• Brandon Quinlan

Bloodshed at Brunch

*Phone buzzing*

“Ugh…”

*Phone buzzing*

“What time is it?” Darwin said as he reached his arm behind him towards his makeshift side table made from a repurposed Hamilton Beach coffee maker box. He knocked two half empty cigarette boxes off onto the floor before finding his phone.

9:34 AM

*Phone continued buzzing*

Incoming Call: Jack

“What do you want?” He answered groggily and annoyed that his sleep had been disturbed.

“What’s up bro? You won’t believe what happened last night!” Jack exclaimed, ignoring Darwin’s tone. Darwin sighed loudly, but Jack continued, “So I went out with Ryan and Jessica to (douchey bar name, it’s hard to remember them all because they all sound the same). We started out the night with some RBV’s, but you know how they don’t actually have Red Bull there… they just have that generic energy drink which is disgusting. I needed the energy though because I ran out of Adderall the other day. So anyway… Jessica had a group of friends that we met up with. Some of ‘em were looking TIGHT if you know what I mean? I started hitting it off with this one girl, I think her name was Diamond or Dynasty or something.”

“Diamond or Dynasty?”

“Well it could’ve been Denise or some shit, but I was really drunk. I don’t really remember. She was fine though dude. Body… 10. Face… 10. Personality… Not sure, I didn’t really listen to anything she was saying. I was starting to fade after a while so she told me she had some coke and pulled me into the bathroom. She didn’t even have coke though dude. You know why she pulled me into the bathroom?”

“I can only imagine… but I assume you’re going to tell me.”

“She shut the door and like immediately started pulling my pants down to suck me off. Honestly… some of the best head I’ve ever had. I tried to get her to come back with me, but she said she had a boyfriend. He actually showed up later on in the night to meet up with the group. I think he might have been gay though. She definitely should’ve come back with me.”

“Yeah man… that’s crazy bro.” Darwin responded sarcastically. But then he realized that he had actually met Denise before when he was hanging out with Jessica a few months ago. That last thing that Jack said about her boyfriend reminded him of something. There was an interesting rumor that he had heard about her that Jack might need to know.

“I know! I’m a badass.” Jack said confidently.

“Hey man, I’ve actually met Denise before. I heard that she used to be a dude.” Darwin explained. Denise was, in fact, born male but began transitioning to female a few years ago.

“What? No way dude. She was way too hot for that.” He shrugged off Darwin’s comment and then remembered that he actually called to wake up Darwin for a reason. He continued, “Oh yeah. How did the test go?”

“I passed man. I actually went out to celebrate last night so I kind of feel like shit this morning. I need to go back to sleep.”

“Who the FUCK? How are you going to have a celebration without me there? We are best friends… Okay we’re having a real celebration for you today.”

“First off, we’re not best friends. And second, I can’t. I have to start on Monday and I can’t just go on a bender all weekend.”

“Okay… fuck yourself. We’re best friends and we are going to brunch this morning. It’s not like they’re going to have you solving murders on Monday morning. You’re the new guy. They’ll probably still be sending you out to get everyone’s coffee while they solve the crimes. I’m gonna get the squad together and we’ll meet at Wake at 10:30 AM. See you there.” Jack said emphatically and then hang up immediately, not giving Darwin time to reject his offer.

“FUUUUUCK!” Darwin yelled into his pillow.

With a persistent need to please everyone that he meets, including those of whom he viscerally hates, he knew he was going to show up at brunch and end up drunk by 2 PM regardless of how little he wanted to take part. Typically, he viewed this need to please as a positive. Growing up Darwin was consistently volunteering around his hometown and helping other people with their homework. When he went to college he always led his fraternity in altruism and spent a ton of time joining committees and clubs around campus to both help out and to make the fraternity look like it wasn’t entirely full of people like Jack. Once he graduated and moved to the big city of Raleigh, North Carolina he decided that he would become a cop. Always having been a perfectly upstanding citizen, he was still treated like a push-over. Now was his time to shine though. On Thursday he passed his detective exam in the force and he was starting on Monday. Darwin Fitsch was about to start demanding respect.

After laying in bed with is head in his hands and dreading the next few hours, he finally decided to get up and get ready to go. He rolled over and put his feet on the floor, crushing a few loose cigarettes into the floor. “Oh shit…” He mumbled to himself.

