The last time I saw Katie McCormack was the morning after the night before; my head was a haze of red wine, sleep deprivation, and the best night of my life. To say I was a little confused by the reception I got when my eyes finally focused on the snarling figure standing over me, would be a fucking understatement. Katie was full of fight, and I was her next opponent. I was not impressed; I was more a lover than a fighter.
‘You fucking fucker, how could you,’ she had yelled on repeat, in a voice that I could only say resembled a deranged animal, until the couple in the flat beneath started yelling back ‘keep the fucking noise down’ and ‘put something in her fucking big gob’.
‘Look it just happened,’ I offered, continuing with ‘it’s no big deal.’ What the hell was I thinking? Of course it was a big deal. I had been in love with this woman since the moment she barged past me on the subway, before we were cheek to cheek in the crowded carriage on our way to Buckhurst Hill.
‘NO BIG DEAL. I’LL GIVE YOU NO BIG DEAL.’
‘I didn’t mean it like that babes.’ I stepped towards Katie, at the same time she aimed a fist at my face, and I’m not embarrassed to say, that it made me want her more.
Katie, on the other hand, had other ideas, and before I could get another word out, she had launched herself at me, fists and feet flying in every direction.
‘I will NEVER forgive you!’ The venom in her words burnt through the layers of my delicate skin.
I looked around at my tiny apartment; the floor littered with empty wine and beer bottles, discarded condoms, some still in their wrappers, a half-eaten pizza and the unwanted double duvet. Then I saw red.
Two paracetamols, four coffees and a fried egg and tomato sandwich later, I was sat in a grey lifeless room opposite two stony faced police officers, dying to use the bathroom.
‘Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? the one on the left said, ‘and this time, let’s not leave anything out.’
‘What you mean you want to hear all about the rude stuff?’ I said, sounding genuinely appalled. It wasn’t like I was a prude or anything; last night had been fucking amazing and I wasn’t up for sharing the most intimate details with a bunch of strangers. There might be only two people in the room with me, but I was certain that behind the glass mirror there were more than two pairs of eyes watching me closely. I hated the idea of being watched.
‘You were the last known person to have contact with Katie, so we want everything you can tell us about last night, this morning, Katie, no matter how small or insignificant.’ The one on the right, a red-head with steely green eyes, piped up. I guessed she was the one in charge. She had that air of authority. I forced myself to clear my mind and clenched my thighs together.
‘Okay I get it. Do you mind if we take a toilet break? I don’t think I can hold it in any longer? It’s the effects of the beer.’ I shrug and look at the detective on the left, hoping he will understand better than Red.
‘I could do with a coffee, how about you?’ Leftie said. I smiled, not sure if he was talking to me or Red, and waited. I had never been in a police station before, so I wasn’t fully up on the protocol; I made a mental note to do some research when I got home. I always liked to be prepared.
‘Fine. We’ll take a ten minute recess. But,’ Red looked me straight in the eyes, ‘when we return, you will start talking!’ Then she was gone, in one swift move, leaving in her wake a subtle, but, distinctive smell of orchids. Katie loved orchids with their delicate pink flower; I could take or leave orchids.
‘I’ll find a PC to show you where the toilet facilities are. Do you want something to drink?’ Leftie asked, with a slight softness in his voice.
‘Just a black coffee for me, ta. I don’t suppose I could push for some biscuits or a chocolate bar? I’ve only had a sandwich all day.’ That wasn’t completely true, but I wasn’t going to admit that I had forced myself to eat the cold pizza that had been strewn all over the floor.
‘Let me see what I can do.’ Leftie nodded, and ushered a young female PC in my direction; her face a little flustered which still surprises me. I’m not what you could call a pretty face, but, according to an old girlfriend, I have this sort of vibe going on that seems to attract the chicks.
‘This is Detective Joanna Owen resuming the interview with Jordan White. Detective Russ Harding is also present. The time is 2.44pm. Jordan Wilson has agreed, in a voluntary capacity, to answer our questions concerning Katie McCormack. She has been made aware that she is not under arrest.’ Red opens the folder in front of her and picks up a photo and flashes it in my direction; it does resemble Katie, but there’s something off about her eyes. ‘Jordan, do you recognise this young lady?’
