Within a week the covert operation was in full swing. I rarely came across detective that made that much effort, perhaps they knew that Gerald was innocent as much as I did. As I started becoming a regular at the bar I told everyone that my name was Jacob (first pseudonym that I could think of.) Pierre worked until seven on weekdays then until eleven on weekends. Before I knew it, Pierre was sneaking drinks back to my flat after his shifts and we’d finish them. I liked the guy. He didn’t take things too serious, I wasn’t used to a presence like that.
Time kept passing, and he wasn’t saying anything that took the case anywhere. I asked Detective Scofield whether I could take my microphones off now, there seemed to be no point in them.
“A bit longer,” he replied.
And it’s a good job.
I got to the bar just after eleven one Saturday. I sometimes met Pierre when he finished, had a drink on the house there and then we would head to another bar. When I got inside, only Jack was bartending.
“Where’s Pierre?” I asked, “I thought he was working tonight?”
“He got told to leave early, started getting mouthy with the customers,” he shook his head as he explained. I left, as I got to the side of the bar I heard heavy breathing and a smash. I looked to my right, and down the alley at the side of the bar, was Pierre.
“Pierre! What are you doing?” I walked towards him, his phone was on the floor, I picked it up on my way over. The cracks looked like a spider’s web.
“They let you down every time,” he began, a fierce tone in his voice. “What are they afraid of?” He wasn’t making any sense, clearly worked up about something from work.
“Women!” He snapped. “Promises after promises, for what? For them to back out?” Now, this was getting interesting.
After much persuasion, we got a taxi back to his apartment. He calmed down, we seated on the couch. I peered around the small room, the walls were empty white, the only form of decoration was a plant in the corner. Very basic.
“What’s this about a woman you were talking about?” I started.
“This girl I’ve been texting, I like her. Wanted her to come by the bar tonight, for us to meet up, you would have met her too. She seemed dead keen for it, then backed out saying she didn’t feel well,” he looked at me, I didn’t know how to respond, if she wasn’t well then she wasn’t well. “It’s just, ever since I was a kid women have let me down.”
“What happened when you were young?”
“My Mum was off the rails. She got done many times for assaulting the men she was with over anything, I never felt sorry for them, I felt sorry for me being raised by her. Then one day she went too far.”
“She killed him, the last boyfriend, then off to prison she went. One thing she taught me though was to always look out for myself. Certainly had to do that whilst growing up.” No parents are perfect, no family for that matter. But you see it all the time, if kids don’t have someone to look out for them they lose it all, I started to feel sorry for Pierre. “What about you, you ever had a girlfriend?” He asked me.
“Oh, no. With my job there’s just no time.”
“Can’t believe I don’t even know this, what is it you do?” He questioned. Alarm bells went off internally. I couldn’t tell him I’m a lawyer could I? What if he did do it, a murderer does not tell a lawyer what they’ve done. There was no way I could be truthful here.
“Taxi driver.” Taxi driver? Really? “Besides, not many women seem to take interest in me.” That part wasn’t a lie. I’ve been on many dates, only one resulted in a relationship. And as you can gather that didn’t exactly work out.
He laughed, “I know what you mean, I recently fell proper hard. I’m not a guy of that type, but straight away there was a click with this woman. We planned to be together, she bailed.” Was he talking about Josie?
“What was the click?”
“Well she walked into the bar, there was immediate attraction- she was good looking and I’m a male- what more is there to it? Anyway, she was saying how she was dying for a drink and she needed one right there and then. She was funny, and I liked how she was a big drinker, like myself. So I gave her a bottle of wine for free since it was the first time I saw her there. And she kept coming back, except with this girl I couldn’t help but keep giving her the free bottles. I didn’t care if I got caught- I was hooked on her. I was like a moth to a flame, but you know what happens when you combine flames with alcohol Jacob- it all explodes in your face. And that’s exactly what happened.”
I felt for my microphone, ensuring it could pick this up. He was definitely talking about Josie now. I just had to find out now if he was the killer, but how do you get someone to confess something like that? I’m a lawyer not an actor, or a taxi driver!
I asked him what happened, “You know, half-hearted promises,” was his reply, hardly a confession. I didn’t know what to do, what if I desperately reached for a confession when this guy wasn’t even the killer? I needed a time out. I told him I needed to book a taxi home- any excuse to get me out of there. “Have you not got your own?” He laughed, pointing at me. I fake laughed and pointed back at him. This was a new low for me.
Once I was out of the flat I rang the Detective and explained, briefly, what was happening.
“Just say you always hear crazy stories when you’re driving about, you know, people threatening their girlfriends, and how one said he killed a woman.” Was he serious?
“Are you serious?” He was so nonchalant, meanwhile I was on the verge of a breakdown.