Darwin hated smoking and always told himself he would never smoke or do drugs, but it seems like every time he gets drunk he wakes up with a new pack of cigs next to his bed and smelling like a forest fire. His faith had been shaken about all that stuff anyway. When he was young he believed every word the D.A.R.E. officer told him. Since joining the force though, he sees the local D.A.R.E. officer get blackout drunk 3 times a week and regularly smoking the marijuana that him and the other officers confiscate from high schoolers.

After showering and getting dressed Darwin called an uber at about 10:23. He knew he was going to be late and Jack was going to give him grief for it. His Uber driver was this Italian guy named Tony who wouldn’t stop talking about how he had to leave New Jersey because the mob was after him. Darwin hated the obligation of having to talk to your Uber driver. He always purposely sat in the seat behind the driver’s side just to avoid it, but there was no stopping Tony.

“Hey man, where you from?” Tony started when Darwin got in his back seat.

“A small town about an hour and a half from here. You’ve probably never heard of it.” Darwin said while he pulled his phone out of his pocket.

“Oh nice man. I’m actually from Jersey.” Tony said in a very strong northeast accent. “I had to move here a couple of months ago because I was in big trouble. I used to be really tight with the Bonanno family up there. You know the mafia… But I fucked up and I had to get outta there so they wouldn’t come after me.”

“Yeah?” Darwin mumbled, still staring at his phone.

“Yeah. You know, they always protect those in the family and unfortunately for me. I wasn’t in the family. I did mostly menial work for ‘em, but something went wrong. I was helpin’ Billy, you know Bonanno. I was helpin’ him bury this body real far out west. Almost out in Philly. It woulda been real bad for someone to find out about this guy we were buryin’. He was part of another one of the five families. You prolly heard of ‘em. The Bonanno’s along with the other four families pretty much run New York. They got all the ins with the feds and the local cops. But Billy had made a huge mistake. He got in a tussle with Tommy Genovese and ended up takin’ him out. Tommy was real high up in the organization and if anyone found out it was Billy… Well that’d be bad news for everybody. I’m talkin’ an all-out war in the streets of New York. The Bonanno’s were tough, but they paid real well. So, it was my job to help clean up Billy’s mess. That’s why we had to be out near Philly. Couldn’t have the NYC guys findin’ out about this. So we drove out and stopped off the highway out near King of Prussia. It was like 3 in the mornin’ and we dragged this dead body of Tommy at least 3 miles. This is when I realized I was real outta shape because once we started diggin’, we weren’t even a foot down when I had to walk off to puke up my minestrone Billy’s mom had made us before we left. When I turned around to help Billy keep diggin’ I saw blue lights flashin’…”

Darwin had actually started to get really intrigued in this guy’s story. No matter how fake it probably was.

“Ope, looks like this is your stop. That’s Wake up there on the left, yeah?”

“Oh… yeah. Thanks Tony.” Darwin said and hopped out of Tony’s car. He was pretty bummed he didn’t get to hear the rest.

Darwin walked into Wake expecting to see Jack and Ryan and Jessica and Steven and the rest of their friends that they hung out with all the time. All he saw though was Jack sitting alone at a 2-person table in the middle of the bar with a big smile on his face slightly dancing to a rap song playing over the speakers.

“Hey man! Why are you so late? It’s like 10:45!” Jack excitedly yelled towards Darwin as he sat down. He then turned around and yelled, “Hey Sierra, 2 bottomless ‘mosas for me and my guy right here! We are celebrating this morning and we are gonna get DRUNK!” at the waitress behind him. She scowled at him, nodded and walked away.

One of the 3 girls sitting at the table next to them leaned over and asked, “What are you guys celebrating?”

Jack quickly answered, “My buddy just got out of surgery.”

Darwin confusedly stared at Jack and said, “What are you talking about?” under his breath.

Jack continued, “Yupp! Penis enlargement.”

Darwin rolled his eyes. Knowing that there was no stopping him he just let him go on and continue to embarrass them.

The girl giggled awkwardly and said, “Oh okay…” and turned back to her friends hoping to end the conversation.

Jack, full of hungover indifference, continued, “Yeah, it used to be teeny weeny. But turns out that since he was fat as a kid and lost a bunch of weight in college he had a ton of skin left over. They were able to just plug and play and now that thing is built for porn if you know what I mean!”

