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23. "puffed up with pride"

by Cyrus Calamba 6 months ago in Series
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Section Scarlet's Pulseless Heart

23. "puffed up with pride"
Photo by Zetong Li on Unsplash

"Is something wrong, sir?"

I twiddled my thumbs in the passenger seat of his police car, where he had led me to in the middle of night, the only source of light the one above our heads. The clashing at my tips didn't produce any amount of sound, but it felt like I could hear every time they clashed in the back of my head.

Was it my pulse climbing up the base of my neck? The pulse that Ryan is said to no longer have? Was that a sign of luck that I was alive or a sign that would make him think I was guilty?

"No, no. Nothing's wrong, Mister Lexoni. You can relax. You're not in trouble," Dela Cruz reassured me, and automatically, my shoulders fell back to their normal spot when I didn't realize that they were tensed up. He didn't see it -- at least I don't think he did -- because he was busy grabbing a file from the pocket of his side door.

"I actually have good news for you in regards to the case. We have good reason to believe that we found our primary suspect, and we would agree it'd be a murder charge as you've been telling us. The problem is, to officially charge her, because there's no body, we'd need her confession, and my team has agreed that it would be safest if you were the one who helped us with that."

I bit my tongue hard how you would pinch yourself to clarify that it wasn't a dream. After Nova and Jared mentioning that their conversation would become a nightmare part of my sleep, I had to. Unexpectedly, I could taste the copper-y metallic taste swarm in my mouth, mixing in with my saliva, and I knew it was real.

"Her?" I repeated the term he used for clarification.

He nodded. "Yes, her. We believe it's Miss Jayvee Payawal who is responsible for the crime, but don't mention that to anyone else yet, you hear? We'll know more about it tomorrow."

"No, of course not. I won't," I promised him, though it's not the main thing I was thinking about. My stomach churned. These are the exact words I was expecting to hear, but when I heard them, it lit my ears on fire. "But why her? How do you know it's her?"

"I'll have all five of you at the station tomorrow to talk about it," he said, skipping the question. "But for now, like I was saying, I need your help. That's what we need to discuss."

"Why me?" I tilted my head slightly. I wasn't understanding where he was coming from.

"I could be wrong, but it looks to me that every single person in the group had some kind of connection to the initial love triangle we were looking into, which could mean that technically everyone had a motive. You weren't part of any of that though, I realized. Is that right to assume?"

I nodded. "Yes, sir."

"Is there a reason for that Mister Lexoni? Did you not have interest in Miss Payawal or Miss Lim at any point of time?"

My cheeks went red. Describing my love life was never fun.

"No sir. They're both nice people as far as I knew them the last five years, but I went through a break up with someone outside of the group and I haven't been ready for a relationship since then," I answered. It was a lie, but I didn't want him asking any further questions about it. I just didn't have feelings for either one of them -- it wasn't any deeper than that, but some people don't believe things so simply unless they hear a reason.

"Understandable. I'm sorry about that, but it also makes you perfect to serve to our assistance and get to the bottom of this." It seemed my white lie did a bit of good. He believed it. "You mentioned that you've known Jayvee for the last five years like the others. Can you tell me about her? How would you describe her?"

I folded my lips into a thin line. I didn't know what he was looking for.

He noticed.

"What I mean is, would you say for example, she's more of a narcissist or an empath? Knowing things like this could help us play to those attributes, and it'll allow us to move her to confess by putting up a story that makes it slip out before she realizes what she's said. We might have to move her to anger or make her feel guilty enough that she feels like she has to. So, what kind of person would you say she is?"

I had no choice but to think of the way I viewed her for the last five years. It was surely never as a murderer, but as we've always known, she's a born-leader. I've never seen the girl cry until recently, and her goal in life was to walk every step with people relying on her. She liked to be praised and she liked to be known as the best. She wanted to make sure every one knew that she came to this world for a reason, and that she was going to make a difference. She had an extremely dominant personality, and people tend to listen to her whether what she said to do was wrong or right. She's the kind of person who easily moved you to action.

I struggled a while to put that into words, but I made the attempt. I'd give everything the officer asks for. I didn't have the social skills to divert away from what he wanted, and because there's some things about Jayvee I was already so suspicious about, I didn't feel that bad.

"She likes admiration. When she told you to do something, she knew how to make you do it if it's what she wanted you to do. She could present it in a light that made it look like it's what is supposed to be done, even if it could effect us badly. Of every member in the group, she was honestly the one I had the hardest to get to know because she presented herself so much higher than everyone else and sometimes she'd overstep boundaries. It all worked out eventually, but it took some extra time. She fought and accused a lot with the others, especially Nova, and when she did well at something, she always let us know. She flaunted her successes."

I stopped for a moment. I felt wrong to drag her despite her being the number one suspect for a murder charge -- it felt like she made such a big impact on our lives, and that I shouldn't be throwing her under the bus for that, but I couldn't deny Jayvee had both flaws and strengths. Lucky for me, I didn't have to go on. My listener was content with where I paused.

"Classic narcissist," Dela Cruz said, as if he should've expected it out of her from their small interactions. "Usually how we handle a narcissist is we praise them for their achievement. In most cases, just because we praise them they aren't quick to confess, so from there, we either praise somebody else for what they've done or we tune in a story of another person that catches them off guard. It's in their behavior -- they can't let someone else take credit for something they did when they're cornered like that."

"So what does that mean for me?"

"I guess this is a warning for what I'm going to make of tomorrow. I'd like you to be prepared to be accused of the murder. It won't be real -- it's just an illusion that will make Miss Payawal to take a step forward and confess what we've been trying to dig up all along. You can take credit for it or you can choose not to, but whatever you decided to do, have a story, a lie, some work of fiction, that can carry what you're claiming. We want it to look as realistic as possible. You know her far better than I do. If there's a subject that you can bring up that will move her to confess, please use it, by all means. Do you understand what we'll be doing?"

"I understand, sir," I responded. The doors of his car unlocked, and I took that as my gateway to being excused. Leaning down to see his face after I stepped out, I bid my goodbyes with a promise. "I'll do the very best I can tomorrow. Thank you so much for speaking with me."

Walking away, back toward my room I already knew exactly what I was going to say, except it wasn't a lie at all.

Because of the truth that I'll tell underneath the covers of expected fakes, -- the only way where I would be comfortable saying it -- she's going to confess.

I know she is.

I know she is because I know her.

The thing about it is, it goes against everything the officer wanted from me.

Series

About the author

Cyrus Calamba

writing attempt-er + mystery/thriller enthusiast

that pretty much sums up my entire life

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