Questions, Answers; Answers, Questions

If you want the straight story, you better get your story straight.

What's the difference, you ask? In the Gutter, brother, it's the difference between walking and doing 25 to Life....

Questions, Answers; Answers, Questions by Hector Duarte, Jr.

“You didn’t go anywhere else tonight? Just here?”

Where do you go after suffocating the life out of someone? I didn’t know eyes could roll back that far. What if he’s found? Good, then maybe everyone will see….

“You said he stood up after you punched him?”

That’s what I said. He wouldn’t have been able to handle it if I hadn’t drugged him first. I wish Evelyn had seen the pathetic look on his face before he passed out. How he pissed and shit himself when my hands tightened around his neck until my thumb pressed so far down I swear I felt his windpipe. If you idiots ever find him, there won’t be much to look at.

“Then you drove away and he stumbled in the direction of the woods?”

I can tell when someone doesn’t believe me by looking at their eyebrows. This guy’s right one does a quick jump, just like Evelyn when I told her I was meeting with Camilo to make amends. She smiled and said she hoped we could put this behind us. That kind of makes her an accessory, right?

What was so great about him anyway? We double dated at prom, went to Grad Bash, took pictures together holding our diplomas, and no more than two months later he up and goes to Gainesville, moves in on my chick. The same one he saw me cry over after she said the long distance thing wouldn’t work. Well, here I am, Evelyn: surprise, surprise. What the fuck kind of sick, twisted asshole doesn’t even let a semester pass before weaseling in like that? It’s a crime of passion. Something’ll work out; something has to work out for me.

“Your story changes every fifteen minutes.”

No shit. It’s been hours and they keep trying to get something. Nothing they learn will change the fact Camilo is sixty miles away face down in lime rock, so I’ll just keep changing the story—this third version’s a good one.

The fifth guy I’ve seen tonight: a detective trying to look all proper in his long sleeve button down, badge hanging from the side of his belt like he’s Hank Schrader. Who the fuck wears long sleeves in this swampy-ass humidity? I can’t take much more of this question-answer bullshit. They’re insulting my intelligence. This “detective” has freckles dotted across his nose like a fucking paperboy.

Camilo left his book bag in my room when he came over. Yes, he was with me at Best Buy. Yes, we got into an argument. No, I didn’t hit him inside the car. Yes, he stormed out of the car. Yes, that was when I punched him and left him on the side of the road. Yes, there was a wooded area nearby; after all, this is Gainesville, Sherlock. Yes, it’s possible he stumbled into the woods. No, I don’t have reason to think he might be in danger. I like to drive, so no, eighty miles doesn’t seem like a lot to cover over one night in Gainesville.

When the sixth guy walks in, it’s all I can take.

“Ask me one more question and I swear to God you’ll find me hanged around a bed sheet tomorrow morning,” I say.

That’ll buy me seventy-two hours. Good luck finding anything.

Hector Duarte Jr. is a high school English/ELL teacher who pretends his real job is writing, which is why he slings his pieces like a Canal Street vendor. His work has appeared in Sliver of Stone and Flash: the International Short Story Magazine.