Black Iris: Chapter Thirty-Two

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CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO

Tammy was the one person that didn’t tell me how I should feel about killing myself. She had her own strange perspective on mortality and I’m sad I won’t get the chance to know her better. Of course, I’ll be even sadder if I’m implicated in her death.

An hour goes by with no word from Annette. I’m alternating between peeking through my blinds and nervously batting around a balled-up piece of newsprint. There’s no telling who might come after me — maybe the cops, maybe the feds, maybe the press.

I can hear the blaring siren of every cruiser within a 60-mile radius. My ears track each one, pivoting towards the ones heading in my direction. My body tenses as one zips down my street. Fortunately, it passes my building, but what about the next one?

I keep telling myself that I’ve done nothing wrong. Sure, we consumed some substances of questionable legality last night, but it wasn’t my stuff. The sex was consensual if not spectacular, and my claws never pierced her skin. An autopsy would surely exonerate me.

But I can’t count on that. The Kibble PD has never been on my side, even in the good old days when it wasn’t a part of an evil conspiracy.

Finally, at 1:43 p.m., more than three hours after I fled Tammy’s place, Annette calls.

“How did it go?” I ask.

“I won’t burden you with the details, but let’s just say it’s been taken care of.”

“So, you didn’t tell the police I was with her?”

“I didn’t see the point. Unless… there’s something you’re not telling me.”

“What do you mean?”

“You didn’t hurt her, did you?”

“What? No! Of course not.”

“I just know that sometimes when people are on drugs, they do things they can’t take back.”

“Trust me. I woke up this morning, and she was dead.”

“I believe you. I just needed to hear you say it. With that in mind, there are some things you should know. The cause of death has been determined to be a heart attack due to a congenital heart defect.”

“Uh… ok.”

“Most of what took me so long getting back to you was trying to track down her next of kin. Both of her parents died when she was a child. She was in and out of foster homes for several years before moving in with her aunt when she was in high school. I haven’t come across anyone who knows her actual medical history if you get what I mean.”

“Right.”

“Now, it goes without saying, you can’t tell anyone about this. Not your friends, not your parents, not even your dog.”

“Too late. My dog already knows.”

There’s a heavy beat of silence. “This is serious, Snowball. You have to keep a lid on this.”

“I know, I know. Sorry.” The thing is, I wasn’t kidding. I had to tell someone.

At this point, it’s hard to predict how interested the media is going to be in this. Our cover story is tragic but not scandalous or suspicious. Still, you never know when they’re going to get a hold of something. I’ll do my best to handle them, but just in case, I suggest you lay low for a few days. Stay inside, don’t answer calls or respond to texts from numbers you don’t recognize, don’t answer the door for strangers. At the same time, don’t ignore friends and family. You don’t want them worrying or getting suspicious. Does that make sense?”

“Got it.”

“Ok, I think that covers everything. Call me if you have any concerns.”

Annette is a politician. There must be an angle. There must be a reason she’s willing to help me.

“One more thing. Why not tell the media about the drug overdose?”

“First of all, it really was a heart attack that killed her. I just happen to think it’s nobody’s business what caused the heart attack. This way, she gets to rest in peace with dignity.”

“Come on, Annette. Level with me here.”

She sighs. “My administration has worked very hard to enact certain societal changes. It’s been our mission to clean up the streets, and we’ve done so by cracking down on organized crime, prostitution, and drug trafficking. This may sound callous, but… the fact is, this isn’t a good look for us.”

That’s cold, even for a politician. And now I see how keeping my name out of it further protects her narrative, given my reputation. Given the negative stories, the Phantom has written about me. Given my affiliation with a certain non-Christian religion. I suppose if pressed, Annette would say it wasn’t about her own image, but the stability of the city. In any case, I’m in no position to push her on the issue.

“Thank you for taking care of this,” I say. “Let me know if there’s anything I need to do.”

“We’ll be in touch.”

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Ryan Klemek

Ryan Klemek

I write dinosaur erotica and mysteries featuring horny cat people. I also do the book cover illustrations. Sometimes I write reviews for movies that don’t exist