One of the girls at the other table then made a huge mistake and laughed at Jack’s terrible joke. Jack used this as an invite to walk over to their table to talk to all of the ladies. As Jack continued to embarrass himself in front of these 3 girls who were clearly done talking to him Darwin turned and looked out the window of Wake and kind of zoned out in his thoughts.

He couldn’t stop thinking about Tony’s story from the Uber before. As much as that guy seemed like he was full of shit the story he was telling was kind of interesting. Did he end up ratting out Billy to the cops? Is that why he had to “run away”? Even if the story was true, why would he come to North Carolina to escape? And why would he just be telling everyone who hopped in his Uber?

Darwin sat there and thought about how cool it would be to have a back story like that. They don’t make movies about average guys who grow up in the suburbs and end up living in a studio apartment with an average job. Maybe he could become one of those dirty cops and help out some mob boss. That could be a cool life. He wouldn’t even be able to be a character in a romcom because the only girls he dated were from dating apps and only lasted about a week or 2 before one of them got annoyed of eachother. Jack would be a good character to have in a movie though. He could be the annoying friend or the main guy who starts out as a dirtball but manages to turn his life around. Maybe I need to be more like Jack? No… that was a really dumb thought. I need a drink.

Jack sat back down at the table just as Sierra returned with their champagne and OJ. Jack quickly poured a glass that was 98% champagne with a drip of orange juice and chugged the glass. He did this 3 times before saying anything. He then turned to the waitress and said, “Yeah we’re gonna need you to keep ‘em comin’.”

“How’d it go over there?” Darwin asked

“She’s gonna text me.” He responded.

“Sure…”

For the next 45 minutes to an hour Jack and Darwin just chatted about random things from cars to old girlfriends to Jack’s high school football team that definitely would have totally won state if he hadn’t torn his ACL to joking about Jack’s unfortunate evening the night before. The mimosas continued to flow and the gravy on the chicken and waffles had just the right amount of heat to it. Everything seemed to be looking up for Darwin’s Saturday. He still had a few errands to run today, but after a strong afternoon nap he would have plenty of time to handle it. This was his thought at least. The morning was about to change, and it was right in the middle of a heated discussion about which Charlie’s Angels actress was actually the hottest.

“Look dude, it’s obviously Cameron Diaz!” Darwin yelled towards Jack as he slapped the back of his fingers onto is other palm. “She is the most classic out of all 3 and there’s a reason Hollywood has cast her in way more movies.”

“Yeah sure. Cameron Diaz is hot if you like buff chicks that could beat you up.” Jack replied. “Lucy Liu is definitely the hottest. And the exotic factor just adds to it. And if we’re talking classic looks and stardom then Drew Barrymore beats Diaz anyt –”

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!”

They both turned their heads as they heard a loud scream from the back of the bar. They saw a brunette girl wearing a big t-shirt and a pair of black leggings run out of the with her eyes full of tears. She ran directly to the bar and started talking frantically with the bartender. Darwin couldn’t quite hear what she was saying though. The bartender looked astonished by what he was hearing. After listening to her story, the bartender ran over to grab the manager and they both ran into the bathroom that the young lady had just come from. There was panic rushing over their faces as they moved around the bar. When they came out of the bathroom they looked ill and the manager put up a caution tape blocking the entrance to the bathrooms. The manager then walked over to the front of the bar and made an announcement over the intercom.

“All barcomers… all barcomers. I have to make an announcement.” He said hesitantly over the speaker. The bar had gone almost completely silent when the music was turned off. Everyone began to listen intently.

“There has been an accident.”

Everyone in the bar began to worry and started looking around and asking their friends if they knew what happened.

The manager continued, “We are in the process of figuring out what happened. The police are on the way and they’ve asked us to make sure that no one leaves before they’ve arrived.”

Why were the police called? Darwin asked himself as he stood up and walked towards the caution tape. Before he got there the bartender walked in front of his path.

“Hey, you can’t go back there right now.” He said sternly as he put his hand on Darwin’s chest.

Darwin wiped his hand away and pulled his badge out of his back pocket to flash in the bartender’s face. “I’m going back there.” Even off duty, he loved the authority that badge gave him. It was like nobody was above him and he could do whatever he wanted. What is he gonna try to do? Hold the cop back from trying to figure out what’s happening when they’re already waiting for the police. He knew that, with how drunk he was, he didn’t really hold any authority and shouldn’t be helping to solve crimes. If there was one.

