Bella had never seen her brother Billy so inconsolable. She kept holding his hand and rubbing his shoulder and never left his side at the funeral. She watched his face as they lowered his best friend into the ground.
She couldn’t remember a time in her life when Billy and Ricky weren’t together. They were on the basketball team together, ran track together, went on their first group date together with their girlfriends. Their friends actually thought Billy and Ricky were brothers. They were two halves of a whole and now one of those halves was gone because of a drunk driver.
Bella’s parents tried their best to comfort Billy but that wasn’t easy. Ricky spent many a an evening at their dinner table and even went on some family vacations with Billy’s family. They felt as if they also lost a son.
Everything was said and done by 3PM. On the car ride home Billy finally spoke. “We need to go by the police station.”
“Billy, you’re in no shape to help me deal with this now,” Bella said.
“I need to focus on something other than death right now. I need this.”
Richard put on his signal and made a left turn to head toward the police station. Bella’s leg fluttered up and down. Lenny put his hand on her knee and gave it a gentle squeeze. The SUV pulled to a stop in the police parking lot.
“I’ve got a friend on the force here,” Richard said, “I’ll ask for him when we go in. You ready, Bee?” Bella looked around the car at her family and Lenny. Her mother gave her a reassuring nod. Her brother did the same.
They all got out of the car and went into the station. They waited as Richard went up to the desk and spoke with one of the police officers. After a few moments, a tall, muscular man in plain clothes came out and greeted Richard.
“Richard Blake. I haven’t seen you in a month of Sundays,” the man said.
“Detective Vinnie, it’s good to see you. Still fit as a fiddle. You haven’t changed a bit.”
“Gotta stay in shape, my man. What brings you here today?”
“My daughter has some information she needs to share on the Reese case.”
“Reese Wilkins?” Vinnie said as he looked at Bella.
“Yeah,” Richard said, “is there someplace private we can we speak?”
Vinnie lead Bella and her father back to his office. Lenny, Olivia, and Billy went back out to the car. Bella told the detective everything that she saw. She gave him the pictures she printed out and the memory card from the camera.
“Am I going to go to jail,” Bella said.
“For what,” asked Vinnie.
“For not coming forward?”
“No. If you had been questioned by the police and didn’t tell them what you saw, that would be withholding evidence. But you were never questioned. It’s not a crime to fail to report what you know. Can I ask you something, Bella?”
Bella looked at her father. He nodded to reassure her. “Sure, I guess.”
“Why come forward now?”
Bella looked down at her lap and bit her lip. “I just couldn’t take it any more. Reese is dead because of me.”
Vinnie got up from his chair and walked around to where Bella sat. He squatted down in front of her and lifted her chin with his finger. “Hey, you didn’t do this. Those two girls chose to take another person’s life. You can’t beat yourself up with what ifs now. The important thing is you’ve given us some evidence to look into. Evidence that could put both of those girls behind bars and give Reese’s parents some closure.”
Tears ran down Bella’s face. Vinnie pulled a handkerchief from his front pocket and handed it to Bella. “It’s not used, I promise,” he said. Bella chuckled and wiped her face.
“Vinnie, I can’t thank you enough for this.”
“Thanks for bringing her in Richard.”
“So what happens now,” said Richard.
“Well, we have to bring Skylar and Sasha in for questioning and see if they own up to anything.”
“Bring Sasha in first,” said Bella.
“Why do you say that,” said Vinnie.
“She’s the one that brought my dad back my camera.”
“Interesting,” said Vinnie, “I’ll take that into consideration. Thank you for coming forward, Bella. You did the right thing.”
“I just wish I had done it sooner,” she said.
Bella and her father walked out to the car. Lenny, Billy and her mother were sitting on a bench in the parking lot. They all stood up when they saw her walking toward them.
“So,” Billy said.
“So,” Bella said, “I told the detective everything.”
Bella hugged her mother.
“And,” Billy said.
“And they are going to bring them in for questioning.”
“That’s it?” said Lenny
“That’s all they can do,” said Bella, “But I have feeling Sasha will crack.”
“So what do we do now,” her mother said.
“Go home,” her father said, “We did our part. We let the law handle the rest.”
Later that evening Lenny, Bella, and her family were having dinner when the telephone rang. Richard went into the living room to answer it. They all picked at their food while they waited for him to return.
After a few minutes, Richard walked back in and sat back down. He took a forkful of meatloaf. When he looked up everyone was staring at him. “Well are you going to tell us who that was, Richard,” said Olivia.
“It was Vinnie. They brought both girls in for questioning.” He looked at Bella. “You were right. Sasha broke. He said it’s going to be on the 11 o’clock news.”
“Yeah,” Billy yelled, “They’re going down!”
“Billy,” said his mother, “Let’s not glory in another person’s suffering.”
“Please,” Billy said, “Those girls deserve whatever they get.
“May I be excused,” said Bella.
Everyone at the table stared at her. “Of course, Bee,” her mother said.
Bella went up to her room and closed the door. She pulled her high school yearbook from the shelf and flipped through the senior photos until she found Reese’s picture. She rubbed her index finger on the picture.
“I hope you can forgive me for not telling what I knew sooner.” She closed the book and clutched to her chest. “Case…closed,” she said as a final tear fell down her face.