Aftermath…the complete novella (so far)…unedited…forgive the comments, and side notes…please…

“This is about the truth, justice and…”

“…all those political catch phrases they taught you to screech when your neck is on the line,” said the well-dressed man that sat across from Chief of Police Tia Mathers. The man was thin. Thin applied to every aspect of the man. He had a thin face, thinning hair, and a narrow set of dead eyes.

“Thermopolis Konan killed William Blankenship in cold blood. His punishment should rattle the heavens,” Tia snarled. Those dead eyes bore into hers. Tia squirmed. It was an uncomfortable position for her to be in.

“Have you read Blankenship or Konan’s military records,” the man asked. He already knew the answer to his question.

“No. All I received was a heavily redacted copy. I know where they were stationed, when they entered the military, and the date of their first deployment. That’s it.”

“Do you know what a redacted record would suggest, Chief Mathers?”

“I could guess…”

“Let me save you some trouble. Every line in those records are missions that only the highest level of government has access to. Those are things that no one would understand. We asked those men to do the things that we couldn’t muster the strength to do. People like you should say thank you and get out of the way. He did you and your town a favor by killing Blankenship. Let it go. Put Konan back on the street.”

“I’d rather die,” Tia snarled. The man smiled a thin smile. His eyes showed no humor, and Tia’s breath caught in her throat.

“Careful, Chief. That could easily be arranged. My presence here is not accidental, nor was my remark a suggestion. Put him back on the street working cases, today.”

The thin man stood and smoothed his black suit coat. He gave Tia a nod and walked out the door. His work here was finished for now. Tia sat at her desk and trembled. “How dare that man come here and tell me to put Konan back to work. This is my town, my police department. By God, I do what I want-when I want.”

She reached for the phone and punched in Lilly Thompson’s phone number. While Tia struggled to contain her anger at being threatened by the unnamed man, she was smart enough to do what he said. His dead eyes suggested he had no issue with killing her. For now, Tia was content with playing along.

“But every dog has its day.”

Lilly Thompson answered her phone on the fifth ring. She took a deep breath and let it out. After Konan had gone after Blankenship, Tia had partnered her with Val Rankin while his partner recovered from being blown up. With Detective Manson back hearty and whole, Lilly began to feel like a third wheel.

“Detective Thompson.”

“Detective you should go tell your partner to report back to duty effective immediately. That is all.” Tia hung up the phone. Lilly felt relieved to have her partner back, but also a tad apprehensive. Blankenship had been their first case together, and while they worked well together, Konan had decided to handle it on his own. She wanted to see him during his suspension but had decided against it. Now, she had the job of telling him that he was expected back at work. “Oh joy,” she muttered as she brushed her hair. Lilly looked in the mirror and scrunched up her nose.

At 34, she felt her life had come to a standstill. Blankenship and his antics made her feel old. She was unsure how to feel about Konan killing a renowned contract killer. Konan had called her after the deed was done. She in turn had called it in to dispatch, who promptly sent most of the department to the chemical factory.

Tia had handled his debriefing. Konan held nothing back. Chief Tia Mathers wasted no time placing him on suspension. That was three months ago. Konan lived on the outskirts of Fredericksburg.

Prior to what the 117th labeled The Blankenship Incident, Konan’s mobile home sat at the end of a long, curvy driveway. When Lilly drew close to the driveway she stopped. A cattle gate hung between two large poles. No Trespassing signs were nailed on the posts, another sign hung in the middle of the gate, and it said: “Trespassers will be shot. Survivors will be shot again.”

Lilly pulled up to the gate and dialed Konan’s number. He answered the phone and walked out into his yard.

“Hey,” Lilly said. “It’s me. Are you ready to get back to work?”

“Hey. I am still on suspension, Lilly.”

“Not anymore you’re

not. Tia called; you are to report to work effective immediately.”

Konan grew silent. He stood by his red Dodge Ram and waited for the other shoe to drop. “There’s always another shoe…”

“Come on down, Lilly.”

The gate buzzed and slowly slid open. Lilly looked down in the yard, but Konan had disappeared. She was uncertain of what to expect. He hadn’t sounded like he was thrilled with the prospect of returning to work. Lilly got out and walked to the door.

“Come in, Lilly.”

She turned the knob and walked in. Konan was pouring the last of his coffee into a go-cup. A wry grin crossed Lilly’s face. “I hope we can get back to the witty banter we had before he…killed Blankenship.” Konan gave her a nod and sipped his coffee.

“How have you been,” Konan asked.

“I’ve missed you,” Lilly said.

Konan nodded and said ‘yeah.’ Lilly pointed at the end of the driveway.

“You’ve blocked off your driveway. Those are some nice signs you put up. I especially liked the one in the middle.”

             “Uh, yeah. I had a problem with media there for a while. I decided to close off the entrance.”

             “Well, are you ready to go?”

              “Sure. Let’s get this over with.”

Tia Mathers sat in her office and waited for Konan to arrive. At the ‘unofficial’ hearing, she had pushed for Konan’s firing.  He’d betrayed his partner in the 112th, now, he had killed the primary suspect of a multiple murder case. Everything about Konan chaffed Tia Mather’s undercarriage.

Now, her unannounced, and unnamed visitor, forced her to bring him back to work. She was still angry.

“Konan better get this right, or so help me God, I am going to throw him in the clink and hide the key.” Tia looked toward the murder room when the elevator doors dinged open. She watched as Konan and Lilly walked in. Val Rankin and Manson sat at their desk. Rankin frowned upon seeing him. Manson gave him a small nod and looked back at her screen.

Lilly led Konan into Tia’s office. Tia didn’t smile, nor did she extend her hand, she watched as Konan sat in a seat. Konan said nothing. He waited. Lilly sat beside him and gave Tia a nod.

                 “How was suspension,” Tia asked.

                 “It was fine,” he said. “I got a lot done around my house.”

Tia frowned. It did nothing to improve her looks. She wasn’t the most attractive woman with her deep-set eyes that was too small for her face. Her nose was hawkish and appeared to have been broken numerous times. Konan figured it happened as her time as cowpuncher. Or during pillaging season with her Viking clan.

                  “You were supposed to work on yourself. Killing suspects may have worked at the 112th, but it is frowned upon here.”

                “Understood.”

Tia turned to Lilly and shook her head. She nodded at the door, and Lilly walked out. The chief looked at Konan.

                “I had a visitor this morning,” she growled. “He threatened to kill me if I didn’t bring you back to work. Who was it?”

                 “I don’t know, Chief. How would I know? I was suspended until an hour ago.”

None of this made any sense to Chief Mathers. She was not in a hurry to bring Konan back, now he was back and had no answers. It was enough to drive her mad.

                 “You’ve got one shot, detective. If you so much as spit on my sidewalk, you’re fired. Understood?”

                 “Roger, Chief. Understood.”

                  “Send Lilly in when you get out there.”

Konan nodded and walked out into the murder room. He nodded at Lilly and jerked his head back toward the office. Lilly walked in and shut the door. Tia had lowered the blinds. Lilly sat in a seat and waited for whatever was coming next.

                 “Keep your partner on a tight leash. As of now, you and he are both working around here for the time being. You’ll be assigned a murder case as soon as something hot comes in.”

                 “Okay.”

It wouldn’t be long until something hot came in. Jacob Maters, a trustee from Parchman State Prison, was picking up trash on the side of Highway 8. It was the end of May, and the summer temperatures brought heat and humidity. Garbage littered the highway. He wiped his face with a dirty rag. “Disrespectful curs! Take your garbage to the dump like normal people!”

Down the road a piece, he noticed a large gunny sack with a shoe sticking out of it. He kept jabbing loose garbage with his rod that had a pointed end. Jacob made his way toward the sack. Two deputies sat in a van and watched Jacob work. The driver sat behind the wheel, while his partner had his feet on the dash. Jacob Maters suddenly stepped back and shouted. The deputies drove down to where Jacob stood.

“What is it now, Maters? You run up on a rat snake?”

Jacob pointed at the sack, but no words came out. The deputies got out of the van.

“It better not be a snake, hoss. I ain’t in the mood to play your stupid games,” said the Dashboard Cowboy. The driver took Jacob by the arm and led him back to the van. He shackled him in. The other deputy looked around the sack before he looked inside it. He began vomiting. His partner walked to him. He looked in the sack and covered his mouth.

“Dispatch,” he croaked, “this is 1-7 Kilo. Send a meat wagon and the medical examiner to my location.”

“Roger, wilco.”

He released the mic and helped his partner to the van. Jacob Maters sat in the back shackled to the floor. He was praying.

“God, bless that poor girl’s family. Give them comfort. I hope the person that committed this horrible deed burns in the hottest flames of hell.”

The deputies muttered ‘Amen’ under their breath. There would be no more litter patrol today. Stuffed inside of the gunny sack was the lifeless body of three-year-old Ana Marie Hendricks.

Tammy Bowen, medical examiner for the town of Fredericksburg, Mississippi, arrived with the ambulance. At 27, she had been on the job long enough to have seen the horrendous acts that humanity was capable of perpetuating on each other. This was something new.

The call from the litter patrol was routed through Tia’s office. She banged on the door and motioned for Konan and Lilly to get into her office. “Dear God,” Konan thought bitterly, “make up your mind already.”

Tia had her hand over the receiver and mouthed, “Highway 8. Get there.”

Konan got in the passenger seat. Lilly fired up the unmarked sedan and started for Highway 8.  While in transit the directions to the crime scene came in from dispatch. Lilly brought the car to a halt behind the van. Bowen watched as Lilly and Konan walked up.

Bowen was a huge fan of Lilly’s but hated dealing with Konan. “He’s an intelligent imbecile. I don’t like him,” she had told Lilly. Lilly had grinned and shook her head in agreement with Bowen.

Bowen didn’t know if Lilly agreed with her sentiment or if she was just agreeing to get her to shut up. The pair of detectives walked up to the side of the ambulance, where the body of Ana had been placed on a stretcher.

“How bad is it,” Lilly asked.

“The worst. A trustee found the body. He was in shambles. They can’t get him to quit praying.”

“That’s great news. What else can you tell us, “Konan asked. Tammy stared at Konan until he shrugged and walked off. Tammy motioned for Lilly to follow. She led her away from the ambulance.

“The girl was raped, then killed and tossed in the sack. Whoever killed her used a blade and pierced her heart. She died almost immediately. Then, they brought her out here and threw her in a ditch so she would be found.”

