part v; claiming mystery

there comes a point in one’s life where the questions seem greater than the answers. it’s as if in knowing more, one knows less. that somehow the answer to one thing becomes a question to another, and not just another but another and yet another after another and so it goes on until one is feeling rather uncertain about everything.

laney left jim feeling in such a way .. 

they had met five years ago now. both out on a case, working for different people from different sides, but with similar intentions and similar styles. it was a cliche occurrence .. jim was always confident, and laney was always turned off by this, uncaring of it. but he was persistent and charming, though laney would never admit to it, and as in all things love, something unexplainable just clicked, so one day after their third date, laney realized it .. she was in love.

the next four years together started with the first of flying. it followed the usual trend of setting some high unreachable standard only maintained by chemicals stroking and the blinders of infatuation that grow weary with time and fall away too quickly in their rationale.

they started fighting regularly into the third year. laney often wondered why it was she stayed .. love didn't always make sense. it wasn't a checklist of qualities and yet it also wasn't going to sleep turned separate ways and waking up to an empty bed.

in the end, they both called it. quite begrudgingly. it's not easy to end something like that, let alone step away from most things. she carried her misrepresented romanticism of the relationship coupled with her frustration for staying in something too long with someone that was never going to be what she thought she wanted. he was more smug, only in an attempt to hide his deep set pain. he had loved her unlike any of the ones before, but he wasn't quite developed enough yet to really know what to do with the feelings in his hands. most of us don't.

laney and jim now sat across from each other drinking coffee, looking over their facts and attempting their combined brainstorm so as to discover a next move.

there were fundamental issues to tackle in order to really solve the mystery at hand, and yet it was unlikely they would do so, so they searched for a way in, a way to uncover just enough to get some kind of justice and exposure and not too much that they would be opening doors to worlds they really didn't know how to play in.

a list of names stared back at them on a piece of paper, some photographs, and a timeline that laney had, to her best knowledge, come up with almost to a t.

the first murder had happened three months ago. brutal but covered up well. unfortunate but clearly very calculated. after it, there had been some slight of hand, and the subtle power shift that occurred was now unseating most of the work that people like laney and jim had been doing for the past few years.

the second murder happened three weeks ago. and the third, two days ago. the third was reckless and almost too careless. they were growing more powerful and in their power, they were growing sloppy, thought laney. though an innocent man had been circumstantially tied to the third murder, it was obvious to most with a brain that he was just that, a misfortunate bystander, but if the ones behind it could find any way to hold him responsible, it would dissolve the trail that tied the three together, and they would have just bought themselves enough time to cover it up and file it away so that no one could touch it for a long time coming.

it was uncertain who could be trusted at this point, but laney figured that if she couldn't trust the man she had shared a bed with for four years, then they had already won. and she wasn't about to face that reality any time soon.

"fuck." laney said.

jim looked up and smirked, his eyes tired and his hair now wiry from the way he twirled it when he was thinking too hard.

"we know who it is. but i just don't understand why now and why those victims. they can't be the ones calling the shots. but i just don't know how we get to the ones that are. and how we clean up the trail that has become tainted with more than just the blood of three dead men."

"we're going to have to get in with a different crew if we want some different information."

laney looked up, curious.

"do you still have that gown you wore to that new year's eve ball we went to three years ago? the one for james and his kid, the benefit. and it was black, tight, low back, some sparkling silver things on it."

"i know which one."

"and yes, i still have it."

jim looked at his watch.

"meet me at grand and central in two hours. with that dress on."

he got up and left, the notes and photographs still on the table. and laney there, going over a million things in her head, until one thought became clear: you are not to go there again.

she settled the bill and left, back to her apartment to shower and become someone else for the next few hours, someone that would attract the attention of those who might take a second glance at a pretty innocent woman, simply wanting to ask big successful men about their conquests and perhaps become one of them, or so she would have them believe.

the games weren't always fun to play. in fact, they hardly ever were. but if you knew the game well enough, you at least had a chance of winning. and if she was going to play properly, she’d need to make a quick stop along the way.

Copyright 2019 ⓒ / Forrest Gallagher