‘Where There’s Smoke’ by Guest Author Alex Knight

Guest Author Alex Knight

Guest Author Alex Knight

(An Anya Orlova short story)

“Tell us where the body is!” His fist pounded on the interrogation room table.
The paper cup bounced once and then tipped over; spewing its muddy contents all over the documents spread out in front of me. His look of bewilderment was comical and it was all I could do not to smirk.
“Look, we found your fingerprints at the crime scene. You might as well tell us what happened so that we can help you. Did he attack you? Was it self-defense? We all know Pedro was a worthless piece of shit that won’t be missed by anyone, probably not even by his widow, once we break the news.”
Good cop was trying to take the focus off of his partner whose bulging purple veins were an angry roadmap that led to no place I wanted to go.
I knew my fingerprints weren’t found at the scene; they have never been found anywhere and they do not exist in AFIS or any other database anywhere in the world.
I merely shrugged. So far I had not said a word. I hadn’t been charged with anything; they hadn’t even read me my rights.
“Look,” good cop tried again, “if you aren’t going to talk to us why did you agree to come in?”
“Because you so nicely invited me.” My smile was pure saccharine.
Actually I was only there because a vehicle that matched the description of my luxury SUV was seen in the neighborhood during the week of Pedro’s disappearance. It was one of three registered in the city, each a different shade of black, and I knew that they would be getting around to inviting the other two owners in for a friendly chat once they tracked them down. Of course that would prove to be a daunting task as the other two vehicles were owned by my alter egos who were both out of the country for an extended period of time.
The door was thrown open and an impressive stranger took control of the room and its occupants.
“This interview is over. Miss March, do not say another word.”
“She hasn’t said anything yet.” Bad cop snarled.
“Good, then I arrived in time.” He extended his hand to assist me to my feet. I made sure that my recently unbuttoned coat exposed my protruding belly. Smiling at the two dumbfounded cops I left with Nino’s well chosen legal counsel.
“You didn’t notice she was pregnant?”
“Obviously not, and what was that crap about her prints being found at the scene? We didn’t find anything.”
“It was worth a shot,” good cop shrugged. “Of course as far along as she is, there’s no way she could have killed Pedro and disposed of the body.”
“Still, there’s something about her that doesn’t quite add up, and her name is so familiar. Jo March, is she an actress or something? That lawyer probably charges more an hour than I pay in alimony in a year.”
“You don’t pay alimony. You’re more than seventeen months in arrears.”
“Yeah, but if I did.”
They both laughed and mopped up the mess, tossing out the now worthless witness statement.
Back at Nino’s penthouse I put my feet up, closed my eyes and sighed. I thought about the last two and a half months. So much had happened. Within hours of marrying Martin I became a widow, and learned I was going to have triplets in the same moment Nino walked back into my life.
* * *
“My poor darling… whatever you want… whatever you need, I am here for you; always!”  His words were heartfelt and I had to tell him everything in that moment, even if it meant losing him forever.
“Ancestors guiding your future, ghosts watching your back, and now we have three beautiful daughters to prepare for. Aurelia, Katerina, and Therese! Those names are a bit formal, wouldn’t you agree? I think Raylie, Kat, and Tess would be better suited to three young ladies with extraordinary futures.” He didn’t scoff or even raise an eyebrow. He had said we and not you; he was in for the long haul!

