Graded in Red| Chapter 8

Chapter Eight 

I opened the front door and there Jake stood. He looked apprehensive about being here. I felt apprehensive with him being here too, so at least we had that in common. 

 Jake cleared his throat, “Hey Mags. How are you feeling?” 

“I’m okay, a little bit of a headache. Want to come in?” I stepped aside to let him in. 

“I just needed to ask you some more questions. I didn’t want you to have to come down to the station. You know how everyone talks here, I don’t want word getting around.” Jake sat down on my loveseat, while I sat on one of the bar stools. 

“Jake, people are already talking. My mother was even down here asking me what happened at Cindy and Scott’s place. Marvin Gaye sure had it right about the grape vine.” I took another swig of my coffee, it had reached room temperature and was acidic in flavor. I needed another cup if I was going to have to go through this again. 

“Want some coffee? I need some more to get through this day.” I nodded over to my tea kettle and the freshly cleaned French Press. 

“I’d love some. Thanks Maggie. Mind if I get started?” He asked. 

“Sure, Shoot.” I grabbed the coffee grinder and pulsed some of the beans until they were perfect and waited for the water to boil. 

“I want to start out by saying that I don’t think that you did it. Killed Bridgett, I mean. I know that it is what everyone’s thinking and maybe I even implied it last night, but I wanted to be transparent and let you know that you’re not high on MY list of suspects.” 

The way that Jake put the emphasis on the word ‘my’ made me think that although I wasn’t on his list of suspects I was high on someone’s. I told him as much while the tea kettle started whistling, signaling that the water was ready to pour. 

“Well, my Captain believes that I need to exhaust all avenues of suspects. I can’t  exempt you just because I know you didn’t do it. So I have to prove that you didn’t. I need to ask you some questions to do this. I know that I am the last person that you want to talk to, but I need to do this, Mags.” He was out of breath by the time he was done and I could tell that he was nervous because he was wiping his hands on his pants.

“Don’t call me Mags, you don’t get to fein friendship now!” I stated angrily. Jake had the awareness to look embarrassed that I softened my tone, “You really believe me? That I didn’t do this?” I was stunned. I didn’t see this coming. 

“What?! No, Maggie. Remember when we were kids and were riding our bikes down the street and a blue bird fell out of its nest and died? You cried for a week. I just don’t see you killing someone, even a person like Bridgett. I know you had a past with her, with me, everything. I know you didn’t do this.” When his eyes met mine, I felt a spark that I hadn’t felt in a long time. Actually, it was ten years ago, when I last felt this I pushed it aside, reminding myself of what had happened, not what 18 year old me had wanted to happen.  

“Allllright, what do you want to know? I’ve only been in town for a few days. I’m not going to know to much. I told you everything that happened at Murphy’s and that was the only contact I had with her since prom. I didn’t even know she was in town.” The coffee had steeped long enough and the smell was intoxicating, just what I needed. I poured both Jake and I a cup and I sat at the counter mixing in the creamer. 

“That night at Murphy’s, did you see anyone with Bridgett? Someone that looked out of place?” He got his notepad out, the one that he had from last night. It looked nearly full with his chicken scratch handwriting, I wondered if anyone else had to read his writing, or if he transferred the notes he made into the computer for a report. 

“Umm, I remember a guy at the bar when I first saw her. They looked to be having a heated discussion, he grabbed her arm, and she argued with him. One moment they looked like they were going to be at each other’s throats and the next they were sticking each other’s tongues down their throats. It wasn’t the most pleasant sight.” My stomach flip flopped just thinking about it. 

“What did this man look like? I need you to really concentrate.” He asked while not taking his eyes off of the notepad on his lap. 

I closed my eyes, not only trying to ease my headache but also to focus in on what I saw. “He has greasy blonde hair, about shoulder length. He was caucasian and about average build. I couldn’t see too much because I was on the other side of the bar, but I think he might have worked with his hands. I remember there being a mark left on Bridgett’s arm, like oil or grease.” I sighed, “That’s all I can remember. I’m sorry. I hope that it was useful.” 

