Discount Prophecies: Part 3 – Guilty Until Proven Innocent

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There was a murderer at Belinda’s door, but that was nothing to be concerned about. She could See the future and knew he wasn’t here to harm her. In fact, he wanted to hire her. She had no intention of working for him and didn’t mind telling him to his face. She opened the door.

The contrast between the moment before opening the door and the moment after was startling. She’d always had a poor memory, but how had she gotten so many details about this murderer wrong? She remembered a nerdy black guy with glasses, an action movie t-shirt, and torn jeans who was somehow simultaneously a street thug who would beat up old ladies for fun. In reality, he was wearing nice clothes – tan slacks and a button up shirt. The black shoes were a mistake, but otherwise, he looked nice. Where were the glasses? Where was the intimidating posture? Where were the tattoos and piercings?

Faced with this man, Belinda changed her mind. She wouldn’t turn him down here. They’d go somewhere else and she’d tell him “no” there. She didn’t know why, but part of being a good Seer was trusting your instincts.

“Walk with me,” she said as she strode out the door.

“Where are we going?” the murderer asked.

“I don’t remember, but I’ll know when we get there.”

They walked in silence through the small gravel parking lot and down the sidewalk, moving towards downtown. Belinda tried to remember his name, but of course she couldn’t. Fortunately, she had a trick for that. She thought about asking his name and looked into that future. Once she learned the name, she didn’t need to ask anymore, so she didn’t. Her teachers in Seer School told her that she shouldn’t do this very often, but she couldn’t remember why.

“Floyd Washington, I don’t plan on taking your case,” she told him bluntly. “Why did you even come to me?”

“I’m not sure,” he admitted. “But, I know you turned down Darren Alvarado when he offered to hire you. I figured you knew I was innocent.”

“But, you’re not innocent. I know you killed her.”

Floyd stopped walking and stared at Belinda. She didn’t stop, so he had to hurry to catch up.

“You are Belinda Carter, right?” Floyd asked.

“I am.”

“You’re a Seer, aren’t you?”

“I am.”

“Then, you should know I’m innocent. I didn’t kill Pandora.”

Belinda swore at him under her breath. This was one of the most common misconceptions people had about Seers, and it got really annoying.

“That’s not how Seers work. If we automatically knew who was guilty or innocent, every court case would be judged by a Seer. A Seer can only See things she will actually know in the future. Your girlfriend’s murder was in the past, and I wasn’t there when you killed her.”

Floyd appeared unhappy with what she was saying, maybe a little angry. A part of Belinda told her it wasn’t a good idea to antagonize a murderer, but the rest of her knew he wouldn’t do anything about it.

“If you can’t See what happened, how are you so sure I’m guilty?” Floyd asked.

“I remember your trial,” Belinda told him. “I was convinced.”

“Why?”

“Honestly, I can’t remember enough of the details, but I remember how I felt. I was sure you were guilty and disgusted by the things I learned about you.”

Floyd let out a frustrated “aargh” sound. Or was it angry? Belinda wasn’t sure. She was a Seer, not a mind reader.

“If you don’t remember, isn’t it possible you were wrong? Because, I didn’t do it. I would never hurt Pandora!”

Belinda thought about that for a moment. It was possible that she was wrong, but she doubted it. Despite what Darren used to say, her bad memory didn’t make her stupid. If she was convinced that Floyd was guilty, she would have had a good reason. She just wished she could remember what it was, because she was starting to doubt herself. It was time for some more information. She pulled out a small notebook to help her keep track of the details.

“Fine, tell me your side of the story.”

“I was at Pandora’s apartment, watching a movie,” he said.

“Hold on,” Belinda interrupted. “I thought she was your ex?”

Floyd looked a little embarrassed. “Yeah, but sometimes we kinda forgot, especially when there was a good movie to watch.”

“Complicated relationship,” she said, scribbling this tidbit. “I’m making a note of that.”

“Umm, and then we umm, went to bed. Nothing else happened until I was woken up by the cop who arrested me.”

“I remember now,” Belinda said as she wrote. “During the trial, you claimed that you were asleep the whole time. Come on. Do you really expect me to believe you slept through a brutal murder in the next room?”

“I did!” Floyd insisted. “I swear I did! I’ve gotten used to sleeping while Pandora watches action movies in the other room. She turns them up loud. It would have sounded like just another fight scene to me. The judge even agreed that it was circumstantial when he let me out on bail.”

“Hmm. That’s almost plausible. Well, what about the actual murder? I remember there was something about the murder weapon that was… unusual.”

“It was a cutlass. It was actually the cutlass used in Fists of Fate IV.” Floyd suddenly pepped up. “You know the part where Leif Zandol slashes The Bro across the face? There was a mix-up and the actor used a real cutlass instead of a prop cutlass. It’s the reason The Bro has that scar. That was one of Pandora’s favorite movies, and The Bro was her favorite actor. It took forever, but I found that cutlass and bought it for her birthday. It still has his blood on it… Although…”

Floyd trailed off. His shoulders sagged and Belinda thought she knew what was going through his head. It had a lot more blood on it now. Unless Belinda was mistaken, he was genuinely sad about this. He really was different from the cold-hearted killer she thought he was. He was still guilty. She knew that for certain, but she got the impression that he regretted it. This was a crime of passion. They were probably having a heated discussion about their complicated relationship when she said or did something that pushed him over the edge. The cutlass was right there, and he used it before he realized what he was doing. Now, he was trying to escape the consequences of his loss of control.

After a few minutes of silence, Floyd spoke up.

“Wait, I know where we’re going. Why are we going there?”

“I don’t know,” Belinda admitted. “I’m just following my future self. You tell me where we’re going, and maybe I can tell you why we’re going there.”

“We’re headed to the Salisbury Center. It’s like a local community center. There’s a group of action movie enthusiasts that meets there once a week to nerd out about movies.”

“Let me guess. There’s a meeting today and you and…” Belinda referenced her notebook. “You and Pandora were regulars at this meeting.”

“That’s right. It’s a nerds of a feather kind of thing.”

“Looks like future me has led me to the right place again. I don’t know what I’d do without her. I think I’ll buy her some chocolate or something.”

She wrote the word “chocolate” in big letters before turning to Floyd.

“You know what Floyd? I’m going to take this case. I’ll be looking for evidence to convict you, but you’re going to hire me anyway.”

“That doesn’t sound like something I’d do,” Floyd said.

“Oh, it is,” Belinda lied. “You’ll change your mind soon, because you’ll be desperate enough to hope my investigation accidentally finds evidence in your favor. You might as well pay me now, so we can get on with it.”

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