A Few Days Before Vacation
A big bag filled with clothes, a glass of arsenic over the table, side by side with a glass of water… Nothing new under the sun. Rita was getting tired of doing the same thing over and over again. Was she getting old? She turned to her shy reflection in the dirty mirror. Really, she looked amazing for her age. And with all those expensive skin products it would be impressive if she didn’t.
A phone rings.
“We are here.”
“Bring the body.”
“So, have you made up your mind yet?”, she asked, turning to the chubby middle-aged man sitting on the couch.
“I’m not sure yet… Miranda always said I looked good with the striped one, but the plaid one was a gift from mom…”
Really? If it was between a Lady Gaga Oscar gown and sweaty sport clothes, there would be a reason to be indecisive, but the fifty shades of gray ties looked exactly the same. Spoiled child.
“Look, I understand this is all new to you and that it’s a difficult decision, but we have to follow a schedule here, ok? You have thirty minutes to get inside that car before your wife comes home, and I don’t think we can reschedule our little plan for another time.”
Rita was losing her patience. Another cellphone sound. She sighed.
“Look, I have to check with my men outside. I’ll leave you alone, but you have ten minutes to make your final decision.”
Rita went outside. She needed a cigarette. Why was it becoming more and more difficult? Wasn’t it supposed to get easier with time and experience? Maybe she was losing her way, who knows. Maybe she would have to find another job. One that didn’t involve dead bodies or mentally degraded middle-aged men.
“It’s in the truck”
A deep, but soft voice whispered. That sound gave her chills through her spine. But she had to keep calm, that was part of the job.
“Is it ready?”
“Everything you asked.”
“Great. Put it in the living room. I mean… In the dining room. Sited on a chair.”
Gosh, what was wrong with her today? It looked like it was her first time — which was actually more ten years ago. She would never forget the first time she threw up after seeing her first dead person.
“Oh my god!”, a desperate voice shouted.
Talking about that…
“You said I could be here while you get things done. I didn’t think I would see… That thing.”
“Sorry, Mr. Hancock. My men can be kind of rough sometimes.”
The big walking wardrobe covered the body with the table sheet.
Turning to the wardrobe, “great, Nick. Thanks.”
Several hours later, Rita was at home with her legs up on the couch, thinking about how a wonderful day she head. She remembered how those bodies were costing more and more money every time.
The sound of the TV news filled the room with incomprehensible words. Therefore, one name made her turn her head to the woman in a blue suit and a high school ponytail.
What’s the part of “hiding on a place no one can’t find you” he didn’t understand? Sometimes, the most obvious places are the most difficult to discover, but his mamma’s attic?
She sighed. When did everything started to go so wrong?
“So, Ms…. Page… for how long have you been manipulating dead bodies to fake people’s death?”
“Well, I’m not the one who actually make the bodies, so…”, Rita answered.
“No, you’re just the one who convince innocent people to fake their own deaths.”
“What..? Of course not. I didn’t convince anybody. They are the ones who came to me…”
“I’m sure they do. So who is responsible for the bodies?”
“There’s a company…”
“Ham…”, Rita sighed. “Google.”
The court was all silence, as if everyone forgot how to breathe.
“Google? Really? Are you seriously expecting us to believe that a big company is responsible for collecting dead bodies and reconstructing their faces?”
“Well, they make realistic robots and stuff, don’t they? It’s like making a dead robot, but you already have the corpse — what makes it a lot cheaper…”
“Just to sum up, Ms. Page, you are saying that google, the biggest multinational company in the whole world recreates faces from dead bodies so they look exactly like people who want to fake their own deaths and “disappear”, so realistically they can fool experienced doctors from the police department? Who would want to do that?”
“Oh, you have no idea…”
Three days so far. This judgment system was getting even less efficient than it was seven years ago, when Rita went to trial for the first time. Why don’t they just give the sentence already? She was getting really bored. After a very productive set of amazingly smart questions like “are you sure about that?”, or “do you recall you are under an oath here?”, she decided to go for a coffee at a place nearby. How lucky she felt when she caught a glimpse of her very own prosecutor, sitting on table with a law book in his hands.