Lilly shook her head. “The killer wasn’t acting out of mercy. The perp raped a three-year-old for God’s sake.”

“I know, Lilly. I wasn’t saying it was an act of mercy.”

“I know. It’s always worse when it’s a child.”

“Yeah.”

Tammy walked to the ambulance and took a seat in the back. Lilly went in search of Konan. She found him questioning the officers who arrived first on the scene. Lilly waited until Konan was finished.

“Well, have you found out anything?”

“No one saw anything unusual. Highway 8 does not see a lot of traffic. Besides the two deputies and the trustee, there is not a lot to go on. Forensics went through, so now it’s a waiting game.”

“Tammy said that Ana had been raped and a blade was shoved into her heart.”

“Jesus…”

“Yeah.”

“At least her family will have closure.” Ana Marie Hendricks had been missing for three months. Numerous searches were conducted in hopes of finding her. Television stations posted her picture every day for the past three months. It was all in vain.

Now, they had her body, and someone needed to speak to the parents. Lilly stared at her partner. “What a horrible way to start your return to work,” Lilly thought. “His first day back, it’s not even a full first day, and we catch another high-profile case.”

On their last high-profile case, Tia had fired them and sidelined them. Right up to the moment that Blankenship targeted police. That’s when Konan stepped in and handled the situation.

“Why would you drive all the way out here,” Konan said to no one in particular, “to throw the body in the ditch?” He walked to where the body was discovered. To his right was nothing but woods. There were no houses. Since the arrival of the police and paramedics, there had been no traffic.

To the left of Konan was a swamp. Black, stagnated water, tall cedar trees, and the buzz of mosquitoes was all that was there. Lilly watched him work. An alligator lay upon the bank sunbathing.

“What are you thinking, Konan?”

“I don’t know. Does it seem odd to you that the killer drove to one of the most desolate places in Mississippi to discard the body? That the Sheriff’s litter patrol happened upon it? It seemed rather planned, or is it me?”

“I see what you’re saying.”

Konan walked to the edge of the swamp. He looked at the murky water. Lilly walked up beside him.

“The killer could have thrown her in here and no one would have ever known,” Lilly said. Konan nodded and whispered, “exactly.”

“What kind of monster would hurt a child,” Lilly asked. Konan shook his head and shrugged.

“The world is full of monsters, Lilly. Their evil nature is hiding behind the mask of humanity.”

“Yeah, but not all monsters target children.”

Konan said nothing and walked back to the squad car. Lilly trailed behind him. She stared back at the scene. A solitary tear raced down her cheek. She wiped it away.

“What a horrible place to end up. We’ve got to find this killer.”

Lilly drove them back into town. Her stomach growled as they entered the city limits. Konan looked over at her and lifted his chin.

“Did you go on a starvation diet,” he asked.

“No, I did not. Wanna go to O’Shea’s?”

“Sure.”

“Have you seen Paddy?”

“No.”

Lilly glanced at him. She suspected that Konan had gone to either Paddy or his father for advice on how to find Blankenship. Regardless of how she sliced the information, she could not figure out how Konan found the killer and managed to end not just the killer but his handler.

“I’m sorry we caught this case, Konan. The media is going to be all over it…”

“…like stink on crap…”

“Yeah.”

“It’s okay, Lilly. Someone had to catch it.”

“Do me a favor, okay? Don’t handle this case like Blankenship.”

Konan stared at her as she guided the car to a parking spot close to the door of the pub. The sun had gone down about an hour ago. Their parking spot had one of the only available streetlights hovering over it.

“Oh. You mean to tell me you wouldn’t like me to kill the killer.”

“Not this time.”

Paddy O’Shea met them at the door. He picked up Lilly and squeezed her tight. Lilly giggled. Konan stuck out his right hand. Paddy ignored it and hugged his nephew.

“You’re back at work? I thought you had some time left on your suspension, kid.”

“I did.”

“Things must be serious for them to bring you back after…” Paddy aimed a finger at a dartboard and said, ‘pow’. Lilly nodded.

“I thought he got fired for sure, Paddy.”

Paddy laughed. “Konan is like a cat, darling. He always lands on his feet.”

“I don’t know about that,” Konan said. “I’d say the opposite is true. I did what I thought was right and got suspended for my trouble. As my partner said, I’m lucky to be employed today. ‘Mad’ Michael could be sharing a cell with his son.”

“Come on, kids. Follow me,” Paddy said. He led them into the kitchen. A small table was set up towards the back door. Esther sat at the table and watched people. She looked up at Konan and forced a smile.

“Hello, Thermopolis. What brought you and your partner out this way?”

“Hunger.”

Esther gave a small nod and a tight smile to Konan. He gave her the same in return. There was no love lost between Konan and his family. Paddy had done right by him, so, Konan had no issue with him. Mad Michael and Esther, he avoided like they had the plague.

“Freaking kid,” Esther muttered as Konan and Lilly walked by.

Konan and Lilly sat at their booth in the back away from the regular customers. Paddy, the consummate salesman that he was, stopped by booths and tables and made small talk to everyone. People loved him. If Konan didn’t know any better, he would have sworn Paddy loved them back.

“Steak and potatoes for you, kid? Or you want something different,” Paddy asked.

“Sounds good,” Konan responded. Lilly nodded.

“Me too,” she said.

Paddy went into the back with their orders. While they waited, Konan and Lilly caught up with what had transpired during Konan’s suspension. Lilly loved her partner, and she suspected that he loved her in return.

“I hated to see that kid in that sack. What a horrible way to meet your end,” Lilly said. Konan nodded.

“Yeah. Pretty awful way to start your week.”

“The media followed her story for a while. Then, it was old hat, so they dropped it. No one wanted to handle the case. Rankin, nor Manson, would touch it. Tia decided that paying lip service to it was the right choice, but…”

“Figures,” Konan responded. His eyes followed Paddy. With a plate in each hand, Paddy made his way back to them. He placed their plates down in front of them and smiled.

“Yum,” Lilly said as she ate her plate with her eyes.

“Yep,” Konan said. “It looks great, Paddy.”

“Thanks, kiddo. Move over.”

 Konan slid next to the wall; Paddy sat on the edge of the bench. He waited for Paddy to speak, clearly there was something he wanted to say judging by his words, but he said nothing. Konan cut into his steak and put a piece in his mouth.

“Very good.”

Paddy nodded. He looked at Konan and said, “thanks. I heard you guys caught the case about the little girl that went missing.”

“That’s right,” Lilly said. “You know anything that could help us?”

“Normal people don’t hurt kids, darling.”

Konan scoffed and shook his head. He met Paddy’s eyes and grinned. “You’re right, Paddy. Normal people don’t hurt anyone. Especially children.”

“There’s a guy around the neighborhood that has a reputation concerning kiddies. Name is Norm Wicker. He did time at Parchman. Mad Michael said he might know something. Check him out if you wanna.”

“Thanks, Paddy. We appreciate the heads-up,” Lilly said. Konan shoved more steak in his mouth. He wasn’t keen on getting tips from a murderer. Still, if there was something to be learned from Mr. Wicker, they had an obligation to follow up.

Paddy nodded and stood to his feet. He gave them a smile and walked back toward the front of the pub. Konan gave him a nod.

“Sounds like we’ve got a lead, partner. We should check out Mr. Norm tomorrow morning.”

“Norm Wicker is dead, Lilly.”

“What?”

“He was a pedophile. They don’t last long in prison. He died about six months ago.”

“Paddy made it sound like he was out wandering the streets.”

“He was. Then, he wrote several bad checks and got sent back. Some guys don’t do well when they are released. They got used to life on the inside and can’t handle the stress of life outside.”

“Did you kill him?”

Konan looked up from his steak and met Lilly’s eyes. ‘Wow’, he muttered. Lilly shook her head and went to say something, but Konan stopped her.

“No, I did not kill him, Lilly.”

“I’m sorry, Konan.”

“It’s whatever, man.” He shoved his phone across the table to Lilly. While Paddy had told them of Norm Wicker, Konan ran a search through the police database. The screen showed the record of the dead pedophile.

“Jesus,” Lilly said.

“They found him hung in the cell. His roommate, Davi Simmons is suspected of carrying out the deed.”

They finished their meal in silence. “Dang it, I let the cat out of the bag,” Lilly chided herself. “Did you kill him? What was I thinking? Why did I ask that crap?” Konan drained his sweet tea and waved Paddy over. He handed him his credit card and waited for his receipt.

“Look Konan, about…”

“It’s all good, Lilly. You don’t need to say anything.”

“I was wrong.”

“No, you weren’t. If I was in your position, I would have done the same thing.”

“No, you wouldn’t. If I had killed Blankenship, you would have helped hide the body.”

Konan shrugged and took his receipt from the waitress. She gave him a small smile and a wink. He winked back.

“That’s what friends do, Lilly.”

[Chapter 2] — [Enter Chapter Title Here]

 

Lilly slid out of the booth first, Konan followed her. He stretched and cracked his neck. It burned him up that Lilly threw Blankenship in his face when he mentioned Davi Simmons. “I killed Blankenship because he ambushed two detectives. He killed indiscriminatingly. He was a danger to the public.”

According to the record kept by the State of Mississippi, Davi Simmons had been in and out of jail from eighteen until his death at the ripe age of 36. A career criminal, he never hit his stride until he joined a white supremacy gang in prison. The Brotherhood was highly organized and demanded total loyalty. Members took out The Brotherhood’s competition. Davi’s task was the elimination of Norm Wicker. It had nothing to do with competition, it had to do with Norm’s fondness of kids.

Luckily, Davi Simmons was still a member of Parchman Prison. Lilly and Konan walked out of O’Shea’s and headed for the car. Lilly was quiet. “How are we to rebuild the trust between us,” she wondered quietly.

Konan drove them to the park. He got out and walked to their picnic table. The moon was full, the soft moonlight shimmered on the waves. A barge floated down the river pushing its freight through the quiet night air. Lilly joined him on the table.

“Before we go any further Lilly, I would like to explain something to you.” Lilly nodded and remained quiet. She watched the barge and waited.

“After Blankenship ambushed Rankin and Manson, I knew he would not allow us to arrest him. He threatened to kill you. I couldn’t let that slide. If he had walked away, he would return and wreak more havoc. So, I killed him.”

Lilly said nothing. She continued to watch the water.