“Extremely useful. I’m going to stop by Murphy’s to see if she remembers anyone with this description. You sit tight, I’ll let you know what I find. I’m not letting this get pinned on you Mags. I promise.” With that Jake squeezed my shoulder with his hand and I walked him to the door. 

Of course, I didn’t tell him one crucial fact. I do remember the name of the company on the back of the greasy man’s jacked. It was a phoenix the saying around it stated, “From ashes come great cars.” I remember my dad talking about a scrap yard that opened up about 5 miles outside of Broken Bow’s city limits. 

I knew where I was going after I showered and got ready. I was going shopping, scrap yard shopping. Maybe I would find a killer deal, the killer. 

***

It was a pretty gorgeous day outside for Oklahoma in the middle of July. Normally my sweat was sweating, but it was a brisk 85 degrees outside. I didn’t even need to blast my car’s air conditioning. I rolled down my windows and my moon roof and blasted 90s music. There wasn’t anything better than blaring Hanson’s MMMbop in the middle of summer. It reminded me of when I was 9 years old and my mom drove us up to Tulsa to see Hanson. It was one of the best days of my childhood. 

Those were the days. The time where the worst thing that happened to me was that my ice cream fell on the ground after the ice cream truck drove away. As I was reminiscing about my childhood I could see the scrap yard coming up on my right. I couldn’t miss it. Whoever owned the business had taken care to collect all of the yellow, orange, and red car parts and create a replica Phoenix. It was actually quite impressive. I needed to take Victoria out here, she would love this. That is, if I am allowed back after this. 

As I pulled into the parking lot my car started shaking. They hadn’t actually paved the lot, it had been laid down with gravel. I could hear the rocks hitting the underside of my car. Flinching I hoped it didn’t bust anything in the engine. I was on a teacher’s salary now, and I couldn’t afford repairs like that. This car needed to last me another 5 or 10 years. 

There was one spot open at the front of what I assumed was the office for the scrap yard. It was a trailer home converted into a store front. I could tell that the front door had been widened and that the double doors that replaced it had been jammed into the roughly cut out trim. There was no way that the door didn’t leak in the spring or block cold air in the winter. In Oklahoma we had a saying, ‘If you don’t like the weather in Oklahoma, wait a minute, it will change.’ I’m pretty sure that was said by the famous cowboy Will Rogers. I knew for a fact that this establishment wouldn’t pass Broken Bow’s City ordinances, hence why it was built 5 miles out of the city limits. 

As I turned my car off I started mentally preparing myself to get out of the car, by myself, and talk to complete strangers. I took in a great big breath, grabbed my bag, and opened the door. I just needed to bite the bullet and get this done. I wasn’t going to go to prison for something that I didn’t do. 

I walked up to the of kilter double doors and knocked. Looking closely these were actually beautiful French doors, ones that would normally go out to a patio or a terrace. The etching on the glass had to have been time consuming, though whoever owned this place didn’t care to take care of it. There was so much crud and dirt on the door that I couldn’t even look through. 

“Hello!?” I called out, straining my ears to hear anything. I peered through the doors as best I could but didn’t see anyone inside. I realized then that they might be in the scrap yard working. It was a cool enough morning that it would be the perfect time to get anything done outside that needed to be done. 

I decided to walk around the back side of the trailer home. I was checking my watch as I turned the corner. Victoria had called right before I left, she wanted to meet up at Coffee Grind on Main Street to talk about everything that happened. I told her I was running errands but that I would meet her around 11:00 am. It was 9:30 am now. I needed to get this done and head that way. 

Right as I rounded the corner I looked up and ran right into the person I wanted to see. He looked older up close than he did that night at the pub. 

“Woah, little lady! It’s not safe for you to wander the scrap yard by yourself. There are piles of scrap metal and dangerous chemicals laying around everywhere. You could have gotten hurt.” The man squinted his eyes as he looked me up and down. It looked like he might need some prescription glasses. 

“I’m sorry! I tried knocking on the front door, but no one answered. I decided to come around back and see if I could find anyone. I’m Maggie Turee, by the way.” I stated while putting my hand out to shake his. 

“Tom  Bishop. It’s a pleasure to meet you. What brought you all the way here to the Phoenix Scrap Yard? Anything in particular you lookin’ for?” He asked genially. 

