Earlier this morning, around 5 a.m., There was a knock on my door. I got up, still kind of half asleep, and opened it. Poe was there, fully dressed in one of those lacy black dresses she always wears for some reason.
"Um, Messi, you...I think you need to see this. It's important. You, uh, might want to take that one recorder you use for those interviews."
Looking back, I maybe should have known that something was wrong. I think that was the first time I had seen Poe alone. Before, she had always been with Caper, always sticking fairly close to him. But either way, it really wouldn't have mattered.
She took me down the the apartment where she and Caper stayed and tried unlocking the door. Her hands were shaking pretty badly, and she kept fumbling with the keys. Second warning sign that I missed. But anyway, she opened the door, and that was when
I don't want to write this.
At first, everything seemed normal. Caper wasn't exactly the tidiest guy, and the room was usually pretty unkempt. But Poe always kept her side clean. Now, the entire apartment was trashed. Not only that, things were broken. The computer, one of the dressers, some dishes...this wasn't a normal mess. There had been a fight.
Poe led me around a pile of junk to where Caper was lying on the floor.
"He's here," she said.
Caper nodded weakly. He looked...well, he didn't look good. His eyes were all unfocused and he could barely move.
"Hey, Messi," he said.
"Caper, don't talk," Poe told him. "I'll let him know what happened." She turned to me. "The tracking didn't go as planned. We managed to get our hands on the tape. We checked it out, and could have easily ID'd the girl. But then Caper destroyed it. It was the last lead we had to finding that girl. The blog's ended, and everyone who could or would have pointed us to her is dead. And then, um...well, you know who got upset, appeared during the night--"
"He tossed me around," Caper wheezed. Poe glared at him.
"Why'd you destroy the tape, Caper?" I asked.
He looked up at me. "She was just a kid," he said, as if it was a stupid question. "I couldn't let them get her." He smiled. "She was a cute thing, too. I like kids. Got a real soft spot for them."
"Caper," Poe said quietly, "please don't talk."
"But it's what I doooooooooo..." he said. She kind of glared back at him. "Sorry, I guess that wasn't funny."
I turned to Poe. "So how long ago did you call the ambulance?"
She shook her head. "It's...not coming, Messi. He's, well, gone against...well, you know who, and he showed up personally for this. If we can save him tonight, what happens next? All three of us know that Caper's already dead."
"That reminds me," Caper said weakly. "I've got a confession. This is kind of the first time I've died. I'm not really a reanimated corpse."
She looked down, trying to glare at him, but the tears were starting to come. "Caper, if you weren't dying, I would hit you for that. Just...please, save your energy." She reached out and grabbed his hand, and he smiled a bit, weakly nodding that he understood.
"Hey, um, Caper," I said, "I know I haven't known you all that long, and I know that I keep talking about how I can't stand you, but...well, you've been a really good friend. It's been nice knowing you, I guess."
He nodded again. "Sorry about that Q and A thing I wanted to do. If they still want questions answered, just tell them that all the answers are 'ponies.' That should satisfy them."
Poe was really fighting back the tears at that point. When he finished talking, she couldn't hold them back any longer. She leaned over and hugged him where hey lay. "Thank you so much, Caper," she sobbed. "Thanks for everything."
He smiled. "Poe," he said, "I'm bleeding internally." She let go of him, backing up a bit, hurriedly whispering apologies. "But it's been great. I don't think I could have ever found a better partner."
He lay back and closed his eyes. "Hey, guys...I think I see a light. I think it's time. I should maybe go towards it." He exhaled, a tranquil look suddenly coming over his face. "Yeah, that's warm. That's really nice. That's...that's kind of hot. Oh, god! Oh, no, it's from the flames!" He gave a weak scream, followed by an attempt to chuckle. He ended up coughing out blood.
Poe wiped her eyes, allowing herself a smile. "You jerk."
He smiled back at her. "Goodbye, Poe. I'll miss you. Can...can you hold my hand again until I'm gone? It's nice." Then he turned to me, and he had the weirdest look in his eyes. He was trying to smile, trying to look calm, trying to be strong, but he looked terrified.
"Hey, Messi," he said, "Am I a bad person?"
I couldn't answer. I watched as the light went out of his eyes, and I couldn't give him his final answer.
-Don't Shoot The Messenger-