“If you have decided to hate me, I understand. You’re a good woman. I should have told you of what I planned, it’s too late now. We have another case. I would like for us to be able to work together. Tell me what would rebuild the trust you had in me before Blankenship’s death.”

“I trust you, Konan. As angry as I was when you took matters into your own hands, I still trusted you.”

Then why the attitude? You asked me if I killed the pedophile.”

“And I apologized for it.”

Lilly frowned, so did Konan. The tension between them had grown since Lilly showed up at his trailer to pick him up. Konan’s felt ill. He didn’t want to have an issue with his partner, although it was human nature for there to be conflict, regardless of how long they had been partnered together.

“Okay, then we’re good.”

Lilly nodded her head and continued to stare at the water. They sat that way for another hour. The only noise that was heard was the occasional slap when a mosquito stopped by for dinner. Konan stood to his feet and stretched. He turned and walked toward the car. Lilly waited until he was halfway across the park before she started after him.

“Wait, Konan. I’m sorry, truly. You’ve told me some of what you did in the military, and I know your father is a mass murderer. I guess I got frightened when you ended Blankenship.”

“I understand, Lilly. We’ve got another murderer to catch now. We will handle it by the book. Find ‘em, catch ‘em, book ‘em.”

“Sounds good, partner.”

Konan sat behind the wheel and started the vehicle, Lilly piled in next to him. He pulled out of the park and started for his mobile home.

“So, where do we go from here?”

“We go see my father in the morning.”

“Why? The lead he gave us was a dead end…”

“Exactly. It’s like he wanted us to pursue it to take suspicion from someone else.”

“Wow. You’re taking an astronomical leap on that, Konan. You’ve got no trust in the man, do you?”

“None at all. I want to look him in the eye and see what he has to say.”

“Okay. I will dig into the records of Mr. Norm and see if we can’t generate some background on him. Who he hung out with, who his friends were, that type of thing?”

“Sounds good. I’ll meet you at the prison at 7.”

“Okay.”

Konan pulled up in front of his trailer and opened the door. Lilly touched his arm. He turned and gave her a small smile. The moonlight framed her face perfectly. The beams of the moon danced in her eyes. Konan looked away.

“Are you still not dating anyone, Konan?”

“No. I’m far too busy for the insanity that dating entails.”

“It is rather maddening at times. You need a friend, an um, close friend.”

Konan looked at her and grinned. She shook her head. Lilly didn’t need foresight to know what ran through her partner’s mind.

“Are you available to be my…friend?”

“I am your partner. That’s closer than a friend. You need someone to fill the void when I’m not around.”

“I’ll buy a pet.”

“You need something more than a pet, Konan. You need someone who will listen to you, someone who wants to go with you and do things. You need human interaction.”

Konan smirked at her and shook his head no. “Human interaction is overrated, Lilly.”

“Overrated,” Lilly growled. Konan nodded.

“Yeah, like breathing.”

“Okay. I am going to leave on that note.”

“Sounds good. I’ll see you at seven. Be careful going home.”

Lilly got behind the wheel and watched Konan walk to his door. She shook her head and snorted. “If there was ever a guy that needed love it’s Konan. He is hell-bent to fight the current when it comes to love.”

Konan had disappeared into his home. Lilly started the car and began her drive home. She needed to get home and sort through her emotions. Konan wasn’t the only person who needed love, and like her partner, she too fought the current tirelessly. “I don’t need or want sex. I want something real, something pure.” In a dirty world, in a messy job, Lilly wanted something to cherish. She wanted a partner that would build with her.

Unfortunately for Lilly, in this world of broken dreams, dashed hopes, and crushing failure, the type of person she wanted in her life was in short supply. If it even existed at all.

At 0630, Lilly sat in the parking lot of Parchman Prison. She blew on the hot coffee and took a small sip. She sighed. “There is something magical about the first sip, and cup, of coffee in the morning.” Konan pulled up in the parking lot a few moments later. She watched as he blew on his coffee. She grinned and suppressed her desires. He gave her a wave, and she nodded back.  At 0645, Konan got out of his truck and walked to the unmarked sedan.

“Good morning,” he said.

“Good morning.”

“Are you ready to visit the devil?”

Lilly giggled. Konan gave her a crooked grin. “Stop it,” Konan thought. “Do not flirt with your partner, do not put yourself in a predicament.”

“Sure, let’s go see what he got for his golden fiddle.”

Together, they walked toward the gate. The gate guard, an old timer named Walter, gave them a nod when they strolled up. Konan and Lilly reached for their wallets, but the old man waved them on in.

“Good morning, detectives. Y’all sign in at the lobby.”

“Good morning, Walter.”

Lilly took lead and led the way into the lobby. She scribbled her and Konan’s name and badge number on the sign in sheet. The desk sergeant took the clipboard and took their firearms. He shifted in his seat like he couldn’t get comfortable. Konan caught his eye, but the sergeant looked away. He rubbed his hand over his bald head and took a deep breath.

“Mad Michael said you would be buying. He’s waiting for you in the visiting room.”

“Thanks,” Konan said. Lilly looked at her partner, his eyes revealed nothing.

The detectives walked back to the visiting room. Mad Michael sat in the far back of the room on the right. He smiled when he saw the two detectives walking his way.

“Grab a chair,” Mad Michael said. A plate with a four-high stack of pancakes was in front of him, along with a piping hot cup of coffee. Between bites of pancakes, Mad Michael nibbled on some bacon.

“Y’all want some,” he asked as he pushed his plate toward them. Lilly shook her head no. Konan took a piece of bacon from the plate and pushed it back toward his dad. Michael snickered.

“Norm is dead,” Konan began. “You knew that, so who are you protecting?”

Michael looked at Konan and laughed. He jerked a thumb at Konan and shook his head. Lilly forced a smile

“This guy,” Michael said to Lilly. “What? I don’t get a good morning. A ‘how are you doing’ would be nice.”

Konan nodded and whispered, ‘okay.’

“Good morning, ‘psycho-who-left-my-mother-high and dry.’ How are you doing?”

Michael’s eyes grew dark, his smile was replaced with a tight line. “Jesus, that must have been the look he gave that poor family that got in his way,” Lilly thought.

“I knew Norm was dead, but I figured you could use his name to generate something from it. Pardon me for trying to throw you a bone.”

Konan stood and placed his balled fists on the table. He leaned close to Michael and whispered, “I don’t need you to throw me a bone, hoss. You threw my mother one and it killed her well before her time. Stay out of our business.” Michael and Konan glared at each other. Lilly glanced around the room. “What am I going to do if they tear into each other? I could use a chair as a weapon, I suppose.” There was no back down in both men.

“Gentlemen could you both chill,” Lilly asked. “Michael, do you know of any friends Norm had that shared his proclivities?”

Michael looked away from Konan and nodded his head. Lilly was thankful that he seemed to be in control of his emotions, now, if she could get Konan to show the same amount of restraint. From the look in Konan’s eyes though the odds of that happening was minimal.

“Word in this joint was that Norm had two friends, Loxie Baxter and Trey Smith III. Both have done time for pedophilia and sexual assault of a minor.”

“Are they here now?”

“Yes, well, Loxie is here. Trey found himself on the wrong end of a gun after he helped himself to the three-year-old son of a political figure.”

“What political figure,” Konan asked. Lilly watched Konan closely as he sat back down. “He found a reason not to kill his dad I reckon. I’m glad he was able to come back from the edge. Michael has a way of getting under his skin.”

Judge Patty Traylor if the rumors are to be believed.”

“Traylor? The only judge in our state that has liberally sentenced people to death? Her son was raped by Trey Smith?”

“Yep. He worked as part of another judge’s ‘prisoner reform’ program. Smith worked in the yard and found the kid alone at the shop. There he…well, you don’t need a description of what he did to the boy. Traylor who has always carried a concealed Glock .45 compact, found him with her son. She shot him dead in the shop.”

“Holy Jesus,” Lilly whispered. Konan shook his head and sighed. “It’s a sick, crazy world out there. He got what he deserved though.”

“Good on her,” Konan said.

“Yep. She did what was necessary. Anyway, Loxie is slated to be released tomorrow. You might want to catch up with him before he gets out.”

“I’ll go get Loxie sent to an interview room. Be right back,” Lilly said.

“Thanks, Lilly.”

From the time that Konan was a young boy, he felt as if he needed to justify what his father had done. Now, at the ripe age of 34, Konan felt nothing but disgust when he saw his father. Today was nothing new. Michael tried to act as if it didn’t bother him, but he felt regret. He stared at Konan. “I should have been there for him, but I had my own thing going on. Why couldn’t I see the value of what I threw away over nothing?”

Konan stood to walk away, Michael waited to see if he would turn and look at him. He didn’t. He put his hand on the doorknob and turned.

“Hey, Konan,” Michael said. Thermopolis turned and faced him.

“Could we talk, you know, man to man?”

“What do you want to talk about? It better not be about my mother.”

“I don’t know. It might be old age. I’ve got regrets. Before you walk out, please, let me say my piece.”

“Fine, Michael. Say your piece.”

“Please sit down.”

“I’ll stand.”

Michael shrugged and cleared his throat. It was obvious that his son would not willingly sit at the table with him.

“You won’t believe me, but I never wanted this to turn out like this,” Michael said as he searched for words to express his great regret. “Talking to you in prison was never on my agenda.” Konan crossed his arms and stifled a yawn. Michael continued.

“I tried to handle, um, I wanted to handle it peacefully. The Whitestone Family was making a play for Fredericksburg. They were part of the Carter Family from some hick town in Arkansas. The head honcho of the family was setting them up to be a branch of the Carters. I went to them, sat down with them, and explained how things were here. There wasn’t enough room for two families.”

Konan waited for Lilly to come get him. He was getting bored with story time with his mass-murdering pop. “I suppose he felt the need to bore me with the backstory,” Konan thought. He glanced around, but Lilly was nowhere in sight. “Blah, blah, blah, I’m a murdering psycho who got what they deserved.”

“Somehow, they knew about your mother and you,” Michael continued. “They knew about y’all and threatened to kill both of you. I lost my temper.” Michael looked away and wiped at his eyes. “They were going to kill y’all. So, I killed them first. On the way home, I thought of how I could divert attention from you two. There was only one thing I could do, and that was to leave.”

“Wow, Michael. It’s kind of low to blame your dead wife and estranged son for being here. Just sayin’.”

“That’s not what I’m doing, Konan. I am explaining it, so you have the whole picture.”