He climbed through the caution tape and opened the door to the women’s bathroom. He had assumed that someone had maybe vandalized the bathroom or clogged something up so he walked immediately to the first stall. Nothing… Opened the second stall. Nothing… Third stall. Nothing… What are they freaking out about? He thought as he turned back towards the door.

That’s when he saw. Shocked and completely still he just stared trying to figure out if he was imagining it. He was completely paralyzed. He was standing there staring down at the couch just inside the doorway. The cushions were lifted and uneven and the pillows had fallen on the floor. All he could see was a bent elbow with a forearm hanging down with the pointer finger barely touching the ground hanging out from one cushion. Similarly, there was a knee bent with a freshly shaved calf going down to a bare foot flat on the floor hanging out of the other cushion. As the initial shock wore off Darwin couldn’t help himself but to run into one of the stalls to throw up his breakfast and half of his mimosas.

Someone tried to shove a dead body inside the couch…

Darwin tried to compose himself as quickly as possible before walking back into the bar. He had to put on a straight face in case any of the police had arrived yet. He couldn’t look like a little bitch in front of his co-workers. He was a detective. He wasn’t supposed to get sick when he saw a dead body. Get it together Darwin. This is why you watched all those episodes of CSI. You’ve practiced for this. C’mon! C’mon!

He was standing there smacking his forehead and slapping his cheeks trying to get the feeling back in his face. He was finally ready to exit.

As he opened the door he could hear a VERY drunk girl yelling at the bartender. She was clearly trying to get through to go to the bathroom.

“No. you can’t go in. Something happened, and we have to lock down the restrooms.” The bartender said while rolling his eyes. He was looking down on a blonde girl who was dressed like she was about to go to the club. Even though she was half his size, she insisted to continually punch his chest in hopes he would let her through.

“You’re such a dick Jason. I don’t know what Melissa even saw in you,” she yelled, continuing, “Do you know how much money I’ve spent at this fucking bar? My daddy basically owns this town and I’m so going to get you fired Jason. That’s what you deserve anyway.”

Jason just stared down at her, trying to completely ignore what she was saying. Darwin walked up beside Jason to try to help him out.

“Ma’am,” He said in a very calm voice, “We unfortunately can’t let anyone in the bathroom right now.”

At this point she decided to raise her volume in response. “Is this the fucking cop you were talking about?” she asked Jason, “This fucking guy?” She looked Darwin up and down and then looked back at Jason. “He literally looks like he’s 12…” She looked back at Darwin, “And my daddy could get you fired too if you don’t let me through.”

Darwin and Jason looked at eachother and chuckled. She realized that this strategy wasn’t going to get her in, but at this point if she didn’t get in that bathroom she was just going to have to pee on the floor. She calmed herself down for a second while looking down towards the floor. When she looked back up towards Jason she had put a pouty face on.

She reached her hand towards Jason’s belt and said softly, “C’mon Jason. Do this for ME,” as she leaned her chest forward creating almost no space between the two of them. She was staring almost directly up at Jason now as he was about a foot taller than her, holding her pouty face.

Darwin put his hand between the 2 of them and pushed her back. “Look ma’am. We cannot let you into the bathroom right now.”

“Uggggghhhhhh” she grunted at Darwin and stormed to the other side of the bar. Darwin watched her walk over to the corner where the bar had a large planter with a big fern planted in it. When she reached the plant, she pulled her underwear down and started to pee in the soil with a completely unphased and determined look on her face. Darwin just stared; surprised, but also kind of respected the confidence.

The rest of the police had finally arrived. 3 cruisers pulled up outside. 4 officers and Darwin’s new boss, Sergeant Dominguez, entered the bar. They quickly rounded up all of the patrons and began questioning them. Dominguez pulled Darwin aside, “Fitsch, you know what happened here?” he asked

“Well when I saw what was going on, I checked out the bathroom.” He said, trying as hard as he could to avoid slurring his words and showing how drunk he still was. “I don’t really have any details, but I think I was here whenever it happened. I am here to help with whatever you need, sir!”

