“Rain. Why not? I have always wanted to investigate a murder in the middle of a freaking hurricane.” Thermopolis Konan lifted his collar to shield his neck from the deluge, his ride was supposed to have been here ten minutes ago. “Typical crap, make the new guy wait.”
An unmarked Crown Vic pulled up next to the curb. The driver rolled down the passenger window about an inch. A curly haired brunette sat behind the wheel.
“Are you Detective Konan?”
“Yeah, the wet version.”
Konan got in and the brunette extended her hand. Konan shook her hand.
“I’m Lilly. We have been paired up for partners. It’s nice to meet you.”
“Yeah, you to.”
“Sorry I am late. I stopped to get us coffee, and the bottom fell out while I was inside.”She handed him a lukewarm cup of coffee. “You do drink coffee, right?”
“I do. Thanks for making the gesture.” She handed him sugar and cream. “I didn’t know what you took in it, so I brought everything.”
“Just sugar. A lot of sugar.”
They mixed their coffees and Lilly made small talk. She would glance at Konan from time to time to see if he was following the conversation. He never seemed to be lost. So far, so good.
“So, you came to us from 112th.”
“I heard that it’s a great department.”
“No, you haven’t. They are tore up from the floor up.”
“Yeah, that’s what we heard in the 117th. I was trying to tiptoe around it, but you’re like a bulldozer in a trailer park.”
“Let me guess, you were told I betrayed my last partner, right?”
“Yeah, that’s the rumor that’s going around.”
Konan nodded his head. “Figures.” Lilly started the car and began to drive. The rain had not let up any. Heavy raindrops crashed into the windshield; the wipers slapped it away. Konan listened to the rhythm of the wipers for a while.
“So, did you betray your partner?”
“No. I turned him in for corruption. He took bribes from politicians, abused his authority, broke the rules, and tried to set me up to take the fall for all of it.”
“Why did they send you to us?”
“Who’s the victim?”
“I don’t know.”
Lilly guided the car into an all-night convenience store, and the pair walked into the store. Broken liquor bottles were scattered on the floor, the strong smell of whiskey saturated the air.
A young officer stopped them short of the ticker tape. Lilly forced a smile at him. “I’m Detective Lilly Thompson,” she said. “This is Detective Konan.” The officer broke into a laugh.
“Conan, you said. If he hit a side pose, he would disappear.” A small giggle escaped from Lilly, and Konan sighed.
“Wonderful. Another Neanderthal who has confused size with intelligence. Maybe I should reintroduce myself.”
“Sure thing, Conan.”
“I’m Chief Kick-A-Bitch from the Slapaho tribe. Get out of the way.”
Lilly laughed as the young officer turned red in his cheeks. “That is rather good, Konan. Let us get in here and do our job.”
Lilly led Konan through the mess. According to what he was told, Lilly was the highest ranking, therefore, she would do the talking. Konan was there to watch and learn. Even at the 112th Lilly was considered one of the best detectives around. Konan would sit back and observe.
A row of coolers ran down the back wall and left side of the store. A long hallway led to the entrance to the entrance of the coolers, and a back door led to the alleyway. The hallway was well lit, blood covered the floor and walls. Four bodies, Konan assumed they were employees and owner, were lying on the floor.
Forensics were taking photographs and measuring the scene. Ally Smith, the lead forensic tech, looked up and gave Lilly a nod. Lilly nodded back.
“Have you guys found anything, Ally?”
“Yeah. We have some bloody footprints leading to the back door. We have fingerprinted everything. Who’s your shadow?”
Lilly turned and waved a hand at Konan. Ally walked over and pulled off her gloves. She stuck her hand out and Konan grasped it.
“Ally, this is Thermopolis Konan. He came to us from the 112th.”
“Ah,” Ally said. “You’re him.” Konan raised his eyebrows.
“Him? Him who?”
“You’re the guy that burned his last partner. You were transferred here because you betra-, did the right thing.”
Konan took a deep breath and forced a smile. Lilly grimaced. ‘Definitely not a good impression,’ she thought to herself. It is bad enough that Konan’s actions were known throughout local law enforcement. To have it thrown into his face was something else.
“Nice to meet you, Ally.”
She seemed happy to ignore her blunder. Ally smiled and nodded.
“Just call me Konan.”
“Sure thing, Konan.”
“Has anyone checked the cooler,” Konan asked. Ally shook her head no. “The crime is out here. None of us checked the cooler. We started with the bodies.”
