American Grafitti

You’re downtown, and see graffiti in an unlikely place—graffiti like you’ve never seen before, concerning someone you know.

Life got pretty much back to normal after Emily died. It was a front page story for days. But they never tracked the killer, never had any solid clues. Time just passed, and pretty soon the next drive by shooting was front page and Emily just got buried further and further from consciousness.

Then one day I was parking my car in the underground garage and I saw, spray-painted on the cement wall, “♥Emily♥ I know who did it.” Her name was bracketed between big red hearts, spray-painted and filled solid in red. The paint in the hearts had dripped down like blood.

It was also in a strange spot—the execs all parked in these reserved spots along one wall, and you would only see it if you got out of your car and looked up immediately. There was a concrete horizontal support beam across the ceiling running the length of the wall. The graffiti was written on the inside of that support beam. Almost like they wanted only a few of the execs to see it. Most of us parked in pretty much the same spots, since through habit we came in around the same time each morning, and since we all knew each other, we tended to avoid parking in a co-worker’s spot—unless we knew they were going to be gone. We’re like that in Minnesota—Nice.

I was a bit shaken by seeing the words. After all, I had shot her, though of course I can’t be sure she died from my bullet or from just plain lack of good care at the emergency room. Be that as it may, I had good cause and no compunction as she had tried to blackmail me in the most insidious way. But I didn’t want to get caught, and I didn’t know if anyone had found the email that might link us together.

I strode into work, my thoughts quickly transitioning away from the graffiti to the meetings and emails I had to address. My work is important and I take great pride in doing it well. The company recognized my talent early, and I rose quickly through the ranks.

One of my co-workers poked his head into my office around noon. “Hey! Did you see that graffiti in the garage?” he asked. My heart raced, but I feigned calm.

“Mm hmm,” I answered, not looking up from my monitor screen.

He said, “They’re going to do an investigation. This is considered a lead in the case, and they haven’t gotten any good leads in ages. Pretty amazing, isn’t it?” He spoke like a kid in high school with nothing better to do.

“Are you in that meeting at one?” I ask, changing the subject. “It’s going to be a good one.”

That afternoon, the forensics team was gathering whatever it was that they gather. We had been asked to park in a different section of the garage until they were done with this investigation. They were a young bunch, not uniformed, but looking all but like a group of college kids on ladders and milling about with notepads, iPads and camera’s.

I was travelling for the company the next few days, so I wasn’t put out that we had no designated parking area, but had to park with all the rest of the people. Inconvenient to be sure. By the time I returned a few days later, the gossip was that the search and investigation by the police was inconclusive. Wasted time at best. I relaxed in relief but kept my poker face on.

They finally arrested the young son of one of the workers in the building. He was 12, had come in with his parent, and during a break or unsupervised time, he had snuck down to the garage and sprayed the graffiti by standing on the cars. He had a classmate named Emily that some kids had played a prank on. He was just horsing around.

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