Chapter XI – Adrian Terrence
“He’s a murderer!” Mary Dill’s screech blasted the ears of everyone present.
Adrian and Xavier leapt to their feet simultaneously. Mary Dill stood screaming, pointing a shaking finger in Eddie’s direction. Xavier reached his hand out to Monique, who had wiggled out of the booth, holding onto Mr. Pickles for dear life. He moved to stand beside Adrian.
Eddie stood frozen, staring at Mary with increasing horror. If his vocal chords had suddenly disappeared, he couldn’t have been more silent.
“What makes you think that he’s a murderer?” Xavier’s voice held an authoritative note that made Mary Dill drop her scream to a whimper.
Adrian watched her with a brief flash of annoyance that the woman seemed so incapable of doing any thinking before reacting. Mary Dill didn’t say anything and Adrian cleared his throat. “My cousin asked you a question.”
“The- the ice pick. He has an ice pick with blood on it!”
“I can see that.” Xavier’s voice remained even.
Eddie looked from one to another in the room, still without speaking. Only then did Adrian see the blood coloring Eddie’s hand.
‘That doesn’t make him a murderer!” Ginger snapped. “For goodness sake, I could have picked the thing up just as easily as he did, if I’d seen it!” She glared in Mary Dill’s direction until sparks seemed to fly.
“Who do you think he murdered, anyway?” Renee rubbed her stomach and looked around. “We’re all still here.”
“Except the man in the corner.” Kimberly rose from her chair and took a few steps forward, laying a steadying hand on another chair.
All eyes turned toward the covered body, then together toward Xavier. Eddie still held the ice pick, as if he’d forgotten how to use his limbs.
Xavier raised his eyebrows, clearly unperturbed, but said nothing.
“What have you not been telling us?” Kimberly looked coiled and ready to strike, her shoulders hunched down and her eyes narrowed.
“Was the man over there murdered and you knew it?” Fabian joined in.
“Why didn’t you say anything sooner?”
“Why didn’t you tell us?”
“Maybe he’s the murderer then!” Mary Dill’s squeal could be heard above everyone else.
Adrian clenched his jaw.
“Maybe the man wasn’t dead until he went over there to check on him – and he killed him!”
Monique clung to Xavier, watching the excited people with wide eyes, then looked up at Adrian imploringly. Adrian decided that he’d had enough anyway.
Everyone, including Xavier, turned to look up at him.
“We all saw Xavier with the dead man. We were watching him the entire time. There is literally no way that he could have killed him without being noticed. The very idea is absurd!”
Mary Dill had the grace to duck her head.
“There is no reason to jump to conclusions or start asking so many questions at once either.”
“If the man was murdered, why didn’t – Xavier, you said? – why didn’t he tell anyone about it then?” Renee looked weary, her mouth and eyes drooping.
“Was he murdered?” The young man who asked couldn’t have opened his pale blue eyes any wider if he tried. Adrian didn’t know his name yet. He didn’t answer him either.
Xavier looked down at Monique, whose lip trembled. He gave her a rather sad smile, then raised his eyes back toward the people waiting around them. “The man in the corner, whose name I wish I knew, was murdered.”
A collective gasp filled the room, despite how obvious the answer should have been.
“Why didn’t you tell anyone?” Renee repeated her earlier question.
“He told me,” Adrian said.
“Why didn’t he tell the rest of us?” Kimberly put her arms akimbo, her gray eyes smoldering.
“Because of this.” Xavier waved his arm to indicate everyone in the room. “You’re all panicking. I was concerned that if I just announced it, everyone would turn against each other and panic. I wanted to avoid that, if I could.”
“You know one of us is a murderer!” Mary Dill’s eyes grew to resemble saucers. “You were hiding it from us!”
Xavier sighed and Monique sniffled into her bunny’s head. Adrian clenched his jaw again.
“He might have been killed by someone who left the café before the explosion stuck us in here.” Fabian leaned against the table beside Renee, his arms crossed.
“No.” The young man with the light blue eyes shook his head. “I saw him alive and well two minutes before the explosion. I don’t think anyone else came in or out after that.”
The room fell so silent that the transition almost hurt. Adrian watched Mary Dill turn in a slow circle, first staring at Xavier, then back at Eddie.
“You found the ice pick. Only the murderer would know where the weapon had been hidden!” She leaned against the counter, her voice escalating. “Why did you kill him? Are you coming after the rest of us next? Who’s your next target?”
Eddie, the ice pick shaking visibly in his hand, blinked rapidly, but finally found his voice. “Would I have picked it up and shown it to everyone if I had been the killer?”
“It must have rolled away from wherever you hid it after killing him. You were so startled to see it again in the wrong place, that you had no choice but to show us what you saw! You killed him!” Mary wailed, turning to face the rest of the café. “And he still has a murder weapon in his hand!”
Eddie dropped the ice pick. It clattered onto the counter and Ginger leapt back.
Mary wailed as if struck by the instrument herself.
Adrian saw Ginger’s perpetual glare deepen. She stamped her foot again.
Just how often does she do that?
“You are being absolutely ridiculous!” Ginger took a step nearer to Eddie. “You have no proof that Eddie killed anyone with the ice pick or with anything else!”
Mary Dill ignored her, though she had turned back toward the counter. “Who are you planning to kill next? Who?”
Ginger didn’t let Eddie respond. “If he were the killer, you would be dead by now as the most annoying creature who ever walked the earth!”
This speech seemed to bring Eddie entirely out of his stupor. He shuddered just enough for Adrian to notice, but spoke clear enough now with a swift and imploring glance in Ginger’s direction. “I found the ice pick when I kicked it across the floor. I didn’t put it there and I have no idea how it got there.” He glanced at Ginger again, then looked at Xavier and Adrian in turn. “What do I do with it? We shouldn’t leave it on the counter.”
Adrian couldn’t say he knew. He looked at his cousin, who seemed to think rapidly. No one else spoke; not even Mary Dill.
“A bag.” Xavier appeared to tighten his hold on Monique’s hand. “Do you have an unused plastic bag?”
Ginger jumped down to a lower shelf with a bob of her ponytail. She popped up a few seconds later. “Like this?”
Xavier nodded. He looked down at Monique, who still clung to his hand, and he frowned ever so little.
Adrian took the bag from Ginger. “I’ll do it.” He opened it, holding the mouth toward Eddie. “Drop the ice pick in there.”
Eddie obeyed, then held out his hand as if he wished he could drop that in too.
“Can I wash it off?”
“Absolutely.” Xavier had already found his briefcase underneath one of the tables and opened it with his free hand. He reached for the ice pick. “As a lawyer and the closest here to representing the law of the United States in this café, I’m taking charge of the evidence in the presence of all witnesses until such time as I can give it over to the proper authorities.”
Adrian smiled a bit. He sounds official when he uses his lawyer voice. I don’t know if he knows it.
Xavier dropped the bag inside the case in clear sight of everyone, except Eddie who scrubbed furiously at his hands. Placing the bag inside, he snapped the case closed, then pulled a key from his pocket and locked it.
“This doesn’t leave my sight.” Xavier kept his voice low and Adrian didn’t think anyone except himself, and maybe Monique, had heard him.
“You’re forgetting something.” Mary crossed her arms, rough accusation dripping from her voice.
Xavier looked up and waited.
“Him.” She gestured toward Eddie, who finally started drying his hands on paper towels. “I still think he’s the killer! What are we going to do with him, so he doesn’t murder anyone else?”
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