Cloud gets to work. The six victims aren’t going to find their own killer, but usually, they point him in the right direction. He needs to find KeNedra’s ghost, but where is she? Miranda suggests investigating the paramedics who discovered KeNedra limping down the road. It’s a start…
Chapter 11 – Thin Air
By Rock Kitaro
This is where she died. KeNedra Thompson, age 15, of Cedar Creek High School. She planted her hands against the yellow brick walls and proceeded to bash her head in.
I’m sitting on the floor of the interrogation room with my back against the wall, staring up at the spot where flesh met cement. It’s a blotchy spot, lighter than the surrounding surface area, suggesting the walls haven’t been scrubbed for years and it was just the blood that the janitor focused on cleaning.
I’ve been staring at this same spot for over fifteen minutes, nearing the eleven o’clock hour. A single lamp lights the room. There are overheads, but I left them off on purpose. I wanted the shadows, not out of some dramatic flair but it was the shadows that spoke to me.
However, at the moment, it’s only Maggie’s apparition standing in the corner to my left. As ever, she’s scowling with those squinty dark eyes, her Betty Paige bangs, her sooty school dress. Even in a calm state, her presence is unnerving. She has a cruel tendency to charge at me, without warning and quicker than a bolt of lightning. It’s like being in a room with coiled rattlesnake, primed strike at any moment. That I haven’t developed PTSD or some kind twitch is a miracle in of itself.
KeNedra…where are you? Why won’t you show yourself to me? I’m here to help.
The cameras are recording, so I have to be careful about what I say out loud. Scattered before me is my computer tablet and the photos and dossiers of all six victims, the deceased majorettes. I have statements collected by detectives. Maps highlighting the distance between the plantations and the victims’ homes. Only two conclusive autopsies. KeNedra Thompson’s and Tiquasia Payne’s.
Let’s see… If I was in KeNedra’s shoes what would I be thinking?
KeNedra just finished telling the detectives about how she woke up in the slave quarters when she heard the screaming, Tiquasia’s screaming. She saw the killer jump on Tiquasia and drag her back into the other compartment. I’m assuming it’s through the hole in the wall that got me dirty. KeNedra recalled how the killer beat Tiquasia to death with a rock or a brick. It was then that desperation kicked in and KeNedra broke free from the chains and ran off into the cotton fields. After that, paramedics found her staggering along Peach Orchard. This was what KeNedra told the first detective.
I remember the video. I’ve replayed it over a dozen times and it’s always the same. As she recounts what happened, KeNedra appears cooperative, coherent. Yes, she’s despondent but there’s sliver of hope. It isn’t until the detective asks KeNedra if she recognized the killer that all hope goes up in smoke. I’ve seen that look before. Any guard patrolling death row would recognize it. When an individual acknowledges their inevitable death, they resign themselves. The light goes out of their eyes and they simply let go of everything attached to the living world.
That’s what’s bugging me. According to her friends and family, KeNedra wasn’t the type to give up so easily. I went to her MeBook page and downloaded photos from her profile to my phone. I saw videos of her protests against police brutality, a calling for an end of black-on-black violence. KeNedra was strong and courageous. If history’s taught me anything, people like this only commit suicide for martyrdom or to protect someone they love. Either way, why would she kill herself in such a brutal fashion? Was it haste or impulse? Did she recognize the killer and would rather die than give him up? Was it her brothers?
The light bulb goes off as I begin to settle on the idea that it just could very well be her brothers, Jamar or O’Shea. Both were tall and strong enough. But at the same time, their familial bond was solid. If one of them was a rapist and a killer, I can’t see them harming their own sister. The passion at the Thompson residence wasn’t fake.
Great…Then, why else would KeNedra commit suicide? Why isn’t her spirit in this room? Was she truly possessed?
A frustrated groan vibrates from the back of my throat.
“She’s not here! The girl, you’re looking for,” Maggie says with crossed arms.
My eyes lock with Maggie’s. She’s not lying, or at least it didn’t seem like she was. Where would KeNedra’s ghost be if not in the place of her death? Is there a difference between suicide victims and murdered victims?
I’m focusing too much on the paranormal. I’m missing something and my brain is about to burst. After picking myself up with stiffness in my joints, I step out into the hall to call my good friend, Miranda Burnette. It’s pretty late but I know she’s still up. If she went out with her girlfriends after that spin class, chances are they hit up the bar to treat themselves.
The phone rings as I glance over my shoulder to make sure I’m still alone. There isn’t a soul in sight, save for Maggie’s silhouette standing in the dark end of the hallway under a red exit sign. So cliché…