A knock on the door- another salesman?
“Hello?” a small Miss Belanic says, waving the door open just a creak.
A sharp, stern, all business sort, towering over her as he puts out his cigarette. It’s a shame, because he’s very handsome, and a smile would do his cold face some good. “Inspector Johannes, miss. Police department. I’m here regarding the disappearance of a Miss Parker.” He shows her his badge and some piece of paper that probably is titled as a search warrant- she doesn’t look at either of them.
The short Miss Belanic draws back in a moment of shock. The first thing that comes to her mind is how embarrassing the apartment looks – far more important than Odette’s disappearance, which she recalls was a normal happenstance during their high school years. Odette Parker would disappear almost bi-weekly due to her latest mood swing fiasco- this is likely nothing different. As usual, it’s probably just about her newest breakup with the next scumbag in line for her affection.
“Uh, yes! Come right in, sir.” She makes the way and inspector Johannes silently enters, passing through the doorway and removing his overcoat and hat in one graceful motion.
“So… Miss Parker’s missing?” She takes the inspector’s coat and hat to hang. He’s rife with the overwhelming scents of smoke and brandy, like her father.
The Inspector looks through the shaded, painting-filled studio apartment with a perceptive sort of half-squint. She’s not sure if this is an act to look suspicious, or if he just has trouble seeing.
“That’s right, Miss.” He steps over to the ash tray where her current tiparillo still emits a thin, flowing curve of smoke, and flicks his cigarette inside. “She mentions you in several of her journal entries.”
“O-oh my.” It never hit her that inspectors might fold through people’s private lives like that, but it does make sense if you’re trying to figure out where someone’s at. “Some coffee, Inspector?” She says with one of those awkward coos that could be construed as either friendly or sensual though it’s absolutely intended to be the former- she has no idea how to act in a situation like this, having a male in her gross apartment and all.
Inspector Johannes shakes his head and looses a slight, primitive grunt as he begins stepping about the apartment.
“That’s just fine, sir… I haven’t seen Odette for years, though.” She’s telling the truth- she hasn’t seen her for a good while.
“I’ll be the judge of that,” he says as if she were already in handcuffs and at his mercy.
“Y-yes, sir…” She decides to step back into the small kitchen area and pour herself a cup of coffee- she feels like she could use one.
“So tell me. What were you doing last night at seven thirty five?” Inspector Johannes says, gently scratching his light brown stubble as he surveys her paintings with his dark brown eyes.
She feels her gut tighten- it’s just like she feared it might be like from her mystery novels. “Uh… I was… well, just here, really.”
He flips through a pile of books on the floor, all about art. “Doing what, might I ask?”
Her already red features flush vibrantly. “I was… painting, sir.”
“That so?” He says blandly as he gets up and steps to the other side of the room.
She scantly sips her coffee, almost spilling it from tremors. She knows this will end up either two ways based on all the books she’s read with inspectors and women: in cuffs and going down to the station to be booked for murder, or in his arms with his lips against hers. She’s pretty sure the second option doesn’t really apply to people like her though; dammit all.
“Yes, that’s right,” she says with a peep.
He nods, raising a brow so slightly that he looks as though he almost feels emotions. “Nothing else?”
She smirks as best she can as he opens chest of drawers. “Art students are pretty busy, sir.”
He takes a quick look through her clothes – she almost breaks her cup. “You’ve been accepted into the college here?” He asks.
She nods. “Yes, sir.”
“Congratulations. Hear it’s pretty hard to get in. Any family here with you?”
She shakes her head. “No, sir- just me.”
“It’s just one bed, sir.” She feels witty for saying it.
“Doesn’t mean that you don’t share it.” He closes the last drawer and moves on to her frilly bed, the only thing truly orderly and well-made in the chaos of her apartment.
“Well I don’t, sir. And that’s that!” Now she feels like she’s getting control of her situation. Maybe this isn’t so hard.
He scoffs lightly with a smirk. She was right, he does look twice the man with a smile. “Alright.” He leans back to full height and approaches her. She again becomes aware of shaking knees. He brushes by into the small kitchen- the smell is so strong, and he radiates warmth in the cool apartment. “Excuse me.”
