Lilly stopped at her car; she drove a white Toyota Camry. She unlocked the door and watched as Konan walked to his truck. He never said a word. Konan climbed in and fired up the engine. The diesel engine growled loudly. Lilly could see Konan’s face from where she was standing. His demeanor had changed. His eyes were narrowed, his face contorted with rage. She scarcely recognized the man who had been with her every step of the case.
“What happened to the guy that bought me donuts and took me to the park?”
He pulled out of the parking lot and jammed on the accelerator. The turbo-charged diesel responded smoothly, and Konan disappeared. Lilly got into her car and drove to the station. It was time to report their findings to Tia.
Lilly parked in the garage and looked for Konan’s vehicle on her way to the elevator. If he was here, his vehicle wasn’t present. She caught the elevator and stepped out into the hallway. Tia sat at her desk. Lilly walked up and sat in Konan’s seat.
“I heard you and Konan paid a visit to Parchman,” Tia began.
“Yeah,” Lilly said. “I came here to brief you.”
“Where’s your partner,” Tia asked. Her voice was clipped, her tone direct. Lilly shrugged.
“We took two separate vehicles this morning. I haven’t seen him since we left the prison.”
“When he get’s here, you both come to my office.”
Tia got up and headed to her office. Lilly shook her head and bit down on her lip. The elevator doors dinged. She looked up. Konan stepped from the lift. He carried a file in his left hand. His right hand was empty. “His right hand is always empty,” Lilly recognized. “Why doesn’t he carry anything with his right hand?”
He walked in and gave Lilly a nod She started to tell him Tia wanted to see them, but Konan just nodded and started for the office. Lilly fell into step with him. Konan pushed the door open and took a seat in front of Tia. Lilly took the unoccupied seat next to him.
“Did you have a good family reunion this morning, detective,” Tia asked in her clipped voice.
“Not particularly,” Konan responded in an equally clipped tone.
“Did you learn anything?”
“Michael knew where our suspect resided, he knew the handler. Those are things we didn’t know prior. So yeah, we learned somethings we didn’t know.”
“Who is the handler?”
“The suspect’s mother. Michael called her Big B,” Lilly said. Konan nodded.
“Do we know where she is now?”
“No,” Konan said. “I received a visit from Blankenship this morning. His mother is in the wind, so to speak.”
Lilly stared at her partner. This was the first she had heard of Blankenship’s visit. She turned to face him. Tia scowled from her desk.
“You had a visit from the killer, and you didn’t arrest him,” Tia thundered. Konan scowled back at the chief.
“He had me at a disadvantage, chief. I was in my library and when I came out, he was behind me. Forgive me for not feeling suicidal this morning.”
“Fine, fine. Why is he still here then? What would cause him to linger?”
Konan was fired up. He was ready to fight everyone in the building, Lilly could see it in his eyes. She put her hand on top of his and responded calmly, “according to Michael, he has more targets.”
“Find him. I don’t care how. Get it done.”
Lilly stood up and headed for the door, Konan followed her out. He was proud of his discipline. What he wanted to do was go back in Tia’s office and curb stomp her. He and Lilly sat down at the desk. Lilly appeared to want to choke him for keeping her in the dark. Konan could understand that, but in his defense, it happened this morning. They had no time to brief each other before they talked to his father.
“You should’ve told me,” Lilly growled at him. Konan shrugged.
“When,” he asked. “Should I have briefed you in the two minutes before we talked to Michael? Don’t be dense, Lilly.”
Lilly leaned close to Konan and whispered sharply, “Dense? You called me dense?”
“No, I said don’t be dense.”
She began to respond when the elevator doors dinged. Blankenship walked into the murder room. He smiled at Konan and gave him a wave.
“Hey, brother. You got a minute?” Konan stood and gawked at the sight of Blankenship. Lilly stared.
“This is the right place to turn myself in, right?” Konan waved him over to his desk.
“Yeah, come on in,” he finally said. He led Blankenship to the Interview Room. Blankenship took a seat at the table, Konan sat across from him.
“What are you doing here,” Konan asked. Blankenship smiled his toothy smile.
“Turning myself in,” he said. Konan shook his head.
“You came to my house this morning. I offered to arrest you then and you turned me down.”
“Yeah. Are you going to do the interview or is Lilly?”
“Neither” Tia remarked. “I am going to do it.” Konan turned and saw Tia standing in the doorway. He shook his head and scowled at her.
“Chief, this is me and Lilly’s case,” he began. Tia waved his response aside.
“You’re too invested in this case. You’ve made it personal. Take Lilly and go for a ride while I interview Mr. Blankenship.”
Konan stood and brushed past Tia. If she wanted to do the interview it was fine with him. “I am tired of dealing with these knuckleheads.” Lilly stepped out from behind the glass and met him in the hallway.
“Come on,” Konan growled, “let’s blow this popsicle stand.” Lilly nodded and together they made their way to his truck. He drove them to the donut shop and ordered a box of mixed donuts. From there, he drove them to the park.
