Tricks of the Mind

They are talking to me, but I don’t know what they are saying. I can see their lips moving, but they sound like the adults from the Charlie Brown show I watched as a kid. I am annoyed by their attempts at communication so I look down at my irritated wrists. I don’t know why they think I need handcuffs. I am not a threat to anyone. The redness of my wrists remind me of when I first started wearing a wedding ring. My index finger was red for weeks and my middle and pinky fingers were rubbed raw. I kind of liked it though; it reminded me that love wasn’t always white gold and diamonds.

“Are you listening?” says the detective to my left as his voice finally broke through to me. “This is serious.”

As I look up at him I catch my reflection in the mirror. I look fine. Maybe a little sleep deprived and I need a haircut, but for the most part I look like my normal self, not someone who needs restraint. Isn’t it funny how in a time of crisis we think of things like haircuts? I make a mental note to stop by a barber shop on my way home.

I realize the detectives, or whatever they are, have stopped talking and are just staring at me like they are waiting for an answer. I have no idea what response they want from me, so I ask when I can go home.

“Sir, where were you last night from midnight to around three a.m.?” says the one on the right. Her mousy voice gives me a headache. She reminds me of a woman I used to work with. I instantly put her into the kill category. Haven’t you played that game? Out of these three women, who would you bone, date, or kill?

“I already told you, I don’t remember. I was at The Office having a few beers, walked home to my apartment, about seven blocks, and then I woke up on the park bench where you found me this morning. So, I was either in bed, on my way to that park bench, or on that park bench.”

The mousy woman decides to open her mouth again. “You were drinking at the office.”

I don’t answer because this sounds to me like a statement and not a question. Plus, I don’t like her.

 “Sir, answer the question.”

“First off, you know my name. Or at least I would hope you do since you arrested me under the suspicion of murder. And second, The Office is a bar. Not that you would know. It looks like you haven’t had fun in years.”

She looks offended but it shuts her up and I am pleased. They tell me they will be right back, and leave the room.

I am left alone with handcuffs and mirror. I rub my wrists on my legs to wiggle the handcuffs around to try and create some relief. I wonder if I were to wear a wedding ring again if my fingers would have to start all over to get accustomed to it. And then I laugh out loud because if God were real, he would know that’s never happening.

I know what you are thinking. But I am not a murderer. I’m just an asshole.

I look back up at the mirror and this time I see something completely different. I see my hangover starting to settle in. My eyes have bags around them. My face is red. Is it because it’s hot in this room or is that what all the tiny broken blood vessels on my nose and cheeks looks like from far away? I don’t know, and I don’t really care. I’m still a good-looking guy. I just really need that haircut.

I realize there are probably people on the other side of the mirror looking at me and talking about me. But I don’t give that thought more than a second. I just keep staring at myself. I start to feel funny. I must be sober. What time is it? I need a drink.

“I am not an alcoholic,” I say in my head. Or maybe I say it out loud. I don’t know.

The two detectives walk back into the room, but this time with files in their hands. The guy detective opens the folder as he sits down and there are pictures of a woman. She has long blonde hair like my ex-wife, Lisa, but they tell me her name is Kate. She probably had a nice body, but it’s covered in blood. This doesn’t faze me. I work in a beef slaughter house. I see blood all the time.

“Do you know this woman?” he asks me. “Do you recognize her?”

“Well it’s a little hard to tell, but I think I would remember that ass. So, no.”

The woman detective shakes her head in disgust and it’s another point for me.

Hours later, I have been asked a million questions. My back hurts. My head hurts. I am hungover, hungry and really wanting a drink. This is the longest I’ve gone in months. Just a phase I’m going through.

I am left alone again but this time the photos of the woman accompany me, the handcuffs, and the mirror. I make two fists and set them on top of the photos to slide them over closer. I start to look at them longer and realize just how much this woman looks like Lisa. At this point I am sleep deprived and have a gut bomb from the burger they fed me. I just want to go home and maybe call Lisa. She never answers but I like to leave her voicemails. I am sure she likes them too. I know she misses me.

I look back into the mirror and the sight shocks me. How long have I been here? I look terrible. I notice I have blood all over my shirt. Do I have a bloody nose? How in the hell did blood get there?

I look like my father. I am devastated by this thought. My father was an awful man.

“Am I becoming my father?” I am pretty sure I say this out loud, but this time I care. I am suddenly feeling insecure. Not a feeling I am used to. It’s as if my world is crumbling. Why haven’t they let me go yet? Being passed out drunk on a park bench is a small offense, I am sure, and that is all that I have done wrong.

I look back down at the handcuffs and notice blood crusted under my nails. When I look back into the mirror I have a black eye. There is a cut above my eyebrow and scratches down my arms. Where did these come from? I start to freak out.

“What the fuck is happening?” I scream.

I try and stand but I feel weak so I sit back down. I realize I have only one shoe. They must have drugged my burger. I am hallucinating. Something crazy is happening to me.

The door opens and the two detectives walk in. Behind them, a tall gangly man with glasses, carrying a laptop.

I scream at them to let me go, that I haven’t done anything wrong. The woman opens her mouth to speak but this time her voice is soothing. It shocks me. She tells me to sit down and I do. I feel under a trance by her. How did she change her voice like that?

The man detective tells me they have proof that I murdered the woman in the photos, but I know they are lying. I have seen the movies and the documentaries. They are trying to coax a confession out of me and they used drugs to do it. That’s why I am hallucinating. I tell them I want a lawyer and that I am going to sue them for mistreatment.

They agree to my request and say they will call a public defender, but while I wait they have something for me to watch. The other man, the new man that I haven’t seen before, sets the laptop on the table. There isn’t a chair for him so he leans over with his tall lanky body to type something into the computer. He twists the laptop around so I can see the screen and he hits play.

At first I don’t know what I am watching, and then I realize it is security footage. There is no sound. Just black and white footage. The place looks familiar. It’s my workplace. And there I am, walking between the dead, hanging cows. Why would they show me this? It is not a crime to work where I do.

But then, in the corner of the screen, I see one of the cows moving, but it must be the drugs because all those cows have been killed, gutted and skinned. I lean in closer to the screen and see that it’s not a cow that is hanging there moving around, it’s a woman.

I see myself walking over to the woman. I must be going to help her. I have my negative qualities, but I am not a terrible person. I would help someone in need, wouldn’t I? But that’s not what I see. The drugs have really messed with me. I am confused at what I am seeing. It looks as if I am hitting this woman with something, but I can’t tell what.

I am appalled at this point. What kind of police force is this? These are the people who are here to serve and protect us but they have given me drugs and are trying to manipulate me. They must have used some editing program to make this horrific video. I turn my head away to stop watching. The tall man turns off the video and closes the laptop.

The woman with the annoying voice speaks again and it’s just as mousy as ever. “Is there anything you would like to say?”

I can’t seem to find words. I tell them that it’s not me in the video. I beg them to let me go. The three of them stand up to leave the room. The mousy voiced woman is the last to leave and before she walks through the door she turns to look at me and gives a wicked smile.

As they walk out the room I reach out to them, begging them for help. I see my hands before me and the blood under my fingernails is gone. I knew they drugged me. I knew I was hallucinating. The drugs must be wearing off because when I look up, I see myself as I did the first time I looked into that mirror.

Damn, I look good. I just need a haircut.