“Okay. I’ll check it out.”
Konan pulled the latch on the metal door and stepped inside. The refrigeration unit kicked on. Cases of beer, milk, eggs, and cheese were stacked up in the aisles. Konan pulled out a light and shined it on the floor. Bloody footprints led deeper into the cooler. The footprints were tiny, like a child’s footprint.
A noise sounded at the back of the cooler. Konan moved quietly through the cooler. He turned off his light and came up to the side of cases of soda. Old fashioned glass bottles rattled in their cases.
Konan knelt beside a small girl. She had blood on her hands and face. Tears stained her cheeks.
“Hi,” Konan said. “I’m Konan. What’s your name?”
The child would not look at him, she continued to cry silently. Konan reached for her. His badge came into view and the child screamed.
“Bad man! Bad man!”
Konan backed up. The door of the cooler opened, police began to pour in. Konan waved them off. Lilly stood in the doorway.
“What’s going on, Konan?”
“Call child services, we have a witness.”
Konan took a seat on a milk crate until child services arrived. They rushed into the cooler and spoke to the child in a calm, kind manner. Konan walked out. Lilly waited for him behind the ticker tape.
“Is she okay,” Lilly asked. Konan shrugged.
“I don’t know. She went bananas when she noticed my badge. She kept screaming bad man! Bad man!”
Lilly rubbed her forehead. ‘Poor Konan, this is not what he needs. He just got here.’Konan and Lilly walked out into the rain. They sat in their car and watched the deluge.
“Konan, do you think a dirty cop killed those folks?”
“It would seem so given her reaction to the badge. However, that does not necessarily mean anything. A lot of folks today do not trust cops. Maybe her parents told her to stay away from police.”
“Maybe, but you don’t believe that do you?”
“I just got here, Lilly. I am not trying to make waves, and I am not trying to point a finger at a cop. I will follow the evidence and if it points at a dirty cop, I will arrest him or her. Until then…”
Lilly patted Konan’s leg. She winked at him. Konan shook his head in disgust.
“I understand, Konan. We must brief Chief Mathers. She will want to know what we have found.”
Lilly started the car and pulled out into traffic. Konan gripped the door handle and breathed deeply. Lilly swerved in and out of traffic, often times blowing the horn to let the other drivers know she was coming through.
“Relax, Konan. I got this.”
Konan said nothing. He closed his eyes and waited. “God, if I die here, please don’t let me suffer,” Konan prayed silently.
“Are you religious, Konan?”
Lilly hit the horn and jammed on the brakes before Konan could answer. “You moron,”she shouted. The vehicle that had pulled out in front of them moved over in the other lane. Lilly craned her neck to see if the driver was as stupid as the way they drove.
An old lady lifted her middle finger and shoved it out her open window. Konan grinned, Lilly busted out laughing.
“You go, Granny.”
Lilly whipped the car into the motorpool and jammed the brakes. Konan released the breath he had held in since the near collision with the old lady.
“You didn’t answer me. Are you religious?”
“How can you believe in God, when you see what we see day in and day out?”
“How can you not?” Lilly shrugged her thin shoulders and smiled.
“I never said I didn’t. I just want to get to know you.”
“Just because we see the worst of human nature doesn’t mean that God doesn’t exist. There are plenty of good people in the world.”
“Yeah, I reckon.”
They entered the elevator and rode it to the second floor. They got off and made a right. A long narrow hallway ran east and west through the floor. The second door on the right was the office for homicide. It was known as ‘the murder room.’ They walked in. A pair of detectives waited for them.
“Y’all catch a bad one,” the thin one asked. Her name was Manson. She was tall and thin. Her blond hair was straight, her eyes a cold grey. Her lips were thin, just like the rest of her.
“Yeah,” Lilly said. Manson nodded to Konan.
“This is my partner, Thermopolis Konan.”
“I don’t like him,” Manson said. She waved over a short, barrel-chested behemoth. Manson pointed at Konan. “You know him, right?”
Val Rankin stared at Konan. He scrunched his nose up in disgust.
“Yeah. I know this traitor. Thermopolis Konan. No matter how hard we try, we just can’t get rid of you.”
“Funny stuff, Val. I was just thinking the same thing. Then again, trash goes whichever the wind blows.”
Val stepped toward Konan and clenched his fist. Konan smiled at him. Lilly stepped between them. “Okay, boys. That’s enough. Come on, Konan. We have to report in.”