“Okay. That’s good to know. We are going to start questioning everyone to try to narrow things down to see if we can figure out who did this. Hang around. We might want you in on some of the interviews later on.” Dominguez said. He winked at the young detective and walked over towards to other officers.

Man, Dominguez is gonna be such a good boss. He seems like he really knows what he’s doing. I think I can learn a lot from him. This is my time to shine and show him what I’m made of. If I can help solve this thing I’m just gonna shoot up the ranks. Darwin thought to himself, smiling.

Darwin hung out in the manager’s office in the back of the bar while the other officers did their initial questioning. After about 30 minutes of scrolling through his social medias to kill the time he found himself looking at Vanessa Thomas’ pictures from her vacation from 3 years ago on her Instagram. Vanessa was the hottest girl that he had ever dated, but she ghosted him after just a couple of dates. This is when Sergeant Dominguez entered the room.

“Okay, so we’ve finished with the initial questioning. Here’s what we’ve got.” He stated as he entered the room. “The victim’s name is Maria Addayo, 24-year old female. She was strangled to death and shoved inside the couch cushions by the assailant. She did have some blood under her finger nails. That’s being sent to the lab for testing. She was here at brunch with one of her friends. Her friend’s name is Shelby. Shelby says that she didn’t notice how long Maria was gone because she was busy doing a live story for all of her followers. She said she’s an ‘influencer’… whatever that means.”

“Good to know.” Darwin responded. “How can I help?”

“We’ve narrowed it down to 5 suspects and we’ve sent everyone else home. Since you just passed your detective test I want you to sit in on the interviews with me. But DON’T say anything unless you consult with me first.” Dominguez barked.

“Yes sir.” Darwin responded.

“Okay, I’ll be right back. We’ll do the interviews in here. I’ll bring in the first one.” Dominguez said as he left the room and closed the door behind him.

Darwin had a huge smile on his face. Still pretty drunk, he wasn’t able to hide his excitement. He was able to do his first detective work before even starting the job. He smacked himself on the forehead. Don’t say anything stupid! Don’t say anything stupid!

Dominguez re-entered the office after a few moments, followed by a very large man, probably around 6’3” and looked like he was at Gold’s Gym 6 days a week. He was wearing a black flat billed hat with a logo on it that Darwin didn’t recognize, a crew neck sweatshirt and a pair of almost skin-tight joggers. His legs seemed almost too skinny to carry the weight of his upper body though and it was pretty clear that he could bench press more weight than he could squat. Dominguez sat down next to Darwin and the suspect sat down in a wooden chair across from them.

“Could you take your hat off?” Dominguez, quite annoyed already, asked.

“Oh… yeah sorry.” The man said as he removed his flat bill to reveal a short buzzcut connected to his perfectly trimmed chinstrap beard.

“Thanks,” Dominguez responded insincerely. “I don’t have all day for this shit. Do you know why you’re here?”

“No sir.” The man answered.

“Sure, you don’t… Well let’s get started anyway. Could you start by telling us your name?”

“Yeah. My name is Ethan Turner.”

“How old are you, Ethan?”

“27.” Ethan responded

“How long have you lived in Raleigh?” asked Dominguez. He hadn’t broken eye contact with Ethan since he sat down.

“I went to NC State and stayed here after college. So, I guess 9 years now.” Ethan answered

After just a couple brief background questions Dominguez dove right in. “Have you ever had any kind of Maria Addayo?”

Ethan hesitated before answering. He looked down and started fidgeting with his hands and picking at his fingernails. “Yeah, we used to go out. But I dumped her crazy ass months ago. Why?” he asked as he looked back towards the detectives

Dominguez didn’t answer his question and quickly moved on with his own. “Why did you guys break up?”

“She was crazy bro! I couldn’t take it anymore. She would cry every time we hung out. She would always hit on my boys trying to make me jealous I guess.” Ethan said, putting finger quotes around jealous. He continued, “I’m pretty sure she was trying to come up with a plan to kill me, so I had to end shit.”

“She wanted to kill YOU?”

“Yeah. She used to always say how I was terrible and deserved to die. She broke into my house once and burned a bunch of my clothes. She cut the break lines on my car. She was obsessed with those murder shows and podcasts too, so she definitely had somethin’ cookin’”

“Okay I’m gonna stop you right there and tell you why you’re here today. We’ve found a dead body in the bathroom and we believe it to be Maria.”