‘Maybe?’ I decide to play it cool, which is probably a dumb thing to do, but I’m getting a very bad feeling about this.
‘Can you elaborate for us?’ Leftie speaks up, despite the look he gets from Red. I can smell trouble on the horizon.
‘It looks like Katie, but it could easily be someone who looks like her?’
‘This is the most recent picture of Katie McCormack.’ Red doesn’t look impressed.
‘Can I ask who gave it to you?’ I still wasn’t convinced that was my Katie.
‘Her mum provided us with this picture along with a few others.’ Red shuffles through the folder and places three other pictures in front of me; four pairs of green eyes are staring back at me, and they are not my Katie’s.
‘That’s not the Katie McCormack I know.’ I would bet my last meal on that being the truth. ‘I have pictures of Katie on my phone.’
‘Are you sure this is not the Katie McCormack you spent last night with?’ Red is regarding me suspiciously, and I don’t blame her. From the little information that I have been able to pick up on, the police are keen to find this Katie McCormack.
‘Yes I am sure. I can proof it too if I can get my phone.’ I signal to my jacket, that Leftie had placed on the other side of the room. I had found that a tad strange, not being under arrest of anything.
‘Fine. Let’s see what you have.’ Red says, and I dart across the room and retrieve my phone, eager to get the hell out of this room. ‘Put it on the desk so the screen is visible to the room.’
I do as I ask and search through my pictures for the many images of Katie I have taken over the last year; I come up blank. I daren’t look up, I know what they must be thinking. I do another search, this time, with a little less haste but the result is still the same.
‘Having trouble?’ Red asks, her sarcasm smacking around the face.
‘I had hundreds of photos, including some from last night. Someone must have deleted them?’ I know that it wasn’t me, so the only other person had to be Katie herself. But why?
‘So suddenly they disappeared?’ Red’s face said it all.
‘Look I had hundreds of pictures of Katie, and ones with me and Katie, us with friends. I don’t know how they got deleted, but it wasn’t me. Don’t you have some IT whizz who can retrieve them, or something?’ I say this mostly to Leftie, his manner doesn’t scream “you’re nicked”.
‘You’ve been watching too much CSI!’ Red’s eyes are darting around the room, as if she’s deciding upon her next move.
‘I think Andrews is quite techy?’ Leftie says, more a question, than a statement.
‘You better see what he can find, before I cart this one before the judge.’ Red doesn’t bother excusing herself from the room, leaving Leftie to take control. I get the impression that he’s generally happy to sit back and play the good cop whilst Red takes the reins; I couldn’t see Red playing any other role.
‘Hang tight, we’ll get those pictures back before you know it.’ Leftie says, picking up the phone, and playing around with a few buttons, before turning the screen to me. ‘Voila! I believe these were what you were looking for?’
‘Yes. See I told her didn’t I.’
‘Don’t worry about Red, she’s a little snarky when youngsters go missing. So let’s take a closer look at your Katie. PC Humphries can you join us for a second.’ Leftie shouts over his shoulder, and in walks the flustered PC from earlier. ‘I have heard you’re pretty good with the finer details.’
‘Yes sir.’ PC Humphries says in a voice that reaches into my heart.
‘Get away with you, Harding is just fine. I want you to compare this woman with this one.’ Leftie says, pulling out the chair next to him next to him.
‘There’s a difference in the eyes.’ PC Humphries says almost immediately.
‘That’s what I thought too.’ I was beginning to think that PC Humphries was going to hand me my ticket home.
‘How so?’ Leftie lowered his head, until he was just a couple of inches from the images on the table, before turning his attention to my phone.
‘The girl in the actual photos has genuine emerald green eyes; the one on the phone looks like she has but they’re contact lenses.’ PC Humphries points accordingly, as the detective and I exchange a surprised look. ‘Did your friend always have green eyes?’
