to you. I can never repay you for what you’ve done for me.”
“Sure you can, go get your son and live your life, without fear.”
“That may take some getting used to,” Megan says timidly.
“Don’t worry considering you need a new place to live and I have an apartment all to myself, I think I’m in the market for some roommates. I’ll be there every step of the way, what do you say?”
“Simon and I would love that,” she says crying as she hugs Sage. “You saved my life, thank you, I love you.”
“We’re best friends. That’s what we do, we save each other. I love you too.” Sage says hugging her friend.
“See sometimes, cases get solved,” Malloy says.
“Yea only when there’s good police involved,” Charlie says, extending a hand out to Tim,
“Thank you,” he says as Malloy shakes it.
“Not a problem. I owed you one.”
Charlie gives him a small nod.
“Speaking of good police, maybe you’d wanna think about coming back, we could use a guy like you in intelligence.”
Sage looks at Charlie.
“I don’t know,” he says with hesitance.
“I think that’s an amazing idea. You still act like a cop, even though you say you’re not. Might as well get paid for it,” Sage says.
Charlie looks at her.
“And you’d be ok with that? My becoming a cop again?”
“Yea. I’d feel a lot safer on these streets. But I mean it’s not up to me, it’s up to you. What do you want?”
Charlie glances at her, and turns to Malloy.
“Ok, you’re on.”
“Great, you can start Monday. The team will be happy to have another rule bender.”
Charlie nods as he and Sage walk out of the station with Megan.
“I should really get going, Simon is with my parents and I really just need to be with them, they’ve been worried sick.”
“I know the feeling, go. I’ll check in later, we’ll make a date for us to pack you up.”
“Ok.” Megan hugs Sage tightly again.
“Bye Charlie, it was nice to meet you.”
“Like wise.” He says nodding in her direction with a slight smile.
“I highly doubt that, I’m the girl who killed her husband and almost let her best friend take the fall for it.”
“Stop it! I let them think it was me. It was my decision and you were in shock. This isn’t your fault.” Sage says.
“I agree, besides, if it weren’t for this whole thing, Sage and I probably never would have met, “So thank you.”
“Does he always do this?”
“Make you feel good about yourself? Yes. It’s why I keep him around,” Sage says trying to lighten things up.
Charlie smirks at her.
“I just hope you know that I am indebted to you, forever,” Megan says looking at Sage.
“Just stay my best friend forever and we’re even. I just want us to move on from this, and get back to our lives. We deserve to be happy.”
Megan hugs Sage one more time before hailing down a cab.
Charlie turns to Sage.
“So…” he says reaching for her hands.
“So.” She says taking them in hers.
“Can we start over?”
“She holds her hand out.
“Hi, I’m Sage Renly. I’m a gypsy soul, with far too many jobs to count, who lives in a one bedroom loft I pay way too much for. My family is kind of scattered because they like to travel like nomads, so every year we try and meet up and have a reunion. This year it’s supposed to be in Hawaii.”
“Nice to meet you Sage. I’m Charlie Steinfeld, I went from being a detective to not being a detective for quite some time, to just recently accepting a new position with a unit who truly believes in justice even if it doesn’t fit the standard rule book version. I work in contracting from time to time, my dad owned a major contracting company and when he passed he left all his earnings to me, which is well a lot. No siblings, mom passed a few years after dad, and I live in a studio apartment.
“Well it’s nice to meet you too Charlie. Maybe we can go out sometime.”
“Maybe.” Charlie says with a smile.
Charlie and Sage walk, circling around each other for a bit.
“Well, see ya,” Sage says shrugging and walking off.
Charlie laughs, rolling his eyes as he turns, he catches Sage as she jumps in his arms.
She kisses him, as he sets her down.
“Thank you, for everything,” she says.
“It’s been my pleasure,” he smiles, cupping her face and leaning down to kiss her.
“So are we actually going to give this whole couple’s thing a shot?” she says as they walk off hand in hand.
“You asked me what I want. I want you. So I’m gonna go with a -Hell yea- we’re giving this couple’s thing a shot.”
“What if all the attraction turns out to just be from the adrenaline of being on the run. What if we just fizzle out?”
“You’re funny.” He says laughing.
“I’m serious.” She says.
He stops and turns to her, taking her in his arms.
“I love you. And that’s not going to change, so deal with it.”
“Okay?” he says smiling.
“Yea, ok.” She says shrugging, “Oh and I kinda…love you too,” she says smiling.
He kisses her as they walk off.
“So Hawaii huh?” Charlie says his arm draping over Sage’s shoulders, as she entangles her hand in his.
“Any chance you wanna bring your new boyfriend to meet the fam?”
“There may be a possibility.”
“Hmm…What can I do to turn that possibly into a definite yes?”
“I’m sure I can think of a few things.”
“So…your place, or mine?” he says looking at her, with a slight raise of his eyebrow.
“Whichever’s closer” Sage says laughing as she kisses him, they walk off.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this series!
Please feel free to leave a comment down below.
*Writer’s Commentary and Soundtrack to follow as usual.*
A short story series reflection.
What stories have I done, who were my characters, and how do I avoid the long hiatus and the often inevitable quick wrap up.
Because although it may feel good writing it at the time, looking back and re-reading…I always know there are ways to improve and things to do differently. And I’ll admit some things are cringe worthy, but hey writing even badly, is better than not writing at all.
Am I right, writers? 😉
*I do not take credit for any images or gifs used in my edits or otherwise.*