Leslie presses her forehead to the window of the cab, feeling the tears gather in her eyes. Even when John was tough on her, he was still so full of love. He did it because he believed in her. He believed with all his might that Leslie would get better, that she would heal from her past. Every time she said she was ruined and broken, he would say she was damaged, but not broken. It was as if thought he could heal her by the sheer force of his beliefs. Leslie roots through her oversized purse for a tissue (John liked to joke that she could carry a small child in it) and blows her nose. She wonders how long it’ll take before she doesn’t cry every time she thinks of John. She has a hunch it’ll be a long time.
“Here we are.” The cabbie pulls up to what looks like a gated mansion, at least to Leslie’s eyes. “I hope they’re expecting you.”
“They are.” Leslie is about to say something when an intercom crackles to life.
“Tell her Jacqueline Kim is here,” Leslie tells the cabbie. He does so with little fanfare. They are buzzed through the gate. “Will you wait for me?” Leslie asks the cabbie.
“Sure.” The cabbie nods at Leslie before pulling a book out to read. Leslie sees that it’s A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens. Leslie exits the cab and marches toward the front door. She takes a deep breath and rings the doorbell. The door is opened by an older woman with faded blond hair and faded blue eyes, wearing a faded pink housedress. Though she is neatly attired and her hair is combed, there is something vaguely slatternly about her. It might be the way she is clutching her oversized wine glass, though it isn’t even ten in the morning yet. That doesn’t daunt Mrs. Robertson as she gulps the red wine from her glass.
“You’re Jacqueline Kim. Friend of Rose Duffy. You want to talk to me about Amy.” Mrs. Robertson’s words are slurred. She steps back from the door and gestures for Leslie to enter. Leslie glances around her and sees nothing but taupe and beige and ecru. Everything is of fine quality and very tasteful, but it’s fucking boring. Mrs. Robertson leads Leslie to the living room, which is at least done in dusty rose rather than beige. But, the furniture is beige, and so is the floor. Leslie would go nuts living in this soulless house. “Sit.” Mrs. Robertson motions to a beige leather couch, and Leslie gingerly sits down. She and leather don’t get along very well. She has a tendency to slide off it. “I need a refresher. I’ll be right back.” Mrs. Robertson disappears without asking Leslie if she wants a drink. Leslie blinks. There is something off-putting about Mrs. Robertson’s manners. It’s as she knows what she’s supposed to say and do, but she can’t quite do it. Leslie waits tensely for Mrs. Robertson to return. Once she does, she seats herself in a hard-back chair directly opposite of Leslie. Mrs. Robertson continues to gulp at her wine, staring at Leslie without saying anything.
“Um, yes. I am an old friend of Rose Duffy’s,” Leslie begins, her face flushing. She is not the most sociable of people in the first place; she is completely out of her depth with this woman sitting across from her.
“Oh, yes. Rose. How is it that you know her?” Mrs. Robertson asks the question, though she doesn’t sound interested in the answer.
“Yoga class in college,” Leslie says quickly. She’s praying that Mrs. Robertson doesn’t know Rose well at all so she (Leslie) can lie with impunity.
“Yoga. I never had any use for it, myself.” Mrs. Robertson drains half her glass in one gulp.
“I gave it up after a few years. Anyway, I came to visit Rose since I haven’t seen her in years, and now she’s disappeared.”
“Yes, she has.” Mrs. Robertson is matter-of-fact; she might as well be talking about the weather.
“The last time we talked, she was telling me about the death of your daughter because she was worried about Freddy disappearing, too.” Leslie groans at how stupid she sounds, but this woman is giving her nothing.
“Yes. Amy’s death grieves us all. She had so much to live for. It’s quite tragic.” Again, Mrs. Robertson’s voice is matter-of-fact, and it’s making Leslie’s skin crawl. “The last person to see her alive, besides her killer, of course, was Chief-of-Police Matthews. He pulled her over for drunk driving about an hour before she was murdered. Apparently, she got quite nasty with him. He threatened to put her in jail to dry out. She did not like that.”
“Really? Rose didn’t tell me about that.” Leslie wishes she could takes note, but she knows it will look suspicious if she takes out a notebook and pen right now.
“Oh, it was suppressed, of course. It wouldn’t look good for the chief, if you understand what I’m saying.” Mrs. Robertson smiles a thin smile, drinks the rest of her wine, and stares at her glass. “I need a refill.” She stands up abruptly and leaves the room again. Leslie stifles the impulse to tell her to bring the bottle and be done with it. Instead, she thinks about what Mrs. Robertson said about Chief Matthews. From what Leslie has surmised, Amy was the type of woman to do whatever the hell she wanted whenever the hell she wanted for whatever the hell reason she wanted. And, she had a mean, vindictive streak, if the story Prosecutor Erickson had told Leslie was any indication. Maybe Amy had something on Chief Matthews, too, and when he pulled her over for driving under the influence, she threatened to expose his secret. The problem is that there simply is no dirt on the chief to be found. Leslie vows to try again as soon as she returns to the hotel.
“Chief Matthews has a temper,” Mrs. Robertson says without preamble as she returns, bottle in one hand, glass in the other. This time, Leslie stifles the impulse to tell Mrs. Robertson to skip the glass and go straight for the bottle. “If Amy got a little sassy with him, well, there’s no telling what he’d do.”
“Mrs. Robertson, are you trying to say that you think the chief of police killed your daughter?”
“Not at all. I am just making conversation.” Mrs. Robertson pours herself more wine and smiles loftily at Leslie. “I know many things that people don’t know I know. For instance, did you know that my husband has no alibi for the night of Amy’s murder?” The smile on Mrs. Robertson’s face widens maliciously as she continues. “Or rather, he has an alibi, but I highly doubt he would feel comfortable exposing her to a police interrogation—or himself.” Mrs. Robertson fixes her stare on Leslie who squirms uncomfortably. She is faintly aware that Mrs. Robertson is toying with her, but she doesn’t know why. She is not sure she wants to know why.
“Mrs. Robertson, tell me about your daughter.” Leslie decides the direct approach is the best. She wants to get her information as quickly as possible and get the hell out of there. Mrs. Robertson is seriously creeping her out.
“Amy has always been different. She’s spirited and creative and obsessive. Those are her good points.”
“And her bad?”
“She lied constantly. It was difficult to know when she was telling the truth and when she wasn’t. It was just safer to assume that she was lying until it could be proved otherwise.” Mrs. Robertson nods her head before draining her glass yet again. To Leslie’s relief, Mrs. Robertson sets down the glass and does not refill it. “She was not a bad girl, overall, merely an undisciplined one.”
“Who do you think killed her, Mrs. Robertson?” Leslie is curious to see how Mrs. Robertson will answer. Freddy is the obvious answer, of course, but this woman has been anything but obvious so far.
“I don’t really know, nor do I particularly care,” Mrs. Robertson says, picking up bottle and glass again. She pours herself more wine, sips it, and continues. “I suppose it’s that Freddy boy because who else could it be?” She lifts her eyes until they meet Leslie’s and despite herself, Leslie shudders.
“I must be going. Thank you for talking to me, Mrs. Robertson.” Leslie stands up hastily, suddenly desperate to get away from this woman.
“Not at all, Jacqueline.” Mrs. Robertson emphasizes the name slightly, causing the hair on the back of Leslie’s neck to stand up. “You can show yourself out, I presume.” Leslie doesn’t even bother to answer, so perturbed is she. She makes it back to the cab in record time.