At the park, they made their way to their table and sat on top of it. The sun was hidden by dark clouds that formed in the north-east quadrant of Fredericksburg. Konan took out a chocolate covered donut and shoved the whole thing in his mouth.
“Sorry, I didn’t tell you about Blankenship’s visit,” he said around a mouthful of donut. He took a swig of his chocolate milk. Lilly nodded.
“Sorry for acting dense,” she said curtly.
“You’re not dense, Lilly. This morning has been crap. I was wrong for saying that.”
“Oh, I know I’m not dense. Trust me, I’m not stupid. We should interview Blankenship, not Tia. Everything about this is wrong.”
Months had passed since they took this case. Every thread, every link, and every lead they had investigated garnered no evidence of any wrongdoing by Blankenship. They had the exact same amount of evidence they had when they started. They had nothing.
“Why would he walk in and turn himself in? What’s he playing at?”
“You think it’s a ploy? A decoy?”
“We have no evidence to hold him, Lilly.”
“You don’t think he confessed?”
‘No. He’s too smart for that. There’s a reason he is there.”
“What do you think it is?”
“Dang if I know. I was ran out before I found out.”
Lilly nodded and finished her chocolate milk. She nodded to the truck and started walking toward it.
“Well, let’s go find out what is going on.”
Konan ran to catch up with her. They’d been gone for just under an hour, more than enough time had elapsed for Tia to make headway with her interview. They returned to find the interview room empty, as well as Tia’s office. Konan walked over to the desk sergeant.
“Hey, Sergeant. What happened to the suspect that was in the interview room?”
“How would I know,” he snarled. Lilly walked up and caught the tail end of the response. She smiled at him.
“You know,” Lilly said to the desk sergeant, “when you’re as unattractive as you are, lacking a personality is strike two against you. You should do better.”
“Oh,” the desk sergeant remarked. “You’re saying I’m ugly. That hurt my feelings” he said as the clutched his heart and pretended to faint.
“No,” Lilly said. “I would never say you’re ugly. Kids would gouge their eyes out when they looked upon you, but I would never say you’re ugly.”
“Chief Mathers released him about half an hour ago.”
“And where did she go,” Konan pressed. The desk sergeant shrugged.
“How am I supposed to know? A reporter was here when she interviewed the suspect. They left together.”
The more Konan heard, the angrier he became. He slammed his hand down on the counter and leaned in the man’s face. “Where did they go?”
“I don’t know, detective. Beating me to a pulp will not get you an answer.” Lilly put her hand on Konan’s shoulder. He shrugged it off.
“I am fed up with this department and your nonchalant attitude. I swear on everything holy…”
“Konan, come on. We’ve got work to do.”
Lilly half-pulled Konan away from the desk sergeant’s area. She’d never seen him this livid before. Spittle formed in the corner of his mouth; his eyes were enraged. He looked like a rabid hound.
“Calm down, Konan. We can’t fight everybody. Our attention should be on Blankenship. We’ll deal with Tia later.”
“Blankenship is gone,” Konan snarled. “Him and his mother are both gone. Tia let him go.”
“Konan, you said we didn’t have enough evidence to hold him. YOU said that.”
Konan slammed his right hand down on the desk and launched himself to his feet. Lilly scooted back from the desk.
“I have to get out of here,” Konan muttered. It was all to much for him. Tia’s incompetence or corruption, Mad Michael, the desk sergeant’s attitude, it felt as if the world had crashed down upon Konan. He turned and walked out of the murder room. Konan passed Tia in the hallway, he brushed past her and kept walking.
The sun had peeked out. Warm rays of sunshine fell upon him, it made him angrier. He stormed across the square and continued to march southward. Konan walked until he reached the river. There were no designated picnic areas here, there was only the bank. Tall trees of oak, maple, and walnut stood along the shore. He dropped to the ground and focused on the water. His mind was abuzz with the emotions that he tried to control daily. His mind drifted to a memory of him and his grandfather, shortly before he had passed away suddenly.
After a particularly hard day of school, his grandfather took him to a nearby stream. He had set young Konan down.
“Listen to the flow of the river. Let it carry your worries away, son.”
Konan listened. He heard nothing. His grandfather smiled and sat beside him.
“Clear your mind, boy. Let go of the pain.”
Young Konan focused his mind, and in the distance, he heard the gurgle of the stream. He smiled. The stream seemed to speak to him, and Konan listened. He’d sat there for hours with his grandfather listening to the bubble of the water. It’d calmed him.
Today was no different. Konan listened and the water washed away his worries. His breathing became shallow. His phone rang breaking his communion with nature.
“Hey,” he said.
“Hey,” Lilly answered back. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m calm now.”
“Well, that’s good. Because Tia wants you back here.”
“Yeah, I’ll start back.”
Konan stood and walked back to town. He could have hitchhiked or called an Uber, but he was in no hurry to speak to Tia. “I’d best let Lilly speak for us. God knows what I would say.” He crossed the square and walked through the garage to the elevator. He got off the lift and walked into the murder room. Once again, there was no one there. Lilly sat in one of the chairs in front of Tia’s desk. He walked in and sat in the other.
