Chapter 7: Too Close For Comfort
Dylan did not follow the police officers around his apartment. Hovering around might make him seem suspicious. Instead, he nonchalantly sat on the living room couch. Rosa had died in there. Whatever Officer Hightower and Officer Davies found in the other rooms would be inconsequential. Dylan’s eyes ceaselessly scanned the room, while the officers were occupied elsewhere. Surely, he had not overlooked anything incriminating. Dylan looked down and saw a spot of blood that had seeped through the area rug he’d kept under the coffee table. He heard them approaching and hastily covered the spot with his foot. A moment later, the officers walked back into the living room. Dylan smiled up at them.
“Is that it?”
“We’re finished with our walkthrough of your apartment. Now, we’d like to see your storage space in the basement,” requested Officer Hightower gazing keenly into his eyes.
Through sheer force of will, Dylan maintained an unwavering smile. He mentally cursed his neighbor Rhonda. Dylan didn’t know if he was angrier with her or himself for underestimating how vindictive she could be. He met Officer Hightower’s steady gaze and shrugged.
Dylan led them out of his apartment and down the hall, making small talk with Davies. He sensed Officer Hightower’s impatience as they waited for the elevator, like a hunting dog straining at its leash. Her dislike for Dylan was palpable. So, he turned his charms and attention fully onto Davies. The elevator doors opened in the basement. He and Davies strolled to the storage area chatting amiably. Dylan pointed out his fenced in storage unit and Hightower pushed past them. She looked in at the clutter of boxes and sports equipment. She grabbed the lock and tugged on it.
“Open this please.”
Dylan shot her partner a quizzical glance. Davies’ amused look urged him to humor her. Dylan complied, removing the lock and standing back. Hightower charged inside and set to work looking through his things. Dylan crossed his arms and waited, confident that she wouldn’t find anything. He had picked the flimsy lock on Rhonda’s storage unit and crammed Rosa’s body into an empty suitcase. The bloody area rug was folded and stuffed behind a stack of boxes. Officer Hightower searched methodically, while her partner languidly went through the motions. She searched every square inch of Dylan’s storage unit, looking up at Dylan from time to time. He favored her with a Cheshire grin and she redoubled her efforts. Dylan had to resist the urge to laugh at the defeated drop in her shoulders, when Officer Davies exasperatedly called off the search. Dylan pretended not to eavesdrop, when Davies pulled her aside.
“Come on Hightower, I think we’ve inconvenienced Mr. Maxwell enough for one night. He’s probably right about his neighbor mistaking the television for his girlfriend screaming,” murmured Davies.
“She said he brought a rolled-up rug, with what looked like a body in it down here. Explain that Davies,” Hightower hissed through gritted teeth.
“And you took that seriously? Take a second and think about that Hightower. Would a rational person be stupid enough to murder someone and then just cart the body down the hall, at a time when all of his neighbors are wide awake any one of them might step out into the hall? People call the police with off the wall allegations all of the time. She’s probably just some nutjob who is either having some sort of psychotic break or making shit up. It sure as hell wouldn’t be the first time. I’m telling you, this is a waste of time. We’ve looked everywhere and there’s nothing out of the ordinary here Hightower.”
“We haven’t looked everywhere. This basement is full of storage units.”
“Please do not tell me you want to knock on the door of every apartment in this building and get permission to rummage through their storage units. I swear, you are like a dog with a damn bone! What’s really going on here Hightower? Do you just not like this guy or are you trying to save face? We need to go back out on patrol and get after actual criminals, instead of digging through junk in this dusty basement. We don’t even have a search warrant. The man cooperated fully and let us look search everything. Would a murderer do that? You found nothing, because there’s nothing here. Continuing at this point would be harassment.”
Half an hour later, the officers were finally gone. Davies was apologetic. Hightower wordlessly shot Dylan a parting glance, which told him that she had no intention of letting it go. He stood at his window looking down at the street below, wanting to make sure they were actually leaving. After what felt like an eternity, the patrol car finally pulled away from the curb. Dylan let out a shaky sigh of relief, following the car with his eyes. All night, he was anxious for them to leave. While Hightower dug through his storage unit, Dylan had made a mental list of the things he intended to do the moment they left. Now that they were gone, he couldn’t recall a single thing.