Swim Where 6
“Where did you go?” She asked on his return.
“Can’t you sleuth it out?”
“Your wet hair and damp clothing suggests a swimming pool was involved.”
“I ran about a third of a marathon to blow off some steam. Then I skinny dipped in the building’s pool to cool down.”
“Had a bike been handy, you could’ve done a full iron man event.”
“I like cycling. If the triathlon becomes an Olympic sport, maybe I’ll win another gold.”
“I made you angry.” Belinda dropped the banter and cut to the juice.
“Yes, you did. But while running, I realized that it was entirely my fault. Then I swam lengths trying to think of ways to make you understand.”
“That’s where my being a reporter comes in handy. I can read back in my notes and try to understand your words differently than my first comprehension.”
“Did you do that?”
“Of course and the next time we touch that area, I’ll be a different person than I was. I won’t guarantee to follow as you want then either, but that will be another chance for me to reread and recalibrate myself.”
“I’ve never thought of that possibility.” Scott smooched her on the lips, scooped her into his arms and waltzed around the room, with her feet barely brushing the floor.
“You swam naked in the building pool?”
“Sure.” He set her down. “I’ve gone in without my swimwear loads of times. People casually entering the area probably don’t even notice because I’m always swimming fast lengths. Security likely knows I haven’t got a bathing suit on because they have video surveillance but they’ve never mentioned it.”
“The guards are probably selling the videos of a nude celebrity.”
“Who’s the cynic now?”
“Do you see what a notebook review can accomplish?”
Scott Wagner just smiled.
“It’s early enough to get back at it before supper.” Belinda suggested. “We might talk about Luther’s death.”
“That’s a scrumptious idea.” His voice was seductively low. “We get back at it now.” His eyes flicked towards the bedroom. “Then we go out for dinner, where I speak about Luther’s death – on empty testicles and while gaining a full stomach.”
“You reviewed your notes.” Belinda’s voice was sultry. “That’s precisely what I said and exactly as I hoped it would be understood.” She giggled and wiggled to the bed.
“The years following your mother’s death must’ve been.” Belinda paused and tried to find the right word. “I’m sorry, but even ‘hellish’ doesn’t seem strong enough.”
“Bizarre as it might seem, my situation actually improved in a number of ways. For one thing I didn’t have to see her beaten anymore. But Luther’s assaults on me were on the decrease as well. Over a span of several years, my beatings went from nearly continuous, to frequently, to occasionally, and finally they leveled off at rarely. Of course Luther spent increasingly more time away from the house too.”
“Perhaps a late-blooming conscience?”
“I can speculate on reasons but to have any likelihood of one being truth, it would need to be either utterly self-serving on his part, or related to policing somehow.”
“I’ll note that you’re not attesting certainty, but could we explore possible ones?”
“I will ponder while we order.” Scott only mouthed the words for her to lip read as the waiter had arrived with his notepad.
‘Of course he is has to be the same man as before.’ Belinda said silently to her mind. They had taken another taxi to the very same quay restaurant as their first date. In the corner of her eye, she caught movements: it was kitchen staff poking their faces up into the window and then ducking away after satisfying their curiosity.
“And madam would like?” The waiter turned his attention to her.
“You order for me.” Belinda feigned an interest in her notes. “I’ll enjoy whatever you select.”
She rummaged back several pages as if verifying a sudden idea. ‘What must they think of me?’ she wondered. The clothes she was wearing was a pale pink silk blouse with a scarf, and a knee length skirt that hugged her hips and tapered down her thighs. ‘They’ve now seen my look go from teenybopper to a young skank and today I might appear today as either a secretary or with my hair tucked into a prim bun, I could be seen as a teacher or worse, a librarian.’
“Do you mind again?” The waiter blushed. “The staff wants more autographs.”
“Uh,” Scott looked over at her and shrugged quizzically, “I guess so.”
The kitchen door opened and the tiny throng raced out with their books, napkins, and whatever they planned on getting endorsed by a celebrity. Then the weirdness happened. Scott’s wasn’t the signature they were after. They were shoving their stuff at Belinda Lyle and getting her to sign, with an Olympic gold medalist neglected in the periphery. But they already had his scribble in their collections.
“What was that all about?” Belinda asked when her fans had left. ‘This place could be renamed ‘the warped perception’ for the bizarre way things get skewed up here.’ “I’m certainly not a celebrity.”
“I couldn’t quote a specific dictionary’s definition of ‘celebrity’, but an elucidation that seems to fit would be ‘one whom common people deem as important or distinctive enough to ask for an autograph’. And that would apply to you tonight.”