“Of… of course, sir.”
“And so you claim that you don’t know anything about her disappearance?” He opens up her cupboards, racks, and drawers.
“Th-… yes sir.”
He takes a peek in her icebox and she blushes like a radish. “A drinker, eh?” He asks as the sound of a car pulling up into the driveway pours through the open apartment window.
“Yes… sir… the artist’s curse, you know.” She says this with a wide smile, as if it were something quippy and smart that normal people would say.
“Me too… Alright then.” He leans up again as he closes the small icebox. “I think I’ve seen enough.”
She springs up straight as a board. “That so?”
He smiles. “That so. Thank you for having me by, ma’am.” He turns back to the door and takes up his coat.
She squints an eye in curiosity- this was so quick. “Well… alright then, inspector. Please have a nice day.”
He nods with a wide smile as he exits through the door. “And you, Miss.”
Perceptive, smart, quiet Miss Belanic, the one that can paint anyone’s face just by looking at them once, loses her courteous smile. She’s seen a million smiles, and if she were to place what his smile was saying, it wasn’t “Oh gee, I’m glad it wasn’t her,” but more along the lines of “I got away with it, dumb bitch.” She’s not sure if she’s imagining the “dumb bitch” part, but she’d bet her bones that his smile at least looks relieved.
Inspector Johannes closes the door, and she locks it back. It probably isn’t anything to worry about. She shrugs for herself as she hears him drive away. In the same moment she spots something in the corner of her vision. A dainty, petite red book is sitting atop her many volumes on painting. Miss Belanic steps up to it and opens it. With a jolt she drops the book. It’s a journal, and a certain Odette Parker is written at the top margins of the cover! Odette’s journal.
Miss Belanic flinches to rush out of the apartment, but she realizes it’s too late. Inspector Johannes must have been so busy that he brought key evidence with him! She sighs and paces nervously across her dinged floor for a minute to decide what to do, and finally tells herself that she’ll just drop by the station tomorrow after class. She’s interested in what her good friend has been up to all these years as well, but she won’t pry- it would be rude. Once they find her she’ll just get up with her again. Miss Belanic sighs. She’s sure that wherever Odette is, she’s okay.
She turns back to her cup of coffee and her tiparillo and her paintings, but just before she gets properly settled in there’s a knock on the mocha-colored door. She takes an exasperated breath, puts down her accouterments, and returns to the door.
She opens it to find a trio of men; old, angry, and instantly disgusted at the sight of her.
“Good day, ma’am. Inspector Boryaet,” the front-most man, a thickly-mustached, thickly-accented, grey-haired giant greets as he flips out his badge and shows his search warrant.
Her eyes widen. “Good day.”
“We’re here on a tip that says this is the apartment of the five-knife killer.”
Her guts clench, but this time it’s far worse. “The… that murderer in the newspaper?”
“That’s right.” Inspector Johannes is a pretender to this man when it comes to sounding cold. This inspector is positively frozen. “Let us in.”
She lets them in without a thought and they start tearing through her things. “Well, inspector, I’m afraid you’re here a bit late.”
“A bit late?” He asks, flipping a pair of handcuffs about in his stubby fingers.
“Yes, an inspector Johannes already came by and said everything was fine.”
Inspector Boryaet squints an eye. ”And this inspector was police?”
His stone cold face sprouts a spring of humor as one of the other inspectors scoffs upon finding Miss Parker’s journal. “Miss, we don’t have an inspector Johannes at the station. We’re the first ones to arrive here…” he looks over the inspector with the journal, who’s raising it victoriously. “That it? Wonderful.”
“Wh-what’s wonderful, inspec-”
“Drop it, schmuck.” He grabs her in a blink and turns her to her back to get cuffed.
“What do you mean?! What’s happening?”
The third inspector whistles as he displays a set of five knives. “Found these in her goddamn silverware drawer, not even clean.”
“That’s…” It finally hits her.
“We finally got the killer, boys. Drinks on me tonight,” inspector Boryaet says with a sly grin as they file her down to the car.
Driving away to the station, she spots the five knife killer sitting laxly at an outdoor café, staring intently at the police car with a wide, goofy smile.
It was a smile of relief after all, she decides.