“You know, I could understand losing your temper. I’ll give you that. What I don’t get is how you could murder the dude’s wife and children. That’s extreme.” Michael shook his head and smirked.

“You don’t get it. He wasn’t going to be the head honcho. She was. She threatened you. Her husband laughed about it and egged her on.”

“Okay, so she was a modern woman. Why did you do the kids?”

Michael stood to his feet and removed his shirt. He turned and showed his back to Konan. The skin was pockmarked where the bird shot from a .12-gauge shotgun had peppered his back. Part of the area had been shredded. Konan raised his eyebrows.

“They both tried to kill me. After the first kid shot me with rock salt, the other opened fire with the bird shot. Like I said…”

“…you lost your temper…”

Lilly walked in as Michael was putting his shirt back on. She grimaced at the sight. Konan looked at her and lifted his chin. She mouthed, “Loxie is in the interview room.” He nodded. Michael noticed the exchange.

“Am I holding you up,” he asked. Konan turned and faced him.

“Yeah, I’ve got to interview Loxie.”

“No. I’ve got it,” Lilly said. Konan shook his head and nodded to Michael.

“His lawyer might be there,” he said in way of explanation. Michael nodded and said, “yeah.”

At the door, Konan turned and looked at Michael. There was nothing but silence between the two now. As much as Konan detested his father, he appreciated Michael making the effort to explain what happened.

“Um, thanks for telling me,” Konan said.

“Yeah. Thanks for listening.”

Konan nodded and walked out of the room. He took a deep breath and focused his mind on the next interview. “One down, one to go. What was that just now? Does he think I forgave him because he told me a story?”

There was no way for Konan to be sure of the truth. The Whitestone Family was no more. Of course, Konan could ask Paddy. He had no doubts that Paddy would tell him the truth of the matter. Even if Michael told the truth, what was Konan supposed to do with it?

As these thoughts plagued his mind, Konan walked through the door to interview the suspect known as Loxie.

[Chapter 3] — [Enter Chapter Title Here]

Loxie Brown sat at the table. He smirked when Konan and Lilly walked into the room. His lawyer, Tessa Ransom sat beside him. Tessa was a public defender not long graduated from Ole Miss. She did not appear to be comfortable around her client.

“Times, they are a-changing,” Loxie said as the detectives sat at the table. Lilly forced a smile, Konan ignored him. Instead of focusing on Loxie, he focused on Tessa. She was much prettier than the morbidly obese Loxie. His face was round. Not in a regular circular shape, his fat had fat. His forehead, eyes, lips, jaws, everything was bulbous. The rest of him suffered from the same thing. From the top of his head to his feet, nothing was spared.

“Dang son,” Konan thought, “you look like Pizza the Hutt from Spaceballs.”

“Exactly how are the times changing,” Lilly asked. Loxie Brown laughed. Konan cringed. Even his laughter sounded obese.

“The modern world has evolved. Nothing is wrong anymore. Even murder is justified nowadays.”

“I see where he’s going,” Konan said. Lilly looked at him and raised her eyebrows. “What this kiddie rapist is saying is simply this: If murder isn’t ‘wrong’, then raping children isn’t either. That about sum it up, sugar britches?”

Tessa cleared her throat. Konan looked at her, and Tessa met his eyes. “Detective, you can’t call my client a kiddie rapist.”

“Oh yeah? Where is it written that I have to be nice to this oxygen thief?”

Lilly put her hand on Konan’s. She smiled at Tessa and shook her head.

“Please pardon my partner. He’s passionate about finding a clue concerning our case.”

Loxie shifted in his seat and leaned forward. Lilly forced another smile and waited.

“I’ll talk to you then, detective. What case are you and your, um, fellow detective working on?”

“You heard about the child that was found in a sack out by the highway?”

“Oh yes, that was a horrible tragedy.”

“Yeah. Well, your cellmate Norm was a suspect, but…he’s dead now. We were wondering if you knew of any of his friends on the outside. Or if you knew someone who we could touch base with concerning his “friends.”

Loxie leaned back and rubbed his tummy. Tessa rolled her eyes, while Konan tried to keep from vomiting from the sight.

“We didn’t talk much about his friends. I could give it some thought and give you a call though if I remember anything though.”

“Oh, I’m sure you would,” Konan said. Tessa looked at him, her eyes flashed a warning sign to not remark about her client’s weight or shape. He smiled at her. “Don’t you hate representing kiddie rapists? Pedophiles? Doesn’t that get under your skin? Do you have kids?”

“Enough,” Tessa shouted. “What I like or don’t like has nothing to do with why we are here. Either focus on the task at hand, or I’m shutting down this interview. If you utter one more word about my client’s weight, shape, or make any sarcastic remark, this interview is over. Do you understand, Detective Konan?”

“Absolutely.” He looked at Lilly and raised his eyebrows as if to say, “what did I do?” “Take it away partner. I’m going to sit here quietly like a good little boy.” Loxie licked his fat lips and grinned at Konan. Konan ignored him.

“So, you don’t know anything that could help us,” Lilly asked. Loxie shook his head no.

“I’m afraid not. We talked about food, and snacks. About our favorite TV shows, that kind of thing. My favorite TV show is ‘Friends.’ His was the A-Team.”

“Okay. Well, if you think of anything…”

“I’ll be sure to call YOU. Your partner is a jerk.”

“Thanks for your time.” Konan stood up and walked out of the room, leaving Lilly there to shake hands with Tessa. He walked down to his desk and opened his laptop. He pulled up the number for Judge Patty Traylor and dialed her office number. The call was answered on the third ring.

Judge Traylor’s office, this is Lindsey speaking. How can I help you today?”

“Hi, Lindsey. This is Detective Thermopolis Konan. I need to ask you a few questions. What time do you close?”

“Okay. We close in like fifteen minutes. Would you like to come in tomorrow?”

“Sure. What’s a good time for you?”

“Is 0900 good for you, detective?”

“Sure, sounds great. Thank you for your time.”

“You’re welcome.”

Konan hung up the phone and saw Lilly enter the Murder Room. She was biting on her lip. When she saw Konan watching her, she scrunched up her nose at him. Lilly fell into her seat and wheeled it over to where he was.

“Did you get anything out of Loxie,” Konan asked.

“Nope. He was tight-lipped about everything. You royally ticked off his lawyer though. She kept going on and on about how unprofessional you are.”

Konan feigned a heart attack and fell back against his seat. “Oh, my Lord, how will I ever recover from such a devastating blow?” Lilly giggled.

“I saw you on the phone. Who’d you call?”

“I called Judge Patty Traylor’s office. We have to be there at 0900.”

“You think she knows something about the case?”

“Nope. I think I want to see if there is a connection between her decisions and our two pedophiles. If there is a connection, and I think there might be, we may find something to work with.”

“So, you think she sentenced Norm and Loxie. She presided over both cases?”

“We’ll see tomorrow. I think it might be worse than that.”

“How do you think it could be worse?”

Konan rummaged around in his desk until he found his coffee cup. On the side were the words: I hate everything but dogs, coffee, and donuts. He pulled out a rag and wiped out the cup.

“I think she might have targeted pedophiles after the rape of her son.”

“Where did you come up with that theory? We have nothing to support it!”

“I know, that’s why I told only you. As far as where I got the theory, I am just spitballin’. I’m throwing poop against the wall to see what sticks.

At 0900 the following morning, Lilly and Konan walked into the office of Judge Traylor. A pretty, well-dressed woman sat behind an expensive looking desk. Her black hair hung below her shoulders; her grey eyes took them in as they approached. She gave them a professional smile that lacked warmth.

“Good morning. How may I help you?”

“Hi,” Konan said. “I’m Detective Konan, this is my partner, Detective Thompson. I have an appointment at 0900.”

“Right. You have questions.”

“That’s right.”

“If you will follow me, I’ll take you back.”

“Sure thing.”

Konan and Lilly followed the woman back. She led them to another room which had another beautiful woman sitting at another expensive looking desk. She looked up as they approached. Unlike her counterpart, her smile radiated warmth.

“Hello, I am Lindsey. Please have a seat.”

“Thank you.” Konan waited until Lilly and Lindsey sat down before he found his seat. Lindsey was different from her fellow receptionist in more ways than one. Whereas the first one had black hair, Lindsey was red headed, where the first one was frigid and stoic, Lindsey was friendly and cheerful.

“So, you have questions, Detective Konan?”

“I do. There are two separate cases we are interested in. We need to know if Judge Traylor presided over both, who was involved, and other pertinent information.”

“May I ask what this is concerning?”

“Sure. We are tasked with solving the homicide of the young girl stuffed in a sack on the side of the highway.”

“Okay. Ask away.”

“Did Judge Traylor preside over the cases of two known pedophiles, Norm Withers and Loxie Brown?”

Lindsey tapped on the keys of her computer and pulled up the judge’s records. She scrolled down and looked up at Konan. She nodded.

“Yes, she did.”

“What were the verdicts?”

“Both were found guilty of multiple charges.”

“Could you please print off what you have there, plus any other information you may have.”

“Sure.”

The trio sat in silence listening to the hum of the printer. Konan looked at Lindsey, she looked back at him. Lilly watched them both. “How does he do this? Who else would have thought to look into the judge’s sentencing record?” When the printer finished, Lindsey put the printouts in a brown manila envelope and handed them to Konan. He gave her a smile. She smiled back. Once again, her smile was warm. Konan thanked her for the help and handed her one of his cards.

“If you remember anything else, please don’t hesitate to call me.”

“Sure, detective. Come back soon. Don’t be a stranger.”

Lilly shook her head and walked out the door. Konan trailed after her. She was waiting by the car when he strolled up.

“Sounds like your theory may hold water,” she said.

“It’s too early to tell. We’ll see in a bit. Am I the only one that is hungry?”

“Nope, you’re not. Let’s grab a bite and talk this through.”

Konan drove them to a nearby country restaurant for breakfast. The sign in front of it read: Welcome to the home of the world-famous Bacon and Pancake Platter. More than 6 million pancakes served. They got out and walked in. The hostess met them at the door. With a smile she led them to a table at the far back of the restaurant. Konan dropped the file on the table. He pushed it over to Lilly.

She opened the file about the time the waitress showed up. She was tall and stunningly beautiful. Her long brown hair was in a French braid; her eyes were sky blue.

“Hi. What can I getcha?”

Lilly shrugged and motioned for Konan to go first. He handed the waitress his menu.