Ethan didn’t have any words to respond with. He started sweating and just kind of stared at Darwin looking for him to answer for him.

“Do you have any idea what could have happened?”

“I… I don’t.” Ethan answered nervously. “I wish I could help more. I mean, if I’m being honest, bitch probably killed herself. She was always depressed and shit.”

Dominguez didn’t respond this time. He just started taking notes on his pad in front of him. Darwin was trying to read both of them. Neither Dominguez nor Ethan was showing any kind of emotion. Darwin found it very odd that, even though she was his ex and they clearly didn’t get along, that Ethan didn’t have much of a reaction to Maria’s death. That has to be a sign of something, right?

Dominguez looked back at Ethan. “Okay, you’re good to go back out there. Could you tell the officer outside to send in the next person?”

“Yes sir.” Ethan said as he began to sit up.

Darwin couldn’t help himself. He had to say something at this point and he was still a little too drunk to stop himself. “Wait…” Ethan stopped and looked back at Darwin while Dominguez looked towards Darwin giving him a death stare. “So, you’re telling me she killed herself?”

“Yeah… probably.”

“She killed herself? So, she killed herself and then somehow shoved her own body in the couch?”

Neither Dominguez nor Ethan responded. Ethan just stood there nervously, continuing to sweat. Dominguez was still staring angrily deep into Darwin’s soul at this point.

“Should I stay?” Ethan asked with a trembling voice.

“No, get out!” Dominguez barked without breaking his stare at Darwin. Once Ethan had stepped out of the room and closed the yelling continued, “What the fuck are you doing? I told you not to speak! Did you somehow cheat on that fuckin’ test? Where in there did it say, ‘While interviewing murder suspects, you should describe the victim’s death and crime scene exactly to the suspects to see how they respond’?”

Darwin knew he’d made a mistake but had no excuse, so he just looked back at Dominguez while he was berated.

“If you do that shit one more time, not only will I kick you out of this office, but you’ll be out of the force!”

The door opened and one of the officers stood in the doorway. “Are you ready for the next one?”

“Send her in.” Dominguez answered.

A young, very pretty, brunette girl popped her head around the corner. She looked both Darwin and Dominguez up and down. She scrunched her face in anger and walked back towards the restaurant. “Oh no! There’s no way I’m sitting in there with HIM!” They could hear as she walked away. The other officer chased after her.

Dominguez looked at Darwin. “What was that?”

The young girl’s name was Shelby. She was a 23-year old recent graduate of NC State. Darwin knew exactly who she was, and he had even seen her in the bar earlier that morning but tried his best to avoid eye contact with her. Darwin and Shelby had gone on a few dates earlier that year. He felt like Shelby was coming on a little strong when she started giving him pet names and somehow managed to find his mom’s phone number. They only went on 3 dates, but she had 3 hour-long conversations with his mom in the week following their third date. When his mom called him asking when they were going to get engaged he immediately blocked Shelby’s number and avoided her at all costs. She was still a little bit upset about it.

Once the officers convinced her to come back into the office Dominguez was able to do his basic questioning with her. She answered all of his questions calmly and politely, but the entire time she kept her gaze on Darwin with a look of disdain on her face. After answering most of his questions she interrupted their conversation by involving Darwin who was simply taking notes and trying to avoid eye contact. “Why are you even in here? I thought you were like some shitty traffic cop.” She asked Darwin.

He wasn’t sure if he was allowed to answer. He looked at Dominguez. He had his head down and was rubbing his fingers on his sinuses so hard that Darwin was a little scared he might rub his eyebrows off. He decided to answer anyway. “Well I’m actually a detective now.”

Shelby completely changed her demeanor to one of excitement now. “OMG! That’s so exciting Winny. I know that was always you’re dream. Your mom and I used to talk about it all the time! She didn’t think you could do it, but I always believed in you. I am so proud of you babe!”

She tried to reach out to hold his hand, but Darwin pulled away.

She changed back to her angry look immediately. “Oh, that’s how you’re going to be? You are such an asshole! I should’ve listened to Maria.”

