The door opens at the other end of the room and Abbott walks back in, holding a small white paper cup. The floral designs printed on the outside remind Luis of Jennifer’s curtains that smelled of Febreeze and dust.
“Here you go, Abraham.” Abbott says, placing the cup down on the table before Luis with yet another smile. Was this guy friendly or creepy? Luis couldn’t decide.
He takes the cup and examines it for a second before downing it in one large, sweet gulp. The cold water soothes his aching, parched throat. It leaves a cold trail creeping downwards towards his stomach. Ah, refreshing.
His eyes meet with Abbott’s. He looks away, staring at the wooden table. His eyes trace patterns on the oak surface, drawing Jennifer’s smile. He imagines her eyes watching him from across the table.
“It was quite a risk actually.” Abbott says, rolling his sleeve up again to reveal his tattoo. Luis looks at it, reading the Latin script again. It still makes no sense to him. “Getting this, I mean.” Abbot continues. He opens his mouth as if to say something more then stops, seemingly entranced by the smooth black lines.
Seconds tick by. Luis waits, listening intently for the explanation.
It never comes.
“Want more water?” Abbott says.
“Water?” he points to the cup still held in Luis’s hand. His eyes are wide and innocent, shining blue in the pale white light.
“N-No, th-thank you.” he watches the blue-eyed officer sit back in his chair, leaning casually with his arm wrapped around the back.
A buzz interrupts the silence. Abbott glances at his phone. He grunts but doesn’t say anything.
The silence returns. Luis looks at the table, then back at Abbott, who stares at him. The gaze is unnerving, especially for someone who hates being the center of attention. He scratches his neck.
“Why was it a risk?” he says, giving in to curiosity. The skin beneath his own tattoo is raw now, and the blisters were starting to bleed. He picks at the blood beneath his fingernails.
“INK.” Abbott says.
“That’s my Machine prediction.” he lies, meeting Luis’s eyes with a steady gaze. “INK.”
“Yeah.” he pauses. “But I decided to go through with it anyways. Defy the Machine, you know?”
Warning bells should have shot up. They should have rung in Luis’s head. He should have know that the detective was trying to trick him.
But he didn’t. The only bells in his head were wedding bells. When he’d get back, he’d propose to Jennifer. Even if they locked him up for twenty-five years, she’d wait for him.
He knew she would.
“We tested you too.” Abbott lies, pretending to check his phone beneath the table.
“With DNA from the crime scene.” he pauses, looking up at Luis. “Heartbreak.”
“H-Heartbreak?” Luis repeats, his blood running cold in his veins. That was one word he could live without knowing the meaning of.
“Yep.” Abbott said, stands up. “Nice knowing you Abraham; looks like you’ll be dead by morning.” He turns away and takes a step towards the door, pulling out his phone.
Luis’s hearts hammers away between his ears. His eyesight blurs. He can’t breathe.
“W-What do you mean?!” a voice shouts. It isn’t his own. It belongs to someone else, someone desperate. Someone scared. It sounds muffled, distant.
“Her relationship status changed to single.” Abbott says, engrossed in his phone. He trails off. “I guess she didn’t want to deal with long distance relationships; what with you going to jail and all.”
He should feel sad. He should be mourning the loss of his girlfriend–his one true love.
But he doesn’t.
He feels only anger.
He had joined– for her. He had gotten this tattoo– for her. He had killed— for her.
Everything was for her.
And she just…
She just breaks it off? Leaves him like some dead animal on the side of the road? Lets him rot behind bars like a carcass festering in the sun?
Tears fall from his eyes. They shatter on the oak surface, little droplets splattering onto his bloodstained fingers.
He claws at his tattoo. He doesn’t believe in God and he most certainly doesn’t want a reminder of her inked across his skin.
Abbott watches him for a few seconds before saying, “There is a way to get her back., to close the distance, really.”
He stops scratching. The words swim around in his mind for a moment before they begin to make sense. He looks up at the detective, waiting for an explanation, playing straight into the suited man’s hands.
Abbott grins. The smile reaches his eyes.