She led Konan away from Manson and Rankin. Captain Tia Mathers office was at the back of the murder room. She looked up from her desk and waved them in. Her eyes followed Konan’s movements. When they got to her desk, she told them to sit down.
“What is it, Lilly?”
“It’s ugly, Captain. Four dead in the hallway, a witness left alive in the cooler.”
“Okay. Y’all get on it. Keep me informed.”
Lilly nodded her head and stood to her feet. Konan stood as well. Mathers looked at him.
“No one said you could leave, Konan.”
Konan sat back down and waited. Lilly turned back but Mathers nodded to the door. Lilly exited the room, and Mathers locked eyes with Konan.
“Let’s get something straight right off the bat, Konan. I don’t like you. I don’t like the fact that you turned on your own. I was not given a choice about you coming here, but make no mistake, I won’t hesitate to throw you out of here if you betray us. You dig?”
“Good. Get out of my office.”
Konan walked out into the squad room and sat at his desk. Lilly pulled up a chair next to him. Konan leaned back and waited for Lilly to spill the beans.
“Things didn’t go well with Tia, did it?”
“It was fine. I figured I would have to face it at some point. It’s better to get it out of the way.”
“Well, let’s get out of here and go to the morgue. Surely, they’ve found something by now.”
Lilly and Konan walked out to the parking garage. Konan walked to the driver’s side. Lilly tried to hide her smile.
“Would you like to drive, Konan?”
“If you don’t mind.”
“Not at all,” Lilly said. Konan pulled the unmarked Crown Vic out of the garage and started for the morgue. Lilly yawned. Konan never exceeded the speed limit. Lilly kept glancing at the speedometer.
“Wow. You’re a by-the-book kind of guy. Do you get in a hurry for anything?”
Konan laughed. “Sure, I get in a hurry sometimes. However, we are going to the morgue. Everyone there is dead, so why rush?”
“That’s horrible,” Lilly snickered.
“Well, it’s not like they’re going anywhere.”
“I got it, Konan.”
Konan nodded. Lilly laughed at his attempts at humor. This partnership was off to a good start.
Konan guided the car into a parking place near the door to the morgue. It was really coming down. Hurricane Irma was causing all sorts of havoc in the Gulf. The wind whipped trash through the parking lot as Konan and Lilly rushed to the door. A security guard sat behind the desk and watched the weather report. He looked up when the pair approached the desk.
“Kinda bad out there, ain’t it?”
“Yep,” Lilly said. She and Konan flashed their badges at him. “Is Ally in?”
“Sure,” the guard replied. “She’s always in. Ain’t never met anybody as dedicated as that gal is to her work. A nuke could go off and it would not budge her from her duties.”
He motioned for them to go on back. Lilly and Konan started around the desk. The guard put his hand up and stopped them.
“Y’all know where you’re going, right?”
“Yep,” Lilly said. Konan forced a grin.
“I’m just following her, boss.”
“Alright, then. Be safe out there.”
They walked down the hallway it was white. Everything was white, and it smelled as if the staff had soaked everything in bleach. White walls, white floor, white tiles. Konan’s eyes hurt from the glare of the light on the all-white surfaces.
“I think they like white,” Lilly said. Konan chuckled.
“Did I ever tell you about this Non-Commissioned Officer I had just before I got out of the Army?”
“No. We just met like six hours ago. This is my first time hearing it.”
“I had a Sergeant from the West Coast somewhere and she was a bit ditzy, I guess you would say. One of my buds, he was a basket case, but I loved him to death. He asked her what her favorite color was one day while we were in the motorpool.” Lilly giggled and stood outside of Ally’s office.
“What did she say,” Lilly asked.
“She said her favorite color was clear.”
“Yeah, transparent, clear, you know, like a plastic bottle.”
Lilly’s brow furrowed and her worry lines showed.
“That’s not a color.”
“I know. That’s what made it funny.”
“I don’t get it.”
“That’s okay, Lilly. I guess you had to be there.”
Lilly knocked on the door and waited. Down the hall a door slammed. Konan turned and stared down the hall. Ally stepped out of the cooler and walked toward them. She gave Lilly a nod and motioned for them to follow her.
“This is going to be nasty,” Ally said quietly. Her eyes were dark, her mouth a tight line. Dark circles were under her eyes. She sat down on a stool and looked at her notes.