“I’ll have the world-famous Bacon and Pancake Platter and a cup of coffee, please.” The waitress scribbled it down.

“And you, ma’am?”

“I’ll have the same thing, please.”

“Okay. I’ll get this in and bring you your coffee.”

“Thanks, hon.”

They waited until the waitress disappeared into the back to open the file. Lilly scooted close to Konan so they could share it. Lilly turned to Konan; her eyes wide at what the file revealed.

“Tell me you see what I see.”

“You would have me assume that we noticed the same thing?”

“The date…”

“Yeah. Judge Traylor sentenced them both on the same day. How did that work out you reckon?”

Konan pulled out another file, this was the arrest records of both Withers and Brown. He opened it and checked the dates. Both pedophiles were arrested with three days between said arrests. Withers and Brown were both arrested by the same police officer. Sergeant Terry “Two-fisted” Smith had signed off on the reports. Konan scoffed.

“Answer me this, Lilly. What are the odds that you would arrest two different pedophiles, three days apart, and they both stood before the same judge and got the same verdict?”

“Um, zero. With the astronomical backlog of cases, both men may have been given parole.”

“Instead, one cellmate is rotting in the ground, the other was just released. Not to mention, the one that died raped the presiding judge’s son.”

“We need to have a chat with Brown, again.”

“Yeah, we also need to have a sit down with Judge Traylor.”

“Why would her receptionist hand us this incriminating evidence against her boss?”

“Who knows. Until we have something solid, we need to be careful who we trust with this.”

“I agree. Tia should be brought into the loop.”

Konan sighed and looked around. The waitress was still not back without his coffee.

“Did she get lost,” he growled. This case was shaping up to be a doozy. There was no way to know where the thread would end up, but as it stood right now, it was going to be trouble. “Like I need more trouble.” The waitress came around the corner holding a coffee pot and two cups. Deftly with one hand she sat down the two cups and poured their coffee. With her free hand she put sugar and cream on the table.

“Sorry,” she said. “We’ve had an employee shortage for the past month. Those of us that show up are pulling doubles and taking on extra duties.”

“No worries,” Lilly said. The waitress thanked her and hurried off to another impatient customer. Moments later, the waitress reappeared with their breakfast. Konan and Lilly ate in silence for a bit. Lilly dabbed at her mouth and sipped some coffee.

“What are you thinking?”

Konan sipped his coffee and added some more sugar. “Just wondering if Rankin and Manson are going to be brought in on our case. They replaced us on the last ‘high-profile’ case.”

“I don’t know. We have leads to investigate. We’ll make our case for being the only ones to handle it.”

“Yeah,” Konan said quietly. He was not looking forward to engaging with Tia. She hated him, and he wasn’t a big fan of hers. From day one they had been at odds. Between his past, and her attitude, there was no room for them to get along. Still, as the Chief of Police she had to be brought into the loop.

“You should be the one to bring her up to speed,” Konan said. Lilly crossed her eyes and stuck out her tongue. Konan guffawed. Her expression reflected Konan’s emotional state when it came to dealing with Tia Mathers. Konan’s suspension had not helped matters. The rift between the two had not diminished. They left the restaurant at 0830 and drove to the police department. They started for their building when Konan stopped.

“What’s wrong, Konan?”

“Nothing. Do you mind briefing Tia? I wanna have a word with the arresting officer. Or do you want me to go with you, and then you ride over with me to see Terry Smith?”

“We are a team. You come with me and then we’ll have a word with Two-fisted Smith.”

“Okay.”

Konan and Lilly made their way into the building. Chief Tia Mathers sat behind her desk and watched them approach. Her eyes followed them right up to the moment they came into her office and sat down. She waited for them to say something.

“Chief, we need to bring you up to speed,” Lilly said. Tia nodded.

“Okay. Brief away.”

“Well, we’ve got a few leads concerning our case. Norm Withers and Loxie Brown are known predators of children. We spoke with Loxie Brown. He’s been released from prison, but he said he had nothing that would shed any light on the case. Withers is dead. He was shot to death by Judge Traylor when she caught him raping her son.”

“And?”

“That’s where things get interesting,” Konan interjected.

Tia’s eyes moved over to him. She lifted her eyebrows and said, “oh?”

“Yeah. Withers and Brown were arrested three days apart but sentenced on the same day. The judge that handled their case was Judge Traylor, who just so happened to blow away Withers.”

“So, let me get this straight. You two want me to believe that a judge in good standing is targeting pedophiles? How does that have anything to do with murder of that little girl?” Konan sighed. “This is a freaking waste of time,” Konan thought not for the first time.

“Chief, we’re just following the thread to where it led,” Lilly said. Tia stood to her feet and walked to the large window that gave her a bird’s eye view of the city

“You two are killing me. Find the killer of Ana Marie. That’s all I want. I want you to do your job without over complicating it.”

“Roger,” Konan said. He stood to his feet and motioned for Lilly to follow him. They walked to their desk and sat down. Lilly shook her head and grimaced.

“I thought we were doing our jobs,” she said.

“What was the name of Loxie Brown’s attorney?”

“Tessa Ransom.”

“Do you still have her card,” Konan asked. Lilly rummaged around in her purse until she found the card. She handed it to him. Konan punched in the number and waited.

“Hello, you’ve reached Tessa Ransom attorney at law. I am unable to answer my phone currently. Please leave a message along with your number and I will call you back. Thank you and have a nice day,” the robotic voice said.

Konan left a brief message and his number and hung up the phone. Lilly stared at him.

“You’re going to have Loxie brought in?”

“I am.”

“The Chief just accused us of not doing our jobs.”

“Yep. Check this out.” Konan walked over to the white board and picked up a green dry-erase marker. He wrote Ana, Withers, Brown, and Traylor on the white board. Underneath Ana’s name he wrote ‘victim’, underneath Withers and Brown he wrote ‘pedophile’, and under Judge Traylor he wrote ‘unknown’. He took the photos of Ana Marie, Withers and Brown and taped them underneath their names.

“What exactly am I checking out, Konan?”

“Ana Marie went missing three or four months ago, yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“Where were Withers and Brown?”

“In prison.”

“When did Judge Traylor kill Withers?

“Last month.”

“Okay, so Withers and Brown got a six-month vacation to the big house. Brown served his full term, but Withers was out working on the prison reform program, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Her son was assaulted last month, right?”

“Yeah. That’s when she,” Lilly shaped her hand into a gun and pulled the trigger. “Popped him.”

“My question is simply this: How was Withers selected to work on the program at Judge Traylor’s house? Who selected him and placed a known kiddie rapist within spitting distance of her three-year-old child?”

“And what does that have to do with Ana Marie Hendricks?”

“Exactly.”

Lilly shrugged. “I don’t get it.”

“It’s revenge, Lilly. Traylor is hard on pedophiles. For God’s sake she shot and killed Withers. Brown and Withers both got hammered on the same day, but someone put Withers on the detail. We need to find the overlap that would connect all these people together. If we find the connection, we’ll find the killer.”

“Konan, slow down. Have you considered that maybe a lone individual killed Ana Marie? That maybe it was a fluke, or just some random kill?”

Konan sat down and shrugged. Lilly could see that her remark may have been a bit harsh. Still, none of the evidence proved his theory.

“All I’m saying is…”

“No, you’re right Lilly. It very well could be a random killing. I may be seeing threads where there are none.”

“I’ve upset you. Gee man, I wasn’t trying to be rude or insensitive.”

“You didn’t upset me. Let’s work the case. Ana Marie is dead, and our lead was given to us by a mass murderer. Now, we must focus and try to generate something that is not linked to Traylor, Brown or Withers.”

“Where do we start?”

“Let’s go see if the forensic team has found anything.”

“Sounds good.”

The forensic team worked at the east end of the police department. They were one floor down from the murder room. Konan and Lilly stepped on the elevator and rode down to the ground floor. Chief Tech Sarah White saw them approach. She waved them into a room filled with cubicles.

“Hello, detectives.”

“Hey. We thought we would run by and see if you had discovered anything new concerning the case of Ana Marie.”

“We sent off samples of the bag the poor girl was stuffed in, we may have discovered the type of knife used to kill her.”

Konan nodded. Every team member was important when it came to unraveling crimes. Even the support staff was important. In some cases, the leads dried up until the forensic geeks showed up and did their jobs.

“Great,” Konan said. “Show me what you have.”

She turned on a monitor and clicked the mouse. The crocker sack appeared on the monitor. Sarah led the mouse cursor to a smudge on the lip of the sack.

“This is a smudged fingerprint. We are working on getting it identified, but we may not be able to. Still, Ana Marie deserves our best effort.” Sarah’s eyes grew hazy and filled with tears. She clicked over to the next page.  An eight-inch blade showed on the screen. It was not a serrated blade.

“This is an eight-inch Chef’s Knife. There are no serrations. Hence, the reason for the smoothness of the cut.”

“Who made the blade,” Lilly asked.

“That’s unimportant in the large scheme of things. These blades are made from carbon steel. Every maker has a mark they put on the blade. Whether it’s their name or symbol something identifies it. In the case of Ana Marie, there’s no mark on her. It was probably a low-end knife.”

“Exactly how much does a set of these knives cost,” Konan asked. Lilly and Sarah stared at him.

“Why, Konan? Are you in the market for a set of cutleries?”

“Sarah, correct me if I’m wrong. You said that the killer used an unmarked, low-end blade to do the deed, yeah?”

“Um, yeah that is my supposition.”

“So, a price range would give us an idea of what financial bracket the killer may fall into. I would imagine that an aspiring chef would still want the best cutlery they could afford, or something slightly out of their price range.”

“Well, let me pull it up. Give me a second.”

“Top end sets run 600-700 bucks easy. Low end sets run from around 60 to 300.”

“You’re kidding,” Lilly said. “600-700 dollars for a set of knives?”

“These aren’t just any knives,” Konan said as he looked at the screen. “These are Damascus Steel blades.”

“Would you pay that for knives?”

“No, but I’m not a chef either.”

Sarah giggled. The banter between Konan and Lilly was like a well-oiled machine. Lilly’s zing was met by Konan’s pow.

“You two are something else,” Sarah said. Lilly laughed and nudged Konan. He gave her a crooked grin and scrunched up his nose.

“That’s the benefit of being partners.”

“We’ll let you get back to it, Sarah.” Konan and Lilly walked out. Lilly noticed that Konan had grown quite.

“What’s on your mind, Konan.”

