I sprint back toward Fascia Street, my heels clicking on the curb, my soles squishing through soggy cigarette butts and straining sewage. As I round the corner, I see Taeo Stewpot aka Sweet Potato up ahead, luggage in tow. She’s not going to escape. Not this time. I’m putting her away. This ends tonight.
I dig into another gear, my legs bursting forth, my hamstrings creaking, unused to the strain. I pull my piece and I yell. Don’t move motherfucker. Shit. That came out all wrong. Should have thought of a better line. I see her cringe, a freezing halt. She raises her hands. I slowly lower mine. But before I can make my next move, before I can whip out the brush and finish painting my masterpiece, she begins to cry.
She tells me I don’t understand, that she’s not running away. She’s moving on. Has moved on. Says Taeo Stewpot isn’t some trick. It’s her new name. Her new life. She admits to having loved the Russet once a long time ago, but says she was hurt by him. Says she took some online advice, found herself a nice Yam. Is settling down, making Thanksgiving dinners and holiday pies. I don’t buy it. It doesn’t make sense. Everything points to her. That gutted Russet deserves justice. Justice this chick is trying to deny.
Then up walks the Yam. Tall, handsome, confident, he shakes my hand and introduces himself. Yam Stewpot. He tells me he doesn’t know what this all about, but he knows she couldn’t have done it. Says she was with him earlier in the night, out in public, catching a show. Says there should be dozens of witnesses and he’s happy to come down to the station to sort this all out. I begrudge the Yam. He’s no want-to-be helpful Red, or no power manipulating Yukon. Hell, compared to the lot I’ve talked to tonight, he’s no potato at all. He’s a man.
I walk away. I don’t need to hear their proof. I know it’ll check out. When you’ve been doing this as long as I have, you learn to predict the closure of plotlines. You learn to tell when to move characters back to the fringe. You learn to pull back out the scratchpad. You…
My train of thought is interrupted by my own fist, its insistent shake rising up to say hello once more. I don’t try to stop it this time. I let it go. I let it all go. I let it shake and shake and shake. And then. And then I laugh. I laugh so hard I cry. I cry so hard I weep. I weep so hard I have to choke back the rising bile, the snotted virtue logged deep in my throat. I cough and I spit. And just when I’m on the edge of losing my lung, my thought train returns to the station. I stop.
You know what you learn to do when you’re deep in this job, when you’ve seen it all, when you’ve bottled up the trials and tropes, when you’ve staggered yourself against the end of the canyon wall? You know what you learn to do then? You learn to solve mysteries. I know who did the Russet in. And I laugh once more…