“You haven’t told Katherine? Have
you?” Benjamin asked Lamar.
“I’ve told Katherine she knows everything the Knights know everything. They’re playing you Benjamin they know your real name is Thomas Reeves everybody knows it except you.”
“You lied to me. You told me that you didn’t tell her.” If Katherine knew and she was acting like she didn’t that meant she was playing him for a fool Benjamin thought to himself. “Okay I’ll disappear and you’ll never hear from me again. Why did you have to tell Katherine?”
“Benjamin? Wake up” Katherine shook Benjamin gently.
“No no you weren’t supposed to tell her. Do you know who I am? I Thomas Ree..”
“Benjamin!” Katherine shouted.
Benjamin jumped off the couch screaming. He was covered in sweat from head to toe. He tried to orientate himself and get a sense of where he was. It took him a few seconds to fully regain his consciousness. His heart was still beating fast and he was breathing heavily.
“You were having a bad dream and talking in your sleep. I thought I should wake you up” Katherine said to him.
“How can I not have bad dreams when I’m sleeping in the same room that belonged to the man I killed? I’m wearing his clothes and pyjamas. Every time I close my eyes I see your husband’s face. This is not normal Katherine you have to let me go. I need to get some fresh air put on my own clothes. I feel this man all over me his scent presence his face. I’m going to go crazy if I don’t get some fresh air.”
“Is there something I should know about Benjamin?” Katherine asked.
“What do you mean?”
“When you were talking in your sleep you mentioned two things. You asked whoever you were talking to why they had to tell Katherine when they promised they wouldn’t. Then you said you’re Thomas. So my question is what is this thing that I’m not supposed to know about and who’s Thomas?”
Benjamin gritted his teeth. He remembered Cindy joking that his wife probably knew all of his mistresses because he spoke so much in his sleep when they were still together. It seemed whatever secrets he managed to bury when he was awake came to life as soon as he closed his eyes. “You said so yourself it was just a dream. I don’t even remember what I was saying.”
“I’ve just told you what you were saying you said that there’s something I shouldn’t know about and that you’re Thomas. You mentioned my name specifically.”
Benjamin scratched his forehead as he sighed in frustration. It was ironic he’d been working so hard the past few months to infiltrate the Knights and get closer to them but now that he was sharing a table with them all he wanted was to get as far away as he could. The walls felt like they were closing in on him. He felt like he was constantly being watched and he was suffocating just by being around them. He needed to get away ad have time to think. He needed to be alone and strategise without Katherine constantly hovering over his head and worrying about bumping into Miracle and what she might say the next time she saw him. He needed to get away from the Knights until he figured out his next move but there was no way of doing that without Katherine’s permission. It might not have been clearly obvious but he was now her hostage. They both knew that he was here against his will and the fact that Katherine was okay with that showed Benjamin a different side of her that he didn’t anticipate. “Alright alright you’ve got me. There is a big secret that I’ve been hiding from you something that I was hoping to keep from you for as long as possible because I knew it would ruin our relationship if I confessed it to you” Benjamin said. Times like these required him to dig deep in the darkest mines of his mind and search for a golden contingency plan. Desperate times called for desperate measures.
Katherine stopped whatever she was doing and channelled all of her attention and focus towards Benjamin “What have you been hiding from me Benjamin?” she asked. Curiosity wearing a dress of impending disappointment danced in her eyes. She had the look of someone expecting the worst but still hoping for the best.
“With everything that has happened in the past few days I don’t think that this is the best of times to tell you this. You’re in a vulnerable state and I don’t want to come off as taking advantage of that.”
“Will you stop playing around and tell me the truth please? We’re both adults here. I’m more than capable of handling whatever you want to tell me. So out with it. What’s this big secret?”
Benjamin inhaled deeply. He’d worked so hard the past few months. All that work was meant to culminate to this moment but he didn’t expect it to be like this. Tacky desperate and unplanned. A lot of things had not been going according to plan lately and he needed this one to. It was the last throw of the dice for a man who’d bet his last money and desperately needed a victory. “I… I’m not usually one who’s lost for words but I want you to know that what I’m about to tell you is the result of a summation of events that took place in the past few months and I’ve been keeping it to myself because like I said I don’t want to ruin our relationship. But now that we are at this point I have no choice but to tell you. I’m in love with you Katherine Knight. I’ve been in love with you since that first night that eyes my consumed the true magnitude of your paralyzing beauty. Every moment that I spend with you is like a chapter in a novel and I don’t even Like novels. If I could I’d get down on one knee right now and ask you –”
“Stop stop please” Katherine said as she turned her back on Benjamin and buried her face in her hands.
All Benjamin could think of was that he needed this victory. He was now out of ideas. After he failed to bring Miracle home this was his last trump card. “Please say something Katherine.”