“The knife. Without a mark or symbol, it’s almost impossible to track down the murder weapon. And, why a chef’s knife?”

“Yeah, that kinda bugged me too. Is our killer a chef?”

“We need to go through Ana Marie’s family and friends with a fine-toothed comb. Every link, lead, and rumor has to be scrubbed.”

“So, let’s start with mom and dad,” Lilly said.

“Yeah, but let’s not bring them down to the station. Let’s go by their house.”

“Sounds good.” Konan tossed Lilly the keys. She caught them and looked at him. “You want me to drive?”

“Yep. I need to go through what we just heard.”

“Okay.”

Konan’s mind raced with possibilities. “Anyone could order a chef’s knife from any major retailer. They could be bought used on several online shops. There were blades made for fighting and killing, why not use one of them? Why the chef’s knife? Unless…”

Lilly pulled the car into the Hendricks driveway and put the car in park. She turned to Konan, he still stared out the window. She cleared her throat. Konan turned and looked at her.

“We’re here.”

“Yeah.”

“Konan, tell me what is going on with you. Before we go in here, I want to know what you’re thinking.”

“There are knives that are made for killing, for fighting, heck, there’ s even knives for skinning. So, why use a chef’s blade for the deed? There’s no reason for it unless it’s the only thing close to you. It wasn’t premeditated, Lilly. It was a reaction. Someone stabbed her to death in a moment’s rage. Someone loved her enough to put her on the side of the road so she would be found. Someone, one of her parents presumably, killed Ana Marie.”

“Oh Jesus,” Lilly gasped. “How do you want to handle it?”

“You take lead. I’ll jump in when I have something to say.”

“Okay.”

Hank and Tessa Fredericks watched as Konan and Lilly approached. At the apex of the case, the media had camped out on the Frederick’s lawn. Now, the media hype had vanished as soon as little Ana Marie’s body was discovered. Hank waved them on into the house. Lilly walked in first, Konan trailed behind her.

“Good afternoon,” Hank said as they entered.

“Hello, Mr. Fredericks. I’m Detective Lilly Thompson, this is my partner Detective Konan.” Hank stuck out his hand, Konan looked at it and then shook his hand.

“Hi,” Konan whispered. He looked about the house. There were photos of Hank, Tessa, Ana Marie, and a boy. Konan pointed at the picture and walked over.

“That’s a nice picture,” Konan said. “You all looked very happy.”

Tessa walked over to Konan and nodded. “We were very happy. Timothy had come home for winter break.”

“Timothy?”

“Timothy is our oldest child. He was graduating high school when I found out I was pregnant with Ana Marie.”

“Oh.”

“Where is Timothy now,” Lilly asked. Hank turned and spoke.

“He’s at Etheridge Culinary College in Southeast Tennessee.”

“Really? He’s a chef?”

“Not yet,” Tessa answered. “Culinary school is very expensive.”

“You wouldn’t believe what they wanted for a set of knives,” Hank grumbled.

“He’s always been a foodie, so it made sense he would pursue something he loved,” Tessa said.

“How did he take the news that you were going to have Ana Marie,” Lilly asked.

“Well, he was busy with applying for college, and visiting certain schools. He wasn’t thrilled but he wasn’t angry about it.”

Hank sat on the edge of the couch and looked at Lilly. Tessa came and sat beside him.

“Why so many questions about Timothy? Have you discovered something new?”

“It’s my fault,” Konan began. “I, um, got put on leave for a bit, and I’m behind the curve so to speak. I asked her if I could get the lay of the land.”

“I see.”

“Was there anything else,” Tessa asked.

“No,” Konan said as he shook his head. “I can’t think of anything. Do you have anything, Lilly?”

“No, I think I’m good.”

Hank stood and walked them to the door. Tessa went into the back room; Konan could hear her sobbing even though she was removed from them. Hank had tears in his eyes.

“I know who you are, Detective Konan. I know why you were placed on leave. Please, please, find who killed my daughter and make them pay.”

Konan gripped his hand and nodded. “I can’t promise you anything, other than I will try my best to bring the murderer to justice.”

“Thank you,” Hank said. He closed the door, but it did little to silence the heart-wrenching sobs of Ana Marie’s parents. Lilly’s eyes teared up as well. Konan took the keys and got behind the wheel. The ride back to the station was quiet. When they arrived, Konan walked to his computer and powered it up. Tia Mathers came out of her office and pulled up a chair close to them.

“Do you have anything on the Ana Marie case? A reporter saw you visit the Fredericks home.”

“Um, we found out the murder weapon was a chef’s knife. We went to see the Fredericks. Um, they have a son in culinary school in Tennessee. That’s about it,” Lilly said.

“Do you think the son did it,” Tia asked.

Lilly shrugged. Tia turned to Konan and tapped him on the shoulder.

“Yes,” Konan said.

“What do you think smart guy?”

Konan turned and pointed at the screen. Timothy Fredericks juvenile record was extensive.

“I think the kid has, or had, a problem with authority. He’s got a rage problem. And from what this shows, he has never been treated for his anger. He spent a total of three years in detention facility. Now, he is in culinary school.”

“Wow. Big brother has some answering to do,” Tia Mathers said. “Bring him in.”

“Will do,” Lilly said. Tia stood to her feet and tapped Konan on the shoulder.

“Good job, detective.”

Konan nodded. “Thanks, Chief.”

Lilly raised her eyebrows and giggled. Konan waved it off.

“Look at you, Konan. Getting in good with the head honcho.”

“Please. I don’t buy it for a second.

“So, I suppose we should call the police in Etheridge and have them pick him up.”

“Yep. I’ll call and see if we can’t get him transported here.”

“Awesome. I’m going to get some coffee.” Konan nodded okay and picked up the phone. He was a full-bloodied caffeine hound, Lilly only consumed it on rare occasions. She preferred tea and water to coffee. After calling the Etheridge Police and setting up transportation from Tennessee to Mississippi, Konan leaned back. It was going to be a long night. The suspect would arrive shortly before midnight. He and Lilly needed to be sharp when Timothy Fredericks arrived[A1] .

The elevator dinged, and Lilly came in holding two cups of coffee. She handed one to him and winked at him.

“I promise, I didn’t poison it.”

“Good to know,” Konan said as he took a sip. Lilly looked around, the murder room was empty expect for her and Konan. They drank their coffee in peace. Tia walked out of her office and locked the door. She wandered over to where they were and sat down.

“What time is the transport coming in?”

“They said they would be here around midnight, Chief.”

“Y’all need to get out of here for a bit and get some rest. You need to be fresh when he shows up.”

Lilly nodded. Konan sipped his coffee. Tia noticed he hadn’t acknowledged her order. She turned to him.

“You heard me, right.”

“Yes. I heard you. We’ll leave now.”

“That’s what I wanted to hear.”

Konan stood to his feet and picked up the file from his desk. He started for the door. Lilly was already there ahead of him. She opened the door and together they made their way to the elevator. Lilly pressed the button.

“You’re taking work home with you?”

“Actually, I am taking it to O’Shea’s. Thought I would run something by Paddy. You’re welcome to tag along if you want.”

“Um, no thanks. I’ll be back at midnight.”

“Okay. See you then.”

Konan watched as she walked out toward the garage. He frowned. “Lilly loves Paddy. Why would she turn down an opportunity to see him?” He shrugged and headed for the bus stop. It wouldn’t be long before midnight arrived.

The line at O’Shea’s was out the door and stretched to the alley that ran along the building. Konan shook his head. O’Shea’s was the brainchild of Paddy, but his financial backer was Konan’s father, Mad Michael. Business at O’Shea’s was above board. They shunned illegality like porn stars shed clothes. A tall black man stood at the door and allowed people in. “Jesus, where did Paddy dig this guy up? He looks like he could bench press a bus and is twice the width of a barn door.” The doorman watched as Konan approached. Konan gave him a nod and flashed his badge. The guy was unimpressed.

“Hold up,” he said in a deep voice. “What’s your business here, cop?”

“It’s my own. Let me pass.”

“Paddy don’t want no problems here tonight, and you cops are nothing but problems.”

Konan smiled and nodded his head.

“You go tell Paddy that Thermopolis Konan is at the door, and you’re unable of comprehending basic English.”

“Nah, I don’t think I’ll do that. Instead, I’ll drag you around the corner and throw you a beating with a thesaurus.”

He reached for Konan’s throat with his massive paw, but a small, wrinkled hand reached out and pushed it down. Esther came up, her cigarette hung loosely from her lips. She gave Konan a knowing look.

“Brutus, this is Thermopolis Konan. He’s the son of Mad Michael. Whenever he shows up, you let him in. He’s family.” Brutus stared at Konan. He shook his head and cleared his throat.

“I had no idea you were…”

“Don’t worry about it, Brutus. May I go in now?”

“Of course, let me get the door.”

“No need. I’ve got it. Hello, Esther.”

“Hello, Konan. What brought you here tonight?”

“I need to run something by Paddy.”

“He’s not here at this time. Maybe I could help?”

“Maybe.”

She led him to her table in the far back of the kitchen. She pulled out her chair and sat down, Konan sat across from her. Esther, ever the consummate professional, waited for Konan to ask her a question. A waiter walked over and lit her cigarette. Esther inhaled a mouthful of smoke and exhaled.

“Do you remember when the murder of Ana Marie occurred?”

“I do.”

“Do you remember her brother?”

“Yes, I remember something about him. He was in trouble a lot, he tended to go straight past anger into full on rage, if I’m not mistaken.”

“Yeah. Did you ever defend him?”

“No. I had my hands full defending your father.”

“Why the sudden interest in the boy?”

Konan shook his head and grimaced. Esther waited and took another drag from her cigarette. A trail of smoke wafted toward the ceiling.

“I shouldn’t say anything, Esther. The case is still open.”

“You think he did it.”

“Maybe. She was killed with a chef’s knife.”

“Well, that’s different.”

“Yeah.”

“Wait right here, I’ll be right back.”

Esther walked over to the landline and placed a call. The conversation was a short and to the point. She came back and sat down.

“The defending attorney of Timothy Fredericks is coming. You have time to wait before the kid shows up?”

“How did you know the kid was on his way here?”

“It’s standard procedure. Don’t worry, we have no use for the kid.”

A few moments later, a small man, no taller than five feet walked through the kitchen and sat at Esther’s table. He nodded at Konan and Esther and pulled out his notebook.

“Everything that is about to be said is privileged. I could be barred from practicing if this gets out.”

