Nobody Lies Like an Eyewitness

I wouldn’t be rotting in jail right now, serving five life sentences and writing this memoir if I hadn’t gone back to the woman’s washroom that Monday night to take one last look for the piece of paper. What I mean to say is, I found the garbage bag that should’ve contained the paper but it wasn’t there. The garbage bag I’m referring to came from the sanitary napkin receptacle affixed to the wall of the stall, and as such it contained empty tubes of lipstick and mascara, broken hair elastics, bent bobby pins, pieces of chewed gum, and, of course, an array of used menstrual pads and tampons. I checked the insides of the lids to the makeup tubes before examining the tampons and then the pads, paying particular attention to their adhesive strips yet no pieces of paper were found.

Both Darryl and I clearly saw the girl insert the crumpled piece of paper into the receptacle, so it was extra frustrating to have come up empty handed after all that effort. Eventually, I admitted defeat and headed for the employee exit but abruptly turned around and headed back to the women’s washroom upon realizing the paper might’ve ended up between the bag and the inside of the receptacle. Sure enough, that’s where it was, and as suspected it contained a phone number.

I slept well that night despite my growing excitement. Early the next morning I woke refreshed and eager to tell Darryl about the fruits of my labour. During lunch break, I found him in the food court and bent his ear, telling him in hushed tones that I had successfully retrieved the paper and per his hunch it contained promising information. After thanking me in an oddly sincere manner, he offered to do a database search of what was probably a burner number. From what I gathered; his line of work gave him privileged access to some kind of high-powered tracking service.

The following day, he tapped on the door of my janitor’s closet, poked his head in, and whispered that his GPS-based search produced an address where the phone was last used but no name, so I jotted it down and said I’d take a drive by after work, just to see if it was worth our time. Darryl, however, shrunk like a violet upon hearing me say our time instead of my time.

  • I wish you luck, Andy, and I’ll keep contributing to this operation from an IT standpoint but I can’t be physically involved. Hope you understand.
  • Well, no, I don’t.
  • I’m just not a rough and ready kinda guy.
  • It’s not like I’m asking you to make a citizen’s arrest or anything, we’d only be surveilling and you love that sort of thing.

At the mention of a citizen’s arrest his demeanor suddenly shifted back from passive reluctance to active involvement, if only fleetingly.

  • Look, you could give the address to the police via their anonymous tip line at the first sign of suspicious activity but they rarely act on sketchy information harvested from Crime Stoppers. Their budget isn’t big enough for that kind of risk taking. So, if you see something pertinent to the case, then my advice is for you to go on record because solid witness depositions pay dividends in court. Keep in mind, however, you can’t say how you ended up at that address, at least, not how you actually ended up there, if you know what I mean.
  • Yeah, okay, but it’d be fun to do a stake out together, don’t you think?
  • Nope. I have a mall to protect.
  • You’ve already made this place safer than Fort Knox but fine, I’ll do it alone.
  • Fort Knox is an army installation and the main bullion depository for the United States.
  • Darryl, it’s just an expression.
  • Well, it’s wildly inaccurate.
  • Most expressions are—but anyways, I wanted to ask a favour.
  • What kind of favour.
  • If you have more footage related to the missing girl, will you show it to me?

His eyes pulled away from mine, searching the near distance above my left shoulder for the answer to my question. After a few ponderous seconds he shook his head, took a deep breath, and told me to visit him again on the upcoming weekend but this time it was my turn to provide the beer and cigarettes.

  • How ‘bout I bring some weed as well.
  • Oh, I don’t know… I haven’t smoked any of that in a really long time.
  • Don’t worry, the stuff I have isn’t that strong, it’ll make you laugh and give you the munchies and that’s about it.
  • Alright, then bring some munchies too.

As stated earlier, my lawyer, Deb Bernstein, successfully argued in my favour that the witness depositions from the missing girl case, specifically those from the scene of her last known whereabouts i.e., the food court in the mall, were relevant to my own case therefore I was permitted to read them.

There were four in total including mine and Darryl’s. Darryl’s was very brief, consisting only of his verbal description of what he saw on the food court security camera. The other two depositions were from an octogenarian of Russian extraction and a teenaged boy, both of whom were sitting within earshot of the missing girl and her trafficker.

Dmitri Millerov’s parents escaped the Soviet Union after the Bolsheviks murdered their way to power. The border of the newly established USSR had yet to be secured circa the early nineteen twenties, and so it was that a newly born Dmitri, swaddled in a babushka, arrived on the peaceful shores of Canada. Raised in south-eastern Ontario, he worked as a postman for fifty years before spending his retirement tending to his beloved bees, which, according to him, made the best honey in the whole region between Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal.

Whoever presided over the deposition must’ve been in a generous mood, or maybe they had simply been charmed by Dmitri’s way with words, as they not only allowed him to tell large portions of his life story, but they also went out of their way to include these reminiscences in the actual transcription.

