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Hope sat alone in the dark. She had fled back to her tiny apartment after the blast, and had sat here for hours, crying. She blamed herself for the explosion. She had not set a bomb or even lit a match, but she knew it was her fault. Now people were dead and burnt and there was nothing she could do to help. She couldn’t even give them an explanation. She didn’t understand it herself.
She jumped at the sudden knock on her door.
“Go away!” she cried out.
“Police, miss. I need to speak to you.”
Hope had had many visits from the police before. They always came around in the aftermath of her disasters. They always asked the same questions and they always left without any answers. The one thing that was certain was that they would not leave until they had gone through their checklists and satisfied their bureaucratic masters. With great effort, she got up from the couch and went over to unlock the door.
“Good evening, miss. I’m Detective Dregg with the thirteenth precinct,” said the cop before he noticed she had been crying. “Is everything all right?”
“I’m sorry. It’s been a bad day. I was nearly caught in that explosion at the diner a few blocks from here. I’m sure you know all about it.”
“Yes. In fact, that’s why I am here. As a witness I’ll need a statement from you. Anything you can tell us will be helpful in our investigation.”
“I didn’t see anything though,” she answered. “I’m sorry where are my manners. Would you like something to drink? I could make some coffee or tea.”
“No thank you, miss. So tell me exactly what you saw right before the explosion. What were you doing?”
“Nothing really. I was just shopping. I was admiring the hat I had just bought in my reflection in the store window. I turned to go and the next thing I know I’m lying on the sidewalk with some strange man practically on top of me.”
Dregg pulled out the photo of Jacob that he still had in his pocket. “Is this the man?”
“Yes, that’s him. I’ve seen him around the neighbourhood a few times, maybe. Did he have something to do with this?” In her heart she still knew that, whatever the cause, it was her fault. But if she could shift the blame to someone else maybe she could get this nosy detective out of her home.
“No. I probably shouldn’t tell you this but he’s working with me. A sort of consultant. He’s actually a very interesting individual. I just needed to see if your stories lined up. In fact, you may very well have saved his life. He was going into the diner when he noticed you and turned away. If you hadn’t been there he might very well have died.”
“Why was he going to talk to me ?”
“I don’t know. You’d have to ask him about that yourself.” Dregg stood up to excuse himself, “Well I should be going. I still gave a lot of people to talk to. Thank you for your time.”
“Wait. If it wasn’t him, what did cause the explosion.”
“Oh that. Most likely it was a faulty gas line. The kitchen apparently had been cited for safety issues a number of times. It was just bad luck it happened when it did.”
Yes, she thought. My bad luck. “Thank you, Detective. Uh…Dregg, was it?”
“Yes, here’s my card. If you think of any thing else you can call and let me know. Good day, miss.”
That was strange even by her standards. At least it looked as though, as far as the police were concerned, she was in the clear. They would not drag her through the courts this time. She was starting to feel a little bit better.
I think I’ll have that cup of tea now. She went to the kitchen and put on the kettle. While she was waiting for if to boil, she went back to the living room to tidy up. The coffee table was full of tear soaked tissues. Clearing them off she found a folded slip of paper underneath. It was the photo of the man from before. She opened it and took another look. Yes, she thought. An interesting individual the cop had called him. On the back was written his name, address, and phone number.
“Well, hello there, Jacob,” she said to the photo. “Maybe my luck is changing after all.”
In the kitchen the kettle started whistling.