Konan nodded and said, “I understand.”

The man nodded. “The kid, Timothy Fredericks, he is a monster. He’s got no self-control. This was years ago, mind you, but I can’t imagine he’s learned to control his temper or his urges”

“What urges are those, Councilor?’

“He’s not attracted to women.”

“What? Like he’s gay?”

“No.”

“Kids,” Konan said.

The man nodded. “His parents paid an astronomical amount of money keeping it hidden. Well, his dad did anyway.”

“You don’t happen to have any proof of this, by chance.”

“I didn’t keep it.”

Konan rubbed his head. “Jesus, what a gigantic cluster.” The man rolled up his sleeve. There was a long cut that ran roughly the length of his forearm on his left arm.

“This is what he gave me as thanks for getting him sent to the juvenile facility, and not prison.”

“That’s gnarly looking.”

“He used a kitchen knife to do it. I nearly bled to death before I got help. Esther saved my life.”

“Alright. Is there anything else?”

“No, detective. Be careful when dealing with him.”

“Thanks for the information. I’ll keep it quiet.”

“I’d appreciate it.”

It was after ten before Konan left the pub. Esther would not let him leave without feeding him. He caught the last bus of the evening and got off at the town square. The night was still. Konan walked to an empty bench and sat down. From the shadows, the man that paid Tia Mather’s a visit emerged. He sat on the bench beside Konan.

“Hello, Thermopolis.”

“Bill, what brought you here?”

“You did.”

“Oh, what have I done now?”

“You got suspended, and you killed Blankenship. That got some attention.”

“Blankenship should have known better than threaten my partner. You guys should know better. I suppose I have you to thank for getting me back to work?”

“I explained things to your Chief. She seemed to have got the message.”

“Yeah.”

“You’re after Hank Fredericks now.”

“What about Hank Fredericks?”

“Nothing. I’m not here to do your job. Anyway, it’s nice seeing you. Stay out of trouble, Konan.”

“I’ll try.”

Bill turned and looked at Konan with those same dead eyes he’d shown to Tia Mathers. He smiled coldly.

“Don’t try. Do better.”

Konan watched as Bill disappeared into the shadows. “What a time for my past to show up.”

Twenty minutes before midnight, Konan made his way to the police station. A van that had Etheridge Police painted on the side was parked in front of the building. Konan walked through the doors and took the elevator to the murder room. He got off the lift. There were three police officers and Timothy Fredericks sitting at a desk. Tia Mathers stood beside them and signed the paperwork to complete the transfer.

She nodded at Konan when he entered the room.

“Take Mr. Fredericks to interview room #1, detective. I’ll be along shortly.”

Timothy Fredericks was not what Konan expected. From his records, one would think that Timothy Fredericks was a giant among men. Instead, he stood almost six feet tall and had an average build. His eyes were menacing. It took Konan no time to believe this kid had the capacity to murder his sister. Konan took the suspect by the arm and led him to interview room #1.

“So, what have I done now,” he asked Konan.

Konan shrugged. “Beats me, kid. I just work here.”

Timothy snorted. He looked at Konan. “You looked taller in the paper.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah. You blew away that killer, what’s his name.”

Konan forced a smile and motioned for Timothy to have a seat. He sat down, and Konan handcuffed him to the table. Timothy went to say something to Konan, but he walked out before the kid spoke. Tia waited in the hallway.

“What do you think,” she asked. Konan shrugged.

“I don’t know, boss.”

“Where’s your partner?”

“No idea. She’ll be here.”

“Can you handle the interview alone?”

“Sure. You’re behind the glass?”

“As always.”

Konan turned and walked back into the room. Timothy watched him walk to the table. Konan sat down across from him but said nothing. Timothy said nothing. They sat in silence for a bit, and then, Konan opened his file.

“Did you ever get help with your temper,” he asked Timothy. The kid stared at him, Konan locked eyes with him. There was madness in the kid’s eyes.

“What temper?”

“Well, let’s see. You were sent to a juvenile detention facility at 13 for assaulting an elderly woman. Then, you went back at 15 for assaulting a kid. Your last trip was at 16 for groping a 9-year-old. So, that temper. Did you get help?”

“That’s none of your business.”

“Okay. Well, that’s enough about your past. Let’s talk current events. Did you kill your sister?”

“I want my lawyer. Better yet, I want my phone call.”

“Well, that didn’t take long.”

Konan released Timothy’s restraints to the table. He took him by the arm and led him to holding. The desk sergeant gave Konan a nod.

“What’s this?”

“Ah, just another suspect that lawyered up. Can I put him in holding?”

“Sure. He can use the phone in there.”

“Thanks, Sarge.”

Tia Mather’s was waiting on Konan when he walked back into the murder room. She scowled at him.

“So much for the gentle approach. Did he get his phone call at least?”

“Yeah. I dropped him off in holding. The desk sergeant said he could use the phone in there.”

“Have you heard from your partner?” Konan looked at his phone and shook his head no.

“No. I don’t have any missed calls or text messages.”

“Hmm. Okay. Go home. We’ll take another crack at him in a few hours.”

“Okay, Chief.”

Konan called a cab and sat on the bench he and Bill shared earlier. No one else was out. Half an hour later, the cab showed up. He walked across the square and entered the cab. Bill sat in the backseat.

“We meet again, Detective Konan.”

Konan sighed. Bill handed the driver a slip of paper that had Konan’s address on it. The driver pulled out and made his way toward the outskirts of Fredericksburg.

“What are you doing here, Bill?”

“What did you get out of the kid?”

“Nothing, Bill. He lawyered up.”

“Well, that’s what the guilty usually do.”

“Why are you so interested in this case?”

“Because one of our own is involved[A2] .”

“I’m not one of you anymore…”

“I wasn’t talking about you. There’s another involved.”

“The kid?”

“No, the kid isn’t ours.”

Konan sighed and shook his head. “This crap is compounding. I’m entirely too young to feel this old.”

“Do you like the kid for it,” Bill asked.

“I don’t know Bill. The kid has severe anger issues. He’s attending a culinary school. I guess we will see.”

The driver pulled up to Konan’s driveway. Bill stuck out his hand, Konan ignored him. He got out and walked to his mobile home. Konan was tired. It had been a long day, all he wanted was to rest. Lilly sat on the steps when he drew near.

“Hey,” Lilly said as he walked up. “Sorry, I didn’t show up.”

“It’s alright. The kid lawyered up on the second question.”

Lilly stood and moved to the side. Konan unlocked the door and walked in; Lilly trailed behind him. She touched him on the shoulder. He turned and faced her.

“This case is going to be ugly, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, it’s shaping up that way.”

Konan gave her a tired smile. She didn’t smile back. It was clear something was bothering her. He waited for her to decide to open to him.

“I’m going to jump in the shower. Help yourself to whatever is in the fridge.”

“Okay.”

Lilly sat out turkey, mustard, tomatoes, and made her a sandwich while Konan showered. She sat on his couch and listened to the spray of water coming from the back of the mobile home. Konan came in wearing shorts and a tank top. Lilly looked at her partner. “He looks exhausted,” Lilly thought.

“So, what happened to you tonight,” Konan asked. Lilly bit into her sandwich and shrugged.

“I ran into a man named Bill. He said you and he went way back.” Konan grimaced. His past would not stay buried.

“Yeah. I used to work for him.”

“That’s what he said. You were a contract killer for the government.”

“I was a soldier. I was not a hitman.”

“That’s not what Bill said. He claimed that you, Blankenship, and a handful of others were sent in to ensure that contracts were awarded to the government. He also claimed that you didn’t just kill the person hindering the contract, but that you wiped out their families as an example.”

Konan stood and walked back to his bedroom. Under his bed was a locked chest. He pulled it out and carried it into his sitting room. Lilly watched him.

“Do you see this chest, Lilly?”

“Yes.”

“This is my past. It’s all that remains of my time before I became a cop. If you want to know the truth, here’s the key. I’m going to bed.” He placed the key on top of the trunk and walked back to his bedroom and shut the door.

Lilly picked up the key and opened the trunk.

Konan tossed and turned all night. He dreamed of war, of the carnage wrought by greed, and of blood-soaked sand. He whimpered in his sleep. “I’m sorry,’ he cried out. “I’m so very sorry…” His nightmares would not relent. At 0217, he stumbled to his bathroom and coughed up blood in the sink. He ran cold water in his hands and washed out his mouth. His appearance in the mirror was ragged, his eyes were bloodshot. In the living room, he heard Lilly shuffling through the chest. In the darkness of the room, he stretched out on the floor.

In mere seconds, he was sound asleep.

At 0430, the alarm on his phone sounded. Konan yawned and stretched then got up and turned off his alarm. He half-stumbled, half sleepwalked into the kitchen and turned on his coffee pot. Lilly was passed out on the couch clutching his paperwork. The smell of coffee roused her from her sleep. She sat up on the edge of the couch and stretched.

“Morning,” she said sleepily.

“Morning.”

“You’re up early,” she said as she looked out the trailer window behind the couch. “What time is it?”

“A quarter to five.”

“Do you have enough coffee for two cups?”

“Sure.” He took the first cup he’d made and handed it to her. She walked barefoot into the kitchen and spooned in sugar and cream. She reached up and gave him a peck on the cheek, then padded back to the couch. Konan pushed in another K-cup and selected the size he wanted.

Lilly sipped the coffee and watched Konan from the couch. Even with minimal sleep he appeared to be alert and mentally active. Konan spooned in some sugar and walked over to the couch and sat beside his partner.

“So, did you find out what you wanted to know? Am I the devil with a badge?”

“No, and for the record, I never thought you were.”

“You seemed to think so last night.”

“Well, what was I supposed to think Konan? This man followed me yesterday, stopped me, and began to tell me about my partner. Then, he came out and said you were a hired killer for the government. What was I to do?”

“Let me clear this up, okay? Ask me anything, Lilly. I will be straight up with you, but this is your only chance. Once we have spoken about this, I never want to hear about it again.”

“Did you kill women and children?”

“Only when they tried to kill me.”

“So, yes.”

“It’s not that cut and dry, but yes.”

“Did you know they were sending you to kill people for governmental contracts?”

“No, but things became clear on my last mission.”

“You were friends with Blankenship?”

“No. We were not friends.”

“Why is Bill here?”

Konan shrugged. “I don’t know, Lilly.”

“You haven’t been in contact with any of these people since you left?”

