An Excerpt from SHOT GLASS DIVA
by Jacki Simmons
“Honey Davis?” a stern voice asked.
“Yes?” I was startled to find a balding, dour-faced man standing an arm’s length away from me. His tall yet stocky body was encased in an ill-fitting navy blue suit, and his blue-and-gray striped tie threatened to choke him. Another man silently approached and stood sentinel on the other side; he was shorter, younger, and dressed in a similar manner, except he had a thatch of thick, brown hair that complemented the shades of brown in his tie and his tan-colored suit. I had been so preoccupied with my upcoming trip that I hadn’t heard them approach. I wanted to step back and reclaim my personal space, but I couldn’t. There was simply nowhere to go.
“What’s going on?” I didn’t recognize these men, but their sudden presence gave me a bad feeling.
They studied me intently as they flashed their badges. “I’m Detective First Grade George Mayer, Homicide, 34th Precinct,” the balding man said. “This is my partner, Detective Second Grade Joshua Bingham.”
My body felt frozen. Detectives? Homicide? “What…what can I do for you, detectives?” I stammered.
Homicide meant someone was dead, and apparently it was someone I knew, or knew of. This was not good. This was not good at all.
“We’re investigating the murder of Lola Lee.”
Oh shit, I thought. “Murder!” I exclaimed. “I don’t know anyone by that name. Who’s Lola Lee?”
“We were told that you were pretty good friends with her husband, Sammie. Is that correct?”
My eyebrows rose as my mouth fell open in horror. Lola Lee…they were talking about that Lola, as in Sammie’s wife. Blood drained from my face as the frozen feeling extended all the way down to my toes. Lola’s dead?
“Well, I…ya…yes,” I stuttered. I couldn’t think; my usual fast talk had gone missing in action. I was shook! Lola Lee was dead, and two homicide detectives were asking me questions. Did they know about me and Sammie, I wondered?
“Do you mind if we ask you a few questions?” Mayer was obviously the alpha dog in this duo; Detective Bingham remained silent, though his sharp green eyes remained in motion. The phrase “still waters run deep” sprang to mind.
“Um, well…is it going to take long? I have to catch a flight; it’s a family emergency.”
“We won’t take long, Ms. Davis.” Mayer’s tone implied that I didn’t have much of a choice. “Let’s go to your apartment, shall we? Or, if you’d like, we can go down to the precinct.”
Go down to the precinct? Oh hell no! That was not an option, so what else could I say? If I didn’t agree, it would make me look bad. Kyashira’s face flashed in my mind, but I had to push it away. I had to answer these questions so that I could focus on her with no distractions. Nausea surged in my stomach; I forced myself to swallow as I led the way, praying I wouldn’t throw up, reluctance evident in every step I made.
I knew that I had to choose my words carefully. As Sammie’s mistress, no one had to tell me that things could get real ugly for me, real fast. The detectives’ eyes roamed around my small, one-bedroom apartment, taking in every little detail, including all of the expensive gifts that I’d thrown around in a hurry. I followed Bingham’s gaze to a stack of big bills on an end table. Damn!
Mayer continued the questioning. He perched himself on the edge of my cream suede loveseat and removed a small notebook and inkpen from the inside pocket of his suit jacket. “How did you meet Lola Lee?”
I sighed in resignation. Lying would be futile. “I am Sammie’s mistress.” I took a deep breath, exhaled. “I only met her once. Apparently, Sammie told her about us; she came to confront me about it at the condo where I usually stayed with him, and we exchanged words about it.” I refused to mention what happened after that.
“You only met her once?”
“Yes. Most mistresses don’t make a habit of socializing with the wives of their lovers,” I retorted.
Mayer shot me a disapproving look. I had to remember to hold my sharp tongue if I wanted to get to Kyashira.
“And you met her at Mr. Lee’s condo?”
I raised an eyebrow. “I didn’t meet her. We didn’t have an appointment. She just showed up, unannounced.”
“And when was the last time you saw Mr. Lee?”
“Earlier today. We just returned from a week in Hawaii, and he dropped me off.”
“What was the purpose of the trip?”
I gave Mayer a “come on, now” look. “What do you think?”
Mayer continued to grill me: my whereabouts before and after Lola’s visit, who I saw, who I spoke to. I thought I was home free when Mayer tucked his notebook back into his pocket. Then he blindsided me.
“Ms. Davis, we understand that you had an altercation with Mrs. Lee, shortly before her death.”
Great. Of course they knew about the fight, and I had been really hoping to avoid that topic. I may have been a high-school dropout, but I watched enough TV to know that a mistress was usually a prime suspect in the death of her lover’s wife, and a fight prior to the wife’s death was not a good look.
“Well, yes. I mean, like I said, she confronted me about my affair with her husband, Sammie. We exchanged words, and then things got a little heated.”
A little heated. That was like saying someone was a little pregnant.
“How bad was that altercation, Ms. Davis?”
Uh-oh. Careful, Honey,I told myself. “Uh, well, we got into it a little bit. Some slapping, rumbling on the floor. You know, a girl fight.”
“Were either of you injured?”
“A few scratches. And my pride, I guess.” I lowered my eyes as I remembered the humiliation of being tossed out on the street, with nothing but the clothes on my back – and there being nothing I could do about it. Not right then, anyway.
Bingham examined my face and spoke for the first time. “You seem to have healed pretty well.”
“Well, a week in Hawaii does wonders for the healing process,” I said nervously. My smile was falsely bright and had no effect on the jaded demeanors of the detectives.
Mayer and Bingham looked at each other in an unspoken signal, and rose to leave. “Thank you for your time, Ms. Davis. We’ll be in touch. Please call us if you think of anything else.” They each removed a business card from their respective wallets and handed them to me. I took them, ashamed to see that my hands shook slightly. As they walked out the door, Mayer turned and said, “Oh yeah. If you don’t mind, we’d like for you to stay within the state of New York for the time being.”
Hmm. It seemed like they didn’t buy my story of a family emergency, or didn’t care. Either way, I watched them walk away as fear gnawed a hole in my belly. Fuck what they minded; I had to get to Georgia. I had to get to Kyashira.
As I sped down the highway toward LaGuardia Airport, I knew that I would probably miss my scheduled flight to Georgia and would have to beg my way onto the next one; a family emergency just might bump me to the top of the standby list. I wondered if the detectives tailed me to the airport. I looked in my rearview mirror but couldn’t see anything suspicious. The movies always showed a tail following three car lengths behind, but traffic was heavy and the only thing I noticed that distance behind me was a burgundy Ford Focus. If there was a tail, my amateur eyes couldn’t spot it.
Would my flight plans be misconstrued? Would I look as if I were running because I was guilty? All I could do was hope that Detectives Mayer and Bingham did not follow me to the airport, and that I would be able to do what I had to do. All of a sudden, everything seemed to fall apart. I couldn’t even say that I didn’t deserve it. When I started my journey as a bad ass, I wanted excitement--and that’s exactly what I got.