Sunday Serial: Giving up the Ghost chapter twenty-six

Chapter 26: The chapter wherein lays out her suspicions and realizes that Officer Kyle is not the ally she’d hoped for.

Outside, we all sat on the porch steps.  HP sat on the step below me, and Jenny sat next to me. Kyle sat on the bottom step, as far from me as he could get. I debated for a second, should I start by bringing up the issues with him? Or would that just slow everything down? If I just told them everything that I learned that would show him I still trusted him, right? But did I trust him?

I looked at him and at Jenny, and then back at the bruises on my wrists. What would Dee think of that? Would she want me to keep trusting him – after all, it was her letter that told me to trust his family.    

I took a deep breath, and I told them everything that my mother had said, and I told them about my concerns about Kate and my reasons for her not being guilty.   

Jenny listened and nodded at each of the points I’d made.  Kyle kept his head down and held his hands tightly in his lap.       

I looked at Kyle, “Kyle this is your area of expertise, and at this point, I feel like a character in a sitcom adding up all kinds of circumstantial facts that will lead to a hilarious misunderstanding.”

Kyle’s lips twisted in a small smile, “I think you’ve got strong facts either way.” He still wouldn’t look at me, “And you’re right, both sets of facts could apply to her.”  He grew silent.

“So, what’s our next move?” I asked him.

He finally pulled his eyes up to meet mine, “You still trust me?”

I could see the pain in his eyes, but I still hesitated – I wasn’t sure but I answered, “Yes.”

“Are you sure?”

I shook my head, “I’m as sure as I can be.”

I felt Jenny shift around to face both of us, “So we’re all good again?”

I nodded and waited for Kyle’s response.

Jenny shot him a look, and I had to assume it had something to do with whatever they’d talked about.

Kyle finally nodded, “Hero, I want us to talk later, like really talk. But for now, we’ve got to work this out.”

Jenny shook her head at both of us, “Excellent, now can I point out the facts you both missed?”

Kyle and I waited to hear what she had to say, but I left my hand resting on his shoulder.

“First,” Jenny held up one finger, “Vic is sure there were no hecate around when got hired.”

I broke in, “How would he know that?  He doesn’t even know who hired him?”

Jenny smiled, “He doesn’t remember their faces, but he remembers talking to a guy and only one guy.”

Kyle frowned, “How’d you get him to remember?”

Jenny leaned back on the step, “It’s part of what sirens can do.  We, or at least I, can help people remember emotional events.  Kind of re-live them.”

That was news to me and based on Kyle’s surprise news to him too. 

“So, he knows it was a guy,” I interrupted, “Could it have been Constatine?”

Jenny shrugged, “He doesn’t know, and trust me I asked him after I sent Constantine and Kate to make lunch.”  She held up her hands in defeat, “I can’t be sure, but as far as we know, he’s been in New York this whole time.  Did he seem surprised when you called him?”

I thought back to the phone call I made to him. I’d left him a message about Dee, and he’d called me back, so he’d had time to think about the information.  “I don’t know. I’d left him a message. He seemed like he wanted to help.”  I let my words trail off, remembering how off I’d felt about him on the phone. Like he was trying too hard to get him to trust him.

Jenny prodded me to continue, “But?”

I shrugged and frowned, “I don’t know.  He seems nice enough now that I’ve met him, but on the phone, he seemed, um smarmy.”

“Smarmy?” Kyle questioned, “Like how?”

I shook my head, the feeling I’d gotten seemed to get more elusive. “I don’t know.  Like, you know that kid in school, the one who’s always acting all sweet and polite, but is actually the biggest troublemaker when the teacher turns around? The one that everyone’s parents think is such a great kid, but that’s the kid who has the best drugs and booze?” I glanced at both Jenny and Kyle to see if they were following my weak comparison, “It seemed like that, kind of.”

“I think the word you want is ‘disingenuous,’” Jenny said. 

I blinked at her, “Yeah, I guess so.”  I ran my hands through my hair, “But, he seems nice enough in person.” I paused, suddenly afraid of how Kyle would react to me defending Constantine. “And HP seemed ok with him,” I finished.

He was staring across the street, “Other than Hero’s feelings about him, we don’t have any evidence to link him to anything.”  His voice was tight, “Besides, whoever is controlling Garcia, would have to be local.”

“Huh?”

Kyle turned back to us, “Whoever is out there is still controlling Garcia. He hasn’t reported back to duty, and no one has heard from him. “I can put in a few calls and find out if Constantine did just fly in from New York. But there’s no way he could have controlled anyone from so far away.”

“Oh,” I frowned, wanting to say something more than a monosyllable. “Um, so you don’t think it was him?”

