This weeks FFF prompt was to start with a random first line of dialogue. I got "I WILL find out who killed my husband, with or without your help." That was intriguing. 965 words.
"I WILL find out who killed my husband, with or without your help."
Dan smiled at her. "Jen, I'd love to help. Your husband and I used to be good friends at one time. His death shook me up too. But the official verdict was suicide."
She hated to hear that yet word again. "Yes, I know that was the verdict, but I don't believe it. I was his wife; I would have known if he was upset. I mean, he was stressed sometimes, but aren't we all?"
Dan reached out and patted her arm. "Sweetie, we never really know what is going through another person's mind. Sometimes people just snap, and do something crazy. Sorry, I didn't mean that – something unexpected, okay?"
She nodded. "I know, that's what the police said. Look, you're a detective. I didn't love Jeff that much anymore, but I want to get to the bottom of this. I'll tell you everything I told the police, just see if they missed anything."
Dan spread his hands and nodded. "Okay hun, I'll see what I can do. No promises though. S\Why don′t you start with when you found the victim, sorry, your husband."
Jen went over her statement once again. How she'd come home from shopping around 5, and found her husband in his home office, dead, slumped back in his chair, with a gun in his lap, and a hole in his forehead. Alone, with the door locked. Finger prints and powder burns had indicated to the police that it was self-inflicted, and the bank statement on his desk confirmed it for them. Apparently they accounts were severely overdrawn, with a huge loan and a second mortgage in arrears.
"Jeff had looked after all the banking," she said. "He was an accountant, after all. Yes, I knew money was tight, and our relationship had been pretty rocky lately, but we would have managed." She sighed.
"And suicide just wasn't him."
"I heard they found drugs, too?" he said.
Jeez, was nothing sacred? "Dan, I'd asked them to keep that quiet. Yes, that's what they found, but Jeff was clean. I told them that, and they just smiled and nodded, like I was the oblivious wife."
Dan paused, and pursed his lips. "Well Jen, I′m afraid I have to agree. Nobody killed your husband, based on what you′ve told me. Suicide."
She opened her purse. "Well, there is one more thing. Apparently Jeff had a hidden security camera. I was packing up his things and found it, high on a bookshelf."
Dan sat up straight. "A camera?" His voice squeaked as he said it.
She held up a small thumb-sized object. "Yes, I guess was for when he saw clients. But this thing was plugged into it, some kind of memory I guess. I don′t even know how to check it. Should I have taken it to the police?"
"The police? No, not them. They, ah, they couldn't use it, chain of evidence and all that. Here, let me check it for you."
He plugged it into his laptop and waved a hand as she started to stand up. "No, stay seated for now Jen, let me check that it isn't too graphic for you. Around 5, you say?" He tapped a few more keys, then leaned forward. His face paled. "Ah. Okay. Just a sec."
More tapping, then he turned the screen toward her. The image was just static. "Sorry. Looks like the camera didn't record. The whole file is blank." He removed the memory stick and tossed it across the table. "Here. My advice is to just move on, Jen."
She stared at Dan. "Hmm, maybe. I guess that's it for now. Thanks anyways. Like you said, I′ll can just go home and try to move on."
When she showed up at Dan′s a few days later, he seemed surprised to see her again. "Are you okay Jen? Something else now?"
"No, just a few things," she said. "I was wondering why you and Jeff had a falling out a few years ago, so I checked his old bank records. Looks like he wrote you a number of large checks."
Dan smiled. "Oh that. Yes, he was nice enough to lend me enough to start my business up. Just a short term thing—I paid it back."
She raised an eyebrow. "Did you? I didn't see that in the statements."
"Cash only," said Dan."At his request."
She frowned. "Really? Okay, moving on. I took that memory thing to a techie friend at the police station. He said there was still a video on it." She paused. "Erased, but still recoverable. And do you know what it showed? Who it showed?"
Dan sat back. "Who cares? The cops won't take it as evidence. And I have an alibi from my wife, that places me elsewhere. Easy to fake receipts from where we were. And yes, I borrowed money for my business. I tried to double it first at the casino, but of course the game was rigged. Bastards. Jeff kept pestering me to pay it back, and threatened to report me to the commission. That would have meant losing my licence, as well as probably some jail time. I went to talk it out with him and he kept pushing me so, sorry, but I snapped, and did something crazy. You'd be surprised how easy it is to fake as a suicide. Look, you can't prove anything, so just take the insurance and move on."
She smiled and reached into her purse. "I do have a recording now." She waved a small recorder.
Dan stood up. "And what's stopping me from taking it from you? And taking care of you the same way I did your husband?"
She chuckled. "Nothing, except the guy outside." She raised her voice. "Officer McNally? You can come in now."