Title: Night time fell like the closing
Author: escribo (almaviva)
Original Story: Before the weight can leave the air by azrhiaz
Summary: Elijah has to wonder who left whom
Pre-reveal notes: A Halloween story and all the warnings that might entail
Disclaimer: The author makes no claims or inferences to reality or truthfulness. Moreover, this story is based upon the work of another author and recognises their creation.
When Elijah jerks awake, his heart pounding in his chest, he looks immediately to the corner of his bedroom, expecting to see--well, hoping he'll see what he finds: nothing. The lamps next to his bed are still burning and he stares at one, the night before a blur but he remembers leaving them on. Leaving all the lights on in case it happened again. Relief floods him when he realizes the sun is up and nothing can hide in the shadows.
Last night is as far as he lets his thoughts go. Everything else--his childhood, the movies, his relationships--blurs and fades and he lets them go. Reaching for his cigarettes and lighter, he thinks it's fitting. Everything in the Hollywood Hills is fake, special effects for a summer blockbuster. What happened last night or last week wasn't real. Dominic wasn't real. Holding up his hand to watch the line of smoke snake its way to the ceiling, Elijah even doubts that he's real.
Real enough, a voice answers and Elijah freezes, strains to hear it again even as he hopes he doesn't. Wonders, after a moment, if he had spoke the words himself.
A banging at the door interrupts his thoughts and sends his heart racing again. He jumps from the bed, dusting ash from where it's spilt on his wrinkled shirt and jeans before he crushes the remains of his cigarette in the crystal ashtray stamped with Rockaways on the bottom. "Shit." Elijah looks around the room a bit desperately. It was all talk, all bull-shit. This is real. It's his life, or what's left of it. He looks again to the corner, shakes his head, and his fingers twitch for another cigarette but the pounding at the door becomes more insistent and he forces himself to move.
Through the barely parted curtains, Elijah can see two people watching his door. The taller of the two turns his head and says something to his companion, a woman, before he raises his hand to pound on the door again.
Go ahead. Answer it, says the voice and this time Elijah feels irritation rather than fear. "Just stay quiet," he hisses and there is only a answering laugh. He grabs the doorknob and yanks it open harder than he meant, his chin raised as if expecting a fight. The man in front of him meets his eyes and Elijah feels himself shrink, his irritation dissolving, replaced by a sense of foreboding.
"Elijah Wood?" Elijah nods, some inner sense of self-preservation unwilling to commit to anything further. "I'm Detective Ramirez, this is Detective Miller. Do you mind if we come in?"
As the man speaks, he flashes his badge and Elijah unconsciously takes a step back before he corrects himself. A sweep of his hand is meant to serve as an invitation inside but he doesn't move out of the doorway, still looks from one officer to the other. He's only seen cops in the movies and he tries to remember some line, something that would make this seems normal. The taller of the two, Detective Ramirez, takes a step forward, towering over Elijah and forcing him to move back even further into the room. The officers walk into the room and Elijah flinches to remember his thoughts from last night: what would a crime scene investigator think. What would these two think--what did they know already--and what should have Elijah tried better to hide. What about the things he had no way of controlling? Ramirez and Miller stand in his living room and he notices for the first time how small it is--how crowded.
"We just have a few questions to ask you." Ramirez sits on the black leather sofa, seeming to take up the whole space where Elijah and Dominic had both been able to sit and--
"You know what," Elijah says sharply but then catches himself when Detective Miller turns from the window. "I'm sorry."
"Sorry about what, Mr. Wood." The corners of her mouth turn down and, for a moment, Elijah mistakes it as concern--sympathy.
"I thought that you had spoken. Never mind."
"This shouldn't take up much of your time, Elijah. Do you mind if I call you Elijah?"
Elijah shakes his head but minds very much. He feels stripped down into front of the detective, as if the man could see right through him. For a moment, the detective stares and Elijah waits, works to keep his face open--to betray nothing. That becomes harder to do when Ramirez pulls a picture from his pocket and holds it out to Elijah. "Do you know this man?"
"Dom. Dominic Monaghan." Elijah nods his head, swallowing hard. "He was my... We were friends."
