“It’s her.” Braden said coldly. His auburn hair flew all around him in the strong autumn wind and his wire-rimmed glasses didn’t even come close to mitigating the cold, ruthless, calculating look of detective who has caught his criminal in his hazel eyes.
“Braden, it’s not that I don’t trust you, but I don’t think May could possibly be the criminal here.” Dominick said, gazing uncertainly at the girl roughly 10 meters ahead of us. She was his little sister, May, who was apparently our prime suspect in the recent robbery of Sargon The Great’s clay tablet. We were part-time detectives; all four of us had other jobs that we were completely invested in. Only Braden was a part-time social media manger; he spent the better part of his time searching the deep web for cases of thefts, murder, scandals and practically any other criminal case you could think of. The rest of us were basically just sidekicks.
May and Dominick actually looked very much alike, both sharing the same dirty blonde hair, hazel-grey eyes and rosy cheeks. The only differences between them were the ages and height. Where Dominick was the tallest of my friends, over 6 feet, May was a short little petite girl, barely grazing the 5’4 mark.
“It all adds up.” Braden said, feeling for his pistol in the pocket of his red trench coat.
“You don’t say.” Ari mused, running a hand through her waist-length straight raven hair.
“There’s only one person it could be. May Coulomb has been associating with people known for atrocious robberies as of late and been headed to all the wrong places. All after Sargon the Great’s clay tablet went missing from the Museum of Asian History.” Braden said.
“But May…” Dominick began, looking wistfully at the girl we knew as his younger sister.
“Hate to say it, Brady, but he right here, brother. And sorry for the pun, but May Coulomb is just not the kind of person who would steal such a valuable artifact. Why, she’s a child! I doubt she even knew the thing existed before the news made international headlines.” Ari exclaimed.
“Ari’s right. Braden, we honestly don’t doubt your ‘’superior sleuthing skills”, but is May Coulomb really the perp we’re looking for?” I questioned him with the vague feeling that the three of us were trying to break Braden down in a way similar to how you and your teammates would break down the Boss in a videogame. A wave of triumph passed through me at the briefest of flickers in his hazel orbs.
“She is, Emma.” Braden hissed, the coldness returning to his eyes, all the emotion drained from his voice and face. Tears pooled in my eyes. May was like a little sister to us all; how on Earth could Braden treat her like a criminal?
“A good detective doesn’t let his or her personal affiliations get in the way of work, Em. If we didn’t know May personally, she’d already be before the jury for trial.” Braden suddenly said without looking at me, as if he was reading my thoughts.
“The call’s on you.” Ari said, looking pointedly at me. I gulped, the cold autumn air foreign against my esophagus.
“We’re waiting for you.” Braden said, glaring at me accusingly. I looked away if only to not face the hostility in his eyes.
“May’s fate is in your hands, Emma.” Dominick whispered, looking away.
I hated being put on the spot like this.
“I’m sorry, Dominick. If May is really the criminal here, however unlikely it seems, we have to put aside our love for her and bring justice.” I breathed.
“Then pounce.” Ari mumbled. And from the look behind her eyes, I could tell she was brazing herself for the inevitable.
“May Coulomb, you are under arrest for the theft of the original Clay Tablet inscribed with Sargon The Great’s will.” Braden announced, with the 9mm semi-automatic handgun at the back of her head. “Do not resist. Move an inch and I’ll shoot.”
“Braden?!” May called, coming face to face with Braden’s infamous look of victory.
“Do. Not. Resist.” Braden hissed with the likeness of a snake.
“Me?! Braden, you know me! Do you honestly think I’m the one behind this?!” she demanded.
“Braden, no! You’re wrong! I-I’m just a kid! I’m 17!” she wailed. I wished the Earth would swallow me whole. I’d rather be faced with the electric chair than this torture.
“A kid, huh? Maybe you should have thougt of that before you stole a priceless relic, criminal.”
“Criminal? Braden h-ho-how-how can you?” the poor thing cried.
“I know May Coulomb, not the criminal who stole the Clay Tablet.”
“I’m still May Coulomb, no! Don’t, Braden!”
“May Coulomb… is… dead.”
“You know me! Emma, do you believe him? Ari? You’re here too?! And-“ That’s about when May’s eyes fell on Dominick.
All the fight drained from her face, leaving us with a hollow shell of the girl we knew. Putting on a mask of stoicism, May said “My own brother thinks I did it? Then it doesn’t even matter. Handcuff me, put me through a farce of a trial, throw me into a cell with rats or hang me. I don’t care anymore.”
“May…” Ari began, a flicker of uncertainty in her copper-sulphate blue eyes.
“May the Devil be with me.” May hissed. “Jesus Christ doesn’t care for me no more.”
“Good. Maybe they’ll let you off the hook with 20 years if you plead guilty.” Braden jeered. I didn’t have to look over my shoulder to know the look of utter misery on Dominick’s face.
It was the shove that made Braden go ‘nuclear’, as I called it. May pushed him off her with the force of a rabbit, and it triggered our bipolar man. Braden kicked poor May onto the cobblestone with 50 times the force she’d shoved him with. The dull thud of her back on the stone made bile rise at the back of my throat.
“You dare-“ Braden began, but high-pitched maniacal laughter made all of our eyes turn the other way.
A man was running in the opposite direction, with a black duffel bag in hand. A small piece of something stuck at the end of the zipper. And we didn’t need any confirmation – May wasn’t the thief at all. Maniacal Laugh was our man.
The tell-tale tip of clay-yellow from was a dead giveaway.