“What do you want me to say?”
“Anything the truth.”
“I appreciate your honesty but and I’m sorry for saying this the timing is a bit… how can I put it? Convenient for lack of a better word. I’m not a child Benjamin and I’d appreciate if you’d just be honest with me and not treat me like one.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I don’t know you very well but I know you well enough to know that you say and do what you want when you want. So excuse me if I’m a bit sceptical of this confession. I feel like you’re just saying it and you don’t really mean it.”
“You don’t believe that I love you?”
“I believe that if you did you would’ve told me a long time ago.”
“You were married and I didn’t want to put you in that position. I know you’re a woman of class and integrity. There is no way that you would have entertained any advances that I made towards you. I love you that’s the truth but if you choose not to believe it then there’s not much I can do about that.”
“You really have feelings for me?” Katherine asked as she turned around to face him.
“Yes I do.”
“Benjamin I am tired and I don’t have time to play games. Please tell me the truth I’m begging you.”
“I am telling you the truth.”
“Then if that’s the truth and nothing but the truth. I feel no shame in telling you that I mirror your sentiments Mr Leno and if you ever do get down on one knee when the time is right of course then there’s a very high chance that you’d get the answer you’re looking for.”
A faint smile of relief escaped Benjamin’s lips. His first genuine smile since Miracle escaped “Is that so?”
“What? You don’t believe me?” Katherine said as she tiptoed across the room towards him.
“If it’s the truth and nothing but the truth then I have no shame in telling you that calling you Mrs Leno would make me the happiest man in the world.”
Katherine smiled and a firm knock on the door interrupted her as she was about to speak “We’re not done” she whispered to Benjamin. She opened the door and was greeted by her brother Maxwell who appeared either high or drunk as always “Maxwell can I help you?”
“Hey sis can I come in?” Maxwell said in a serious manner that was uncharacteristic of him “You might want to sit down for this.”
“No whatever you want to say you can say now. What is it?”
“Okay then. Do you love your husband?”
“Well the news I’m about to tell you can be described as either good or bad news depending on how you feel about your husband. So do you love him?” Maxwell asked.
“Maxwell please what do you want? It’s too early for your stupid games.”
“Okay then someone decided that your husband Lamar was breathing too much so they took his breath away in one of the most brutal ways imaginable. So now there are two detectives in the living room taking statements from all of us to find out who was seek and tired of Lamar’s breathing. I guess what I’m trying to say is that your husband is dead sis. He was found murdered in dad’s botanical garden” Maxwell said with the tone and flippancy of someone talking about the weather. “I’m sorry sis. He might’ve been a dick but he didn’t deserve to go out this way. The detectives are waiting for you.”
Katherine’s look of nervousness was enough to come off as a shock. She didn’t say a word before closing the door and facing Benjamin “The cops are here Benjamin. Someone found Lamar’s body.”
Benjamin nodded slowly. “We knew that this was coming. Now we must go out there and put on the performances of our lives. Today we’re going to get away with murder.”
Thirty minutes later
“Mr Knight as the people who were here on the day that the murder took place we are going to need all your statements in order to confirm everybody’s alibis and narrow the suspect list.”
“Narrow the suspect list? You haven’t even narrowed the suspect list of the bastards who kidnapped my daughter and now instead of going out there and doing real police work that you get paid for you’re sitting here with this clown and you’re harassing my family. Why? Why should I entertain this why? I’m one of the highest taxpayers in this damn country I’ve paid billions in taxes and all I get for that is you telling me about narrowing suspect lists. This is bullshit” Richard Knight fumed. “Someone is targeting my family and it’s your job to find out who it is. Or what? Do you think we’re kidnapping and killing each other?”
“Nobody is saying that Mr Knight and if we’re being fair –”
“Hey look who it is Katherine the new member of the widows club and the guy with a funny face and no name. Please come and join us” Patrick extended a sarcastic welcome. He knew the Knights well enough to know that Katherine wasn’t grieving her husband’s death.
McCarthy turned around to face them “Good morning Ms Knight. I was hoping…” she paused briefly when she locked eyes with Benjamin. A confused expression crossed her face “I’m sorry who are you?”
“This is Benjamin he’s a friend of the family” Katherine said.
McCarthy searched her mind for where she could place his faintly familiar face but failed. She then turned back to Katherine “I was hoping to ask you some questions about the day your husband passed away. I offer my deepest condolences for your loss.”
“It’s not a loss when you’re not grieving is it Katherine?” Patrick asked. “Since I know you better than McCarthy I’m going to say I offer you my deepest congratulations for finally getting rid of that bastard.”
Richard Knight stood up from his chair “How dare you come to my house and make such insinuations? You’re nothing but a leech that almost ruined my family. If I had it my way you’d be dead instead of Lamar.”
