She stands slightly behind me, like always. That’s her job, to wait behind me and warn me of incoming danger so I can save everyone like always, solve the crime like always. Maybe she’ll get involved in the investigation. Probably not. It’s not safe for sidekicks to get involved.
I survey the crime scene, looking at the broken glass, the blood, and the open window too high up to reach. I look around for some other way for whoever it was to get out, but see nothing.
“Maybe,” she says. I look up, surprised. Her voice is hesitant and soft. “Maybe, they escaped through here.”
I glance over. She’s pointing at the fire escape by the window, where there are traces of bloody handprints.
“I already thought of that,” I lie. “Highly unlikely.”
Even so, I walk over and investigate, holding back a sigh of frustration. She’s the sidekick. It’s not her job to make suggestions.
We’ve been friends since elementary school, she and I, when I stepped in because some kids were teasing her about her name, which honestly is pretty ridiculous. It’s Periwinkle, but I call her Winkie, even though she says she goes by Peri.
Ever since then, we were inseparable. She stayed with me because nobody else wanted to be friends with her. Plus she was too shy, she needed me. Still does, as my accomplice. And I stayed with her because, well, every hero needs a sidekick.
I knew that, even then.
The police chief, a man who looks like he should be named Bill or Pete or something like that, pokes his head into the room.
“Find anything?” he asks, stepping past Winkie and approaching me, his tone respectful and awestruck, the way it should be.
“Yeah, it seems highly probable that whoever it was got out through here. See the handprints?” I say, leading him over to the fire escape. He nods, chewing his lips.
“Yeah, looks likely. How do you, um, figure this stuff out if you don’t mind me asking?” he says.
“Well, it’s all about being observant and looking for clues,” I say, smiling. “That’s how I solved all my other crimes, anyway.”
For a moment I think I see something in Winkie’s eyes, something like anger or frustration, like she wants to contradict me or say something, but then it’s gone, and I figure I imagined it. Winkie’s too shy to speak out. Plus, she needs me.
We went everywhere together. She was always tagging along with me, supporting me as I quickly rose to the top of the class, forming organizations and fundraisers (with a little help from her, as moral support). She would help me write speeches and such things. I was never any good at writing, I was more of an action guy.
Still, I was told, even at that point, that I was a Golden student. That I would amount to very much. That my speeches were inspirational, that I had charisma, that I was going to be a hero.
They were right, of course.
How could they be wrong?
The police look around the room, trying to find out what whoever it was stole. Papers are scattered around the room. They scratch their beards, tug on their mustaches, and rub their heads in confusion. Winkie sighs, glancing over the papers stacked up on the tables.
“Maybe they stole some papers. One of the chapters seems to be missing. All this,” she gestures at the mess of blood and glass, “could be a distraction.”
The policeman (let’s call him Bill) looks up, flipping through the papers and nodding.
“Yeah, could be. You’ve got a smart sidekick,” he says to me.
“Yep. I’ve got a good sidekick,” I say, trying not to glare at Winkie. Lately, she hasn’t seemed to understand her job as my sidekick. She’s supposed to be loyal, brave, not very smart, and provide moral support. She’s not supposed to have her own ideas, her own thoughts. That’s my job.
She had been curious before. Always looking through the maps of crime I put up in my room, reorganising and always having a suggestion.
At first it was helpful. It’s nice to have a sidekick almost as good as you. Then it became tiresome. It seemed like she was constantly trying to one up me. She was trying to prove she was as smart, as capable as me. Which, of course, she wasn’t.
After a while, I had to sit down and tell her, very clearly, what her duties as my sidekick were. She understood. She agreed, apologized, said she was just trying to help.
That was the end of the matter. Or at least, it was supposed to be. Lately, it’s seemed like it was just the beginning.
Winkie and the police officer and I spend the rest of the afternoon talking. When I suggest that Winkie go to get us coffee or something, the police officer waves off the request, saying that Peri (he doesn’t call her Winkie) might have good ideas.
The idea is ridiculous. As if she could have as much, much less more, to offer than me. I’m the Chosen One. I’m the hero. Not her.
But the police officer doesn’t seem to understand that I speak for both of us. I am the leader, the boss.
And Winkie’s new ideas don’t help at all. It’s as if she’s gone back to her old habits of trying to prove she’s better than me. Which she isn't. And it’s not like I’m worried that she is, it’s just that the disrespect she suddenly is showing me is startling.
It doesn’t matter. I’m the hero. I always will be.
In middle school, I was always the most popular one. People have always been, well, drawn to me, I guess. It helped that they thought Winkie was my girlfriend, which would mean I was the only one who was already dating.
Well, not dating. Periwinkle and I were never really together. She never wanted that, she just wanted to be sidekick. And even that, not at first. It took a while for her to get used to the idea that she’d always be less than me, as the accomplice.
And then later, I managed to get a small job at the police. I did small things, parking tickets and fines and so on, but it grew until I was the number one detective, and she was my brave comrade. That’s how it will stay. How it should stay.
Before we leave, I see one of the police officers say something to Winkie. She smiles and shrugs. I can’t read lips very well (she can), but I think she says something like, “I’ll think about it.”
I watch suspiciously as she hurriedly gathers our stuff and follows me out of the crime scene. Outside, reporters wait for me. Cameras flash, I answer questions, sign autographs and take pictures with fans.
Everything is as it should be, until a reporter turns to Winkie.
“I heard that you were instrumental in helping the police,” she says. Winkie opens her mouth to answer, but I cut in.
“We’re in a bit of a rush, so we should probably go,” I say, grabbing Winkie’s arm and pulling her with me to the car.
She glares at me.
“Why didn’t you want me to answer the question?” she demands.
I stare at her, taken aback. She isn’t supposed to say things like that. She’s the sidekick for God’s sake.
“You’re always telling me what to do! Hold this, open this, stand back, let me do all the work because I’m the goddamn hero and I’ll never let anyone forget it! Jesus!”
“You can’t say things like that! You’re the sidekick. You agreed. Remember?” I scowl at her menacingly.
She glares at me, but says nothing. I start the car and drive away. When we get home, she turns to me angrily.
“We need to talk,” she says.
Our first real crime made it to the news. I answered all the questions the press asked, taking credit for everything because I was the one who worked the hardest, who actually solved it. She was angry, but she got it after a while.
She wasn’t the main character, the protagonist in this story. She was the associate, the assistant, and that’s how it would stay.
She stands up while I sit down across from her, her hands on the table.
“I don’t understand why you always take credit for everything!” she shouts. “Why don’t you let me have ideas?!”
I was better than her in every respect. Except maybe writing. And planning. But those things were the sidekick’s job, anyway. So it was only fair that I gave her those jobs.
“We used to be friends! Now you just take over everything!”
We used to be friends, but it quickly became clear that I was better than her, and always would be. That was how it started.
“I quit. The police gave me an offer that actually gives me recognition!” she shouts. “You’re just using me! You always were! You act like because you stood up to some bullies, I’m indebted to you! Well, news flash, I’ve done everything for you! All those crimes that you solved were because I was helping you! It’s over. I’m sick of being the sidekick. I want real work. I’m leaving.” I stare at her, mouth agape.
So this is how it ends.