Conscience of Darkness (Old Short Story)

It’s a day like any other blazing, hot summer day. I have been trying to get the new topsoil around these rosebushes for what seems like hours now. My lavender rosebush and the others have been in desperate need of attention lately and I finally have the time to tend to them. I have dug a mini trench around the lavender rosebush’s base with the hope that the bag of topsoil I bought for it will help it thrive here in the near future.
As I break open the bag of topsoil. A gentleman in a light colored suit is walking from my next door neighbor’s house. My eyes fixate on him for a moment with the hope that he will walk past me, but I am not that fortunate.
“Hello, may I have a word with you sir?”
“Sure, what is it about?”
“Let me introduce myself. I am Detective Jones with Columbus Homicide.”
I am startled that a detective would want to talk to me and it shows.
“Oh, what happened?”
“We were called by your next door neighbor’s family. They stated that they haven’t seen Mr. Robinson in a few weeks. I just came over to see if you knew anything that could shed some light on the situation.”
I take my ball cap off and wipe my brow with the front of my shirt and throw my cap back on.
“Do you care if we go inside? I want to get something to drink.”
“Not at all. By the way, I never did get your name.”
“Charlie, Charlie Wells. Nice meeting you, detective. I would shake your hand, but my hands are filthy with all this dirt.”
He smiles.
I make my way to the front door with Jones right behind me. As I open the front door and walk in, I turn around to make sure Jones is right behind me. I kick off my shoes as he steps inside and shuts the door. I head to the dining table for the hand towel I set aside earlier for the sweaty head I knew I would have today. Jones keeps his distance from me. I anticipate him being right behind me when I turn and ask him.
“Can I get you a soda detective?”
“I’m fine. What can you tell me about Mr. Robinson?”
I go to the fridge and am in eyeshot of Jones the entire time. I feel the heat radiate off my neck from his intense stare. My nerves start to get to me as I pull a soda out of the fridge and open it. Does he think I did something to him? I take a quick sip, throw my cap on the table and wipe my brow once more before answering.
“What would you like to know?”
“I just wanted to get an idea if you had seen anything suspicious lately. I noticed you have the best looking roses in the neighborhood. I thought with you being outside a bit and next door to him, you may have caught a conversation of his.”
He does think I’m guilty!
“Detective, I can’t think of anything at the moment. He wasn’t the talkative type. We both kept to ourselves and didn’t talk much.”
I glance into Jones’ eyes for a brief second to catch the intense stare he has for me, then I answer him.
“He moved in about six months ago. We never really met until he had been living there for a couple months. I gave him soft waves after that, as he would walk his dog past my house, but we never really talked.”
Jones takes out a pad of paper from the pocket inside his blazer. He reads a few things to himself and responds.
“That’s not what your neighbor’s are telling me.”
“Oh really? What are they saying?”
“They are saying you both would get into yelling matches around midnight on a few occasions.”
“It’s that damn dog of his. He would let it out to pee and it would start barking at rabbits it could see in the distance. It became annoying and after the millionth time I ripped into him.”
Jones stares at me and says,
“You told him you would kill the dog if he didn’t do something about it?”
I start to chuckle for a moment, knowing full well I would never hurt the animal.
“Do you have kids detective?”
“Yes.”
“Have you told them you would kill them if they kept screaming in the car?”
Detective Jones starts to smile a bit, knowing full well I was right.
“It’s a moot point anyway detective. Ron took care of the situation.”
“So you do know his first name?”
“Of course, we did meet you know?”
Jones starts down another path.
“Did you hear anything about him going out of town recently?”
“Not a thing. I have noticed that he hasn’t been around lately, but that happened a few times. I heard he was a salesman. He would be gone for days, sometimes weeks at a time.”
Jones’ stare intensifies as I take a long sip of my soda. My heart starts beating faster. I keep sweating and take the towel and wipe my forehead with it. I swear he thinks I’m guilty! Jones walks closer to me and I almost lose control of my mind. Is he going to arrest me? He puts the notepad back into his pocket and hands me his business card.
“Let me know if you hear anything Mr. Wells.”
“I will detective.”
Jones walks to the front door. I slip my shoes on and follow him outside.
“You do have the prettiest rosebushes I have ever seen Mr. Wells. How do you get them to bloom this beautifully?”
“Thanks, you can call me Charlie, detective. It’s just the attention I give them. I’m a writer, so I have extra time to spend on them, unlike the nine to five Joe.”
Jones walks down the front walkway, back to his car across the way.
“Charlie, call me if you hear anything.”
“I will.”
He waves to me and I return the gesture and get back on my knees in front of the rosebush. I start throwing more topsoil down as I hear Jones’ car take off down the road. I wonder if he realized that I didn’t let my conscience speak for me. Does he really believe me when I said my extra attention helped my rosebushes? I start to chuckle.
What conscience?

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