Chapter 11 - Part 2

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"Believe me, I'd rather be questioning you over a spiked coffee but you're the one who went knocking on my window." The man tossed some cans from his cupholders and a handful of trash into the back seat in an effort to clean up the space between them. While tidying he dove into questions. "Mine telling me about the last time you saw Ashley?"

"Yes I mind. I already went over all this with the cops." Desi had to resist growling, shifting in the passenger seat with frustration. The man didn't seem to mind Desi's annoyance though, and left the question in the air until Desi offered a proper answer.

If he was forced to answer, he'd make it quick so he could get this shit over with. "We went to a party. I was driving her home around midnight and we had a fight. I found out she was cheating on me, and I was angry, so I made her get out of the car. I told her to go to the other guy's place. It was nearby. Nic Landry. He doesn't know that I found out about them. After I drove around a bit I went back to pick her up but she was gone. That was the last I saw of her. I spent the weekend alone." Desi ran through the same shitty alibi he'd told the cops with little attempt at sounding anything other than annoyed, realizing his callous behavior wasn't exactly doing him any favors for his suspiciousness but being so over talking about it that he couldn't be bothered to give a damn anymore. What did it matter, if he convinced this private investigator of his innocence? It wouldn't change a goddamn thing if the cops decided the contrary.

Desi expected further interrogation, but with his rundown the man had given him a serious look, a hum, and then a shake of his head as he shifted to retrieve a metal cigarette case from his back pocket.

"That's rough, kid."

He flipped the case open, retrieving a self-rolled smoke from the lineup of six and putting it between his lips. When he saw Desi eyeing them curiosity he offered one. "I know it's a little old-fashioned, but when you grind your own tobacco they last longer."

Desi nodded and took one, but waited to see the man light his and take a drag before accepting the lighter and setting flame to his. It didn't taste like Casper's Marlboros, but there was something among the tobacco that was weirdly familiar. Woody and sharp. Desi took another drag and let the smoke escape out the passenger door he'd left open.

When he turned back to the man, Desi noticed he was watching him smoking, and when he gave a weird look, the man straightened and posed another question finally. "You said you went back to pick her up. When was that?"

Desi wrecked his brain to remember, knowing he'd looked at the clock. "It was almost two am, I think." Yes, because he remembered wondering where the time had went.

"You said you left the party at twelve."

Desi nodded again. "Yeah. After fighting with her and leaving I just... I dunno."

"You don't know or you don't remember?" The man asked through a smokey exhale, giving a chuckle of disbelief when Desi shrugged. "Did you black out or something?"

"Yeah, maybe. I guess." Desi hadn't told this to the cops, he realized. About going back to look for her, or spending the night at the same park, or about his trip that turned Casper into a nightmarish creature. If he'd had, they would have probably committed him that day. Especially since the police department knew enough about his father's track record of violence and blackouts.

The man gave a considering noise while savouring a few more drags. "You got a history or is this a new thing?"

"No. Never." Desi shook his head, his knee starting to bounce with discomfort. He wasn't sure why he was admitting this shit, but it was coming out as easy as the smoke on his exhales. "My dad though. He had blackouts."

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