Canto 3 – The Gumshoe
Maria came into the kitchen, finally home from the police station where she had spent the night and half of the next day. Her mother, Bonita, dragged herself into the kitchen after Maria, obviously, a wreck from the ordeal her daughter had put her through again.
“So, what did the criminal do this time?” asked Stanley. He had been sitting at the table reading the news from his phone.
“You coulda helped, you know,” said Bonita, firing off an angry glare in his direction.
“I told you I was on a case last night. My job pays for the bail money that got her out of the slammer.”
“Well, at least there is no money to pay. The store owner isn’t pressing charges. And he’s gonna let her make up for the mess she made by helping him clean the store.”
“And the murdered boy?”
“There is no murdered boy. They found bloody clothes in the alley again, just like in Yesenia’s case. But no body. And the store owner said Maria was in the store with him when the boy was taken.”
“Well, I guess we both knew she didn’t kill him,” said Stanley. “She’s in love with him or something.”
“Shut up, stupid,” Maria said to him with acid in the delivery.
“Don’t talk to your stepfather that way. He loves us both and takes care of us both.” Bonita’s eyes were filled with fatigue and pain. “I need sleep, Stan. You have to deal with her for a while, please.”
Stanley looked at his beautiful wife, his overweight, slightly defeated-by-life beautiful wife. “You get a good sleep in. Maria and I will talk this out.”
Bonita smiled at him and dragged herself towards the bedroom.
Maria looked grim. She pulled a chair out from the table, turned it backward, sat on it with her arms folded across the back of the chair, and laid her head on her arms.
She looked at Stanley with tears in her eyes. She didn’t pick her head up when she said, “You have to help me find Rogelio, Stan. I love him. If you can find him for me, I’ll have sex with you.”
“I told you before, it is not appropriate to try to bribe your stepfather with sex. I am not interested in underaged kids.”
“You know I don’t have any money. I can’t afford your detective skills.”
“This isn’t the same as when Yesenia disappeared. You didn’t really know the girl. It wasn’t something I was willing to interfere with when the police were investigating the disappearance of a girl from your school who wasn’t even your friend.”
“So, you’ll find Rogelio, and in return, I’ll sleep with you?”
“No, kid. I will investigate for free. Have you bargained sex for something with anybody else I should know about?”
“My answer is the same as last time.”
“But you know I didn’t believe you when you said it last time.”
“Why do you care?”
“I’m your stepfather. Protecting you is part of the job. And if you and I are going to find Rogelio, you are going to have to be more honest with me than you have been in the past.”
“Um, well… I may have used that instead of money for a couple of things. But I’m not telling you who.”
“Honesty at last. Well, I’m a detective. I already know who, and I already threatened both of them.”
She smiled an evil smile.
“What are you smiling about?”
“You do care… at least, more than you let on.”
“Well, we are being more honest… I suppose.”