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Misjudged or Not

Aiden sat trembling in the chair; he’d been roughly sat upon within the precinct’s suite of interview rooms. A broad shouldered, balding man walked in with an equally large and muscular coloured man, both in smart dark suits.

“Aiden Standford, my name is Detective Wilson and this is my colleague is Detective Miles. We have reason to believe you are able to enlighten us to the events that took place early this evening.”

Aiden swallowed hard without any saliva reaching his throat. “I wasn’t involved, I promise.”

Wilson put pen to paper and clicked a tape recorder button. “In your own words please take us through from the time you left your premises until you were escorted here.”

“I always run that route, like every night at seven o’clock. It’s a four mile loop from my house through the park and back along the top road above my house. Then I cut through the back alley to home.”

Miles speaks for the first time. “Every night, even weekends?”

“Yes, I’m training for the mini- marathon in July.”

The dark skinned man drummed his fingers on the desk top. “Why that route?”

Aiden felt sweat trickle down his back. “I measured it out on an online map months ago. It was the easiest route and I don’t bump into people on the main roads.”

Wilson jotted something on the legal pad. “Why would you want to avoid people, Mr. Standford?”

Now the sweat turned cold. “Dodging people would mess up my times, I needed a clear route. I needed to be consistent, right?”

The two detectives glanced at each other. Wilson spoke. “Wouldn’t you come across people on this route?”

“I do on occasion, but it’s usually quiet that time of night and there is enough room to run around anyone.”

Miles stroked his chin. “So when you entered the alleyway this evening what happened?’

Aiden clasped his hands together. “The streetlight only gives a half-light by the time I get halfway down the alley, and I literally didn’t see it...the body.” A reflux of vomit entered the back of his throat and he swallowed hard again. “I tripped over what I thought was a bag of trash. I got up and brushed at my knees.” He swung his legs around to show the gravel pitted skin and dried blood. “I went to pick up what I thought was a black bin liner and that’s when I saw the hand sticking out and I vomited. Please believe me; I had nothing to do with what happened to that person. You have to believe me.”

“What did you do next?”

Aiden looked at Wilson. “I sat down and called the police. What else would I do?”

“You didn’t open the bag, take a quick look? Poke around a bit? Touch anything?”

“Absolutely, not! Oh God, I was sick to my stomach, still am.”

Detective Miles pushed a photo across the desk. “Do you know this person?”

Aiden’s eyes widened, his body shook and his vision blurred. “That’s Mr. Carter my landlord. Oh, no that can’t be him.”

“We have had a formal identification, Mr. Standford. Do you want to tell us about the dispute you have – had - with Mr. Carter, about your apartment?”

Aiden’s whole body froze; his voice came out in a whisper. “You can’t be serious? I asked for repairs to the electrical outlets as they were smoking for God’s sake. He was taking too long and I told him I’d have to report him to the rental board for a dangerous lodging. I would certainly not harm him. It is something the board and courts would solve.”

The two detectives sat back in their chairs and Wilson asked. “Were other renters unhappy with the condition of the property? Would one of them take their grievances out on Mr. Carter?”

“I don’t know...you’d have to ask them.”

“Oh, we will Mr. Standford, for now please go over your movements again between seven o’clock and eight forty-five.”

“I told you already, I can’t change what happened, or when.”

“Well, you see Aiden, the average time to run a four mile route is thirty minutes, so why did you call at eight forty-five, a full hour and fifteen minutes later?”

Aiden sat up straight, his mind spinning. Shit, why didn’t I time it out first?

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