PolygraphMarci sat in Valerie’s desk going through her papers nosily, reading Valerie’s poems that were scrawled in her unique cursive. Every poem Val had ever written was in her leather-bound notebook.
“Marci!” Her mother’s voice came from the kitchen downstairs. “Can you come down here please?”
Sighing, Marci made her way downstairs saying, “What?” in an annoyed voice.
“Tomorrow I am bringing you to the p-police station in Minneapolis to take a polygraph. Now, be-before you s-say anything you should know that the only reason they are doing it is because y-you were the last one with Valerie. Innocent or n-not.” Mrs. Carter stammered, suddenly afraid of her own daughter.
Marci was quick to protest yelling, “I didn’t do anything! They think I killed her, don’t they?” When her mother just gave her a look of unease she turned on her heel and marched back to Valerie’s room. “You can’t make me take that test!”
Warning bells tolled in Mrs. Carter’s head and she muttered to herself, “Why would she be so against taking the test if she didn’t commit any crime?”
Marci sat in a plaster white chair at a small glass table surrounded by a windowless room. On the table sat a laptop hooked up to a machine awaiting use. The polygraph. A security camera pointed to the spot where she sat, a red light flashing every two seconds. She felt trapped.
There was click from outside of the room and the heavy steel door opened to reveal a short, stocky man who was almost completely bald. Without a word he walked over to her and began sticking wires with a sticky plastic film on the end to her skin.
“My name is Dennis Johnson. You will call me Mr. Johnson.” His personality was as sour as the look on his face. He pressed the round stickers into Marci’s temples and her wrists.
Dennis strode over to his computer, fingers instantly gliding across the keyboard. Marci yelped in pain when she felt a bolt of electricity shoot into her skin from the bottom of the stickers.
“What kind of lie detector is this?” she winced.
Dennis ignored her and rasped, “I will ask you a series of direct questions. Answer them honestly. If you don’t it will show an increase or change in your heart rate. This instrument is designed for the recording of variations of several different pulsations simultaneously. In other words, I will know if you are lying.”
“Whatever.” Marci rolled her eyes, glaring at the gray ceiling.
“Let’s begin.” Dennis took a notebook out from one of the table’s drawers and began reading the first question, “Were you or were you not with Valerie Carter when she found the knife.”
“I was with her.” Marci said coldly. Dennis paused, his eyes surveying the computer screen as he wrote in his notebook.
“Did she leave the laundromat by choice?” Dennis said smoothly.
“Did you see where she went?”
“What did you do after Valerie left?”
Marci bit her lip recalling what she had done after Valerie stormed out. “I called my mother asking her to come get me.”
“Is that it?”
“No,” Marci hated being interrogated. She felt like if she said one word wrong they would accuse her of killing Valerie.
“Continue then,” his crystal blue eyes bore into hers with such intensity she had to turn away.
“Well, I told my mother what Valerie found and did.”
“What did Valerie do?”
Marci stifled an aggravated sigh. “Valerie said that she was going to Jessica’s house and by the time she came back we all would have forgotten about the knife.”
“Is there anything else that you did after Valerie left?” Dennis switched his gaze to the laptop.
“Yes, I went outside and looked for her.”
“The authorities said her car was behind the laundromat. How far did you look?”
“How far?” Dennis pressed, getting impatient.
“I looked around the parking lot but it was dark out so I-I went back inside.” Marci wanted to slap herself for stuttering. She could feel her heart pounding against her chest threatening to explode. She could only imagine how high her heart rate must’ve been.
Dennis gave her a sharp look, then read the computer screen scribbling down notes. “Are you sure that is what you did?”
“Yes.” Marci almost stammered but managed to calm herself, slightly.
“Did you harm Valerie in any way?”
“No, why would I-”
Dennis held up a hand cutting her off and snapped, “Yes or No! Did you or did you not harm Valerie Carter?”
Marci hesitated, but only for a mere second shortly confirming, “I did not harm Valerie Carter.”
“Did you force Valerie to write a suicide letter?”
“What!” She heard what he said but couldn’t seem to get it through her head. Dennis repeated the question, a line forming between his brows.
“No I didn’t force Valerie to write a suicide letter!”
“Did you kill Valerie?”
The questions were making Marci sick to her stomach. “No, I did not.”
“Are you sure?” he gave her a questioning look.
“YES! Now let me leave!” Marci was fed up.
Dennis eyed at the charts on the screen and murmured, “Fine.”
As he took the electrocution-stickers off of her skin she yelled, “I can’t believe you people! My sister is dead and I’m your main suspect!” Dennis saw her eyes were glittering with tears and felt a pang of sympathy for her. But all traces vanished when he remembered the evidence.
“I’m sorry but I am going to need a DNA sample from you before you leave.” Dennis said as gently as he could manage.
“Bye.” Marci started toward the door ripping the last sticker off.
“Not so fast!” Dennis grabbed her shoulder, his nails digging into her skin. “Sit!” He pushed her back into the white chair taking out a long cotton swab. “Open your mouth and stick out your tongue.”
When she refused Dennis had no other choice then to pry her mouth open. He stuck the swab so far into her throat that she gagged. “Good enough.” He murmured sealing it in a plastic baggie.
Marci tried to leave yet again but Dennis plucked a piece of her hair making her yelp. Then he grabbed her hand taking all her fingerprints and a small blood sample. When he finished he sighed, “You are free to go…for now.”
Marci jumped out of the chair and bounded out of the room as fast as a rabbit when running from a fox. Dennis sat back down at the table scrutinizing Marci Carter’s results from the polygraph.
Shaking his head, he let out a low sigh.
Mrs. Carter watched as an infuriated Marci stomped through the police department glaring at every person who stared at her for more than a second.
“I’m leaving. Are you going to drive me home or am I going to have to walk there myself.” Marci hissed at her mother.
“Marci Lynn! That is no way to talk to me! Do you want to be grounded?” Mrs. Carter began walking towards the huge set of glass double doors.
Marci tried to lower her voice a few octaves so the whole police station wouldn’t hear their argument. “Mom, they think I did it. They think I killed Valerie.”
“I know,” was all Mrs. Carter dared to say.
“Is the only reason they think I did it because I was the last one with her?” Marci asked as she dropped her purse into a plastic bin and stepped through the metal detector.
“No.” Mrs. Carter held her breath dropping her handbag into the bin. She stepped through after Marci.
“What?” Marci exclaimed as they took their purses and exited through the glass doors.
“That is all I can say. I am not supposed to talk about the other evidence.” Mrs. Carter soughed making a beeline to her VW Bug. She couldn’t tell Marci about the secret message in the note, she just couldn’t.
Marci asked, “If I ask you a question, can you promise me that you will answer it honestly?”
Mrs. Carter’s breath caught in her throat. She had a feeling of what the question Marci was going to ask was. “I promise I will answer it honestly,” she said regardless. Mrs. Carter planned to answer it unless it was about the evidence that made the police turn against her.
“Do you think I killed Valerie?” Marci mumbled so quietly it was barely audible.
Mrs. Carter stiffened sliding into the driver’s seat of her car. Marci sat next to her waiting for an answer.
“Be honest.” Marci was hurt after Mrs. Carter didn’t say ‘no’ the moment she asked the question.
“I don’t know.” Mrs. Carter answered turning the key in the ignition. The car roared to life. Silence lingered between mother and daughter as Mrs. Carter began driving.
“I am going to say this one last time.” Marci spoke, her voice icy. “I did not kill Valerie!” Neither of them spoke for the entire ride home.