“First things first, all the victims were killed almost at the same time. Second, all were shot expect for the first victim. She was killed by a garotte. Most likely it was piano wire. Whoever killed her, they almost cut her head slam off.”
“Anything else,” Konan asked.
“Yeah,” Ally said. “Before they shot the other three victims, they were shoved to their knees and made to watch the execution of the woman. Then, they were shot in the back of the left ear with a .22-caliber handgun.”
“Jesus,” Lilly whispered. Konan said nothing. Ally put down her clipboard and motioned for them to follow her. She pulled out the bodies and showed them the wounds.
“Look how neat this cut is with the garotte. There was no herky-jerky motion. It was one smooth cut. The wire slid right through the tender flesh.”
“Do you have a magnifying glass,” Konan asked. Ally handed him one. He studied the wound and shook his head.
“What is it,” Lilly asked. Konan shrugged.
“I saw a couple of decapitations while deployed but nothing like this.”
“Meaning,” Ally asked.
“The wounds were similar, but not that clean. The insurgents used fishing line.”
“How did they…”
“They put it under overpasses and used the vehicle’s momentum to kill the machine gunners.”
“Oh,” Ally said. “I doubt the killer used fishing line.”
“They didn’t. Like you said earlier, it’s too clean.”
The wind and rain were relentless. Ally’s briefing of her findings took the better part of an hour. In that time the storm had worsened.
Lilly and Konan raced to the car. Lilly’s umbrella did not help block the rain. Between the wind and the rain, they both ended up soaked.
“This is nuts, Konan. So, we are looking for multiple assailants, a sadist, and. Lord knows what else.”
Konan sighed. Human depravity, viciousness, and violent nature was as old as time itself. Still, the brutal nature that had dispatched the woman was unusual.
“Tell me of your time in the service,” Lilly said. She didn’t phrase it delicately. His interest in the wound was not usual for a police detective. It hinted at something deeper and darker.
“What do you want to know?”
“What was your job?”
“I hunted insurgents and killed them.”
“Okay. You saw a lot of action?”
“You mentioned decapitations when we were at the morgue. Can you tell me about it?”
“I could. I’m not going to. It’s not relevant to our investigation.”
“If you expect me to trust you, you need to tell me Konan. This is how we build trust.”
“Okay. Let’s do this, then.” Konan’s lips pulled back into a snarl, his eyes became cloudy. He stared out the passenger window at the black night.
“The first decapitation I saw was a small boy. His mother was a judge or something. They killed her straight off. Raped his sister. Made his dad watch as they cut off the boy’s head.”
Lilly turned and looked at Konan. He spoke in a calm voice, as if he was describing a dinner or a bad date.
“The second one was an entire family. They helped our forces, provided intel, reported enemy movements, that type of thing. Anyway, the insurgents found out and decided to make an example. All fifteen members were killed. Their heads were thrown outside of our base. We found them the next morning. Wild dogs had got ahold of them. We could barely make out who was who.”
“Dear God, Konan.”
“Yeah, it was pretty bad.”
They rode in silence until they arrived at the police station. Lilly asked no more questions about decapitation. Apparently, Konan’s answers had satisfied her curiosity.
Konan had nothing else to say about the subject. What he had seen and done served no purpose now. It was enough that he had lived it.
Lilly went back into the office to gather her belongings. Konan walked through the rain to the bus stop. Remembering what he had seen made him feel filthy. “It’s always the things we saw but could not change that haunts us the most.”
The powerlessness of those moments weighed heavily upon Konan. He sat on the last seat of the bus next to the emergency exit. His clothes were soaked but his mind raced with possibilities.
“What kind of person would make others watch as they cut the head off of a woman?”
It reeked of a seriously deranged person. Someone who would have no sense of right or wrong. No conscience. A sadistic heart and soul.
Konan had seen some of the worst that humanity had to offer. He had seen evil up close. This was not something one would see in America, but in other parts of the world where an uncivilized nature could flourish.
Yet, it happened here. Right here on Main Street in Small Town, USA.
Konan disembarked the bus at the bus stop and walked to his mobile home. The 14×70 trailer was often the bane of redneck jokes, but Konan loved his home. It had a walk-in shower. He used the shower and washed the day’s grime of him. “If only I could do the same with my mind,” he thought.
He dried off and changed into his pajamas. They had dogs printed on them. He strode barefooted through the house and sat in his recliner. He reached for his Edgar Allan Poe collection and began to read, MS. Found in a Bottle.
It was not long before he fell asleep. He dreamed of war and the horrors that humankind inflicted upon each other.