‘I think so.’ I know it was a ludicrous idea but had I really looked closely at Katie’s eyes? No I hadn’t; I was more focused on what was under her clothes. I kicked myself hypothetically, and tried to remember the last time I had been close enough to study Katie’s face. I guessed it was last night when I was making love to her, but was it her or me that had insisted the lights were off. I hated not having a better memory.
‘Okay to get some of these pictures printed out, so we can have a better look. I might even get Andrews to do a face comparison.’ Leftie stood up, my phone in his hand, not really waiting for an answer.
‘Yeah sure. If it gets me out of here, do whatever you have too.’ I wasn’t in the mood anymore for fucking around. I wanted to know who this bitch was and why she had played me like a fool.
It was forty five minutes before Leftie returned, with a rather chuffed looking PC Humphries in tow, and a guy I could only presume to be techy expert Andrews.
‘Humphries was right; these are two different women, despite a number of similar features.’ Leftie handed me back my phone, and took a seat. ‘The Katie McCormack associated with our enquiries, and your Katie McCormack, or someone pertaining to be Katie McCormack.’
‘Do you think she could be someone else then?’ I knew that’s what they were all thinking.
‘How about you start by telling me when you first met this woman. We’ll call her Jane Doe for the purposes of distinguishing between the two woman, and until we can confirm if she is indeed, another Katie McCormack.’
‘I’ve known Jane for about a year; we met on the subway.’
‘Did you approach her, or was it the other way around?’
‘She started talking to me first; she was offering me an apology for barging me out of the way. I don’t really bother with small talk but she had a lovely smile.’ I hated myself for lying, but I couldn’t bring myself to say I had only carried on with the conversation with the hope that I would get laid.
‘When did the relationship turn sexual?’ Leftie dived straight in with that one.
‘Only last night. Katie wasn’t interested in women in the way I was.’ I had known that all along, but why the hell had I continued to allow her to play with my emotions.
‘But she was last night? Why do you think that was?’
‘I really don’t know now. But I didn’t force her. She made the first move I swear.’
‘I’m not trying to catch you out Jordan. I just want to establish the facts. How about you walk me through last night’s events. PC Humphries is going to take some notes if that’s okay with you.’
I nodded my agreement, glad Red had done a disappearing act.
‘Ready when you are.’
‘Katie, sorry Jane, texted me around 8……she had been stood up again. This was one of Katie’s habits; she’d arrange a date, the date wouldn’t show and Katie would text me. I hated myself for being so weak around her. I suggested that we both head towards our favourite rendezvous, for a bite to eat and some cocktails. For whatever reason, Katie wasn’t keen on staying in town, and suggested she come to my place; I was to order pizza for 9pm and have a bottle of wine open.’
‘So Katie liked a drink?’ Leftie asked, scribbling something eligible on his notepad.
‘Only the odd bottle of wine, or some cocktails, but no, I wouldn’t say she particularly like a drink.’ My mind wandered back to last night; had I been the one doing the drinking? I had a funny feeling that getting me pissed was all part of Katie’s plan, whatever, that plan was.
‘Let’s get back to last night. What was Katie like when she arrived?’ Leftie asked, this time putting his pen down, and giving me his full attention.
‘She was happy, overly so, and wearing one of those negligee dresses that all the celebs seem to be wearing, and a pair of black killer heels. She looked fantastic.’
‘Would you say she looked better than usual?’ PC Humphries asked, her eyes glistening in the light.
‘She looked more glammed up than she usually did when she went on a date.’
‘Looks like she wanted to make an impression on someone.’
‘Yeah it does, doesn’t it.’
‘Who made the first move?’
‘She did.’ That I was sure of.
‘How did she make the first move?’
‘She kissed me.’
There was a knock on the door, and Leftie got up and disappeared, returning two seconds later, with a look on his face that I couldn’t work out.
‘I’ve got to go. PC Humphries will escort you home.’ Leftie said to me, to the young PC, he said, ‘Make sure you get his passport, and get the details about last night.’
‘Have you found Katie?’ I ask.
‘In a manner of speaking yes.’ Leftie replied, making a Redesque exit from the room, leaving behind a soured scent of cheap aftershave and stale tobacco.