Crap, I hadn’t thought of a lie to tell anyone once I got here. I couldn’t very well tell him I thought he was the killer. I mean, I could, but then my parents might not find my body for years. There were a lot of places that he could hide bodies and the police wouldn’t know where to start. Darn it Maggie, why did you think that? I kicked myself for my lack of preparedness. 

“My mom is a local artist and asked me to come out here and check out the different types of metals you have. She wants to do a show all surrounding metals found here in Broken Bow. My dad mentioned this place to me and I thought I would check it out for her while she was at a consult today in Tulsa.” 

That had to be the smoothest lie I have ever told. It just slipped out like butter, it did however leave a greasy feeling in my mouth afterwards. I really hated lying even if it was for a good reason. 

“Ah! Well you have come to the right place little lady. I had all different types of metals, hard metals, soft metals, metals in between. Do you happen to know if your mom is looking for bigger statement pieces or is she looking for something smaller?” He got out a crumpled up piece of paper and pulled a pencil from his greasy hair and started writing things down. 

“You know, I’m not quite sure. She didn’t let me in on the small details. She just wanted me to look around and see what you had.” I smiled, hoping that this facade would keep up. 

“Hmmmm, I can take you around for a little bit, but the Captain is coming down in about half an hour and I’ll be tied up all afternoon. If you see anything that strikes your fancy that you think your mom would like, just holler and I can give you a quote on the price.” He smiled and started to walk away. 

“Oh! I think I have seen you somewhere before. You look so familiar!” I scratched my head, “Were you at Murphy’s earlier this week?”

Mr. Bishop’s face turned red and he stammered, “As…as a matter of fact I was. I go there once or twice a week to get a drink after a long days work. Why?” I could see the openness that he had with me before start to close. 

“I just remembered you from the bar, I think you were having an argument with someone.” I tried to sound as if I was really trying to focus on the memory. 

“Yes, I did. Bridgett Star. Did you know her?” He questioned.

“Me? No, but the name sounds familiar. Wasn’t she the woman that was found killed at the high school? Someone stabbed her, I believe.” I shook with real fright that time, I didn’t need to act then. 

“Yeah, I heard.” Tom cleared the thickness that has sprung up in his throat, as though he was trying not to cry, “I was out of town yesterday at my sister’s celebrating my nephew’s 5th birthday. When I got home this morning, I was called by the Captain, he said that he needed to question me about my whereabouts. I have a solid alibi though, picture proof, and family members swearing I was in Sapulpa.” He wiped the sweat from his face with the bottom of his shirt. 

My heart sank when I heard that he had an alibi. He seemed like a sweet enough guy and I didn’t want anyone innocent to go to prison, but I was really hoping that he would be the killer and that I could go home and sleep restfully tonight. However, that wasn’t going to happen. 

“At least you have an alibi, that is great news! May I ask why you and the young woman were arguing? I saw you two fighting, you grabbed her arm, and then well…” I started to get uncomfortable talking about the make out scene that I had witnessed. 

“We started at each other like hungry animals? That’s just how Bridgett and I were. She was mad at me because I wouldn’t give her anymore money for drugs. She claimed that she needed to buy school supplies for her kid, but I could tell that she was itching for her next fix. I wasn’t going to be the person that gave her the money to kill herself with that white powder.” He shook his head in disbelief. 

This made sense, the anger that I saw in Tom’s face was actually a look of desperate concern. He had been angry that she wanted drug money from him and Bridgett was desperate enough to lie to him about it. I hadn’t realized that I had gotten lost in my own thoughts until I heard Tom say, “And that was the last time I saw her. She yelled at some girl who spilled her drink and she stormed out of the pub. I wish I could have helped her more.” He frowned in what looked like confusion and then looked up like something had dawned on him. 

“You know you look pretty familiar too. Why do I know your face?” He looked like he was going to grab my arm but I stumbled back. 

Looking at my watch I stammered, “Oh! Look at the time. Didn’t you say that the Captain was coming out here at 10am? It’s about that time. Thank you so much for your help! I will let my mom know about the variety of different metals you have. I am sure that she will come and take a look around for herself sometime soon.” I was walking backwards waving my hand when I felt my body slam into someone else’s.  

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