It all started back when a local detective Ashley Madison was in a bar quaffing some beer, after the events of the day. Frustrated and broke, she was disappointed as she knew she didn’t deserve any of it. “Why God, why?”, she mumbled to herself in despair.
“Ma’am the bar is closing now,” said the bartender, wiping some glasses with a rag.
“So soon?” Ashley wasn’t done yet.
“It’s way past midnight, ma’am,” he said with a wry smile.
“Oh, is it? Alright then, chuck me a couple of beers and I’ll leave,” she replied, grabbing for her purse.
Reaching her apartment (rent was due by 3 months), Ashley was dejected. She lay in the dark, fully dressed on the bed, and passed out in moments.
The next morning while leaving to find some work, right at her door stood the landlord, like an angry bear. She pleaded him to wait for some more time to pay the rent.
“I’ve got a young ‘un coming down today, who wants a place,” he grunted. “Make sure yer out by then.”
Just then, a young man came up the stairs. He seemed decent, with short buzzed hair, and a lean, strong jawed face. Noticing the altercation, he asked pleasantly, “Is there a problem? Because I can come back later.”
Ashley gave an involuntary sniffle, and asked him if he would like to stay with her so as to split the rent. After a brief discussion, he agreed. Soon he started living there, both unaware of the other’s occupation. Eventually Ashley started getting a few minor detective gigs, but on the other hand Mark dealt drugs for a living.
He seemed like a real nice guy with a good personality. And even though he and Ashley never talked to each other that often, there was some chemistry between them. Mark used to be out six days a week selling drugs and used to come home at 9pm. But, on Sundays he would come home at midnight.
Once, a police siren started buzzing near their place and Mark, who was walking near the footpath with a briefcase, rushed into the apartment, with a furtive air. Ashley who was in the living room watching the television was startled by his behaviour. Now Ashley was aware of the fact that Mark is always thinking of something and has an intense expression on his face but that day he was scared. He went to his room and closed it from the inside. Luckily the cops weren’t for him. Ashley got thinking.
Not too long ago, when Ashley had just started off as a detective, she was on a case with one of her seniors. She solved the entire case by herself but her senior took all the credit for that. She had her own way of doing things which was opposed to by her senior so he accused her of being involved with the criminal and with a few other colleagues, he framed her with malpractice. Being young and with no one behind her to help, her license was taken away temporarily and she was removed from the department. Every organization closed doors on her name as the officers of her department sent consent reports to not hiring her until her suspension is completed. This was the reason she was having a difficult time at present.
Moving on, she was aware of the behaviour of people so Mark’s character wasn’t too difficult for her to understand. She also had a soft spot for him, so she wanted to know what was going on with him. She eventually noticed his pattern of coming home during the week and noticed something different about Sundays. Soon she started doing some low key investigation into Mark’s background. She was in a bit of a fix. Mark wouldn’t talk about himself so how was she to find out?
She was getting restless so out of curiosity she once went in Mark’s room when he was not home, but Mark had told her to never enter his room if she respects his privacy. She had to do it though, she found a Polaroid of Mark, in which there was young Mark with whom she believed were his parents, also there was someone else who was in that photo but that part of the polaroid was torn. The peculiar part was, there was a date written on the back of the Polaroid which said, “20/07/08. With love, Jessica”.
Jessica? Ashley was in a quandary. Who was Jessica? Was she a friend? A lover? God knew! She also found a locket in his set of belongings which had ‘J’ engraved on it. Was this Jessica too? she wondered. Then under his bed she found packets of cocaine, Ashley was shocked. She desperately wanted to help Mark and wanted to know why he was involved in all this. Wondering, she started searching for more clues.
Philip was an acquaintance of Ashley’s who was a retired detective. Having lunch together one day, she asked him for tips on how to find the background of someone you barely know. He replied, “First find their family then everything will associate slowly”.
So she started wondering what the date signified. Was it the time the Polaroid had taken? Or did it mean something else? With numerous thoughts in her mind she was coming home when she saw a man standing on the door entrance of her apartment ringing her bell.
“Excuse me sir, I live there!” exclaimed Ashley. “Did you want to talk to me?” she asked.
“Does Mark Taylor live here?” asked the guy.
“Why do you ask?”
“I’m his old friend, Matthew. We lost touch a few years back but after quite sometime I was able to find his whereabouts so here I am. Is he here though?”
“No he isn’t, but do you want me to take a message?”
“No, I’ll come around later,” he said.
While Matthew was leaving, Ashley realized that he might know Mark’s background so she rushed to have a word with him.
“So how was Mark back then?”, Ashley asked.
“He was a really nice and helpful friend”
“That’s sweet… You’ve known him for quite sometime I suppose?
“Yeah we were childhood pals but we diverged after his parent’s death”
“Oh! I’m sorry! How did that happen?”
“It was the 20th of July, Mark’s birthday. His parents died in a car accident leaving him and his sister behind, alone.”
“Wait, Mark has a sister?”
“She might be a grown up by now,” said Matthew.
“She was in St. Georgia’s school as far as I remember.”
Immediately after knowing that Mark had a sister, Ashley rushed to the school Matthew told her about. She went there where she was told that Jessica left the school on a medical leave back in 2014, figuring out the hospital the teacher told her about, she went there. On reaching the hospital she found out that Jessica has been in a coma for the past 2 years.
Now the dots were connected, she figured out that whatever Mark was doing, it was probably for Jessica. It was late evening when Ashley decided to have a conversation with Mark. When she started asking him questions, he refused to say a word. Even though she knew the reason, she wanted to know what’s going on in his head. She then told him that she knew about Jessica, and Mark immediately started crying. He was helpless and extremely worried for his sister, Ashley hugged him and assured him that everything’s going to be alright. She said that she would get the money for him to which he said no, but irrespective of his telling the next week she came with a bag full of money and gave it to Mark. He was shocked!
“Where did you get all this money from?” asked Mark.
“You don’t have to worry about that” said Ashley with a smile.
Mark had many questions but his current priority was Jessica.
She told him to use this money for the hospital bills and take care of Jessica which he did and within a short span Jessica gained consciousness and it was the most heart-warming thing Mark had experienced in quite sometime. Ashley eventually got her detective license back, also Mark finally asked Ashley out for dinner to which she happily said yes.
She was sitting in the living room with the television playing news. Mark went inside to change and said he’d be back in a few minutes. They had plans for dinner. She sat on the couch whilst the news played. The pretty newscaster was saying that a bank which had been robbed a month ago, had turned up no clues as to the identity of the robber. Ashley glanced at the television and said, “Sometimes good people have to do bad things, for the greater good”.