Just Call Me Helen - Completed
Author: CassidyandAnna

Chapter 8
His Left Hand

The next night is the councilman’s ball.
    I crouch on the floor of my sitting room in my prettiest dress, staring at Maggie’s file. I am afraid to go tonight. Richard will be there, and before he left he commanded for me to stay in the house. I have to go as myself tonight in order for Roy and I not to draw attention, but I know Richard could recognize me at any moment, and the repercussions of being caught there would be gruesome.
    Eventually, I calm myself by realizing Richard will be too caught up with alcohol and one of his many mistresses to notice me. Plain and simple Helen, someone he can boss and kick around— he has no reason to believe I would defy him and actually leave the house.
    Taking solace in the fact, I hail a buggy to the west end of town. The houses here belong to those richest in the city, and Borislov seems to be wealthiest of them all. The place looks like a castle, with lush gardens and marble stairs. Roy is waiting for me at the entrance doors.
    I walk over to him and tap on his shoulder. He looks down at me, doing a double take. “Well, hello miss. May I help you?”
    “Roy, it’s me, Henry,” I say, smoothing out my skirt.
    “You look absolutely stunning… Sometimes I forget you’re even a woman yet you look more womanly than any other person in here. And more radiant, I must say,” Roy stammers.
    I blush briefly before collecting myself. “Well, then I guess you can call me Henrietta for tonight.”
    Roy continues to gawk at me as he asks, “Is that your real name?”
    “No.”
    He grins, offering me his arm. I loop my own through his and we mingle our way inside where music echoes in the dancehall. “Just make sure we keep an eye out for Borislov,” I say, scanning the crowd. “You know what he looks like, right?”
    “Yes Henrietta,” Roy says. “I have the bastard’s face memorized.”
    “Let’s just dance,” I say, and when Roy smirks at me I quickly explain that we have a better view of everyone that way and he’ll be able to point out Borislov easily.
    “As you wish, Henrietta,” Roy says, taking hold of my hand as we begin to waltz to the music.
    Half-way through the song he points out Borislov— a tall man with dark eyes and hair. He is too busy talking with others for Roy and I to get a word in, and so we continue to dance.
    Thirty minutes quickly pass and I realize that Roy and I haven’t looked back at Borislov since the first time we saw him. In fact, we haven’t looked at anyone but each other as he cracks cheesy jokes and makes me laugh as I haven’t laughed in a very long time.
    Richard’s never known how to make me laugh.
    “Roy?” I ask suddenly, swaying to the music with him.
    “Yes?”
    “Have you ever been married?”
    “No,” he says, brows furrowing. “Have you?”
    I look down at my feet. “Yeah.”
    Without warning, Roy puts his fingers under my chin and tilts my face up so I will look at him. His face is void of emotion yet his voice is full of it. “You’re married? Like…happily married?”
    “Yes, I mean, no…” I say, shaking my head. Roy tilts his own head in question. “I mean, yes, I am married. But I don’t love him, Roy.”
    “Then why did you marry him?” Roy seems baffled, like it’s such blasphemy to hear of someone marrying a person they don’t love.
    “Because he takes care of me,” I say, embarrassed.
    I married Richard when I was sixteen. After my father died, both my mother and I couldn’t afford the farm we lived on anymore, and my mother became ill. It was such a struggle, and when Richard came into town on a business meeting and tried to court me, I gave in.
    I am just a trophy wife to him, and when a woman by the name of Mercy Danvers told me that she disguised herself as a man, as a detective so she could help people, I begged her to give me something to live for. I have only been working the job four years, just recently taking over after Mercy was killed on a case, but I have money saved. After my mother passes I am going to use it to run away and never have to see Richard again.
    “Henry…” Roy says, slipping, but there’s concern written all over his uneven features.
    I glance away from him, not wanting to meet his eye, but instead I am faced with the view of Borislov striding into a door off to the side of the dancehall. “Damn it,” I say. “We just missed our opening!”
    “What?” Roy whips his head around in the wrong direction to see what I am talking about, but it is just enough space for me to see past his shoulder, and notice Richard, who I forgot would even be here, leaving with a woman. She’s a blonde, tall and leggy, the exact opposite of my short, brunette build. Something like shame rises in my stomach; shame because Richard is being so open with his mistress even though everyone knows he’s married. I am just a pawn, and I hate being used like this, yet I can’t do anything about it without blowing my cover.
    In the half the second this happens, Roy has determined that I am imagining things, turning to look at me with an eyebrow raised. “Henrietta, are you seeing things? What opening?”
    “Borislov,” I clarify, indicating my head toward the door he disappeared into. “He went in there.”
    “Oh,” Roy frowns, an awkward silence ensues, our momentary entrancement with each other is broken. “Well, he has to come out some time… While we’re waiting I’ll go get us something to drink.”