Tia turned from the window; her face was marked with a scowl. “She must have liked the way it looked this morning and decided to make it permanent.” She sat down and forced a smile and cleared her throat.
“Neither of you say a word. Blankenship came in of his own admission to clear his name. He felt that Detective Konan was focused specifically on him for these heinous murders. Therefore, he thought it best to come forward and present his case.” Konan rolled his eyes.
“Don’t get smart, Detective. You’ve screwed the pooch a hundred different ways from Sunday. In regard to your friendship, he declined to press charges against you for slandering his good name. However, I decided to remove you and your partner from this case. As of now, neither of you are to get involved in this murder investigation. You will hand off all pertinent information to Manson and Rankin.”
“This is bull-“Lilly started to say, but Tia slammed her hand down on her desk. Tia leapt to her feet and knife-handed her.
“You’re absolutely right, Lilly. This is bull. You and your partner screwed this up. Now, shut up and do what you’re told.”
“Understood,” Konan said. “Are you done?”
“Yeah. I’m done. Get out of my office. Both of you are assigned to a murder case that’s not in the spotlight. Work it and get it solved.”
Konan walked back to his desk. He took his case notes, and threads of inquiry to Manson’s desk and threw it into an unorganized pile. Lilly did the same. Konan picked up their new case and sat down to read it. An old woman was found hovering over her dead husband’s corpse, a pair of bloody scissors in her hand. She claimed to have no memory of stabbing her husband 56 times with the scissors.
“What do you think,” he asked Lilly. She shrugged and went back to reading.
“I don’t know, Konan. What do you think?”
“He must not have enjoyed his last meal.” Lilly snorted. She turned her head to hide her smile. Konan grinned behind the file.
“You know, Paddy told me a joke one time about this housewife the cops went to arrest.”
“Oh yeah,” Lilly said.
“Yeah. See, this old gal had mopped the floor, and her husband came in drunk wearing muddy boots. She shot him with a .12 gauge. In court the lawyer asked the cops why it took 20 minutes to arrest her.”
“Un-huh, what did the cop say?”
“The floor was still wet.”
Lilly peeked over the file and laughed. Konan smirked, and it made her laugh even harder.
“Granny wasn’t playing about those floors.”
“Nah, she wasn’t.”
“So, do you think she did it?”
“There’s one way to find out. Let’s go talk to her.”
They drove to the address and was met at the door by the old woman. She locked the door behind her and turned to meet the two detectives.
“I’m ready,” she said to Lilly.
“You’re here to arrest me, aren’t you dear?”
“Well, we came to ask you some questions about your husband’s death…” Konan smiled at the old woman and took her by the hand.
“Did you kill your husband, ma’am?”
“Why, of course. Did you think he fell on the scissors by himself 56 times?”
Lilly stood by flabbergasted by the old woman’s confession. Konan laughed.
“Okay, then. Mrs. Dennis, you’re under arrest for the murder of your husband…”
“I hope that cheating pile of garbage rots for all eternity,” Mrs. Dennis said. Konan finished reading her the Miranda and helped her into the back of the unmarked sedan. Mrs. Dennis looked around.
“This is a nice car,” she remarked. Lilly had handcuffed her while Konan read her, her rights. Konan nodded.
“Yes, ma’am. It’s nice enough. If you don’t mind telling us, why did you kill your husband?”
“I caught him looking at porn.”
“That’s it,” Lilly said. “You killed him because he watched a video?”
“Are you married, dear?”
“No ma’am, I’m divorced.”
“Well, we were married 55 years. I told him that ogling them young girls was cheating. I warned him I was done talking about it. He kept on, so I killed him. Now, I don’t have to keep on like some unwanted nag.”
Konan guided the car close to the entrance and pulled to a stop. He helped Mrs. Dennis out of the car and led her to Booking. After he got her checked in, he walked to the squad room. Lilly was briefing Tia when he walked into the murder room. Val Rankin and Manson scowled at him as he sat down.
“You got fired from a high-profile murder case, and you just threw your notes and crap on our desk, huh,” Manson said. Konan said nothing. He opened his word processor and began to file his report on the Dennis murder.
“You were supposed to hand it over to us, Konan,” Rankin pressed. Konan stood and walked over to their desk. He picked up the notes, took two steps back, and flung the notes at Rankin.
“There you go,” he said as paper went flying. “Consider the notes handed off. Now, shut up and let me finish this report.”
Tia and Lilly watched as Konan threw the notes at the two other detectives. Lilly giggled. Tia nodded at Konan, and Lilly went out to check on her partner. She sat down at her desk and hid her smile with the back of her hand.
“How’s Mrs. Dennis? Did you get her booked?”
“Oh yeah. She’s adjusted really well to her new life in the holding cell.”
“What was all that about,” Lilly said motioning to Rankin and Manson. Konan shrugged and feigned a yawn.
“Oh, they were butthurt that we hadn’t passed off the notes correctly. I took the time to do it right.”
“That’s very generous of you, Konan.”
“What can I say? I’m a nice guy.”