Not Again

Saw you last night, dance

Tell us what you saw tonight.

What I saw? Everything I saw? The clouds, the snow, the people, the cars, the pee in my toilet?

Takes a glance at partner, raises his eyes, then turns to me.

When did you get to Burlington?

About 4:30pm.

Where did you come from.

Syracuse NY.

Did you fly in?

I drove.

You drove from Syracuse, today?

Yes.

Looks at his partner again, partner writes a note. Partner picks it up,

Are you a skier?

Snowboarder.

Why were you in the Lakeview Restaurant?

To eat dinner.

Why that restaurant?

It's right in front of my hotel.

Which hotel?

Comfort Suites.

Partner gets up, starts pacing, unhappy with the speed of the interview.

Can we just get to the core here, you found a body, right?

That’s correct.

Where?

In the Lakeview Restaurant.

WHERE in the Lakeview Restaurant?

In the Ladies room.

The partners looked at each other again, make more notes.

Why were you in the Ladies room?

Men’s room was closed for cleaning.

What did you do when you found the corpse? Did you touch the body?

Yes.

Why?

To see if she was dead.

Then?

I left.

The bathroom?

The restaurant. The city.

You didn’t call the police?

No.

Why.

I have a record.

Yes, we see that. You raped and beat a girl.

I didn’t.

You were convicted, served 7 years in jail.

Yes.

My partner, being a woman and all, isn’t real happy with convicted rapists.

I looked at the partner in question. She was looking right into my eyes, trying to look stern, faking being full of rage. What I really saw was a question.

That the only girl you raped?

I’ve never raped anyone. I’ve only made love with two women in my life.

You’re 35 years old. And never married. Only 2 women?

You forget, 7 of those years were spent exclusively with men.

Yes. And you didn’t tell us how many men you screwed.

None. But one screwed me.

Mr. Adams, did you see anything at the restauarant or outside that might suggest what happened to the woman you found.

I paused. I so wanted to be somewhere else, not talking to police in a parking lot again, with lights flashing on top of the car; not a suspect in something else ghastly. But the image of the woman, with the puddle of blood spread around her, I couldn’t get it out of my head. I tried everything while driving down to Montpelier, before they pulled me over. I had cried almost the whole way, unable to deal with this confusion, the fear, my utter dread.

As I ran across the parking lot of the restaurant, towards my hotel, I was almost run over by another car.

Both partners perked up, raising their heads, taking notes.

Going quickly, was it?

Very. Sliding all over the drive in the snow, peeling out of the lot into the traffic.

What kind of car?

Burgundy Nissan xterra. Newer model.

Newer model? You a car expert?

I used to have an xterra, I know them pretty well. I was just looking at them back home, thinking about getting another one.

You still live in Tennessee?

Yes, Oak Ridge.

Why are you in Vermont?

I am on assignment for the News Sentinel. I’m a photographer. I shot the basketball game Sunday, Tennessee vs Champlain.

The News Sentinel?

Yes, the Knoxville News Sentinel. That's where the main campus of the University of Tennessee is. I've worked for them for 8 months as a staff photographer. I was working for them before I went to jail.

They hired a felon, the policewoman said.

I don't know if they believe I'm a felon or not.

You didn't tell them?

They didn’t ask. I don't go around telling people I was falsely accused of raping a woman. They tend to look at me like . . . like you are.

It's a citizens responsibility to let us know about a crime.

I walked out of the rest room, went to the bar and gave them $20 for my dinner. As I left I said, I think there's a dead woman in the bathroom. You should call the police. Then I walked out, got my stuff out of the hotel, got in my car and drove down here.

When the bartender called the police up there about the murder, he mentioned you and your truck. The big orange T on the back window.

Oh. That's how you found me. I would never be a good criminal.

What else do you remember?

I closed my eyes. I brought the image back, and shuddered.

I remember her eyes were wide open.

I'm losing it. They needed to leave, soon. Do not cry. I do not want to cry in front of them.

Do you know who she was?

She's the daughter of the mayor.

Oh, that's why she was so sad.

Sad? How do you know she was sad?

She sat down next to me while I was eating. She was flirting with me. I was rude to her and she left. Maybe . . .

Maybe what?

Nothing.

The policewoman looked at me, differently now.

Are you thinking she might be alive if you were friendlier?

Yes. I was afraid to be with her. It was clear she was rich, from her jewelry and clothes. I thought it might just cause me more trouble.

The woman said to her partner, let's go. We’ve got what we need here.

They both turned and walked away. When they were at the car, I walked towards them and yelled, wait.

They turned and looked, each holding the opened door of the car. They waited for me to reach them.

I just remembered something. Before the woman sat down with me, she was sitting at the bar. By herself. A man moved from a table and sat next to her, talking to her. She got up and walked over to me. He was a tall guy, bright red hair.

The male officer took notes, then sat in the car behind the wheel and closed the door. As he started the engine the policewoman turned to me.

What happened in Knoxville, with that woman.

I stared at her. She was pretty, I hadn't noticed that. She was a little older than me, and pretty. I looked at her hand and she had no ring on.

I leaned against the car, closing my eyes: Her name was Daisy. She was my ex-girlfriend, we had broken up about 3 months before that night. She called me, she was lonely, she asked if I would come over and go to dinner with her. I said yes. When I got there, I went inside, and we never made it to dinner. We were in bed for two or three hours. After making love we talked about getting back together. I think we were both feeling it. We made a date to eat a picnic lunch on the river the next day, at our favorite spot near the campus. I left her house about 1 AM. The next morning, real early, I got a call from her brother. He told me what had happened. I met him and her parents at the hospital. When her parents weren't in the room, I told Brian, Daisy's brother, about our get together the night before. Two days later they arrested me. My DNA was all over her. Someone else's was too, but they had no match. They just figured me and some other guy had gang raped her, and then beat her. They kept trying to get me to tell them who my partner was, 'it will go good for you if you give him up'.

Could it have been her brother?

Looking at her again. I smiled. She was thinking, hillbillies from Tennessee.

No. He was her twin. They were very close, and he and I were good friends. There's no way that is even possible. It almost killed Brian. And he testified in my behalf at the trial. So did her parents.

How about her, did she testify for you?

No. She was in a coma. She's been in a coma ever since.

She turned towards the car, ready to get in and drive away with her partner. But she turned to me and asked, have you seen her since you got out of jail?

Almost every day. Her parents don't visit any longer, they can't handle it. It's just me and her brother. We're still great friends and all we think about is her waking up. Its been 3 years and he still cries often when we’re there.

The policewoman touched my hand, giving me her card. Then she turned, got in the car, and they disappeared.

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