“This was just too ‘off-the-wall’ to even think about right now.” She flipped to the most recent page of her notebook and readied her pencil. “Where were we before that strangeness all began?”
“I was thinking of reasons for Luther’s relenting and two have come to mind.”
Belinda looked at him, pencil poised in her fingers, and then she had an inspiration too. ‘Scott said something about me—while I was in the restroom.’ That was the only way to make sense of the kitchen staff’s oddness. ‘Did he say I was the current Heidi Fleiss?’ If they had thought she was a notorious ‘prostitute to the stars’, as Ms. Fleiss, then her librarian look fit right in today, but then she could come dressed as a cheerleader or in a skimpy blue scrunched butt bikini with a balconnet top without raising any eyebrows either.
“You’re not writing.” His voice brought her back to the here and now.
“I wasn’t listening either.” She adjusted her bottom in on the seat. “My mind went wandering back to my fans. I wish I could read the captions or notations they’ve put next to my signature.”
“That might be deemed privacy invasive.”
“I wasn’t suggesting I get a court order to view them.” Belinda snipped. His words had given her the confirmation that he knew those notations would incriminate him. “But never mind. What were you saying whilst I was wool gathering?”
“My mother’s death might’ve made Luther’s footing in the department tenuous. I’m told prison inmates use the term ‘skinners’ for people incarcerated for sex crimes and those have to be kept segregated, lest the rest attack them. I seem to think that those who convicted of crimes against their own families, are similarly protected.”
“Police and criminals are closely akin. The police regularly commit crimes but they rationalize it as sacrificing their honor for the law’s benefit. It stands to reason that their unspoken code-of-conduct could also be comparable to a prisoners morals. By his wife’s dying, Luther’s standing in the subtle, unspoken, and reciprocally blind way might have dropped because she was both of the other sex and his family.”
“Meaning that he had to be more careful of his outward appearances?” She scanned back a page in her notes. “I’m thinking this thread isn’t really all that helpful.”
“Good. Let’s drop it. I’ve never wasted much time dwelling on why Luther was of swine kind. I thought it no more productive than a farmer musing on a pig’s mind.”
“We’ll talk about his death.” Belinda said. She noticed the waiter had materialized at their table with a carafe of wine and two goblets
“I’ll drink to that.” Scott took up his wine.
“You don’t need to get me blotto and pour me into your bed.”
“Tonight, I’ll share this with you.” He clinked her glass in toast. “To Luther’s killer.” Scott Wagner drank about a quarter of his glass.
“Had he not been killed while resisting questioning,” Belinda recalled from her prior research, “I expect you would’ve been his most frequent visitor in the prison and his most ardent admirer.”
“That unfortunate sod had nothing to do with Luther’s murder.” Scott sipped his glass down to half, but one drop of red wine escaped from the corner of his lips and it fell silently onto his shirt’s front. “He was just someone that one or more of the cops held a grudge against.” The gold medalist set his glass aside. “They had no real proofs to convict the true sniper and even trying to truthfully solve the cop killing would’ve been counterproductive to their best interests. So the police found and slaughtered a handy scapegoat.”
“You barely touched that stuff the other night.” His matter-of-fact statement was the obvious beginning of a riveting discussion. So while reading her mind for strenuous exercise, she garnered a few seconds with a minor observation.
“That’s because I have a drinking problem.”
“Then don’t!” Belinda quickly shot out her hand to stop his, as he was reaching for his goblet again.
“My problem isn’t of the sort that sprang to your mind.” He chuckled. “I tend to be sloppy.” He pointed to the red spot on his off-white linen shirt. “But as you’ve said, I don’t need to weaken your chaste resolve with alcohol anymore, and I don’t have to impress your willingness with my crisply perfect appearance either. I can savor my wine, despite my ‘problem’, because even if my chest ends up looking like a messy baby’s bib, it just doesn’t matter and I’ll still get laid.”
“Here’s to you,” Belinda toasted her drink, “comfortably being your slovenly self.”
“I feel so special.” Scott’s expression was enigmatic while he watched her finish the toast by taking a sip. “You’re the second one who’s offered me a salute me tonight.”
“Apparently I missed the other one.” A wrinkled forehead betrayed her puzzlement.
“I don’t know how it could’ve slipped by. Your full attention appeared to be on me when I toasted myself.” Scott set his elbows on the table and he leaned close to her. Then he said in a conspiratorial voice, “I was the sniper that shot and killed Officer Luther Wagner.”
Swim Where will continue….
Russell Twyce is the Author of Shiva’s Messenger