* * *

“Anthony’s timing was incredible, knocking over the coffee cup and tipping it in the right direction. That detective will think twice before pounding his fist again. In addition, all of the surveillance cameras ‘malfunctioned’ at the right time; he had managed to place the original file with the witness statement in the shredder and removed all traces of my involvement as a volunteer at the abuse center.
“Cara, why do you continue to put yourself on the line like this, especially now that we have three precious little daughters on the way?”
“Darling, I am still in my first trimester but I promise no more risks. When I met Pedro’s wife at the women’s shelter on my last day, I promised I would help her. I had to make sure that Solana and her children would be safe from that pitiful excuse for a human being. I just didn’t get there in time.”
“You couldn’t know she would shoot him.”
“But if I had acted sooner the blood wouldn’t be on her hands.”
“No, it would be on yours instead.”
“It is on my hands.”
Nino had been rubbing my feet for the last ten minutes and it was amazing.
“How did you know where I was?”
“A text from your cell phone; I guess it was ghostly intervention.”
“Anthony is pretty remarkable, but the girls were incredible. When Michael helped me to my feet and the open coat exposed my belly, they made it look like I was full term.”
“Anya, you know I’ve taken all of this on faith. How you know what you know, how you do what you do.”
“True, you listened to everything with an open mind and heart. You’ve never asked for proof of anything and yet I sometimes feel that it isn’t just on faith that you’ve accepted everything I’ve told you.”
“I told you once that I too had a Grandmother, one who spoke Sicilian.”
“I remember, Darling. Technically we’ve all had grandmothers. Some of us have been lucky enough to have had a loving relationship with them before they passed on.” I smiled in memory of my Grandmother.
“Or… after.”
I looked at his face and saw a struggle of emotions that indicated he was talking about himself and not me.
“Nino…” I gently encouraged my new husband to continue.
“I never knew Nonna; she passed away before I was born. I dreampt about her one night when I was in my early teens. After that she spoke to me in dreams frequently. The first time I met you she told me you were the one.”
“Ironically, when I was falling in love with you, my Grandmother and the Elders told me you weren’t the one. That’s why I ran away.”
“The important thing is that they brought us back together at the right time.”
“Timing is everything. And back to Solana and my bad timing.”
“Darling you couldn’t have known she wouldn’t wait for you. There is no evidence at the crime scene; Anthony and his cohorts have taken turns guarding the house and have heard every comment and read every note taken. You did an excellent job at covering up and moving the body.”
“Yes, well with regards to the body. Solana didn’t actually kill Pedro; he was just seriously injured and would have recovered with immediate medical attention.”
“So you did kill him.”

* * *
I pried the gun from Solana’s clenched grip.
“That crazy bitch shot me, call 911.” He barked at me. Pedro barked at everyone and bullied or beat most people into doing his bidding, including his wife and children.
“Take the children and go to your mother’s as planned.” I whispered and handed her an envelope full of money and the bus tickets I had purchased a week earlier.
“Hey, call 911.”
I surveyed the crime scene, nothing was out of place. I pulled out a syringe.
“What the hell is that?”
“A little something for the pain.”
“Are you a doctor or somethin?”
“Something like that.” I jabbed him.
“Hey lady, you need to learn how to give a needle. That hurt like hell.”
“Trust me; it’s only going to get worse.”
When he lost consciousness I pulled him to his feet with Anthony’s help and we put him in the back of a rusty old van. He was just coming to by the time we got to the desert. I unceremoniously pulled him out by his feet, not worrying about how often he struck his head.
I took the gun and shot his left foot, then his right. I doused his clothing in gasoline while he screamed in agony. I poured a small trail away from his body, and then poured a circle of gasoline around him and another trail leading away. He watched with a crazed look in his eyes.
“Please lady, please don’t do this.” He begged.
I ignored him and kept walking.
“Come back here, bitch.”
“Gee, I’m sorry. What was I thinking?” I started to walk back.
“That’s right, bitch. You’re gonna be real sorry.”
“See Pedro, that’s your problem, well actually one of many. You don’t know how to quit while you’re ahead.” I started to walk away again; there really wasn’t any doubt as to how this was going to end. I lit a match and heard him scream again.
Stupid man! He wasn’t getting off that easy.
I took aim and fired two well placed rounds in his stomach. He’d bleed out in less than an hour but it would be an agonizing hour.

* * *
I smiled and said, “Let’s just say I hastened his demise.”