"And when did you see him last?"
"A couple of days ago. Tuesday?" Elijah can't take his eyes off the picture--at what he can barely see just out of frame. He wants to ask if it was Friday now, just to be sure.
"And you haven't seen him since?"
Elijah's eyes flit again his bedroom and back, and the detective follows the movement, turning to look over his shoulder. "Is there someone else here, Elijah?"
"No. I'm. Dominic left." Elijah hands clench at his side before he rubs them on his jeans, watching as Detective Miller cautiously eases into his bedroom. "He went back. He left to go back to--he went to Britain. He's not here."
Detective Miller rejoins them in the main room, circling it slowly, picking up pictures and setting them back down. "Mr. Monaghan didn't leave Los Angeles. He was found about six miles from here. His head bashed in. Any idea how that happened?"
Yeah, Elwood. Any idea?
Elijah jumps at the sound of Dominic's voice so close. He tilts to look around Detective Ramirez and back to his bedroom, jumping to see Dominic standing in the doorway--not like how he was last night but how he looked in the picture. Elijah shakes his head and rubs his hand over his eyes. "I don't know. He was fine when he left here. He said."
I said I'd be back, Elijah. And you told me not to bother.
"We fought," Elijah says softly. He turns away from Dominic and raises his hands to cup the sides of his head. "We'd been fighting a lot lately but I didn't mean it."
"What didn't you mean, Mr. Wood?" It's Detective Miller now, stepping close to Elijah. Her voice is soft, almost reassuring. The kind of tone reserved for the ill--or the insane, Elijah's mind helpfully adds.
"I told him to get out and he did. I didn't mean. I didn't think--"
"You know, Mr. Wood. Usually when we have conversations like this, the family is surprised. You don't seem surprised at all." Ramirez begins to tap his pen on his notepad impatiently. "Why don't we start with where you were last night."
"I was here. I came home from a meeting with my agent around eight and then." Elijah stops and squeezes his eyes shut, remembering. He slides past what actually happened and imagines himself sitting on his sofa, looking out the window. He remembers Gray Goose and oblivion. "I was here. Went to bed early."
"Alone?" Ramirez stops his tapping and lifts his pen as if ready to duly record the name and details he expects Elijah to give him.
Elijah forces himself not to look towards the bedroom again, bites at his fingernail and nods. Over the detective's shoulder, Elijah can just catch the motion as Dominic shake his head. He can help but look again and shudders as Dominic mouths liar. "I'm not lying," he says--pleads. Ramirez trades looks with Miller and Elijah swallows hard. "Yes. I was alone. You don't think I did this, do you?"
"We're not sure. Did you?"
"I don't know what happened to him. He was fine when he left."
"How about this hole in the wall?" Ramirez slides his pen from his pocket and outlines the ragged edge of the hole. "How did this happen?"
"I told you, we fought. He slammed out of here and the door hit the wall." Elijah can hear the sound of his voice raising, the beat of his heart as it pounds in his chest. He turns to face his bedroom, his body shaking now. Funny how he wasn't afraid before--Dominic's no less transparent, the situation no less grim but last night he was sad--lonely. Now it's fear that crashes through his veins--fear and confusion. "You were fine when you left," he shouts.
I didn't want to leave, Doodle. You made me go.
"Mr. Wood, I think perhaps it'd be best if we continued this conversation downtown."
"No! I didn't do anything. I was here. Ask him. He'll tell you. Dominic tell them!" Elijah crosses the room at a run and stretches his arms out to Dominic, his hands grasping at air, and he gasps in surprise. Pain blossoms in his knees as they hit the floor, and he looks up at Dominic, his hands still held in front of him, fingers spread wide. "None of this is real," he screams. "It's all illusion. None of it's real."
I would have stayed forever.
It's hours later and the lights still burn in every room. Somewhere, in some other home, someone is watching, imaging what it's like to live in the hills. Dominic sits in the empty apartment, long past caring that the sky has faded to black. He knows--but does not need to see--that the view from the windows is nothing more than an indistinct field of artificial stars. Everything is make believe in the Hollywood Hills.
Comment on this story
Read Comments on this story