Belinda normally wouldn’t have been so happy that a new action movie had just hit the theaters, but CAMERA, the local action movie club was having a special meeting to discuss it. She still didn’t know what CAMERA was an acronym for and she didn’t care. She had come to get another opportunity to talk to Corrine McAdams and William Bosco.
Floyd was waiting at the entrance of the Salisbury Center, where CAMERA had its meetings. Something seemed different about him today. Maybe it was the scar he had gotten on the side of his face while saving Belinda from Rick Hightower or maybe it was the muscles that she now knew were hiding under his baggy clothes. But no, there was more to it than that. Maybe it was because she was starting to like him. She might have considered him a friend if she wasn’t investigating him for murder, but she needed to completely rule him out as a suspect before she would go that far.
“Hi, Belinda,” Floyd said. “Hey, I’m glad you’re finally going to investigate other people.”
“Oh, I couldn’t pass up the chance to talk to Corrilliam,” Belinda said. “I mean, seriously? A secret relationship? It’s so much like high school that I have to remind myself not to spread gossip about them.”
As they entered, Floyd suddenly froze. Belinda looked around and quickly saw why – Darren Alvarado was here. He was a private detective trying to prove that Floyd killed his girlfriend. Belinda wasn’t fond of Darren either. In an alternate future, she worked for him. He paid well, but he was an absolute jerk. Belinda’s main reason for taking this case was to prevent Darren from solving it and getting famous, which is what happened in the other timeline.
“Hello, Belinda!” Darren said, walking up to them. He smelled like citrus. She remembered that he used to eat a ridiculous amount of oranges.
“What are you doing here?” Floyd asked in an angry tone that Belinda hadn’t ever heard from him.
“I’m investigating Pandora’s murder, obviously,” Darren said in an exaggerated, sarcastic tone which Belinda had heard many, many times. “This is a great place to talk to people who knew Pandora and might know something. Plus, my prime suspect is here,” he said, looking pointedly at Floyd.
Belinda rolled her eyes. “Just make sure you stay out of my way,” she said.
“Why don’t we work together?” Darren asked.
“Because it’s a stupid idea,” Belinda answered.
“I’m serious. We’re both trying to find the facts here. I know it seems like we’re on different teams – I’m trying to prove Floyd’s guilt and you’re trying to prove his innocence…”
“Actually, I haven’t ruled him out as a suspect,” Belinda corrected. “I’m investigating Floyd just as thoroughly as any other suspect.”
Darren smirked as he looked between Belinda and Floyd. “And you’re making him pay you while you investigate him?” Darren said. “That’s awesome!”
Belinda was surprised by the praise and couldn’t suppress her grin.
Floyd grumbled something in disagreement.
“Either way,” Darren said, ignoring Floyd, “We’re both trying to solve this murder and we both have different perspectives on it. Let’s work together – just for these interviews today. We might learn from each other.”
She thought about that for a moment. Darren had an annoyingly good point. She shrugged her shoulders. “OK, fine. Let’s do it.”
Darren quickly requisitioned a side room for the interviews and because he secured the room, he thought he should be allowed to choose who would be interviewed first. It was annoyingly typical of him, but Belinda decided not to argue. She wanted to hear Floyd defend himself. He was so passive. She liked that about him – he would do whatever she asked, but today, she wanted to see him fight like he did against Hightower.
Floyd took a seat at the table and sat awkwardly while Darren turned around the chair opposite him and sat down. Belinda took a seat to the side.
After a moment of staring, Darren pulled out a notepad, looked at the first page, and asked, “Where were you when Pandora died?”
“I was in her bed, asleep,” Floyd said.
“That’s where you were when the police got there, but there’s no way you slept through your girlfriend’s murder.”
“That’s what the police thought,” Floyd said. “They detained me but found no blood on me or my clothes and no evidence that I cleaned up any mess. That’s why they let me go.”
“That just means you did a good job of hiding the evidence.”
Darren waited for a response, but Floyd just frowned and offered no argument. Darren scribbled on his notepad, then flipped a page.
“I’ve heard that while you dated Pandora, you would get strange bruises and other unexplained injuries. Explain this to me,” Darren demanded.
Floyd rolled his eyes. “People get weird ideas. I compete in amateur MMA fights sometimes, so naturally, everyone assumes it was domestic violence.”
“I know about your fights,” Darren began, but Belinda cut him off.
“Are you really trying to suggest that Pandora beat him up?” she said. “Because that’s ridiculous. I’ve seen the guy fight and I’m surprised he’s only an amateur.”
“I don’t want to go pro,” Floyd explained. “It’s a hobby, not a profession.”
“Why are you defending him?” Darren asked. “I thought you were investigating him too.”
“I am. I’m just limiting my investigations to likely motives, not stupid ones.”
Darren slapped his notepad onto the table. “What is your problem?” he asked angrily. “You obviously have something against me. I offered you good money to work this case with me, but you refused. Then you turn around and work for the murderer?”
Belinda stared him in the eye. “Why did you try to hire me if you were just going to ignore my input and treat me like a secretary?”
Darren looked confused. “When did I say that? Why would you think that?” he sputtered.
“I’m a Seer, you idiot!” she said. “I saw that future and it sucked!”
Darren sat silently for a few minutes.
“I don’t know how to respond to that,” he finally said.
Floyd grinned as if Christmas had come early. Belinda wondered if seeing Darren being shut up was as gratifying for Floyd as it was for her.