“Think about it Ritter, the guys your friend, he thinks you’re a taxi driver. If he thinks people confess things like that to you and you laugh it off each time, he’ll think you’ll do the same with him.” I paused. “You’ve gone quiet because you know I’m right and not you for once,” he sneered. It did pain me to admit it, I could see his bizarre point.
“Alright,” I replied. Then hung up before he could boast more.
When I went back in, at first I thought he was asleep, and I was going to kick myself for getting so close to the something I’d been looking for since the start. However, when light shone through the window against his face, I saw that he was crying.
“You really loved this girl didn’t you?” I said, attempting to get the previous conversation back up and running. He nodded. “Then why didn’t it work out?”
“She was someone else’s. I don’t want to talk about it.”
There it was, I lost my chance. I needed a drink. Luckily he had some beers in his fridge and we drank for a few hours, maybe he hadn’t ate all day because he was acting a bit drunk. He spoke about his job, I guess that’s all that he had going for him.
“So funny the amount of women that come in thinking they’re something special,” he began, he often spoke about women as well.
“Yeah, you hear all sorts in taxi’s driving people about,” I didn’t even plan for that to come out, yet I said it so robotically I’m surprised he didn’t call me out. I saw my opportunity, “Always hear the men going about how they’ve hurt their women, the whole “hurt people hurt people” talk, the women apparently bring it on themselves,” I didn’t know how to continue, I felt sick just saying it. But I needed the answers.
He turned to me and looked me in the eye.
“Really?” A smile crept upon his face.
“Yeah, I find it fascinating,” I replied. He paused, laughed slightly and finished his can of beer. Come on, time was getting on, he would have called it a night soon.
“Well, how about this-“
“You’re in a taxi-“
“And this geezer is in the passenger seat, going on about how he loves this woman, devoted to her. Mind, body and soul and all that. She’s going to meet you after work and run off with him, the guys excited, he has hope for the first time in his life. But, she’s married. You know you’ve been doing the dirty and it’s not fair on the other guy, but you don’t care because really she’s yours. You’ve been seeing each other behind his back for ages, sending flowers and that. She even had a separate phone to contact me from so he wouldn’t know,” he laughs sinisterly.
Was this a confession? I noticed how he spoke about the passenger in 3rd person, like they weren’t relevant. Then when it got more personal to his feelings, he spoke in 2nd person, with personal pronouns like “you,” he’s speaking to himself now. I’m watching his monologue.
He continues, “But she doesn’t turn up. And you’re sick of getting let down, you’re not having it anymore, from these women. So you go to her house, she always told you the spare key is kept under the plant pot, so you let yourself in. The first thing you see is her useless husband sleepwalking- not a problem though- just walk past.”
My blood was beginning to boil. And all I could do was feel it for now.
“You go up the stairs and there she is all tucked up in her and her husband’s bed. But, what’s that poking out from under his pillow? The guys only got a gun himself. Like he was expecting me. Hardly fair play since I turned up empty handed. But you know what-“
My skin began to crawl simply at the fact that I was sat before this person. My skin wasn’t just crawling at what he was saying, it’s what he’s experienced that brought him to this.
“- if I weren’t having her, he wasn’t either.”
“I, you?” I interjected, now this was becoming an official confession. I had a feeling it was too soon for me to interrupt.
“She’s dead now,” he muttered. It wasn’t enough. I needed him fully admitting to it.
“Was it you?” I asked, he paused, eyes fixed on me. Then nodded. There it was. For me anyway, the microphone wouldn’t have picked that up, I needed him to say it.
“You killed her?” I confirmed, but he nodded again. I needed to make him rant, make him fully express how it felt, but without risking my own life at the same time. I stood, so that if things got aggressive I could get gone quicker. “With her husband’s gun?”
“It was there, I saw my chance. The guy was sleepwalking so didn’t see anything. No witnesses. The perfect crime.”
That would have been enough, but I wanted more. Now that I’ve come this far, I didn’t want a half-hearted confession.
“Who was she?” I asked. I manoeuvred the microphone to make it more exposed. Pierre smiled, exaggeratedly, and turned to me.
He looked down to what I was holding, he stared right at the microphone. It then dropped from my blazer. He shot from his seat and I desperately reached for the microphone and stumbled out of the room with him hot on my heels.
“I’ll kill you!” He shouted, he grabbed my blazer as I made my way to the stairs, the material ripped and the force made me lose my footing, I toppled to the bottom but the adrenaline helped ignore the pain in my ribs and kept me moving. After five minutes of nonstop sprinting I looked behind me, empty besides the dots forming from my light-headedness. However, the atmosphere was still eerie. I rang the Detective and I was still desperate for breath by the time he picked me up.