I aimlessly paced the workshop, inspecting the
welders - arc and acetylene – and the various equipment for shearing, bending,
rolling, heating and melting metals. I
saw the plans for her work in progress, hand drawn on heavy brown paper in
thick dark pencil, noted the architectural flair of line, the artful swagger of
the lettering - with 'A' s like pyramids, 'N's resembling recurved lazy
sideways 'S' shapes. With the crawling of time, I mentally rehearsed what I
knew I had to do, depending on which of my predicted characters I would be
I had narrowed the field to three possibilities. And knowing that two were still actively
involved, I had anticipated the actions and reactions and used a combination of
sound judgment and plain luck to plan my moves.
I walked around behind one of her metal fabrication
benches and glanced up at Deb’s wall clock and learned that an hour had
passed. Doubt began to creep into my
mind. Maybe the anonymous call to Coy
about meeting at Deb’s was a stall tactic, or maybe it was a blow-off. It was looking like nobody would show up at
all. It could very well be that the
noisy muffler Doc heard last night was the sound of a frustrated murder who
knew things were falling apart. Forget
the list and get out while you can. But that would be a hell of a lot of money
to leave behind and risk murder for.
Follow the greed, remember?
I absent-mindedly reached for and examined a large
pair of surprisingly lightweight metal shears, when a shaft of light burst from
the large garage door and filled the cavernous shop with the dusty light of the
Silhouetted in the light, a thin figure appeared,
paused, and strode slowly into the shop; his boot steps echoing a staccato beat
as he approached. A wink of sunlight
flashed off the silvery scales of snakeskin boots.
The faceless figure, silhouetted against the white
shaft of light, made an upward motion of the left hand and I heard the
unmistakable click of a revolver hammer.
Instinctively, I threw the tin snips toward the silhouette as I dove and
rolled behind an upright wall of sheet metal.
A cry and a shot came together. I heard the plink from the top of my metal
wall, and felt the warm slap of the ricocheted bullet fragment in my outside
The voice came now in the room as it had through the
wire on that blustery Sunday - but the element of surprise was dampened. "Sam, you sly old dude, you. I shoulda figured it'd be you that put out
the word on my list. You do have it,
don't you Samuel?"
Will was sitting in his office
drinking coffee from a black mug with pink letters that spelled out “PIG.” His starched white shirt was rolled up at the
sleeves, and the heels of his Lugs boots rested on his desk as he sat back in
the swivel chair. The envelope, ring and
note I had received lay on the desk blotter.
“Okay, let me get this straight. You say that the envelope appeared on your
porch. You say you didn’t see anyone
leave it. You opened it wearing gloves,
dumped the contents, read the note and checked the ring, finding the
inscription,” he said in a voice that was bordering boredom.
“You are also saying that I should
check with neighboring police departments and have them send me all recent
missing person reports by a search using the name Claire – corresponding with
I nodded again. I was getting good at it.
“And you think that DNA test of any
trace on the ring will match with the hand you found on the beach… if there is
I shrugged. It’s good to mix it up.
“Why do you think this envelope fell
into your lap,” he said.
“I have an inkling of an idea. I’m pretty sure that whoever this is had been
watching Towne Hall and saw Doc and me go in when you called about the hands. I
think they saw you walk us to the door when we left, put two and two together
and decided I was involved. But I’m not biting on the bait.” I held my hands
out palms up toward his desk. “Hey, this
is your ballgame. I’m just letting you
in on what I think is the logical thing to do.”
He sat up in the chair and placed his
chunky arms on the desk in front of him.
He raised the volume increasingly as he spoke.
“As if I wouldn’t have thought of
it. Hell, I’ll contact every goddamn law
enforcement office and database in the country if I have to. I want to get this shit cleared up before the
tourists start pouring in for Memorial Day Weekend. But you gotta level with
me. I like you Parker, but I’m not above
nailing anyone for obstruction. So whatcha got?”
I knew that my reaction would be
carefully watched. Will would be reading
body language, voice inflection, which direction my eyes looked when I answered
and a number of things cops are trained to do to detect lies. Involuntary
movements during interrogation told volumes about the person being
interrogated. Even though we were
casually sitting in an office, it was an interrogation nonetheless. I decided
that a good offense was called for. I
put my feet up on his desk, looked at the space between his eyes and said,
“It’s not my line of work anymore. I
don’t need it, don’t want it.” I swept
my hand toward the items on the desk. “Again, it’s all yours, Will.”
He looked across the desk at me, not
saying anything. The cop stare. I waited.
I had seen the best at the waiting
game on both sides of the law. Hard-assed cases guilty of any number of crimes
trying to out-wait the hard-assed stares of cops that could wait so long they
would need a haircut after they left the room. Cops usually win at the waiting
game. I knew that. I also knew that although I held out the
information Doc had found, I had nothing to do with sawing anyone’s hand off.
And Doc was counting on me not to reveal what he had learned through his
hacking. To go further would only raise questions and implicate Doc. There was
no pressing business on my plate. I could wait.
Our pissing contest was interrupted
when the buzzer on Will's intercom squawked.
“Will, Morrison just called in.
He wants you to come to the ShoreView Motor Inn,” Harriet’s voice crackled over the small
“Harriet, I’m a little
tied up here,” he said.
“He told me you would say
that, and told me to tell you nothing’s this important and he said to bring Doc
Egan with you.”
“Got it. Parker, I want you to come with me, since you
seem to be full of big bright ideas today.”
“Look,” I said, “What did
I just say about this being your gig?”
“You can ride along, or I
can hold you here and we can finish when I get back. Call it a trade. You give me some of your time and maybe I
just get off your back.”
“Your car or mine,” I