Graded in Red| Chapter 9

Chapter 9 

Someone grabbed my shoulders and spun me about. I expected it to be the Captain, however it was Jake. 

“Umm, Maggie, if you need anything else just holler.” Tom said as he turned away from me and Jake and headed towards the office. 

“Jake?! What are you doing here?” I gasped between breaths, my heart was in my throat and I couldn’t seem to calm it down. 

“I unexpectedly got a call from the Captain to come here and interview a suspect. What are you doing here?” He frowned down at me. “You aren’t putting your nose where it doesn’t belong are you? You know it wouldn’t have looked very well to my superiors had they come instead of me.”

“I was here for my mom. She is working on some new project and wanted me to look into the metals that Mr. Bishop has here in the scrap yard.” I couldn’t believe how smoothly the practiced lie slid from my tongue to Jake. 

“Really? You know what your mom’s current project is, eh? If you did, you’d know that she is actually looking for recycling materials like cans, paper, and plastic. She wants to show the world that the things we consider as trash are still useful. That they can still be considered beautiful pieces.” Jake’s face was starting to get red, and I could see that he was shaking this close. 

I hadn’t spent enough time with my mom to know what she was currently working on. Apparently, Jake did. Why was he spending so much time with my family?

“Oh really? How do you know that?” I looked up at him my eyes accusing him to call me the liar I was being. 

“Because, I am at your parent’s house every week, Maggie. Whether it is doing the lawn, tiding the garage, cleaning the gutters, or helping your dad on the cars, I am there every week.” His voice rose as he started telling me everything that he was doing for my parents. 

“Why are you doing all of that for them? They aren’t invalids!” I didn’t understand. There weren’t any logical reasons that I could think of for him to be at their house every week. 

Jake ran his hand through his hair as if trying to grasp for answers, but instead started pulling on the ends of his hair. 

“It started when you left for college. I came over to apologize about prom. Your mom answered the door and she wasn’t happy to see me. She told me so in about as many words.” He cleared his voice. 

Knowing my mom, she cussed him up one way and the other. She wasn’t happy about what happened or the fact that everyone in town was still talking about it. 

“Okay and?” I was fascinated, I couldn’t believe my parents never told me this. 

“Well, your mom slammed the door in my face and when I turned around your dad had the garage door open and was working on the truck. I started walking by and he called me in. I started to apologize, but he handed me a tool and we started working. After working for a few hours, your dad brought me a glass of water and told me to be back the next morning.” Jake started rubbing his temples as though I was causing him a headache, I probably was. 

“And I’m guessing you did?” I felt hurt, that my parents would do this to me. Why would they do this?

“I did. For a few weeks we worked in silence or with only small suggestions on my work. Your mom started talking to me, bringing in snacks and drinks to your dad and I. Once I started the police academy, your parents saw that I was strapped for cash in paying for school. I don’t know how they knew but they did. They started paying me to do little things around the house, things they could do, but it helped. After I graduated the academy I would still come by to help.” 

“But how did I not ever see you at the house? How could they have kept this from me for ten years? Especially, after they knew what you meant to me and then what you did to me?” My voice was rising and my eyes were filling with tears. I couldn’t believe they did this. I felt so betrayed. 

“I wouldn’t come around when you came for holidays. I didn’t want to make you uncomfortable. I really was and am sorry for everything that happened that night. I don’t know why your parents didn’t tell you. That’s something that you are going to have to talk to them about. But right now, I have a job to do. I can’t stay and prove my point to you. But next time you impede my investigation and lie to me, I’m going to have to take you down to the station. Now excuse me, I have a job to do.” 

He pushed passed me and headed for the office. He stopped and turned to me before going inside, “Mags, don’t go and investigate this by yourself, okay? It’s not safe. Someone was murdered and it seems like they are trying to place blame on you. Just go home.” He didn’t wait for me to respond to him, he sounded exhausted, but he turned back to the door and went inside. 

I knew I wasn’t finished with my own investigation but I had something else that had become a priority. I needed to talk to my parents. Why had they covered this up and lied to me? 