“Hey, want a coffee?”, she asked, while walking towards him with two big mugs on her hands.
“Thanks, but no. You shouldn’t have bothered yourself.
“Well, it’s a beautiful sunny day today, don’t you think? When this whole judgement thing is over, I’m gonna take a vacation. Go to Hawaii, or even the Caribbean, I’m not sure yet…”
“Do you really think you’re going to get out of this just like that? I’ll make sure you rotten in jail for the rest of your life, your little…”
“Well… If I’m rotten as you say, then it’s not for the rest of my life, is it?”
“You shouldn’t talk to me like that, I’m not over with this trial yet…”
“Well, if you don’t mind, can you just get this thing over? I’m kind of tired to have to go to the court every fucking day. Besides, I really hate to have to wake up before eleven.”
“I can’t believe you have the courage, considering your situation…”
“Well, nice talking to you. I’m gonna leave your coffee right here in case you change your mind. See you at court.”
Wesley didn’t take his eyes of Rita until she got lost in the crowd. She was a dangerous criminal, and it was his duty to make sure she could never see the sunrise again.
Wesley Simons was a man of his own religion. He woke up every day at five, even on weekends; did his routine workout at the park, even if it was snowing; and went to work. He was never late. Even for those boring family reunions, those you try to deceive yourself saying it’s not going to be that bad this time, but it always is. Even to the movies; he refused to buy popcorn so he could watch all the trailers — he was paying for it. Even to answer the phone, he never let it ring for more than two times — believe me, even in the shower. The only thing he was late for…
“You missed it again.”
“I’m sorry honey, if was a tough day at the court…”
“You don’t get it, do you? Those kids are not gonna stay young forever. There’s not gonna be always a ballet recital or a soccer match. One day they’ll grow older, one day they’ll go to college. What will they remember? A dad that was never present, that they only saw at weekends, if so, and always at his office. When was the last time you even talked to them?”
“Margaret… I’m really sorry.”
“Your dinner is in the freezer. Good night, Wesley.”
A tough day, at court and at home. All he ever wanted was to put those criminals in jail, to keep then away from his children, but at what price?
He sat at the lonely dinner table while he waited for the microwave alarm.
He couldn’t take his mind of Rita. She was so… He could never get to her. It was like she was made of stone, impenetrable. He was still winning, there was no way she wouldn’t pay for her crimes, but even so… He would never get a confession, not even a hint. Nothing. She was exactly the same as in the first day of trial, her composure was impressive.
Wasn’t it supposed to get easier with time and experience? Why did it seen to get more and more difficult?
Silence at the court. The hammer hits the wood three times.
“The jury made its decision. It’s here in my hands. Ms. Page, for the crimes of murdering an uncountable number of people, kidnapping an equal number and transfiguring dead bodies, you are sentenced to 120 years in jail.”
A couple of seconds later, the only thing anyone could hear was the metal sound of handcuffs closing around Rita’s wrists. Wesley was proudly showing a big smile in his face, the feeling of a job well done.
“Stop!”, a deep voice cried from the back of the court.
Everyone looked to the man in uniform running like he was just finishing a marathon.
“What’s it now?”
“I’ve very sorry to interrupt, Your Honor, but we have a new evidence.”
“A new evidence? Why did you had to wait until now?”
“Your Honor, it’s a confession.”
Big silence at the court. The judge didn’t even had to ask for it this time.
“Well, it was really nice to meet you, sir. police officer.”, Rita said to the man behind her. “Mr. Simons, see you in Bahamas!”
Wesley couldn’t hide his expression of astonishment.
“By the way, I really like your tie. That shade of gray suits you.”
Yeah, that’s how life’s supposed to be. Peace, sun and ice-cream. Rita could eat just ice-cream forever. A very small felling of pity ran through her mind as she thought of the man who went to jail in her place. But it soon went away. Whatever, his children would probably have money until the end of their lives.
This thought was substituted by the reminder that on Monday her vacation would be over and she would have to deal with more psychologically disastrous middle-aged man. She soon made sure to put that terrible idea away.