This is what happened when Detective Sanchez questioned me that day.
“And what is your name?”
“Tell me the story.”
“‘I don’t know where all the trash comes from. Who’s been eating up here now?’ That’s what I said to myself when I saw that plastic bag blow across the roof, one of those small clear bags like they put taquitos in to go. It even had shreds of lettuce and a tomato seed stuck to the side. I picked it up so I could throw it away. I don’t like trash up there. Yeah. It’s the roof, but still…”
“Mrs. Morales, what were you doing up on the roof this morning?”
“As you saw very plainly, our laundry room is up there. I always take my chair to sit in the sun while the washer goes through the cycle. Besides, it takes more than fifteen minutes just to fill up with water. The well is all the way down on the main level. You saw it, didn’t you? The well, I mean. The one with the red-tiled roof like one of those chalets in Switzerland. I mean, the well has a little clay-tiled roof over it so trash doesn’t get in.”
I stopped talking because that detective interrupted me right in the middle of explaining about the well.
“Do you usually sit up on the roof when you wash clothes, Mrs. Morales? Is that a habit of yours?”
Good Lord! His attitude was rough. Interrupting me like that! How was I to tell the story about what I saw? About that young girl’s body, how she was all wrapped up snuggly in that quilt like a baby when its mother wants to quiet it down? Why is that man, that detective, staring at me like I’m some sort of idiot or something?
“The quilt. What sort of quilt was it, Mrs. Morales? Can you describe it for me?”
I was a bit insulted at the word ‘habit’, the way he was insinuating something, so I glared back at him.
“Detective. What’s your last name again? Oh, Sanchez. Detective Sanchez. Officer Sanchez. Is that how you say it here in Mexico?”
“Officer is fine, senora.”
He seemed to glare back at me like we were having a contest.
“Habit? I always sit in the sun any chance I get. It’s not sunny much in Indiana. Know where that is? Not that far from Canada. As I was saying, the roof here is flat. Nearly all roofs in Mexico are flat.”
He would not quit glaring at me, I swear. I don’t appreciate it when people look directly like that at me. Makes me nervous. If he’s trying to make me talk, then why on earth does he treat me like I’m the killer?
“Senora Morales, what made you look over the wall when you did? Was there something that precipitated your action?”
“Precipitated?” I repeated after him. Why does he keep using such words? Habit. Precipitated. Those chemicals had made me dizzy, and I still had a foggy mind.
“Officer! I am a curious woman and a writer also. Ever since we’ve had this house I have looked over that wall. That house has been deserted since we lived here. You can plainly see that our wall is a common wall with theirs.”
“Theirs? Who do you mean by theirs?”
“The people who own that house, OFFICER SANCHEZ! They live in Mexico City. I’ve never met them. My husband has never met them. We only know this information because my brother-in-law told us when we built our house.”
I had to take a break from all the talking, so I headed to the kitchen. I grabbed a banana and offered one to Officer Sanchez since he’d followed me in there. I was swallowing the last bite of my banana when he started up again. This time he seemed more polite.
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