***

After stopping by the scrap yard, I went home. I didn’t know what else to do. I couldn’t keep my mind on the present. I just kept thinking about what Jake told me at the scrap yard. He had been working at my parents, helping them, talking to them, getting to know them, for the past ten years. Never once did they mention this to me. Not once. I could feel my blood pressure rising. 

The only question now was: should I drive 100 mph to Tulsa to confront my mother or should I scream at her over the phone. Impatience won out and I hit mom’s speed dial number on my phone.

While the phone was ringing, I turned the air down lower. My mom would swear to anyone that could hear her that speakers in a car were the worst. She always complained that she could hear my AC and that my turn signal was louder than Notre Dame bell tower. 

“Hey Maggie-Poo! What’s up?” My mom answered in an extremely cheery voice. She either made the deal or was still with the people that she was meeting at the Philbrook. She wasn’t normally this cheery before noon. 

I was just going to cut to the chase. “Time in.” I breathed out a huge sigh. 

“Time out. Can’t this wait. I’m walking to my car and I am going with the director to brunch on Brookside and then I will be heading back home. Whatever it is that you are upset about we can talk about then.” 

I knew I should have let her go and have a nice brunch, but something in me couldn’t let it go. 

“No, mom. Time in. Jake has been doing things around the house every week for the past ten years and you never told me.” 

The silence on the other end of the phone was deafening. It felt like eternity before my mom spoke. 

“Honey, you are wrong about him. That night you weren’t the only one hurt and embarrassed.” 

“I assume you are talking about senior prom. What do you mean I wasn’t the only one hurt. Do you remember what he did to me? He humiliated me. Then he ran off with Bridgett, just to show me that he could do better.” The anger was welling inside of me. 

“Margaret, the world does not always revolve around you. I know that you were an only child, but I thought that your dad and I raised you better than to see only yourself.”

“What are you talking about? Just spit it out.” hurt sounding in my voice. 

“Jake was hurt that night, too. Yes, what he did to you was horrible. But what that woman Bridgett did to him was just as bad or worse. I was furious with him as well, for hurting you. But, once your father calmed me down and told me what Jake had in confidence told him. I forgave him. And that is just what you are going to do Margaret. Forgive. That’s the end of the story.” My mom spit out the end the sentence through what I am sure was clenched teeth. She was not happy with me at the moment. 

“Mom…what happened to him?” I suddenly felt my heart pound in my ears. 

“Well, Margaret Turee, you are going to have to ask Jake himself. That is not my story to tell. Now, if you are finished throwing a temper tantrum, I am walking into Breakfast by Day. I’ll text you when I’m on my way home. Love you.” 

She didn’t even wait for my ‘I love you’ response back. She must have been really upset with me. Looking back at my behavior over the past few days I was embarrassed for myself. I couldn’t believe how I acted. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. It was like being back home in Broken Bow had brought out teenage Maggie. I needed to be through with that. 

I went over everything that had happened today, meeting with Tom. This morning, I knew in my gut that he was the killer. The way that he grabbed Bridgett. Their argument. All of that pointed to him being the killer. 

But after my talk with him this morning, I really didn’t believe that it was him. I can normally tell when someone is lying or trying to squirm out of something. Mostly because of my job in Corporate America, lying was second hand nature to people in Oklahoma City. But I believed that Tom really was innocent. 

However, I did learn something new that I didn’t know before. If prom didn’t turn out the way I thought Jake had planned it, then he probably had a grudge against Bridgett. I needed to find out what that grunge was. I knew that he was near the scene of the crime because he was checking bags at the gate. Could he have killed her earlier in the day and put the tape up blocking that hall? 

Why would he kill her now? Ten years later? He has been living in Broken Bow his whole life, he had to have seen her around town and apparently he didn’t blow then. 

I needed to get in touch with him. I needed to know what happened at prom after I was chased out. What did Bridgett do to him? Was it enough to kill for? I needed to know.

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