He had always wondered what it would feel like sitting in one of these chairs. The metal felt cold against his skin, despite the jeans that separated them. It certainly wasn’t a comfortable chair, but he supposed that was the point, why they kept them there for hours without resolve, before even considering questioning. It was part of the tactics, part of the breaking down of the walls, while containing them inside walls of their own.
He thought the handcuffs were a tad unnecessary, and they dug into his skin every time he tried to wriggle his wrists into a more relaxed state. The air was tepid and thick, artificial. It entered the room through a grimy vent at the top of one of the walls. The walls were the color of faded limes, same as the floor, like the color of hospital linoleum. That color made him feel queasy in hospitals and it made him feel queasy here, too.
The vent let out a low hum that intermingled with the higher hum of the fluorescent lights, creating a sort of white-noise harmonic. It wasn’t a pleasant harmonic, however, and he felt like all of these factors were calculated for the very purpose of culminating his discomfort.
There was a clock in the room, on the opposite wall to the vent, but he was unsure whether it told the correct time, or if it was correct in its pacing, either. He figured he had sat there, handcuffed, for multiple hours before the lone door clicked and opened abruptly. His elbows were raw from resting on the hard metal table, and his eyes felt the same from staring at his reflection in the one-way mirror.
“Comfortable, John? I brought you some water,” Detective Jones always had it out for John Cardoni, and that fact was written all over his smug fucking grin. He looked as though he was trying to stifle his laughter.
“I know the score, Brad, you know I ain’t drinkin’ that,” John gestured to the cup with his brow, as Detective Jones sat on the corner of the table after placing it in front of him.
“You know that just makes you look more guilty, right?”
“Save the script, Jones. You know I know what we’ve both done to close cases. You recording this, too, right? Bet that won’t make the final cut,” John stabbed at the air in front of him with his hands, “and get these fuckin’ cuffs off me, will you?”
“You’re a person of interest, John, nay, a prime suspect. Why would I uncuff you? You’re deemed dangerous, even when unarmed. Hell, I’m risking my safety just being this clos- this close to you,” he could barely finish the sentence before letting out a spitting, high-pitched laugh.
John narrowed his eyes and pursed his lips, “you fucking bastard, Jonesie, you always had it out for me,” he said with increasing volume while shaking his head, “you won’t pin this on me, I tell ya. You fuckin’ won’t.”
“We got all we need, Cardoni. This is all theatrics and formalities,” he exclaimed with outstretched arms as he circled the table.
“You ain’t got SHIT!” John stood with a vigor that sent the steel chair into the wall behind him. He was playing his own theatrics, just like he’d witnessed every other time he’d been in this very room. It was like walking a tightrope, walking the fine line between letting the truth slip out (at least, the words that could be construed to appear as a confession), and keeping a guise of innocence.
Detective Jones reached into his jacket and produced a plastic zip-lock evidence bag. It contained a twelve-inch, tactical blade. The blade was black steel with a saw-toothed back, and the hilt and handle were gold-plated, aside from the rubber grip, which was also black. It was a seriously nice blade, and John knew it well.
“Now, you know this blade, John,” Detective Jones placed it on the table and tapped it with his index finger, “you know there are only two.”
“We both got awarded one for the Mackenzie case, yeah,” John’s demeanor weakened. His shoulders dropped, as did his face. He knew where this was headed. “I didn’t kill them, Brad. You know I done some stupid shit in my days, but I didn’t kill your girls.”
“We got prints, John. You’re done.”
“How do I know that ain’t your blade?”
“You sayin’ you can’t account for the whereabouts of your own knife, John?” He put his hand into his jacket again and produced an identical knife, unbagged and in a black leather sheath.
John looked at the faded lime linoleum floor, “lawyer.”
“Ah-ha. Are you serious, John?”
“Lawyer,” he looked up from the floor to lock eyes with Brad, “lawyer.”
“You see, there’s a slight problem with that request; we’re not playing that game, John. Oh, no. That’s not how this plays out. Theatrics and formalities, remember? I wanted you to know what it felt like on that side of the table; what it felt like beneath my interrogation. I wanted to hear you confess. . . CONFESS!” saliva sprayed through his teeth as he slammed a hand on the table.
“I told you, John, it ain’t PLAYIN’ that way.” He turned his back and laughed under his breath. “You still think we’re at the station, don’t you?”
The hairs on John’s nape stood up. His skin began to shudder at the thought.
He had buried his blade after he gutted the prostitutes. Perplexed at how Brad could have possibly known where to look, he watched him open the door just enough to reach an arm out and flick a switch. The room suddenly felt much smaller, and much colder. Nauseating white light filled the expanse of a warehouse on the other side of the mirrored window. “What the fuck is this, Jones?”
“Redemption,” he spoke quietly, as he turned around with an expressionless face, stepped forward and thrust his blade into John’s torso.
John felt Brad’s fist hit his diaphragm, almost lifting him off the ground. He felt winded, he felt his lung deflate. His eyes bulged and his mouth called out in silence. It didn’t feel like getting shot, at all, he hardly felt anything but the punch. He was choking on his own blood and disbelief.
“Say hello to my cheating wife, fuckboy,” Brad whispered into John’s ear before letting go of his back and watching him fall off the blade.
John gurgled to the floor and painted the tired lime linoleum a rich maroon.