Bridgeport Blues - Chapter Nine
Published Jul 25, 2013

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"Don't you think you could be jumping to conclusions, T.J.?" my sister asks.
"Can you think of another scenario that makes sense here?" I fire back. "She's following me around, she's acting like she hasn't got two brain cells to rub together but you say that she's not stupid. Plus, she's personally involved with Steve Roberts. Now, someone has set me up to look like I'm involved in Elena Robert's death, and who could be in a better position to do that?"
"Steve Roberts is in a better position, for one."
"But he's got no motive. Not that I can see."
"He could be doing it for her," Lulu says.
"I can't see that, he doesn't seem to be that smart. No, this is all Susan."
Lulu pats my shoulder and turns to go, "I have to get back to work. Susan's here, somewhere, probably in her trailer. She's not due on set until this afternoon, which should give you some time to talk. Don't do anything to mess up my movie, please."
"I wouldn't dream of it," I say.
She rolls her eyes and disappears around the corner of the set.
I stand in the middle of the parking lot looking down at the gravel, trying to collect my thoughts. I have an idea of what is going on now, but I want confirmation. After a few minutes, I turn and head toward the trailers. Susan's trailer isn't as large as Steve's, but it is still easy to find. I step right up and knock. Silence. I knock again, harder. This time I can hear someone moving and then the door opens.

She stands framed in the doorway, her hair is in tangles, her clothing wrinkled and I can smell the nectar fumes wafting off her from several feet away. She stares at me blankly for a moment, and then recognition followed by hatred flashes into her eyes.

"What the hell do you want?" she snarls.
I nod and step forward, forcing her to step back inside. "I'm glad we're past the pretending not to know me stage," I reply.
It takes barely a moment for me to scope the place. It's tiny. The walls are covered in pictures of Sue from the various parts she's played, and the dim light seeping through the small windows makes the room appear shabby. For the second time that morning, I find myself guiding an unsteady woman into the nearest seat and saying "Sit down before you fall down." Sue sits down hard and wobbles a bit before she straightens then glares at me.

"You're the reason it all fell apart, you know that? How is it fair that you get to be walking around, looking normal and being happy? You don't deserve to be happy."
"You think I'm happy?" I smirk. "Up until three days ago I had to crawl into a bottle every night just to get some sleep, and even that didn't always work. Look at yourself. That was me last month. Hell that was me last week! I came in here to find out why you set me up. One look at you and I already know the answer. But you know what? I should be thanking you instead. Your little adventure in crime gave me a reason to wake up sober."
She shakes her head, disbelieving, and a single tear traces its way down her cheek.

I take two steps back and sit on the edge of the bed, the only other place to sit. "What happened?" I ask, gently.
All of the anger seems to drain out of her and she slumps forward in the chair, then the words come out quietly. "Nathaniel was my sister's son. He was the world to her. When he died it was like the light went out of her life. She tried to hold it together, but she'd been doing that for years. Our parents were never home and she was more of a mother to me than a sister. It was just too much. She had a nervous breakdown. And when it was over, she was... changed. So it was my turn to take care of her. But I couldn't do it. She was completely insane, unpredictable. She needed professional help. The day my parents sent her off to some 'home', I left and came to Bridgeport. I wanted to start over. I changed my name. I got some jobs as an extra and then I met Steve." "I fell completely, head over heels in love with Steve," she continues. "But he was married, and my sister didn't raise me to carry on with a married man. So I tried to ignore how I felt. I hid it for two years. But this movie... we were thrown together constantly, learning our roles. We went out a few times, and the tabloids were quick to print the worst, but I never let him so much as kiss me. And then, last week, we were up at his place, rehearsing. The scene calls for us to argue and then embrace passionately. I was one hundred percent into the scene. I ranted, I threw a glass and when he grabbed me for the kiss, I kissed him back, and poured everything I felt into it. And he did the same. I didn't know Elena was watching. She wasn't even supposed to be there! She came running out of the house and started yelling at Steve. He tried to show her the script, the passionate scene, but she wouldn't listen. Steve got frustrated and threw the script. Not at Elena, he just threw it. Then Elena picked it up and started tearing it into pieces!" Sue shakes her head ruefully, then looks up at me.

"You know how their house is up on that bluff over the city?" she asks.
"Yeah, they have quite the view," I reply.
Sue scorns my answer. "Yes, the view. What they don't have up there, is a fence."

I raise my eyebrows now that I some idea of where this is heading, but I wait for her to finish the tale.
"Elena was already standing near the edge, that's where the script landed. So she stepped even closer and started tossing pages over the side. I was just standing frozen, watching. But Steve yelled at her for ripping the script apart. He charged over to her and tried to snatch the script out of her hands before she completely ruined it. They were both tearing at it, fighting over it like little kids. Then she punched him, but it threw her off balance and she fell. Just fell, straight down, into the water. It was awful. Steve just stood there, staring down like he couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe it. I tried to call the police to tell them there had been an accident, but before the call could connect, Steve took the phone out of my hand. He said we couldn't report it. That no one would believe it was an accident. I argued with him, and he threw me out. I went home, had a few drinks and crashed."

I nod, picturing the sequence of events in my mind. It rings true.
Sue looks down at the floor, "Elena's death was an accident. I just... took advantage. I knew you were back in town, it's been all that your sister would talk about. I guess I just wanted you to feel some of the pain I've felt."

"Yeah well," I grimace, "if you want to blame me for what happened that night, you'll have to get in line. My father hasn't spoken to me since Martha died. Not that I would have noticed, since I've been busy blaming myself and numbing the pain with nectar."

We sit in silence for a few minutes, lost in our thoughts.
"So what now?" she finally asks.
"Now we move on," I answer, with more confidence than I feel. "It'd be nice if you could call the police and tell them what happened so they'll stop focusing on me for Elena, but you don't owe me any favors."

I stand and move to the door. "Good luck, Sue."
I leave her sitting there in the shabbiness of her tiny trailer. She seems remorseful, and I am certain that she'll do the right thing. I make my way up the hill to my office, unlock the door, step inside... and notice a folder on my desk. I really need to get an alarm.

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#1Audrey MayJul 26, 2013

Great ending, Sara! You are a good storyteller. \:\)

#2RennaraJul 26, 2013

I enjoyed this little novella more than I have some books. You really have a knack. And do I smell a sqequel in the air...fingers crossed.

Thanks Sara, awesome!!

#3soundmanredJul 27, 2013

Looks Cool

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