The Housemaid

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If I leave this house, it will be in handcuffs.

I should have run for it while I had the chance. Now my shot is gone. Now that the police officers are in the house and they’ve discovered what’s upstairs, there’s no turning back.

They are about five seconds away from reading me my rights. I’m not sure why they haven’t done it yet. Maybe they’re hoping to trick me into telling them something I shouldn’t.

Good luck with that.

The cop with the black hair threaded with gray is sitting on the sofa next to me. He shifts his stocky frame on the burnt-caramel Italian leather. I wonder what sort of sofa he has at home. It sure doesn’t cost five figures like this one did. It’s probably some tacky color like orange, covered in pet fur, and with more than one rip in the seams. I wonder if he’s thinking about his sofa at home and wishing he had one like this.

Or more likely, he’s thinking about the dead body in the attic upstairs.

“So let’s go through this one more time,” the cop says in his New York drawl. He told me his name earlier, but it flew out of my head. Police officers should wear bright red nametags. How else are you possibly supposed to

remember their names in a high-stress situation? He’s a detective, I think. “When did you find the body?”

I pause, wondering if this would be the right time to demand a lawyer. Aren’t they supposed to offer me one? I am rusty on this protocol.

“About an hour ago,” I answer.

“Why did you go up there in the first place?”

I press my lips together. “I told you. I heard a sound.” “And…?”

The officer leans forward, his eyes wide. He has a rough stubble on his chin, like he might’ve skipped shaving this morning. His tongue protrudes slightly from between his lips. I’m not stupid—I know exactly what he wants me to say.

I did it. I’m guilty. Take me away.

Instead, I lean back against the sofa. “That’s it. That’s everything I know.”

Disappointment washes over the detective’s face. He works his jaw as he thinks over the evidence that has been found so far in this house. He’s wondering if he’s got enough to snap those cuffs on my wrists yet. He isn’t sure. If he were sure, he would have done it already.

“Hey, Connors!”

It’s the voice of another officer. We break eye contact and I look up at the top of the staircase. The other, much younger cop is standing there, his long fingers clutching the top of the banister. His unlined face is pale.

“Connors,” the younger officer says. “You gotta come up here—now. You gotta see what’s up here.” Even from the bottom of the stairs, I can see his Adam’s apple bobbing. “You won’t believe it.”

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