The Suspect’s Letter: Leaving a Trail

I awoke to a thunderstorm Monday morning. Coffee never looked better. I went out to get the mail and found only one envelope-a letter from my friend Troy. I anxiously opened it. I’d been wanting to hear from him for a few months now.

He moved up north, reasoning that he hated summer. We used to talk every Tuesday and occasionally scout around the city for used book stores. We are both single, but not into each other – except as literary buddies. Now I miss him.

I ripped his letter open and almost tore the envelope in half. Unfolding the single, white page, I was shocked to see that the letter wasn’t meant for me at all.

“How could you make such a mistake, Troy!” I thought in my head.

It was addressed to D. K.

“I’d better call him,” I said out loud. “And who is D. K.?”

I dialed. It rang. It continued to ring. No answer.

“That’s strange,” I said slightly under my breath.

Troy always leaves his answering machine on. I tried and tried to convince him to get voice mail. He just wouldn’t.

I called again. Still no answer.

I decided to read the letter.

“Dear D. K.,

Why did you leave me all alone at the theater the other night? You are not answering your phone so I have to write. I’m warning you, the police are starting to ask questions. I mean about the shooting the other night. Because you left early, you look suspicious.

I don’t want mixed up in this.

Troy”

“Crap! Now what do I do? I’m holding a letter that belongs to a suspected criminal!”

Thunder boomed louder outside as the storm rolled overhead. The lights flickered off and on and my coffee pot quit. I looked at my cat. He looked at me. I went to grab a flashlight and a few candles.

“What do I do now, Toby?” I asked my cat. I knew I must be nervous because I was asking my cat for advice.

“I don’t know about you, but I think I should take this letter to the police. NO! I should hide it. I should ask someone what to do? I DON’T KNOW!”

By now I was getting the coffee jitters and couldn’t focus anymore. I decided to take a shower.

Just then a loud BOOM of thunder seemed to hit the roof. I screamed, Toby jumped. I usually really like the excitement of storms, but not when I’m holding a letter that belongs to a suspect.

Before I got in the shower, I tried to phone Troy again. No answer.

I grabbed my blue, body-length towel and headed for the bathroom.

Just as I was about to get in and had gotten my hair wet, the phone rang.

“Hold on!” I yelled, getting out dripping.

“Hello?” I asked, trying not to sound too winded.

They hung up.

I slammed the phone down and called Troy again. Nothing.

12 Hours Later

I had almost forgotten about the letter until I got home and saw it on the kitchen table. Toby was washing himself, really getting into the paw thing on his face. I did a quick run-through of the cupboards and decided there wasn’t much to eat. It was still rainy outside and another storm was coming.

“Mr. Toby, I’m leaving the candles and flashlight out just for you!”

“Meow. Purr,” Toby replied.

I decided to call Troy again. Something just wasn’t adding up here.

Still no answer.

Deciding on mac and cheese, I started cooking and flipped on the television. Just then there was a knock at my door. A little alarmed, I went to answer it.

Troy stood soaking wet on my front porch. A chill ran down my neck and arms.

“Troy. What are you doing here? Come in, come in. You’re all wet. I’ll get you a towel.”

He could tell I was nervous.

“Thanks. I’m sorry to scare you. I’ll explain everything after I get that towel.”

“Sure. Hang on.”

I came back from the bathroom closet with the towel. He dried his hair and then put it around his shoulders.

“Do you want some clean clothes?” I asked.

“No, I have some clean clothes in the car.”

“Oh. You do? What’s going on?”

“Well, I say this tongue and cheek, but I’m sort of running from the police.”

Not looking surprised, I went to get the letter.

“This came to my house today. The envelope is addressed to me from you, but the letter isn’t. Who is D. K.?”

“D. K. stands for Denise Kenndy. I was on a date with her and she just slipped out during the movie. Then I found out there was a shooting behind the theater that same night, so of course she looks like a suspect.”

“Is she?” I interrupted.

“I really don’t know. But I’m afraid she’s going to drag me into it. Actually, I came down to see if I could stay with you. The reason I didn’t call first is because I didn’t want the police getting my name and then tracing my phone calls to any of my friends. Not that showing up in person is any better, but I figured I would leave less of a trail.”

“But if you are innocent, why not tell the police and get it over with?”

“If!”

“Sorry, Troy. I’m just nervous. Why did the letter come to me? How could you make such a mistake-especially if you didn’t want to involve me!” I was getting a little angry now.

“I know. I’m really sorry. I don’t know how I made such a mistake with the letter. I was writing to you, going to explain everything, then decided to come down here instead. With my nerves being all overactive, I just put her letter in your envelope.”

“Well, it’s starting to make more sense now. So what about D. K.? Have you heard anything from her at all?”

“Not a peep.”

“So, why are you hiding from the police?”

“You always know there’s something more, don’t you?”

I smiled at his comment. It was true.

“I got in a fight at this guy’s house from work and he grabbed a knife, so I grabbed a knife and I accidentally stabbed in.”

I gasped.

“He’s okay, but you know now how that would look. I stabbed a guy, lost my job, and now I look like a murder suspect being associated with D. K. leaving the theater and all.”

The silence was a little annoying. I just really didn’t know what to say.

“Let me go to the car and get my stuff.”

“I’ll help,” I said, grabbing my umbrella.

“No, tha. . . okay, sure.”

We ran out to his car and grabbed two bags.

“Packing lite, I see.”

“Well, I thought you could help me figure things out, maybe get a new job, so I brought everything that I thought I should,” he said.

“Let me ask you something. You moved up there and have had all of these bad things happen to you. Have you considered moving back down here?”

“Let’s talk in the morning.”

“Okay,” I said, a little uneasy by the abruptness.

“Just one more thing,” I said. “Do you think D. K. might try to frame you? I mean, she’s not contacting you, so why push her to?”

He just looked at me like the answer should be obvious.

“I’ll set you up in the guest room.”

“Thanks. Again, sorry for just dropping in on you like this,” he said with sincerity.

“Well, at least you know you can. I’ll take that as a compliment from a good friend.”

I left a candle and the flashlight in his room, then went to bed.

It seemed like a long night, but morning came soon enough. I got up, stretching, and bent down to pet Toby. After getting dressed, I went out to make coffee. Troy didn’t seem to be up yet. I made pancakes and fed the cat.

It was almost 8:15 and I had to head out. I went to Troy’s bedroom and noticed the door was open. His stuff was gone-all of it. I spun around, looking everywhere for evidence that he had left something behind. Nothing. No note, no paper trail. He had been here and I couldn’t prove it.

But I had the towel he had dried his hair with.

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