Kyle shrugged, “If it was, he’s not working alone. Someone local has to be controlling Garcia.” Kyle’s eyes drifted toward the house.

Jenny followed his eyes, “And you think that someone could be Kate?”

Kyle nodded, “Maybe, but that doesn’t explain who hired Vic.” He looked at both of us, “That would require a third man, and that guy would have to be a circe.”

I swallowed, “Would two hecate and a circe,” I paused suddenly struck by how ridiculous that sounded like it was leading up to a “walked into a bar” joke.  “Um, would they have been able to kill Dee?”

Kyle’s face grew grim, “Yes. After what I experienced of Constantine’s power, yes he could.”

I felt myself grow pale and I felt sick. Had I invited Dee’s killers into her house?  Was I letting them make lunch for us all? I wrapped my arms around my stomach.  HP stood up and laid his head in my lap.

“Hero,” Kyle said quietly, “It’s still all circumstantial. You said it yourself, we could be adding up facts and coincidences that mean nothing.”

I looked at him in disbelief, “Do you think it’s all coincidence?”

He shook his head, “I don’t know, but I know that I want real evidence before I accuse them of anything. And before I” He paused, “have to sentence them.”  He met my eyes, “Don’t forget that’s part of my job too. If they did this, I have to take them out.”

I nodded weakly, still feeling sick.  “So, what do we do now? Do we trust them?”

Jenny broke in, “I think we keep them around and watch them. See who they talk to at the funeral and see how they react to us.  And maybe, we let it slip that you know where the Gate is.”

I stared at her, “But I don’t know where it is.”

Jenny smiled, “No one else knows that.  You can spend a little time in Dee’s office and pretend you found it, or tell them that your mother told you, or something.”

Kyle frowned at her, “That’s a dangerous move. It may force their hand, but it also puts Hero at risk. And it is still assuming that is what the killer wants in the first place.”

“Jenny,” I said, “Kyle’s right. Not about the putting me at risk part, but about assuming it’s what the killer wanted. We’ve all been assuming that. What if he or she is looking for something else?  Dee might have had all sorts of powerful knowledge and stuff.” I hated realizing it so late, but we’d all been working on that assumption. What if the killer did want something else? It didn’t help the case against Kate at all. If she wasn’t looking for the Gate, then her knowing I didn’t have it didn’t matter. I laid my head in my hands, “I hate mysteries.” I groaned to them.

Kyle smiled, “Then it’s a good thing you have me.”

Jenny still seemed to be considering the Gate as a red herring scenario.  She stood up, “I’m going to check on our guests and talk to Vic some more. Maybe I did miss something.”  She stood over us a moment, “You two talk. You’ve got to work this out before the funeral.”  With that, she turned and walked into the house.

We sat in awkward silence. Kyle still not looking at me, and me having no idea what to say.  Could I just say that I forgave him and move on?  Did I forgive him?  Was I ok with accepting the “it’s his nature” argument? And what if he did this again? I didn’t want to end up like Vic, some mind-slave to anyone. 

“Hero, I’m pretty sure that sorry isn’t going to fix this,” Kyle said quietly. “But I am sorry. I don’t know what happened.”

I didn’t know what to say. He sounded sad, he sounded sorry, but I hated to admit it, I was still afraid of him. “I… Kyle, I don’t know what to say.” I managed to reply.

“I don’t expect you to forgive me. I lost control. I was going to hurt you.” His words were flat. “I can’t ask you to forgive that.”

I thought about what my mother had said, about dangerous men. And I thought about calling her mom for the first time. I’d really hated her for leaving me and for dying. Did I want to hate Kyle forever too?  Did I want to be angry and mistrustful of everyone? I ran my hands through my hair and looked at HP. He raised his puppy eyes at me, but it wasn’t much help. He wagged his tail and stood up. He went and sat next to Kyle, and shoved his head under Kyle’s hands.

I watched Kyle’s surprise at HP’s actions. He rubbed the dog between his ears.

“Kyle, I don’t know what to say and I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how I feel about what happened.” I shook my head, “But I know that I need your help.”

His lips twisted into a tired smile.  “You have my help.  No matter what, I’ll help you figure out who killed Dee, and I’ll take care of them.”

It made me shiver to hear him say that.  When he’d told me that he’d kill her murderer, it hadn’t felt real.  Now, I had a much better idea of what he could do, and I almost felt sorry for the murderer. Almost.  “Look, all the rest of it.  You and me, that I don’t know about.  That’s going to take some time.”  I hated saying it, I hated seeing his face fall.  But I had to tell him the truth.  I didn’t know if I could start any sort of relationship with him, not anymore.

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