    “Roy, I don’t think that’s such a good—” But he’s already off. I sigh, sitting in one of the chairs against the wall. I should have known that sooner or later Roy would turn to drinking, because when he’s nervous, that’s what he does, even if he is a very ignorant drunk.
    I expect Roy to come back quickly but it takes him quite some time, and in that time Borislov reappears among the partygoers. He is talking to what appears to be the mayor, and pulls a business card from his breast pocket, writing something on it with his right hand… His right hand?
    All of my hopes for the investigation quickly drop. Borislov is not our murderer. I decide to find Roy and tell him this so we can leave before he becomes too intoxicated, only when I make it to the refreshment table he isn’t there. The cat, Dr. Sparklepuss, is. He is drinking from the punch bowl, and when I stop to stare at him, he looks up, collar jingling. “Mrow.”
    “What—”
    “Got the drinks, Henrietta.” I turn to acknowledge Roy, but quickly look back at Dr. Sparklepuss, only, he is no longer there. “Anything interesting happen while I was gone?”
    “We need to talk in private,” I say.
    Roy, who was just smiling, quickly becomes serious. We duck into a hallway that no one else is occupying. “What’s going on?” he asks.
    “Borislov didn’t kill Maggie.”
    “What?” Roy asks, almost outraged. “Of course he did! The man is bad news, Henry! I mean, he’s in the drug business! Both Katherine and that one witness told you so!”
    “That doesn’t mean he killed Maggie,” I say. “He’s right handed.”
    “What does that have to do with anything?” Roy demands, flailing,
    “The person who killed Maggie was left handed. Trust me on this one, please? Borislov didn’t kill her.”
    “Then who did?!”
    “I don’t know,” I say honestly. “I’m at a loss here, Roy. All of the evidence was sketchy to begin with, but this just proves Borislov did not do it.”
    “I’m still investigating,” Roy says stubbornly. “I don’t care if he’s right, left or no handed! He did it!”
    I don’t say anything, standing there staring at the floor. There seems to be no arguing with him, and if he wants to waste his time on a fruitless suspect then I will let him.
    Before long we are wondering the maze of hallways in Borislov’s house. There is nothing tying Borislov to either killing Maggie nor gang activity, and as I point this out to Roy with every room we check, he keeps swearing we’ll find something sooner or later.
    “No!” I finally say. “We won’t! He is not the perpetrator, Roy. Would you stop this? You are wasting time— yours and mine.”
    “Why don’t you just trust me on this, Henry? He did it!”
    “I don’t trust you because you’re being biased. Now this conversation is over and we’re leaving.”
    “No!” Roy says petulantly. “You’re supposed to trust me; we’re partners.
    “Yeah, because you forced it on me!” I say, glaring.
    “I did not force it on you!”
    “The hell you didn’t! You know my secret! I had to give you the job so you wouldn’t tell anyone!”
    “I wouldn’t have told anyone regardless! To know your utter lack of faith in me is disconcerting, Henry!” Roy’s almost yelling now, right in my personal space. Suddenly, his voice becomes softer, “I thought you actually liked me…”
    “Well,” I say, tone seething and trying to keep my voice steady because I know what I say next is a lie. “You’re wrong.” I only say it because I know I can’t side with him on this issue. That would be letting my feelings get in the way of the case.
    “Yeah, because you’re married!” he shouts. Without warning, he turns and hits the wall beside him with his left hand before stomping down the hallway and disappearing around the corner.
    My breathing suddenly becomes shallow before I can even comprehend what’s happening, and I feel sick to my stomach.
    He used his left hand.
    It all makes sense now. The enthusiasm about joining in on this case; the look he gave the body in the morgue; the way he was so quick to pin it off on Borislov. Nard said I can’t trust anyone, and he meant not even my own partner. Borislov didn’t do this— Roy did.
    It’s my fault for not realizing it sooner. In the back of my mind, I did trust Roy, and I never looked at him as a suspect even though he had motive. He hasn’t exactly been quiet about hating Borislov and being so adamant about Campbell beating Borislov in the head councilman elections. What better way to make sure Borislov loses than kill his wife and blame it on him? Or to expose his illegal affairs?
    “Roy!” I hear myself calling, before taking off after him. I can’t let Roy get away. I have to stop him so he can tell me that none of it is true; that he is innocent. It can’t be him. It can’t be him. It can’t be him… “Roy!”
    I end up back in the dancehall, weaving frantically through the guests looking for Roy. I’m halfway to the front door when the screaming starts.
    “Oh my God!”
    “Heaven have mercy! Someone help!”
    “He’s choking!
    “No, you fool! He’s bleeding!”
    I turn to see the partygoers forming a circle, and as I push through the crowd I begin to see the blood dripping in trails along the floor. In the middle of the circle is Borislov. He is convulsing, body contorted in sick ways. There is blood choking him and he spits it onto the floor viciously, coughing and hacking until everyone in the room is silent. More blood flows from his eyes and nose and ears and almost every pore of his body. His life drains onto the shoes of the onlookers, and eventually it’s completely gone.

 

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