Previously: Paisley, rosemary, and time
Alone in a gloomy room, furnished with a graffiti-etched table and four stained office chairs, Paisley sat the table with a can of flat soda and a bag of stale potato chips. Across the room from her was a large one-way mirror. Watching the girl was a homicide detective and a social worker. They disagreed on how to interview the child, potentially the only witness to the double murder of her parents.
So far, investigators had not determined any suspects or even a motive for the deaths. The girl, unharmed by the perpetrator or perpetrators, believed that her parents were merely sleeping. The couple had been poisoned so there was no gory crime scene. There was no evidence of a forced entry to their room, no contaminated glasses or food, no signs of any sort of violence.
Paisley peered into her bag of chips, hoping to find at least one unbroken one. She didn’t like soda, but the grown-ups didn’t have any chocolate milk. She kept asking for her parents, but all anyone would tell her was that they were hurt and she couldn’t see them yet.
One of the grown-ups, a big man with red hair and a bushy mustache just wanted to ask her the same questions over and over. Another grown-up, a younger woman with long black hair and a funny accent, made the man stop asking questions and got her the snacks. Then they both left her alone in the room with the big mirror.
Pushing away from the table, Paisley threw her chip bag and soda can away then meandered over to the mirror. She was just tall enough to look into it without standing on her tiptoes. Bored, she began making funny faces unaware that there were people on the other side of the glass watching her.
“She’s not going to tell you anything, Sean,” said June Chapel, a social worker with the Department of Children and Families. “Badgering her like one of your garden-variety thugs won’t change that. Let me talk with her.”
“If she doesn’t know anything, what good will you talking to her do?” asked Sean Webster, a homicide detective with the Metro Police Department.
“I didn’t say she didn’t know anything, I said she won’t tell you anything,” June picked up her satchel and left the observation room to join Paisley next door.
“I want to see my mom and dad,” Paisley said when June sat down at the table with her.
“You can’t… “ June didn’t ’t finish her sentence.
“I know, I know, I can’t see them,” Paisley crossed her arms and pursed her lips into an annoyed pout.
“Paisley,” June began, “I’ll be honest with you. Your parents have been hurt, and we – Det. Webster and I – are trying to figure out who did that, but we need your help..”
“How can I help?” Paisley kept her arms crossed but relaxed her expression. “I don’t know anything.”
“You may know something but not know you know it,” June said.
“I don’t know anything,” Paisley began to cry.
“It’s all right, Paisley,” June said, scooting her chair closer to the girl. “I’ll ask you some questions and you just answer the best you can. There are no wrong answers. If you don’t know, just tell me you don’t know. We’ll work it out together, okay?”
“Okay,” Paisley hiccupped and finally uncrossed her arms.
“You’re being very brave, Paisley,” June said, taking a yellow legal pad out of her bag. She stole a look at the mirror, smiling at Det. Webster as she began interviewing the girl.