The Ringer

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Vote by April 7, 2014!

In the previous episode, readers voted that the previous victim was not Scarlett’s sister, Alana, but a friend of hers.

Episode 19

“It’s not her . . . It’s a friend of hers. Marley Tanner I think it was.”

Scarlett reeled a moment, sitting down, and then forced herself to regain composure. Marley was Alana’s best friend for about a year; she’d even babysat Scarlett a couple of times. Scarlett remembered how excited Alana was to find someone to hang out with after being in California for several months and not getting to know anyone. How did Clark end up with her too?

She realized she needed to talk with Marley and figure out what was going on. Scott agreed and took her to the room Marley was in.

After hugging tightly, they sat down across from each other at the heavy wooden table.

Marley was surprisingly cordial as she asked, “Scarlett, how have you been?”

She didn’t really know how to answer that but responded, “Um, I’ve been better I guess. Marley, what’s going on? I am completely lost in all this.”

“Well,” she started, “I personally am here from Cali because I wanted to watch this guy get thrown in jail.”

“What did he do to you? They said you were another victim . . .” Scarlett asked with a comforting smile on her face, waiting for the traumatizing details to come.

“Well, I was almost a victim. Robert and I, or I guess Victor is his real name, dated in Ohio for a little while as my divorce finalized but he got very clingy. I found pictures of me at his house, he showed up wherever I was for no reason, that kind of stuff. I came home early one day to him in my house messing with my open bottle of wine. He said he was waiting to surprise me but even if I believed him, I never gave him a key.” Scarlett had to stifle a gasp when she mentioned the wine; it reminded her of James. Now, though, she was wondering if Clark hadn’t been the cause of that.

Marley continued, “Even worse, I ended up getting into an accident the next day only to find out it was because someone cut my brake line! I was so freaked out I just decided to ‘break up’ with him and move to Cali. That’s when I met Alana. We really hit it off since she was having trouble in her marriage too.” Scarlett never knew Alana and her husband were having problems. They had always seemed so infallibly in love.

“Is Clark- er, Victor, responsible for Alana’s death . . .?” Scarlett asked, unsure now that she even wanted to know.

“I thought, and still think, he was. I saw him leaving her house late the night before they found her body . . . That’s why I went to the police in the first place, but Alana left a note. Even after finding her rings in this guy’s basement, they don’t think they can prove he killed her so they had to leave it labeled as a suicide.”

“Wait, they went through his house already?”

“Yeah, this afternoon, why?” Marley asked, but Scarlett didn’t want to tell her yet that she was hoping to get Alana’s rings back.

“So . . . if you knew who he was, why didn’t you warn Alana?”

“I tried! Once I realized she was with him anyways. She wouldn’t tell me anything about the ’guy she was seeing’ because she was planning to leave her husband, but I went to her house one day and saw him through the front window. When I realized who it was I knocked on the door and he must have left by the back before she invited me in but I told her everything. I didn’t hear from her for three days after that, Scarlett. The next time I saw her was when I found her dead in her house, without her wedding rings.”

“How did they find him here? It’s been a year and a half since Alana’s death.”

“I went to the police after finding her to tell them about seeing him leave her house. They looked into it but found his apartment empty, his car abandoned and little to nothing on him. Not so much as a hair in that place, he bleached it clean. He stole the identity of a dead man and used it only when he absolutely needed to. All they had was a bunch of descriptions and fake names. The only thing that helped is he told me he graduated from a school in Florida, and they managed to find pictures of him there. That led to finding him.”

This whole situation had Scarlett in slow motion trying to process it. She needed to talk to Clark. She needed him to know she had planned to turn him in, and this is exactly where he deserved to be.

Marley and Scarlett said their goodbyes and Scott led her to where Victor was being held.

“Scarlett!” He almost yelled it then motioned for her to get closer so they could talk quieter, “I need you to bail me out. I have the money, just go to my house and get it. I-“

“Do you really think you’re going to get bail?”

“Well yeah, they said I was under arrest for the assault and attempted murder of some girl I dated a couple of years ago. But there’s always bail.”

She didn’t know what to say to him. Her anger and sadness suddenly dissipated. All it took was him calling Marley “some girl” and his thinking this whole thing wasn’t a big deal.

“Clark,” she started slowly and with purpose, unlike many of the other times they had spoken, “did you see my sister the night before they found her?”

He seemed stunned at the question but got noticeably more frantic that they weren’t talking about his bail. He responded by saying, “Well yeah, but what did you want me to do? I couldn’t call the cops myself! I was dating her at the time; they would’ve made it look like I killed her!”

“So instead you leave her dead in her home, only God knows how long she would have been there if Marley hadn’t found her . . .”

“Wait, you know that girl? Marley?”

“She was my sister’s best friend.”

“Okay. Are you mad at me for something?”

The fact that he couldn’t see why she would be upset only made her more sure of herself.

“I want you to know, Victor, that if you hadn’t been arrested already, I was going to have you arrested.. I have all our conversations recorded and turned in to the police.”

Both stunned that she used his real name and angry at her betrayal, he responded, “What-, why would you do that?! I loved you, I was going to risk everything for you!”

“Someone who can do what you’ve done in your life could never be trusted not to do it again. I would never stay with you knowing your past. I could certainly never live with myself if you hurt someone in the future and I had the chance to stop it. Especially after learning about my sister, this is exactly where you deserve to be.”

Scarlett had said her piece and turned to walk away before bothering to listen to anything else he had to say. Knowing he would go to jail for a long time, she felt as though a weight had been lifted. After all this, even a divorce didn’t seem so bad. She could move on with the confidence she had gained having to fight for her life. Even though she wasn’t sure what she would do or where she would go next, Scarlett felt more at ease than she had in years.

Scott led her back out to the front of the station where Marley was sitting.. They talked for another minute, made plans to get together before she left for California, then Marley was led back to fill out paperwork. Scott asked if he could speak with her outside and as he walked out the front door, she followed.

“I know it’s not really my place, but I want you to know you can get ahold of me whenever you need anything. It’s going to be a long night yet and not that I don’t think you can handle it but nights are the worst after something bad happens. I just don’t want you to think you don’t have someone to talk to.”

“Actually Scott, I don’t feel like this is a bad thing anymore. As long as he ends up in jail for a long time, I’m surprisingly happy.” Scarlett paused a second to notice the look on his face. He seemed slightly defeated. Even with sadness in his eyes, they still accentuated the rest of his striking features. ”But,” she continued, “I would like to be able to keep in touch with you about anything that happens with this case, so maybe I can get your number?”

His eyes lit up as he told her it was the same as it was in college.

“You have the same number!”

“Yeah, are you really surprised? Change was never really my thing. I cried like a baby the whole ride to my new school after we broke up because I thought for sure my life was going to fall apart.”

“Really? You never cried in front of me so I’m surprised to hear that . . .” She couldn’t remember him being anything but happy, no less crying. “Anyways, my number has changed a few times since college and so has my phone so let me get your number again and we can keep in touch.”

He gave her the number and they went back into the station to finish all the paperwork they needed regarding her recordings and what happened with Victor.

By the end of the night, Scarlett was in another hotel, about to take a bath when she remembered the phone number inked on her hand. With her new-found confidence, she noticed that she was debating calling Scott to catch up, something she never would’ve done six months ago. Even though she was not interested in dating anyone for a long time, she would still like to catch up with the newly handsome friend and officer who made the process of dealing with police easier. On the other hand, she was a little worried. She wondered if it would mean more to him than it would to her and she had trouble making up her mind.  Vote below on what will happen next or if viewing from email, click Take our Poll.

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