If I wanted to prove my dad was innocent, I had to provide another suspect for the murder. And Drew Peters was top of my list. After all, Alice was his child, and him and my mother had some sort of extramarital commitment. I wanted to know more, and I knew how to find him.
I headed downstairs, but instead of entering the basement room, I turned right and tried to get into the study. But the door wouldn't budge. Typical. It was locked. I fished around in my pockets, letting sweet wrappers, scraps of paper and general filth fly out, until I found a paper clip. I wasn't sure what I was doing, I'd never picked a lock before. I shoved the metal wire into the keyhole and moved it around, after a few frustrating minutes of fiddling, I felt it push something sideways, and the door unlocked. I stepped inside and was immediately taken over by a strong scent of rose and peony. My mother's perfume. No-one went in this study but her, she ran an online boutique called 'Petals and Thorns'. There was a dim light, a few full filing cabinets, a phone, and a computer. There were still papers on the desk, and shreddings on the floor. There was even a voicemail waiting on the phone. I ignored the flood of memories that very almost knocked me off my feet, and started to go through the pile of pamphlets on the side of her desk. There was one for a florists, a marketing company, a free book club, ahah! There it was, 'Peter's Window Cleaning'. I turned it on the back and found the contact information, there was a phone number and an email. I scribbled them down onto my hand, taking care not to smudge the ink. I placed my hand on the phone, about to dial the number, and paused. Curiosity to hear the voicemail burned inside me, running out from my heart, through my veins, down to my fingertips. I pressed the button, and listened carefully.
"Hello Tiffany, Sophie here. Just wanted to check you were okay with me taking those extra weeks off. Phone me back when you get the chance, bye" a females voice came out the speaker. I recognized it, Sophie was mum's head of sales, but was currently in japan with her husband on their honeymoon. It was useless, but still brought me pleasure, to hear someone talk about her using present tense sent warm chills over me. I snapped out of my happy trance, and dialled the number. After 3 beeps, there was a reply.
"Hello?" I heard a male voice down the phone.
"Hello, I would like to book an appointment for my windows to be cleaned" I tried to disguise my voice by deepening it, and ended up sounding a tad ridiculous.
"Is this afternoon okay?" I kept my deep voice.
"I'm busy on Felix Street this afternoon" I gave myself a mental high-five. He had just told me where to find him.
"That's fine" I was about to hung up.
"Wait, don't you want an appointment?" He asked, confused.
"No" I hung up quickly, and clumsily placed the phone down. I didn't tell my siblings where I was going, they would either stop me, come with me, or shout at me again. I didn't want any of those things happening. So I took my coat from the rack, scribbled a note in case they noticed by absence, and made sure I locked the door on my way out.
Felix Street wasn't far away, but it was a good 20 minute walk. As I walked I recognized people, the elderly lady who always walks her 3 yorkshire terriers twice a day, the mischievous twins who dragged their parents down to the park daily, the troublesome teens smoking pot down alleyways. Everyone was going about their normal day-to-day business, oblivious to the fact that tomorrow might not be so ordinary, that all it took was a few hours to turn everything around. I ignored them, and kept my eyes ahead of me, keen not to miss him. As the time neared 3pm, I picked up my pace, starting to wish I'd gotten an exact time out of him. I rounded the corner at last, and arrived at Felix Street. It was easy to spot which house he was at, from the ladders and the van that was decorated with the words 'Peter's Window Cleaning'.
I walked up to the house, and was faced with a young man, only a few years older than me. He had slick black hair that was slimy from the amount of gel and product, sharp green eyes, and a tanned complexion. He was leaning against the back of the van casually, checking his phone.
"Can I help you?" He grunted once he had noticed me.
"Are you Drew Peters?" I checked, a little put off, not only by his age, but by his tone.
"Do I look like a 40 year old man? I'm Zach Peters, his son." He said in his best 'duh' tone.
"Um, okay, I didn't know he had a son. Where is he?" I asked.
"Why do you want to know?" He was being difficult, and surprisingly smart.
"I called earlier about an appointment but hung up by accident." I lied.
"Oh, you're that guy. But you're only a kid?" He wasn't missing a thing.
"My dad called, but I came here for him" I continued to concieve my story.
"Whatever, he's round the back" Zach shrugged. I uttered a quick 'thank you' and went in the direction of the garden. There was only one man there, like Zach he had black hair, but his wasn't ruined by product. He also had green eyes, but his had a hint of brown in them, his complexion was paler than his sons, but what hit me most of all was his height. He was huge. At least 6 ft tall. His shadow completely covered me, and he was a good distance away. I anxiously stepped forward.
"Hello?" I called to him. He turned and looked at me, surprised.
"What do you want?" He grunted, his tone was bored and annoyed, but I was not put off.
"You knew my mother, Tiffany Kroft." I told him, his head spun around as his eyes judged me, he took a step forward, looming over me.
"I did. Who are you?" He stared at me.
"I'm her son, Michael Kroft. I'm here to talk to you about something." I was suddenly very nervous.
"Go on then" he said it as though it were a challenge.
"She's, well...dead." I forced the words out. I saw his eyes go wide, and his lip quiver slightly, "I'm sorry" I added.
"Dead? How?" He questioned me.
"It was murder." I informed him, he stiffened. I saw waves of anger blast through his eyes.
"Who did it?" He spat.
"We don't know yet, that's why I'm here." I replied. There was a long silence as he took my words in.
"Why are you here?" He asked at last.
"To ask you a few questions about Alice." I announced.
"Who?" I realized with a jolt he didn't know the name of his daughter.
"Your daughter, my half-sister." I explained.
"Alice...What do you need to know?" He placed his equipment down to focus only on me.
"How serious was your affair with my mother?" The words burnt my tongue to say, but I needed an answer.
"Not to serious," I was relieved to hear, "we met up 5 times at most, we never meant for her to get pregnant. Tiffany... she just wanted a break, you know? 4 children, a husband who just lost his job, a sales manager on her honeymoon. She just wanted to do something reckless, to not have to be the responsible one for once." I nodded, it sounded like my mother. She was the one who carried all the burdens of our large, dysfunctional family, it made sense for her to want some way of exiting the perfect role she'd been forced to play.
"Thank you" I smiled at him.
"Your welcome, now, could I have a moment?" He requested, I nodded, leaving him to grieve. I didn't stop to quiz Zach on my way out, he probably wouldn't tell me anything. I wondered home with my head hung, disappointed at my first day of detective work. I'd only learnt what I'd already guessed, my mother wasn't in love with Drew Peters, and they weren't too serious. I hadn't turned the corner and immediately seen a murderer, nor had I seen an innocent man, I had seen a lonely window cleaner trying to make a living.
Finding the one who murdered my mother was going to be harder than I expected.