by Jessica Knoll
It took all of six minutes to get from Turquoise House to the Geneva Police Department. But those six minutes told me all I needed to know.
Campbell drove. In the passenger seat sat another male officer I'd never seen before. As soon as he climbed in and shut the door behind him, he turned around to survey me in the backseat. "Looks like my buddy here cuffed you real tight." A slow, menacing smile spread his fat pink face wide.
I tossed my head, trying to flick a strand of hair out of my eyes. Campbell had done that thing to me that you always see in cop movies—pushed my head down as he guided me into the back seat, to keep me from clipping my skull on the roof of the car. I glared at the rear view mirror, willing Campbell to make eye contact with me. He didn't.
"We gotta cuff you bad girls real tight," Officer Pig Face murmured, his eyes working me over in one sleepy, sedated pass.
I glared into the rear view mirror harder, but Campbell still wouldn't meet my eyes.
I know what you're thinking—why not just rat him out? Scream from the rooftops that Campbell was as dirty as they come. That he had known exactly what had happened all along, because he had been there, in that house, dealing blow to the Sniffies, taking careful notes about their dress, their mannerisms, their scuffed up luxury wheels as they dug around in their wallets for that last rumpled twenty dollar bill.
I stayed silent, not because I'm some sort of noble fall-on-a-sword-for-her-man type (ha!), but because I didn't dare say anything that could potentially contradict whatever lies I was about to tell to get myself out of this mess. Clearly, they had uncovered solid evidence tying me to Bridget's death while I was home for Thanksgiving break. And clearly, Campbell knew it was coming. That phone call in the parking lot of the rest stop. The way he jumped me in the backseat of the car. Like he knew it would be the last time. I swallowed, tasting the three cigarettes I had just smoked and wondering how long it would be before I got to brush my teeth again. Campbell wouldn't hang me out to dry. He couldn't. Not to me. We were going to get a bulldog one day.
And Biz, I realized. What about Biz? Did they know she had been involved too? Was she sitting in the backseat of some squad car right now, breathing nosily through a panic attack? Would she give me up? No, I realized, the word popping into my head quick and concerning, because that hadn't been my immediate reaction to wondering if Campbell would do the same. Biz would never implicate me, that much I knew. And I would never either. Things had been strained between us lately, but that didn't mean I loved her any less.
I also wasn't talking until I had my father's smarmy, grossly overpaid and over-tanned lawyer, Bartholomew "Bart" Ethelman, by my side, talking circles around these inbred local yokels.
Campbell pulled into a reserved parking spot and turned off the engine. To his credit, he got out of the car and opened the back door before Officer Pig Face was able to, and believe me, Officer Pig Face tried his darndest. It would have just made his little piggy day to have been the one to reach his sweaty hooves into the backseat and manhandle me to my feet.
"Thank fucking God," I said to Campbell, under my breath. He didn't say anything, but I felt his thumb. Just one quick stroke on my wrist, and a little piece of my heart dared to hope. He cared. He still cared. There must be some good explanation as to why he didn't prepare me for what was coming. There had to be.
I was ushered through the waiting room and through a back hallway which led out to the officer's bull pen. A few stared, phones cradled between their shoulders and ears, as I was paraded past. I smiled maniacally at them. Might as well have a little fun with the whole thing.
"Don't I get a phone call or something?" I demanded as Campbell led me down a second hallway, past the interrogation room where I had been once before, to read those long ago written notes between Biz and Bridget.
Officer Pig Face looked over his shoulder at me. "Gotta call your boyfriend?" he laughed like he had made a spectacular joke.
"My boyfriend can go fuck himself," I shot back, and I felt Campbell's hand stiffen around my wrist.
"Whooo-ieee!" Officer Pig Face yelped, and did a little skip. "We got a live one here, boys. A live one!"
- - -
I was remanded to a small jail cell, one I'd occupied once before (stupid open container arrest freshman year), to wait. For Bart. For my parents. My father's voice told me how much trouble I was actually in, not like I didn't already know. "Murder?" The word ended on a pre-pubescent choir boy's note. "Jesus, Elizabeth, don't say anything. Say nothing, do you hear me? We're taking Mike's jet." I heard him shout for his assistant before he added, "We'll be there in an hour." Mike was Michael Bloomberg, of course.
Evidently, it took a lot longer than an hour to get from the launch pad on the East River to Geneva, New York. Nearly two hours passed since I'd hung up the phone, and I had to pee, badly. You know how it comes it waves? You feel like you're going to burst for a few minutes, then it peters off. I had crossed that threshold half an hour ago. I was caged like a wild animal and I was about to wet myself like one too.
"Excuse me?" I gripped the bars and peered down the hallway, where a ginger haired officer sat, couldn't have been any older than me, filling out paperwork. He looked up at me nervously. "I really need to use the bathroom." I gave him my most pathetic smile.
Officer Ginger picked up the phone on his desk and murmured something into the receiver. "You'll need an escort," he told me, placing the phone back in its cradle with a careful click.
They would send a female escort, I told myself, even though the only other women I'd seen so far were meth head prostitutes and a grandmotherly type manning the front desk. I didn't even know where Detective Roth was, Campbell's partner. Was she off the case?
