The Man in the Tuxedo

 

The second ambulance pulled in to the parking lot that was swarmed with squad cars, as if the entire southern city precinct had responded to the call. As Constable Dionne was escorting Lilith out of the rear exit of the morgue, Lilith felt a sense of invasion brought on by the overwhelming police presence. This eerie feeling caught her off guard; something Lilith had never experienced before. Since her childhood, Lilith had no choice but to fend for herself and become self reliant and independent. That is all she knew. Lilith realized that this turn of events would trigger an investigation that would surely expose her to old wounds; wounds that she could not bare to have resurfaced. 

A female paramedic rushed toward Lilith and took her by the arm, "I'll take it from here." she said to the constable, who nodded.

As constable Dionne started to make his way toward the cruisers, his face fell into an expression of disbelief. “What the hell? What is he doing here?” he said, continuing toward the police cars with a rushed pace now visible in his step.

Lilith couldn’t help but follow the constable’s gaze, to see what caused his disbelief. Out of curiosity and making sure she wasn’t noticeably staring in their directly, she concentrated on listening to the conversation they were having while the paramedic looked her over.

“Detective Jean-Marie Lizotte!” exclaimed the constable. “What an unexpected surprise. What are you doing here? This is the eve of your retirement, isn’t there a party you should be at instead of coming out on this call?”

An aged man wearing a tuxedo broke off a heated conversation with another officer to address Dionne. “Until eight tomorrow morning Mathew, this is still my job. Besides, one of us got hit, how could you not expect me to come?”

Lilith almost laughed at the sound of his voice, which bore a strong French accent reminiscent of Gérard Depardieu.

“Point taken.” Mathew retracted.

“Alright Dionne…” he said, his gaze locking with Lilith’s. “I think I just spotted the reason I’m here.”

Lilith’s eyes widened. “Oh god, he saw me” She thought, “Is this the fossil I’m going to have to deal with?” She looked away, embarrassed that she had been spotted eavesdropping on their conversation, but as he made his way toward her, she couldn’t help but take a closer look. He was older, that was certain; in his mid fifties at least. With so many emergency vehicle lights flashing intermittently, Jean-Marie walked through a chaotic ambiance which made it difficult for Lilith to see his face clearly. She could tell, however, that he was grey, and had at least a days worth of white stubble on his face. She thought this peculiar since he was arriving from some kind of ball. “Wouldn’t he shave for that?” She thought. A strange conflict erupted within her. For a short moment, she felt an attraction to the man.

“Good evening ma’am.” He said disconnectedly as he looked down, fishing in his pocket to retrieve a tape recorder.

The sense of invasion that Lilith felt previously multiplied at the sight of his cold and calculated attitude.

He stopped, his hand frozen at the bottom of his tuxedo pocket. “Hmmm.” He said, an air of embarrassment in his utterance. “Merde.” He turned, looking about him as if searching for something that should have been at arms reach. “This is… not my uniform.” He said out loud. As he continued patting down his tuxedo fruitlessly, like a rookie on the first day, his gaze once again locked with hers. “I’m in a tux.” He said, stating the obvious.

Lilith frowned, confused but also entertained by Jean-Marie’s unusual behaviour. She saw, now that he was closer, that his eyes were remarkable. At first she believed them to be hazel, but noticed that the colors exploded outward from the iris in a starburst pattern, like that of a kaleidoscope.

“I’m going to have to get something to write on.” He said, as he climbed into the ambulance.

“Excuse me sir?” The male paramedic said, “What’re you doing?”

“I’m detective Jean-Marie Lizotte, and I’m going to interrogate this witness, but I need something to write on, as you can see I’m not in my uniform.”

The paramedic turned to face him from the drivers seat. “I’m sorry sir, we need to take her back to the hospital, she’s covered in potential evidence.”

“Vraiment? I can plainly see that, didn't I just say I am a detective? I'm riding with you.”

“Sir, we can’t allow that.”

He was hunched down in the back of the ambulance, his gaze became solid and combatant as he drew in a deep breath before speaking. “Listen son. Every minute that she doesn’t say what’s swirling through her head, some of it vanishes. The sooner I can get that information, the more likely it is I can find out what happened here. Do you want to be the reason that I can’t find this criminal? You do your job, I’ll do mine, now let’s get going.”

With that, the female paramedic, an annoyed expression on her face, helped Lilith into the back of the ambulance and sat her down, facing Jean-Marie. Before she turned to close the ambulance doors, she leaned in to Lilith's ear, "Great job in there by the way, putting your thumb in that bullet hole takes a lot of courage and you probably are the only reason that cop is still alive."

"Thank you." She said to the paramedic. Her angst was palpable as the ambulance doors shut behind her and the engine started. She felt trapped, and it seemed impossible to escape Jean-Marie’s prying eyes.

Jean-Marie’s stare intensified “So… Tell me what happened, from the top. I want every single detail from the moment you got up this morning, to the moment that you met me.”  

The End

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