Maria and Shelby were best friends. He hadn’t gone out with her long enough to meet her friends, so he didn’t recognize her at first sight, but he knew her name from conversations with Shelby. Shelby and Maria were here together for a BFF brunch. They had been there for a while and were really enjoying themselves when Maria had to get up and go to the bathroom. Shelby used that as an opportunity to do a live story on her Instagram and let all of her 400 followers know what she thinks of the brunch at Wake. She was so distracted by talking to the 7 viewers that she had that she didn’t notice how long Maria had been gone. She had to end her live feed when she heard the scream coming from the bathroom. She resumed it though when she saw the girl running out to the bar. She couldn’t miss this, and her followers had to see. She still had no idea that Maria was missing though.

After their interview Dominguez said that she could be ruled out as they had video evidence of her not being in the bathroom at the time of her murder. They still had 3 more people to interview, but Darwin couldn’t help but think that it had to be the ex-boyfriend.

The next person that they interviewed was Jack. Darwin was surprised that he was even a suspect. Jack answered all of Dominguez’s questions. Even though he tried to stay quiet, Dominguez brought Darwin in on this conversation. Jack had an alibi. He was there with Darwin and the only time he ever left the table was to hit on those girls. Dominguez let him go after Darwin vouched for him.

As Jack left the office, Dominguez kept writing notes on his pad. Darwin tried peaking over his shoulder to see what he was writing. Dominguez’s handwriting looked like a 3rd grader’s though so Darwin couldn’t really read anything. After a few moments, he looked up at Darwin, “What do you think so far?”

“Well, unless these next 2 people have their hands covered in Maria’s blood I think we already have our answer.”

“Yeah?” Dominguez questioned.

“Yeah. The boyfriend was completely emotionless when we talked to him. He didn’t seem to care that she was even dead and based on their previously tumultuous relationship, he had motive to kill her. “

“Hmm… I was thinking the same thing. But we have to interview these last 2 just to be sure. Hang tight.” Dominguez told Darwin as he stood up and walked out of the room.

The last 2 people that Dominguez kept around for questioning were the bar manager Dirk and Darwin and Jack’s waitress from earlier Sierra. Dirk and Sierra HATED each other. Dirk, while technically the manager of the bar, never did a whole lot of managing. He started working at Wake about 7 or 8 months prior because he was friends with the owner and had just gotten fired from his corporate gig for some pesky sexual harassment accusation. He spent the majority of his day trying to hit on both the waitresses and the patrons, giving away free shots to pretty girls as much as possible.

Sierra hated Dirk for several reasons. She was in a committed relationship with her boyfriend Eddie who had been in Philly for 6 months pursuing his music career. Dirk used this to hit on her every chance he got. She repeated described him as “creepy” and “disgusting” in her interview with Darwin and Dominguez. She would also get annoyed every time he gave away free drinks to her customers because that would cut into her tips.

“He probably killed her because she refused to suck his dick in there or something. You wouldn’t believe how many times he has offered me the pleasure to do that.” *gagging* she continued, “He always tries to give me shoulder massages and grabs my hips while I try to print off receipts in that little hallway. I know some of the other girls think it’s cute and don’t see any harm in his antics, but not me. One night, when he first started working here, he invited me and some of the other girls out to the club. He said he wanted to reward us for a job well done. So, a bunch of us went out and it was actually a really fun night for a while. Afterwards we all went back to his place for an after-party. Eventually him and I were the only one’s left there. He tried to make a move, but I quickly stopped it saying that I had a boyfriend. This dude LITERALLY freaked out. He smashed his phone against the wall, then turned Destiny’s Child on his speaker. He started dancing in the middle of the room. I don’t know if he thought that would turn me on, but halfway through the song he just started balling his eyes out and asking me to date him. I left pretty quickly after that… Anyway I could definitely see him going crazy and killing someone.”

Dirk seemed like a pretty put together guy to Darwin and Dominguez. He was well dressed. Today he was wearing a grey pair of chinos with a navy-blue sweater over a white button up shirt. He had a clean-shaven face and a well-groomed short haircut. He also seemed to have a bit of disdain for Sierra. He spoke very positively of all of the other waitresses. He bragged about sleeping with a few of them, but when Sierra’s name came up he consistently used words like “stuck-up”, “insane”, and “bitch” to describe her. Darwin was beginning to rethink his initial thoughts on Ethan as the killer. But as they continued to chat with Dirk it really just seemed to Darwin that Dirk didn’t like Sierra because she was the only waitress that didn’t give him the attention that he wanted. Sierra was a very beautiful girl, probably the most beautiful out of all of the waitresses at Wake. She could probably do some modelling to pay her bills if she was so fed up with Dirk. Darwin could see why Dirk was upset with Sierra, but the connection to Maria didn’t make sense. Dominguez asked Dirk about the story Sierra told.