“Oh Richard I’d watch it if I were you. We all know that I have the key to this family’s closet and I’m very very good friends with its skeletons. So why don’t we all calm down and find out who killed your son in law?” Patrick said before turning to the maid and saying “Patricia can you please be a sweetheart and bring me those chocolate muffins of yours that I used to love. Bring some tea too and add that special ingredient of mine you know I can’t think clearly without it” he said then winked at Patricia.
Patricia turned to Richard to wait for permission.
“Get him the damn muffins. The quicker he gets out of here the better” Richard barked.
“Oh boy I feel at home already” Patrick said his notorious radiant smile plastered on his face “So my beautiful in-laws whoever answers this question correctly will get to taste Patrica’s famous muffins. The question is who killed Lamar?”
“I’m sorry what is this?” a confused Katherine asked “Why are we being asked questions by him? He's not even a cop.”
“Mr Diale is a consultant to the Loneville East Special Crimes Division. He’s here in that capacity as recognised by Colonel Sebe” McCarthy said “So Ms Knight.”
“Please call me Katherine” Katherine said as she took a seat next to her brother. Benjamin stood behind her trying his best to keep a low profile.
“Alright Katherine could you tell me where you were between the hours eight AM and eleven AM on the morning of the 13th of November 2019?” McCarthy asked with her notebook at hand ready to take notes.
Katherine thought for a moment. “I was in my room getting ready for Miracle’s homecoming dinner like everyone else.”
“When last did you see your husband?”
“At around that time.”
“Around what time exactly Katherine?” McCarthy pressed.
“How is she supposed to know the exact time?” Richard interjected.
“Mr Knight please let me do my job. Katherine will let me know of any questions that she is unable to answer. If you continue to interrupt me I will not hesitate to charge you with obstruction of justice” McCarthy warned firmly immediately asserting her authority. She turned to Katherine “Katherine what time?”
“Around eight-ish he finished getting ready before me so he left the bedroom before I did. That was the last time I saw him” Katherine said tears escaping her eyes.
“Did you guys have an argument or misunderstanding?”
“Okay that’s it. If you want to talk to any of my family members you’ll have to do it in front of a lawyer” said Richard.
McCarthy closed her notebook “Very well then Mr Knight. We’ll do it your way. I’ll be back with a warrant and any questions I have for you and your family members will be asked at the police station. Enjoy your day.”
“We’re leaving without the muffins?” Patrick asked.
“Yes we’re leaving now” McCarthy said then led the way.
As soon as they stepped outside she turned to Patrick and said “You know I’m aware that you know these people but I’d really appreciate it if you’d take this seriously and do your job instead of cracking jokes and asking for muffins like you’re at a reunion.”
Patrick smiled as he turned to McCarthy “Okay then let’s get serious. One of those people killed Lamar I know that for a fact. It can’t be Maxwell because all he cares about is drugs and partying he’d have cracked immediately. Miracle is recovering from her kidnapping she’s in no state to kill anyone so she’s out. Richard Knight is capable of committing murder but he wouldn’t leave something this messy that’s not his style. He’d hire a professional and make sure Lamar disappears forever. That leaves us with Katherine. The severity and amount of stab wounds suggest that this was a crime of passion. Lamar was killed by someone who knew him and someone who hated him. I’d say it was Katherine but the signs of struggle suggest that a fight ensued before Lamar was killed. I don’t really see him losing a fight to Katherine” Patrick paused. “If Katherine wanted Lamar dead she’d need the one person everybody would least expect to do it.”
“Who’s that? I interrogated everyone there.”
“Did you? Because I remember Katherine walking in with a man a man you did not interrogate. A man who since he arrived Miracle went missing and Lamar died.”
“Come to think of it something about him was off I can’t put my finger on it. I got this feeling that –“
“He looked familiar?” Patrick finished her sentence for her.
“Are you going to tell me what you think or are you going to keep going around in circles?” McCarthy asked impatiently as they climbed into her car.
“I think that if Lamar was killed by one of the Knights Katherine has the strongest motive. I think that if Katherine killed her husband Benjamin did the dirty work. I think that we need to have a conversation with him sooner rather than later and when we do I want to have him all to myself. I have a feeling that he’s hiding a lot from us” Patrick said partly frustrated that McCarthy didn’t give him an opportunity to ask questions. Something about that Benjamin seduced his curiosity.
“It’s a long shot but it’s worth looking into. You surmised all of that in between making jokes?” McCarthy asked not really surprised. By now she knew what Patrick was capable of.
“You owe me a chocolate muffin” Patrick said as they drove out of the Knights’ driveway. “Next time we come here I’m leaving with someone in handcuffs.”