Alice slumped, feeling the weight of the past twenty-four hours, the bruises, the headache, the cuts, the blood loss. She put her head down on the counter and let out a mumbled, “Fuck.”
Chip poured her some more coffee. “Good news is now you’ve got time to explain what’s going on.” Alice looked back up at him and rolled her eyes. The smallest upward twitch was tugging at the edge of Chip’s mouth, but he was putting forward a valiant effort not to smile. He continued, “I’ve been around for a while. I know a few things. I might be able to help you. I expect that’s why you called in the first place; you knew you needed help.”
Alice let her head hang as she rested her elbows on the counter. She needed to be at the Lucas house when Esther got there. She didn’t have anywhere else to go if she lost this gig. She’d already assaulted Esther’s doorman. She couldn’t stay with Travis. It wouldn’t take him long to figure out that she was the dark-haired woman in her mid twenties, with knife wounds that the cops would be looking for.
And she didn’t think brotherly loyalty would extend past the Uber cleanup fee to cover the unregistered gun and a murder charge. Like he said, he had kids now. And there’s bad enough things out there to protect them from without his sister turning him into an accessory.
“Fuck!” Alice lashed out with her arm, sweeping her collected possessions off the counter, scattering them across the kitchen, slamming the gun and her IR goggles into the stainless steel fridge where they clattered to the floor. She immediately regretted it, regretted moving at all, as her ribs and leg protested and her head swam.
Chip slammed his hand down on the counter, shouting, “Hey!We had a deal!” He cleared his throat. “Miss, we had a deal. You need to calm down. You’ve got two choices here. One, you get it together and tell me what’s going on, and maybe I can help you figure it out. Or two, we call the cops and wait fro them to come pick you up. Which do you want it to be?”
Alice braced herself against the counter, breathing hard, breathing into the pain in her ribs. Something was definitely bruised, if not broken. She knew she didn’t have a choice, but that didn’t make it any easier. “Fine.”
Chip looked at her pointedly and took a sip from his mug. Alice pull a stool over to her and eased herself onto it, getting comfortable and taking a sip from her own mug. Then she spoke. “I’m… sort of a bodyguard.” She paused. “And I do some investigative work. My client called me up from Georgia. I was between jobs, and she said she’d heard of me and needed protection. She thought someone was trying to kill her. I flew up here yesterday, but by the time I landed, somebody close to her was dead already, and my client was under arrest. Anyway, she was cleared. And she was supposed to be released this morning, so I needed to be there to meet her. But…” Alice gestured toward the window.
Chip nodded. “Alright. But that doesn’t tell me what you were doing bleeding on my doorstep last night.”
Alice grit her teeth. “Yeah.”
Chip studied her for a moment. “So, hypothetically, if you were worried about what you told me coming back to hurt you later, especially since you got my number from a cop, would it help if I was your lawyer?” Alice gave him her best incredulous look, but Chip continued on. “I was admitted in ‘93. Can’t say I do a lot of work as a lawyer, but I pay my dues, so they let me keep the title. In my line of work, it helps if I can’t be subpoenaed.” He fished around in his wallet and slid a card to her across the counter.
Alice picked up the cheap laminated card. Across the top, it read “Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers” and then lower it listed an admittance date of 11/25/95, for Charles Terrance Ellison, Ellison Investigations, LLP. Chip waited for her to finish reading before reaching across and taking the card back. “Satisfied?” he asked. “So, you hired me. This is all confidential. I can’t tell anyone anything you say, including the cops. Okay?:
Alice sighed and nodded. The day was starting off with a lot more capitulation than she was used to. “Alright.” She nodded again and repeated herself. “Alright. I got jumped in the street. After I called you about developing the film. I got rushed by a guy with a knife while I was waiting for my ride. I got away, but I had to shoot the guy. I think… I think I killed him. I was in the car and I shot him.”
Chip spoke, “So it was self-defense.” He said it in a way that make it not sound like a question. “Where is the body? Wait. Who was driving?”
Alice took another sip of coffee and shook her head. “I don’t know. I was using a service. An app. I don’t remember he name. Macy?” She shook her head again. “He fell in the snow after. I…”
Chip waited, letting her trail off into silence, giving her a moment to collect herself before speaking. “So you shot somebody in self defense, after he attacked you. You have the knife wounds to prove it.” Chip rubbed his chin. “You were already bleeding. Your blood is going to be all over your car. He fell in the snow, so the body won’t turn up for a little while. The knife will probably never be found.” Chip stopped again and took a sip from his mug before continuing. “I’m going to ask you some questions that I want you to think about. I don’t want you to answer them just yet, though. Is the gun yours? Is it registered? Is it possible that the gun was his and you grabbed it when he attacked you?” He waited a beat, then said. “Now, I’m going to ask you question that I do want an answer to. Did anyone see him attack you? Anyone else? Any security cameras? Where did this all happen?”
Alice sat up straighter on the stool. “Some kid was on the street when he attacked. It was over on Centre Street in J.P. What are you thinking?”
Chip smiled grimly. “Well, we’re going to need to have your story straight when you go to the police. And it’s got to-”
Alice cut him off. “We’re not going to the cops.” Chip started to open his mouth to speak, and Alice cut him off again, “No. We’re not going to the cops. We’re not. I’m not turning myself in.”
Chip shrugged. “Okay. So, what do you want to do, then? You can’t stay here. I’m not going to throw you out in this storm, but once the snow stops, you’re going out the door. Your blood is all over this Macy girl’s car. She knows what you look like. She knows you were coming here. I’m sure she gave all that information to the police already, and the only reason they haven’t come here yet is because they can’t. Right now, you shot this guy in self defense, maybe with his own gun. If you run or you hide, or you just wait before you call the police, you can forget it. So, what’s your plan?”