“She said that I was the one that freaked out?” Dirk asked laughing. “Here’s what actually happened. Once everyone left my place she said that she wanted to stay the night with me. Now, I’m not gonna turn down a night with a beautiful woman so I obliged. That night we made amazing, passionate love to one another… not really, it was drunk and sloppy. She did stay the night though. The next morning is when everything got crazy. I woke up to her crying in the kitchen. When I walked out her hands were covered in blood because she had broken a glass and was trying to clean it up. When I tried to give her a towel to clean her hands she stood up with one of the shards of glass in her hand, pressing it harder into her palm. She said that if I told anyone about what happened she would cut off my… uhh… you know. She is definitely someone that will get even if you wrong her. I’ve never talked about it until now and I’ve let her spread her little rumors. If that dead girl did something to Sierra, she would definitely do something about it.”

After Sierra and Dirk’s colorful storytelling Dominguez sent them back to wait in the restaurant.

“It really just seems like those 2 have a vendetta against each other. Neither really has a connection with Maria or any real motive to kill her. I think at this point Ethan is the number one suspect. Let’s send everyone else home. I’ll bring him into the station with me.” Dominguez said

“I think that’s the right call, sir.” Darwin responded as they walked out of the office.

“Good job kid. Now go home and get some rest so you’re not this drunk at work Monday.”

They got their guy. Darwin was so excited that he tried to give Dominguez a high five, but he wasn’t having any of that. When he lifted his hand up Dominguez just turned and walked away, leaving him hanging. Darwin slowly walked away in defeat of his high five left hanging, but Jack had him when he went outside. They hit their high five perfectly outside of Wake while waiting for Jack’s car to be brought over by the valet. That was the best high five of Darwin’s life. No doubt about it. He couldn’t stop himself from smiling as they got into Jack’s car.

Jack had agreed to drive Darwin home since he hadn’t Uber’d there and they had had plenty of time to sober up since their mimosas. Jack was jamming out to some EDM on the way home so loud that they couldn’t hear each other speak. It had been a long morning, so Darwin was glad they didn’t have to fill the time with conversation. When he opened his phone, it was still open to Vanessa Thomas’ Instagram page. He was curious, so he searched Shelby’s name and opened up her live story she had recorded earlier. He couldn’t hear what she was saying but knowing her she was likely just talking nonsense the entire time. He watched the entire 5 minutes that she had recorded though. He couldn’t help but notice one thing. Ethan was in the background at the table behind her during the entire video eating his brunch. When he restarted the video and held it up to his ear. The first thing Shelby said was, “Hey guys! So, Maria just left to go potty so I’m gonna give you guys a brunch review on Wake while she’s gone.” Ethan sat behind her from that point until you heard a scream in the background

While Jack continued driving and dancing to the electronic beats Darwin’s heart began beating uncontrollably. He looked over at Jack and then back at his phone. He decided to move from Shelby’s Instagram to Maria’s. When he opened her story, it was a video from the night before at some bar. He couldn’t really make out who was in the video, but the caption said, “Oh no”. It appeared to be just a video of a bunch of people dancing in a dark night club with flashing lights everywhere. When it flipped to the next video he could slightly see 2 people walking together towards the back of the club and had the caption, “Looks like she got another one”

They were getting pretty close to Darwin’s apartment building. Darwin looked at Jack dancing and then looked down at Jack’s phone in the cupholder. His phone was blowing up and he had like 25 unread messages. When Darwin looked back down at his phone it had gone to the next clip in her story. This time he could see what was going on and the caption said, “You go Denise!” as it showed Denise and Jack coming out of the bathroom at the bar the night before.

Darwin was almost shaking when Jack pulled up in front of his place. “Crazy day, huh?” Jack said as he dapped up Darwin to say goodbye. He looked back down at Jack’s phone, continuing to get more text messages, as he slowly got out of the car. Jack pulled off to head home. All Darwin could do was stand there and watch Jack drive off. The last thing he noticed was a small red spot on the corner of Jack’s trunk as the car got farther and farther away.

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