Konan tossed and turned on his couch. Sleep was a cruel mistress tonight. When he fell asleep, the storm had raged for hours. It was quiet now, his home dark. A limb would scrape his metal roof when the wind blew. It was eerily silent.
He got up and walked to the coffee pot. He poured water in and put a K-cup in the chute. Konan yawned as he waited for the magical fluid to make. He glanced at his clock. The red digital lens reflected 0230. He had slept a total of three hours.
No wonder he felt like hammered crap.
The hot, frothy liquid filled his cup, and he spooned in sugar. He sipped it. It wasn’t sweet enough, so he added some hot water to the cup. Ah, nothing would ever compare to the first sip of coffee.
He carried his coffee into his makeshift library. Konan sat amid the room and powered on his computer. In the search box, he typed in decapitation.
‘Holy crap,’ Konan muttered. His search history pulled up a wealth of information regarding beheadings. Many were penned by ‘academics’ and they apparently considered the use of decapitation as a good thing. It seemed to Konan that everyone had, at some point, used decapitation as a method of punishment. The English and French had used it as the final stroke (literally) after disemboweling and hanging those they decapitated. There was even a modern article asking if beheadings were more humane than lethal injection.
“Y’all come on down to the fairgrounds, we gonna chop the head off this ole boy!”
Konan shivered and shook his head. People had lost their minds. Konan sipped his coffee and scrolled through the rest of the article. No one seemed to have written one as to why decapitation was used.
While he read up on the extremism of decapitation, his phone rang.
Lilly’s voice came over the receiver. “Hey, you’re up.”
“You want some company?”
“Um, sure. Come on over. I’ll put on some coffee.”
“Sounds good. I’ll bring snacks.”
Thirty minutes later, Lilly knocked on the door of Konan’s home. He peeked through the peephole. Satisfied that she was alone, Konan opened the door. Lilly walked in holding two boxes of donuts.
“Sorry to barge in at 3 in the morning, but I couldn’t sleep,” Lilly said. Konan shrugged and led her to the library.
“It’s alright, Lilly. I was up.”
“We’re quite a pair, aren’t we?”
“No doubt. Why couldn’t you sleep?”
“I dreamt of decapitations.”
“Yeah, I did too. I have researched them since I’ve been up.” Lilly wrinkled up her nose.
“I thought it might give an insight into why people decapitate others.”
“Learn anything,” Lilly asked between a mouthful of a chocolate covered donut.
“Yeah. It’s brutal. Everyone talks about the ‘cleanliness’ of it as an execution method. You know, ‘one swift stroke and it’s over.’ What they don’t tell you is that the government would only kill noble and poor alike after disemboweling and hanging them. So, it’s not a ‘nice’ way to kill anyone.”
“Jesus,” Lilly whispered. Her face was pale. “So, it’s a method of punishment?”
“So, the woman…”
“Yeah. The killer probably knew her and wanted her to suffer for some reason.”
“Oh God. Is there any place that still uses decapitation as a punishment for crime?”
“Yeah. Saudi Arabia is the only place where it is still used. In their culture, the family member of a murdered person has the right to carry out the execution. It is at times very….messy.”
Lilly said nothing to his response. She put down her donut and stared in her coffee. She wiped at her mouth and shook her head. She seemed visibly shaken.
“She was punished.”
“Yeah, Lilly. She was punished.”
At 0500, Konan and Lilly hopped a bus and rode into town. They walked into the squad room and pulled out the information they had so far.
It wasn’t much, but they had to start somewhere.
The victims were identified as Tamara Watson, Jayce Watson, Kylee Watson, and Talia Omar. The three Watson’s were shot. Talia had her throat cut.
Their respective families lived within a three-block radius of each other. Upon discovery, officers identified their families of the gruesomeness.
It was the worst part of the job for Konan. Going back and asking questions of people who had their world upended seemed unnecessarily cruel. But it was the job. At 0800, they set out for the Watson family home.
Jim Watson, father of Kylee and Jayce, husband of Tamara, sat outside of his home working on a lawnmower. He looked up when Konan and Lilly walked up. He wiped his hands on a red, greasy rag.
“Can I help you, folk?”
“Yes, sir. I’m Detective Sergeant Lilly Thompson, this is Detective Thermopolis Konan. We need to ask you some questions.”
Jim nodded his head. He became teary-eyed. Konan looked away. Lilly sat on a overturned bucket.
