“I asked her to join my campaign as a financial advisor. She refused. We disagreed on several issues. We went our separate ways.”
“So, you did not have any issues with her refusal,” Lilly asked. Konan watched Khalid. He showed no outward signs of stress. “He’s a cool customer,” Konan thought.
“No. I had no problem with her refusal. America’s greatness comes from accepting those we disagree with. We can disagree and not worry that some person is going to behead us for it.”
“Was that the last time you saw her?”
“Yes. I have hired people who do my shopping for me, so my time in the markets is limited.”
“Okay. I have no further questions, unless my partner thought up some.”
“I do have one question, sir.”
Khalid forced a smile, Konan smiled back.
“Did you know that the killer made Talia’s death look like an honor killing?”
Khalid said nothing for a moment, he stared at Konan. Then, he flashed a quick smile and shook his head.
“No, I did not know that.”
“Ah. I thought you might have some information since you brought up beheadings.”
“I’m afraid not.”
“Many have said you lost your first run because of the extremeness of your views. Do you agree with beheading those who turned on your faith? It’s just between us.”
“I believe those who turned need punishment. Whatever punishment is decided is righteous.”
“That’s not a yes or a no,” Konan said. Khalid smiled.
“No, it is not. It is best to leave the punishment to those in charge.”
“If you were going to have someone killed, for honorable reasons of course, who would you call?”
Khalid laughed, it sounded as fake as the answers he gave. He made a show of it. Khalid wiped at his eyes and put a hand on his belly.
“Oh, Detective, there’s no list of executioners you call to handle such business. Even if there were, I would have no use for it.”
Konan stood; Lilly joined him. Khalid led them to the door. Konan turned and smiled at Khalid.
“Thanks for answering our questions. You’ve been a great help to us.”
“You’re welcome, Detectives. I wish you good fortune in finding Talia’s killer.”
Konan and Lilly walked to the car. Lilly waited for Konan to say something. This case seemed clumpy to her, like unformed dough.
“Do you think he did it, Konan?”
“I think he hired someone to do it.”
“He was very calm about the whole thing,” Lilly said. “The only thing that stood out to me was his reaction when you asked him about honor killings.”
“Yeah, he was too calm. It seemed like he expected us and knew the questions were coming.”
“Khalid doesn’t seem like the kind of person who is used to being rejected,” Lilly said as she guided the car through the gate.
“I waited for him to crack a joke. You know, something like: This dude on a bicycle fell off and broke his neck. A group of people gathered around, and someone yelled, “Please call a doctor!”
A guy runs up and said, “I’m a doctor!”
“What kind of doctor,” the person yelled.
“A doctor of mathematics!”
“This guy fell and broke his neck!”
The doctor looked at the body and said, “Minus one.”
Konan waited for Lilly to laugh, but it never came. Lilly shook her head and said, “that’s horrible.”
They rode back to the station. While Lilly drove, Konan thought of Khalid. ‘The guy is too smooth. He’s greasy, you can’t hold him.’
“Konan. Hello, Earth to Konan.”
“Sorry, Lilly. What’s up?”
“How do you think we should proceed?”
“We need a list of his campaign workers, house staff, and any involved with him on any level, personal or professional.”
“You’re putting all your chips on Khalid?”
“Yeah, I’m going all in.”