Konan continued to search for anything that would shed light on his investigation, well, it was now the cops investigation. He decided to lie down and get some rest. The last thing he saw was Bugs Bunny tricking Yosemite Sam. “What a maroon…”
Konan dreamed of his time at war, of the bodies that he had seen, the people he had killed. He dreamed of Lilly. In his dream she reached for him, but as he tried to grasp her hand hands gripped her ankles and pulled her away.
He awoke with a start. Sweat drenched his bed, his body was clammy. He sat in the dark and forced himself to take shallow breaths. His mind kept going back to Lilly. “What had caused her to look into his last case? She had fast-tracked throughout her career. Why go back to the unsolved case?”
Konan stepped lightly to the bathroom and ran his hands through the cold water. He wet a rag and ran it across his body and hair. Konan made coffee and walked into the second bedroom of his mobile home. He had converted it into a library of sorts. It was his refuge, his palace of solitude. He flicked on his lamp and pulled out his laptop. Something was amiss. He needed coffee.
Konan backtracked into the kitchen and brewed him a cup of coffee. Satisfied that his morning routine was more or less done, he sat down and opened his laptop. He opened up the word processor and began to type:
-Why was Lilly looking into an unsolved case?
-Why contact me?
-Who is the antagonist? Why are they the antagonist?
-Suspects: Mayor Smith, Pop-pop, Ashley
He decided to contact Tomas and Wiggins in the morning. Someone would have an answer to the first two questions. They would give him the answers, or he would be forced to extract them in a most unpleasant manner.
At 0800, Konan picked up his phone and dialed the police department. He asked for Wiggins. After a moment his call was transferred.
“Hello,” Wiggins wheezed.
“Hey, it’s Konan. Any breaks?”
“You know I can’t tell you that, bud.” Wiggins sounded like a wounded grizzly with the amount of panting he was doing. Konan nodded his head as if Wiggins could see him.
“Yeah, I know. Look, I want to meet for lunch. Why don’t you meet me down by the waterway. There’s a small park and a burger joint not far from there.”
“Yeah, okay.” Wiggins continued to labor with his breathing. ‘The humidity must be killing him,’ Konan thought.
“My treat, Wiggins. Make sure you bring Tomas. We need to talk. Be there at noon.”
Konan printed off his list of questions, and finished off his coffee. His doorbell rang. He walked to the door and looked out the peep hole. Ashley stood in his yard. Konan opened the door. She forced a smile .
“Hey. What brought you by?”
He motioned for her to come in, she stepped in and sat on his couch. She clutched a manila envelope in her left hand.
“Would you like a cup of coffee, Ashley?”
“No. I want to know why you went behind my back with this.”
Konan sat down beside her and took the envelope from her hand. It was still sealed. Konan looked at her. Tears welled up in her eyes and there was a frightening hint of anger in them. Konan licked his lips.
“You didn’t open it?”
“Okay,” Konan grunted. He flipped open his pocket knife and cut the envelope open. He removed the list and the note that was pinned to Lilly’s naked body. He laid them side by side.
“This was the note found on Lilly’s body,” he said as he pointed at it with his finger. “This is the list given to me by your grandfather. What do you see?”
Ashley leaned forward and looked at both items. She wiped her eyes and shrugged. “It looks like the same paper.”
Konan took the lab workup from the manila envelope and read the results. Ashley slid closer to read the results also. She gasped.
The lab had confirmed that the list and note were printed on the same type of paper. Both the note and list were written on Sierra Parchment Paper. The handwriting was only a 35 percent match.
Ashley leaned back and looked at Konan. He waited for the outburst that was bound to be coming at any moment. It never came.
“You suspected Pop-Pop? Which means that I too am a suspect.”
“Don’t, Konan. Don’t say anything. You went to the FBI behind my back. You never once let on that anything was amiss.”
“I was doing my job, Ashley.”
“That’s all that matters to you, isn’t it. The job, everything else is crap. You live only for the job.”
“That’s not true. I no longer have a job thanks to Mayor Smith.”
“Why? Did you punch him out too?” Konan snorted. Ashley tried to contain her laughter. They both failed. Raucous bouts of laughter broke loose between them.
“I’m sorry you lost your job, Konan.”
“Ah, it’s not the first time.”
Konan grinned, Ashley giggled. They stared at the two pieces of evidence. Ashely shook her head in disbelief.
“I can’t believe that Pop-Pop was a suspect or that this is even real.”
“It doesn’t mean that he is the killer. It means that he likes the same paper as the killer. There are some characteristics they share in handwriting, but there is not enough to convict him.”
“I know but…”
“Ashley, you can’t tell him. I can’t begin to imagine what you’re going through, but this has to remain quiet.”
“Why didn’t you tell me, Konan?”
“Because, if you had done the test and your grandfather was the killer, the defense could say that the chain of evidence was tampered with. Or it could have put you in a position to protect your grandfather or your career.”
“So, you were just doing your job.”
“I was trying to protect you and your reputation.”
“I don’t need your protection, Konan. Was I a suspect to? Am I guilty by association?”
Konan said nothing to her question. The gulf of silence between them grew until it was deafening. They sat on the couch with nothing between them but suspicion.
Ashley nodded her head and stood up. Konan stood up but Ashely waved him off. Hot tears burned down her face.
“I didn’t know you real well when you were partnered with Lilly. Then, you punched out your boss and got fired. Let me tell you something, Konan. I loved Lilly, like she was my own child. Like we were sisters. Never in a million years would I hurt her, much less kill her. That you can take to the bank.” Without another word or look she walked out of the trailer. Konan stood in the middle of his living room and a single tear rolled down his cheek.
He scooped up the evidence and returned it to the manila envelope. He glanced at his G-Shock watch and saw that it was after 11. He grabbed the envelope and walked to the bus stop. He arrived to the small park at 1145. Tomas and Wiggins sat on a rundown picnic table, their feet resting on the seat.
“You guys are early,” Konan said. They nodded.
“What’s in the envelope,” Tomas asked. Wiggins was busy taking shallow breaths. Konan handed the evidence to Tomas.
“It’s the lab results from the note and list. Ashley brought it by.”
Tomas tossed it on the table between him and Wiggins. Konan lifted an eyebrow but said nothing.
“You can quit investigating, Konan. Mayor Smith applied pressure to Janko and got the case closed. It’s labeled ‘unsolved.’ Thanks for bringing this by.”
Tomas and Wiggins walked to their car and left. Konan sat at the picnic table and watched the river. His phone buzzed. On the screen was this message:
“Hello, Thermopolis. How goes your second forced retirement?”
Konan’s heart raced at the sight of the message. He quickly typed out his response.
“Hello, Mayor Smith.”
Konan pressed send and waited for a response. One never came. The park was empty. Off in the distance a Rat Terrier chased a squirrel into a large oak tree.
For the second time today the silence was deafening. Konan walked across the street and ordered a double bacon cheeseburger from Chicken Kenny’s and ate it.
He finished his dinner, threw his trash in the can, and walked to the bus stop. He took a window seat and looked out over the waterway. The sun was going down, but the sky was the color of blood.