“We’re sorry to have ask, but it may give us a clue as to who killed your family, sir.”
“I understand.” Jim said. “Ask your questions, ma’am”
“Tamara and your children went to the store. Why were they there?”
“They went to see Talia. They loved her. Tamara and Talia became good friends. She refused to go to the grocery stores when she could buy from Talia.”
“Did your family have any enemies?”
“No. We stayed to ourselves.”
Lilly nodded. Konan watched her question the man. Lilly struggled with her emotions. Her voice cracked every time she asked a question. “She’s kind. Look at her, Jim couldn’t wait to tell her whatever she wanted to know.” Lilly patted Jim on the knee and stood up.
“Thank you for talking to us, Jim. Call us if you remember anything that might help us, okay?”
Konan started for the car. Lilly ran to catch up.
“How do you do that, Konan?” He looked over his shoulder at Lilly.
“Do what exactly?”
“Remain emotionless. Jim cried; I was emotional. You stood there like a statue. Don’t you feel anything?”
Konan stared at Lilly. His lips peeled back and revealed his teeth. He wiped at the corner of his eye and scrunched up his nose.
“You seemed disconnected when it came to Jim’s grief.”
“Why? Because I didn’t beat my chest? Because I didn’t punch the walls and scream at the sky?”
“No, I just…you didn’t shed a tear, didn’t get misty-eyed, you just waited for me to finish asking questions.”
Clearly, his detachment posed an issue with Lilly. Konan had no idea how to fix it. He shrugged.
“I’m sorry, Lilly.”
“It’s okay. I thought you might have a reaction from you. I guess I expected too much.”
They rode in silence to the home of Talia Omar. The Muslim community had settled in the southeastern part of the city. Talia lived in a small house near the bustling part of the community. The mosque stood in the center of the busy neighborhood. It stood separate from the businesses and homes.
Konan turned on the radio as Lilly drove. The local news came on, the regular programming was interrupted by the announcement of ‘breaking news’.
“Councilman Ted Wright Jr. stepped down as Councilman for District 2. He departed today under the suspicion of corruption. Meaning that he issued building permits based on the amount of money the purchaser offered. Many minority groups tried to build within District 2 but was denied for one reason or the other. Stay tuned for further developments, we will update as details are released.”
The regular programming returned, and Konan listened to it and stared out the window. Two announcers debated and compares some modern basketball player turned activist to the greats of yesteryear. Konan soon lost interest in it and shut off the radio.
“Do you think that the new guy is as good as the old ones,” Lilly asked. Konan shrugged.
“I don’t think it matters. The game has evolved and not for the better.”
“I didn’t know you kept up with sports, Konan. I figured you for a bookworm.”
“I am. I’m a bookworm that keeps up with sports.”
Lilly laughed. She nodded to the market.
“Wanna grab a bite to eat and then hit Talia’s home?”
“No. Let’s go there first. Then, we can eat and not have to rush through it.”
“Okay. You take lead. I struggled with the last one.”
Lilly pulled the sedan into the driveway. She shut off the engine and sat behind the wheel for a moment. Konan waited until she opened the door and then got out. Konan walked with her to the door. He knocked.
An elderly woman opened the door. She stared at Konan, he gave her a small smile and showed his badge. She turned from the door and said something in Arabic. A tall slender man came to the door. He had a black beard and wore the traditional garb of his culture. He nodded to Konan.
“Hello. Good afternoon. How may I help you?”
Konan touched his heart with his right hand and said hello. He showed his badge to him.
“I’m Detective Thermopolis Konan, this is my partner Detective Lilly Thompson. We are investigating the death of Talia Omar. I have some questions if you do not mind.”
“Certainly. Please come in. Talia was my sister. I am Ahmed.” He led Konan and Lilly to the living room. Ahmed motioned for them to sit. The elderly lady brought in a tea pot and poured each a cup of tea.
Lilly blew on her cup and sipped it. She sighed and smiled. Konan smiled at the elderly lady and thanked her. Ahmed whispered to the woman, whom Konan decided must be his mother, and she disappeared into another room.
“Thank you for the tea.” Ahmed smiled and nodded.
“You were in the service, yes?”
“I was,” Konan said. He sipped his tea. “It’s been a while since I had Black Tea and mint.”
“You will be honest with me,” Ahmed asked quietly. Konan nodded yes.
“As far as I can be, yes.”
“Do you think my sister was an ‘honor killing?”