I almost lost control of my bladder right then and there when I saw Officer Pig Face push open the door and come for me, a sly, knowing smile on his face. He was just the escort to take me to the female escort, I assured myself. No way do they expect me to drop my pants in front of this perv.
He unlocked the door to my cell and, as if he had read my mind, said in a wittle baby voice, "I'm here to take you to tinkle."
I was thinking about just wetting my pants when proof that there is a God appeared in the form of Campbell, coming through the same door his colleague just had. "I can take it from here, Bill," he said.
Bill opened his mouth to protest, but Campbell swooped in front of him. "She's my suspect," he said, "and I'm not taking any risks with her."
Relief curdled through me as Campbell gripped my upper arm and led me down the hallway. At the far end of the building was a unisex, single stall bathroom. Campbell ushered me inside and closed and locked the door.
I wanted to shove him up against the wall and pound his chest, demand to know what the fuck was going on. But nature was calling, loudly.
"Can you please turn around at least?" I hissed as I unbuttoned my jeans.
"Nothing I haven't seen before," Campbell said, not moving.
"Aw," I pulled my pants down and squatted, "it's like we're already an old married couple."
Campbell didn't smile. "Do you want to waste time quibbling or do you want to hear something that will be of use to you right now?"
That shut me up.
"There was an anonymous tip. To check out the old house on Montgomery Drive. Specifically check out the basement."
"I can only imagine what they found."
"Blood stains. Same type as Bridget's. And same as in her car, they found your"—he gestured to his head.
"Hair," I said. "My hair."
Campbell nodded, and there was only the sound of me peeing. The moment was so absurd, I almost burst out laughing.
"And here's the thing," Campbell said, "we were able to trace the call to a pay phone in Westchester. Where Bridget's family—her sister, Abby—live."
"But aren't they up here right"—
"They went back home," Campbell said. "Before Thanksgiving. No point in being up here now that Bridget has been...found."
My bladder was finally empty. I wiped, the one thing that made Campbell finally look away, and pulled up my jeans.
"Why didn't you tell me this was coming?" I asked. "I thought..." I swallowed and didn't say what I wanted to say. I thought we had something. I thought you would look out for me. I thought you loved me.
Campbell tucked his hands into his pockets and rocked back in his heels. There was a warble in his voice that would kill me every time I remembered it. "I didn't want to spoil the weekend."
I was exhausted, and had the bags under my eyes to prove it. I smelled. My mouth tasted acrid. And still I fell into Campbell's chest and kissed him. Campbell gave in, just for a moment, before pushing me away.
"I want to help you," he said. "You should know they don't believe you did this on your own. There's no way someone like you could have gotten the body out of the basement and transported it to the hotel grounds without help."
"That wasn't me," I said. "I had nothing to do with that. My best guess is that Abby was somehow involved."
Campbell said, "You're a convincing liar, I'll give you that."
I exhaled, frustrated. "I'm not lying! I admit to pushing her down the stairs. Which was self defense—by the way—but I had nothing to do with stuffing her body in some old carpet and setting it on fire."
"But you disposed of her vehicle," Campbell said. He took a deep breath, drew up to his full height, and his face hardened. "If you had acted in self defense, as you said, why didn't you go to the police right away?"
"Because I was confused! Because, because my parents," I sputtered. "My mom is not well. I was worried what this would do to her. I just...wanted it to go away."
"So you could go back to partying and screwing your professors in exchange for passing grades?" Campbell spat. He took a hostile step toward me and I was mad at myself for shrinking back. "Screwing anybody with an open lap for you to plop on, really. Tell me, how many guys have you shacked up with at Geneva on the Lake over the years—the same place where Bridget's body just happened to end up, I might add. 20? 30? Or are you in the triple"—
Campbell stopped talking, because I slapped him so hard his head turned, giving me his reddening profile.
Campbell brought his hand to his jaw. His tongue darted out of his mouth, dabbing the corner, where a a little bit of blood had prickled to the surface. "That's what the prosecutor is going to say to you on the stand," Campbell said. "They will paint you as a promiscuous, entitled, spoiled little princess with no regard for human life. Do you think you will get a fair trial in Geneva, New York? Your peers, if you can even call them out, would love to see someone like you get what's coming to her."
"This isn't going to trial," I smirked. "Do you even know who my lawyer is?"
"You can't buy your way out of this one," Campbell said. I had no idea how his eyes remained so flat, so grey, underneath the sizzling overhead lights. "No one believes you worked alone. Give up your accomplice and they'll be willing to cut you a deal."
I rotated my hand in a circle. Hitting Campbell had hurt. "Oh, I have someone even better to give up, I think." I glared at him.
"Elizabeth," Campbell sighed. "Do you not think I'm protected here? Do you not think my people would go to the ends of the earth to keep me out of trouble?"
I rubbed my hand against my jeans, trying to snuff out the last of the sting, and didn't say anything. What could I say? He was right.
Campbell reached out and thread his fingers in the hair at the nape of my neck. "Think about what I said. Save your skin. We could still be together. We can still make this work."
I held onto his wrist and squeezed my eyes shut. Saving my skin meant giving up Biz. And I could never. Not when I was the one who dragged her into it. I held on to Campbell tighter, and he sighed and pulled me into his chest, kissing the top of my head. I wanted to stay there all night, especially when I heard the voices out in the hallway.
They belonged to my lawyer. And my father. The real fun was just about to begin.