This story is an honourable mention in the March 2022 Short Story Contest.
I am a baker, not a murderer. As I sit in the nearly empty room, I tap my fingers on the table that sits in front of me. The taps of my fingers are aligned with the ticking of the clock. My right hand is in a set of cuffs, attached to the leg of the chair I sit on. They’re probably searching my apartment now. I don’t know why that scares me, there’s nothing there for them. My leg is jumping. Stop. You look anxious. The hand that is free finds its way from the surface of the cold metal table to the top of my left thigh.
The door knob turns slightly, but the door doesn’t open and so nobody enters. They’re hesitant. I mean, I would be too. A little girl is missing, possibly dead, and they think I’m the person responsible. The clock ticks more, as if it’s taunting me- as if it’s saying “haha you’ve spent the past ten hours of your life in a police station as the main suspect of a twelve year old girl’s kidnapping.” -but it’s a clock, so its vocabulary is limited to it’s little ticking noises. The door knob turns again, and this time a lady wearing a black blazer on top of a white shirt enters. She closes the door tightly behind her, as if to get the point across to me that I will not be leaving this room. She walks in a slow and calm manner over to the seat across from me. When she sits down, she places both of her hands on the table.
“Mr. Jaxson, I’m sorry to have kept you waiting for so long.” The sincerity in her voice is calming. “Can you please tell me what you were doing 14 hours ago when Cassidy Shaw was reported missing?”
“I'm going to need you to be more specific, detective. I’m a busy man, I’ve done many things.” I know I’m being difficult, but it’s been 10 hours since I’ve seen the outside of this room.
“Witnesses say they saw you with Cassidy days prior to the event.”
“Well yes, Cassidy is my neighbor.” Of course they think it was me, the single, white, 30 year old male. I must have kidnapped the twelve year old.
“Let’s start with the cut on your forehead.” I can tell she’s frustrated. “What happened there?”
“Oh this? Well, as I’m sure you know, I am a baker, detective.” I think about my next words before I speak. “I was working late last night, I still had one customer in my shop. She didn’t have any money and so I offered her a treat. As I went to grab it from my cake counter, I hit my head on the shelf above.” I roll up the sleeve of my navy blue hoodie and reveal other cuts and bruises. “Working in a kitchen is a rough job, I always find myself sliced in new places.”
“I see.” Her dark brown eyes pierce through mine. She thinks I’m lying. She takes a deep breath and looks at the clock. “And after work?”
“Like I said, I stayed late. I had a lot of cleaning to do. After I locked up the shop, I carried bags of flour back to the basement. I had to mop the floors and clean the counters. I open early in the morning so I try to do most of the work the night before.” I swallow the saliva that has built up in my mouth. “It was raining all day, so there was mud all over the floors.”
“Oh yes, the weather was terrible.” She says, adjusting the bun that sits on the top of her head. Two strands of her dark curly hair frame each side of her face. “I assume after you cleaned you went home ?”
“Well, yes. I locked up the store and drove home. Like I said, I open early in the mornings.”
She’s leaning back now, almost like she’s relaxed. “Your neighbors say they saw you sit in your car for an unusual amount of time before entering your house.”
“I have a life of my own, detective. Many things to think about.” I let out a small laugh. “Not to mention, perhaps the neighbors watching me so intensely should be brought in for questioning.”
“Hmm.” She’s quiet for a moment. The phone that was sitting in her back pocket is now in her hands. She gets up and unlocks the cuffs that had once attached me to the chair I was sitting in. “We found nothing in your apartment and a new lead. You’re free to go Mr Jaxson.”
“Thank you.” I smile. I walk through the station, passing by the parents that are sitting there hopelessly waiting for their daughter to come home. I exit the station and walk through the dark parking lot to my car.
When I get in I’m not sure where to go. I can’t go home. The bakery will be searched next. My heart races. I start my car. I think about the girl who tried to steal from my store. The bruise that was left after she threw a rock at my head when she tried to run away. The body I carried to the basement and placed next to the flour. The blood I mopped up off of the floor. The reason that I sat there in my car, debating on bringing the body back into my house. Thank god I didn’t. I don't know where I’m going, but I keep driving. I hit a speed bump as I’m leaving the parking lot. THUDD.
“I’m sorry Cassidy.” looking through my mirror, I can see the garbage bag that lies in my backseat. “I’m a baker, not a murderer.”