According to Dmitri, “someone must’ve pissed in the Corn Flakes of the young man sitting opposite the young woman, either that or he was blind… On second thought, he might’ve been playing for the other team because I heard him tell the pretty young thing they were there to buy clothes… He rhymed off a list of stuff she needed to wear for something or other, and from what I could tell it sounded like he was dressing her up in a schoolgirl’s outfit because there was mention of a pleated skirt and, I think, knee socks.”

Near the end of Dmitri’s deposition, he claimed to have gotten a bad feeling from the young man but then immediately followed that claim up with a head-scratching statement designed, perhaps, to underscore the dubiousness of taking bystanders at their word. Just to keep things real, he ended his deposition by saying: “nobody lies like an eyewitness”, which was an old Russian proverb, or so he alleged.

The teenaged boy’s recorded statement was filled with expletives yet contained key information for Detective Brent, who, in my opinion, did not seem invested in the case. From the get-go, Brent appeared tacitly dismissive of the idea that the girl’s life was in danger. I got the impression he felt it was beneath him to go looking under rocks for prostitutes, even if they were minors. So, after the teenaged boy said the girl was “whored up and hot as fuck” and had been giving him the eye while sitting across from her “dude who looked a lot like a tatted-up pimp”, Brent, the ever-snivelling, misogynistic bigot, responded by saying, “it must’ve been hard to see the tattoos because of all that black skin”, to which the teenaged boy replied: “He had a spiderweb on his elbow and a teardrop under his eye… He was a muhfuckin’ jailbird straight-up, bruh.”

Eventually, the tattooed sex trafficker was identified by cross referencing images of his face—taken from the mall security footage—with one of his previous mugshots. The identification process was not done expeditiously and by the time the trafficker was brought in for questioning, six days after the missing persons report was filed, the trail had gone cold, or so Brent claimed when he returned to the mall on the seventh day for the purpose of asking me about garbage collection protocol.

  • Good to see you again, Andy. Looks like you’re hard at work with your custodial arts… I have a question for you.
  • Okay.
  • Has the mall’s garbage been picked up since we last talked, a week ago?
  • It went out yesterday.
  • Well isn’t that just kick-you-in-the-crotch, spit-on-your-neck fantastic.

Apparently, he enjoyed the nineties sitcom, Friends, because years later, while watching reruns in prison, I discovered the kick-you-in-the-crotch line was lifted from that show. Which isn’t to say I found it or him funny, especially under the circumstances, and to make my displeasure clear, I silently resumed what I had been doing before his unwelcome arrival. Not getting a laugh out of me bugged him, and his voice hardened a little.

  • I brought that black fella in for questioning yesterday and all he could tell me was that he passed her a phone number on a piece of paper when they were together in the food court. Unfortunately, he couldn’t remember any of the digits and claimed he hasn’t seen her since then but said he had reason to believe she might’ve thrown the paper in the garbage when she visited the food court bathroom… You haven’t by chance seen the paper I’m referring to, have you?
  • I don’t make a habit of sifting through the dozens of garbage bags I change on a daily basis.
  • Alright, Andy, alright, I guess this one’s headed for the cold case files… It’s not like she’s the first of her kind to end up there.
  • Well, I know there’s about forty Indigenous women who’ve gone missing on the Highway of Tears and none of your buddies out there in the RCMP seem to be too worried about it, so yeah, she’s not the first and she won’t be the last, thanks to apathetic detectives like yourself.

That final conversation with Brent steeled my resolve to drive by the address pulled from Darryl’s privileged access tracking service. I had planned on going the previous night but talked myself out of it, mostly because Darryl declined to accompany me. I suppose I chickened out, and the shame of having done so, coupled with the fact that the girl’s fate had been prematurely tossed into the cold folder of some future detective who might not have even been born yet, spurred me on.

8 thoughts on “Nobody Lies Like an Eyewitness

  1. Some one who pissed in the Corn Flakes, has got to be one of the top ten lines written from the thousands of great words on THBlog. I mean, imagine if someone didn’t see someone else pee in the bowl. Further imagine if the pee’er was a woman. Visualise her getting up on the table and urinating in the Corn Flakes and no one saw her. Not even the person eating the Corn Flakes. This would be a major moment in the story. Of course, I’m considering all of this in a literal way. I can’t help it. I know I need help, but wonder if you are qualified. I’m looking for a psychiatrists who is also a nymphomaniac. I don’t think that is you. Anyway, good luck as always with you writing. I need the same. Love Duke

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Duke, thanks for reading. The pissed-in Corn Flakes is an old saying from around these parts. I’m not a qualified psychiatrist or nymphomaniac. Not yet anyway. This post rounds out the first 10K of Custos Damnationem. CD should be slightly clearer but less warm than LP, in terms of sound quality. Also, this is the last instalment of the planned partial serialization, so TH can now return to its regularly scheduled programming.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. First person POV seems to work pretty well for you. The bulleted dialog mostly works. Bullets are such a standard style for knowledge-based documents, it’s hard to not read them as called out highlights.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Anony, thanks, there’s an ease to first person POV for sure. The bulleted dialogue is not intentional. I have it in a hyphenated format:

      – A
      – B
      – A

      For some reason the hyphens turn to bullets when I paste into WordPress.

      Like

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