“No.”

“Okay. How do we handle this?”

“We don’t. You’re aware of my past, I have told you the truth,” he motioned to the chest. “There’s all the evidence of what I did, and why I did it. If you don’t believe me now, you need to find another partner.”

“I don’t want another partner. Just be straight up with me from now on, okay? Is that too much to ask?”

“No.”

“Okay, then. Let’s go break this kid and get breakfast.”

“Sounds good.”

Konan went in the back and changed into a Carhartt tee, a pair of jeans, and Red Wing Irish Setter boots. He wiped down his face and neck with a cool rag. “I’ve always felt dirty talking about the past. Will I ever be able to forgive myself for what I’ve done?”

The answer to his question was a resounding no. Forgiveness from God was one thing but forgiving yourself is far more difficult. He put on his cap and walked into the living room. Lilly had refilled her cup with more coffee.

“You’re ready to go,” Lilly asked. Konan nodded.

“Yep, let’s do this.”

Konan decided to drive his truck into work, so he and Lilly piled in and headed for the station. It was time to find answers concerning the murder of Ana Marie and to see what role her brother played in it.

The desk sergeant nodded at the pair of detectives when they walked in. She jerked a thumb in the direction of the interview room.

“He’s already gone to be interviewed,” she said while smacking on her gum. Lilly walked to the counter and cocked her head inquisitively.

“Who came and got him?”

“Chief Mathers.”

“Jesus,” Lilly muttered. Konan had walked out as soon as he heard that Timothy Fredericks was taken. He walked behind the glass and noticed the video cameras were off. The sound was off as well. Tia Mathers sat at the table with Timothy Fredericks and his attorney. They all appeared to be having a great time, it didn’t appear to be an interview with a suspect. Konan banged on the glass. Tia whipped around and stared at it. Konan could feel the hatred through the two-way glass. Tia excused herself and walked out into the hallway. It took less than twenty seconds for her to enter the room.

“What, detective? Who do you think you are?”

“What was your plan Chief? Were you waiting for them to fall into your charm and then trip ‘em up? It didn’t look like an interview to me.”

“What are you implying, detective?”

“I’m not implying anything…well, nothing but you are ineffective in interviewing suspects.”

“Ate your Wheaties this morning, did you?”

“Why would the Chief of Police show up this early and interfere with a case that she assigned to two detectives? Are you kin to the suspect? Did you get paid to brief them on what we would question them about? Hmm…?”

Tia’s eyes narrowed and her nostrils flared. Thin blue veins stretched across her forehead. Konan winked at her. Tia said nothing, but her eyes expressed the hatred she had in her heart for Konan.

“See, I think you don’t want this case solved. You came in here this morning to sabotage us. I understand why you would come after me, but Lilly…that I don’t understand.”

“You’re on thin ice, Konan.”

“So are you, Chief.”

The door opened and Lilly walked in. Her gaze fell upon Konan and Tia. Chief Mathers shoved past Lilly and walked away; Konan shrugged.

“What is going on here,” she asked.

“She probably hasn’t had her coffee yet.”

“Well, shall we get started.”

“Yeah, for all the good it’ll do.” Together, they walked into the interview room.

“Hello, detectives.”

“Hiya, Timothy. I’m going to put these cuffs on you. Policy and what not,” Konan said as he shackled Timothy Fredericks to the table. Lilly stared at him and shook her head.

“Detective Konan, this is my attorney, Linda Trueheart.”

“Hi,” Konan said as he stretched out his hand, Linda shook it. She gave Konan a small smile and looked at the table.

“This is my partner, Lilly Thompson. She was busy yesterday and couldn’t be here.”

“A pleasure,” Timothy said to her. Lilly sipped her coffee and met Timothy’s eyes.

“So, you lawyered up yesterday before we could get started. So, we’ll try again.”

“Sure,” Timothy said smugly.

“How did you feel when your mother told you that she was pregnant with Ana Marie?”

“I didn’t. Do you have siblings, detective? Did you feel any emotion when their presence was announced?”

“I’m an only child, besides we’re not here to talk about me.”

“Did you love Ana Marie,” Lilly asked.

“I did. She was my sister.”

“There was a huge age gap between the two of you. Did you have a hard time with the attention being focused more on her than on you?”

“No. I was going out with friends, hitting up parties, getting ready to go to college.”

“So, you’re going to culinary school in Tennessee. Why so far from home?”

“Mom and Hank thought I should get out and see something different.”

“Hank? You mean your dad.”

“Yeah. Hank.”

“Hmm. What’s your relationship like with your parents?”

“Fine.”

Konan pulled out pictures of Ana Marie that was from the scene of the crime. He laid them out in front of Timothy. The kid never looked away, rather he picked them up and studied them. Lilly looked at Konan. Her partner watched Timothy. Timothy traced the lines of his sister’s face with his finger. A small smiled played on his mouth.

“You know, we’ve figured out what type of weapon was used to kill Ana Marie.”

“Oh,” Timothy said.

“Yep, it was a chef’s knife. Not a very good one I’m afraid. Just some cheap piece of crap from the low-end of the spectrum.” Timothy’s head jerked up right when Konan described the weapon.

“A knife is a knife, detective. It’s got one job, to cut.”

“Sure, I get that. However, a cheap carbon steel blade doesn’t cut as well as a Damascus blade.”

“Who cares?”

“I’m assuming a chef would want to have the best tools for the job. Right? Unless…cheap is all they could afford. I would imagine their peers would give them a hard time for having such a crappy toolbox.”

Timothy leaned forward and whispered in a barely controlled rage, “who cares?”

“I think you did. You were an only child until Ana Marie came along. Money that should have gone to your college expenses now went back into the home to care for your sister. The pressure of school, from your peers and instructors, all of it was too much. You snapped and stabbed your sister to death.”

“Yeah, I stabbed the little idiot,” Timothy shouted as he lunged to his feet. “She was a parasite, a waste of space. She took my dream, and I took her life!” Timothy leaned over Ana Marie’s picture; Timothy’s slobber dripped onto it. “I’m not sorry! You hear me? I’m not sorry you’re dead! I wish I could kill you again!”

The public defender scooted back; her eyes wide at her client’s confession. Konan sat back and watched the show. Tia Mathers, he rage barely contained, watched from the observation room. “Say what you want to about Konan, he knows how to get in their heads.” Lilly waved in two officers who took Timothy Hendricks back to holding. She sat at the table with Konan, her hands trembled from the emotion that she felt.

“How could he do that, Konan. Look at this perfect face. How could he kill her?”

“Life has no intrinsic value anymore, Lilly. People no longer respect each other. She was an obstacle to his dream, so he removed her.”

“Oh God,” Lilly said. “I think I’m going to be sick.” Lilly got up and ran out of the room. Konan sat in the interview room and tried to get a handle on his emotions. The door squeaked open, and Tia sat down at the table.

“Good job, detective.”

“Thanks, Chief. How did you know?”

“Know what, Chief?”

“How did you know that he was angry about her being born? The rage he felt when he couldn’t have the best tools for his new career etc.”

“I was an only child, Chief. If I had a brother or sister a few months before I set out into the world, I would have been angry too. It just made sense to follow the thread to where it led.”

“Okay. Well, wrap it up. Good job.”

Konan nodded and gathered up the photos. He placed them neatly in the file and walked out of the room. Lilly was at their desk when he walked up.

“Are you okay? How do you feel?”

“I’m okay. I didn’t expect all that hatred to be spewed out.”

“Yeah. We need to call his folks.”

“Yeah. God, I can’t imagine what they are going to feel.”

“Let me knock out this report, and we’ll go see them.”

“Okay.”

Konan’s report took the better part of an hour. Lilly had handled the formality of arresting Timothy Fredericks for the murder of his sister Ana Marie, while he typed up the report. She came back after reading Miranda to Timothy. She had gained control of her emotions, her hands had quit shaking. Konan sent the report off and shut down his laptop.

“Are you ready to go visit the Fredericks and let them know the killer is caught?”

“Yeah. The sooner we get done, the sooner it’s over.”

“True enough.”

They walked out to the garage and piled into Konan’s truck. He drove slowly through traffic; he wasn’t in a hurry to tell the Fredericks that their son had killed their daughter either. When he could no longer postpone it, he pulled into their drive. Hank and Tessa stood front of the large window in their living room and watched the detectives walk up. Hank met them at the door. Both Hank and Tessa were solemn.

“Come in, detectives. Do you have news?”

“Yes. We’ve caught Ana Marie’s killer.”

“Oh, thank you God,” Tessa sobbed. “My baby can rest in peace now.”

“Who was it that took our Ana Marie from us,” Hank asked. Lilly blinked back tears and looked at the floor. Konan took a breath and let it out slowly.

“It was your son, Timothy.”

Tessa stopped crying and stared at Konan. Hank shook his head and muttered, “I knew it. I freaking knew it.”

“Timothy killed Ana,” Tessa asked. “Is this some kind of sick joke?”

“No,” Lilly said. “He vehemently admitted to killing her. He was…angry.”

“What could he be angry about that would make him kill his sister,” Tessa yelled. “Why would he kill her?”

Hank fell to his knees and sobbed loudly. Konan looked out the window and shook his head. Lilly moved close to Tessa and took her in her arms. Hank looked at Konan, his tears streamed down his face.

“Why? Why did he do it?”

“Because he was no longer an only child. The money that should have gone to his college wasn’t there anymore. Peer pressure, expectations, God only knows what triggered him to commit this heinous action.”

“He killed my baby over money. What kind of animal…”

“Is there anyone we can call to come over to comfort you and Tessa,” Konan asked. Hank shook his head no.

“Thank you, but no. We will get dressed and go to our church. Our pastor will pray with us. Thank you for finding Ana’s killer.”

“I’m sorry that this ended this way.”

Lilly came back to her seat next to Konan and wiped her eyes. Notifying the kin, especially in cases such as this, was one of the hardest parts of their job. “Your humanity is tested when one child kills another. Your faith is trampled, and you feel as if you have nowhere to turn. God bless these poor people,” Lilly thought. Hank walked them to the door. Konan and Lilly departed for the station. Their job was done. Ana Marie’s case was closed.

They would have a new case before they knew it[A3] .


 [A1]This is where Bill follows and confronts Lilly about Konan’s past.

 [A2]Resolve this. One of the parent’s or family member works for Bill.. Although, you could leave it as a lead to another story. Give it some thought.

 [A3]Do not end it on this note. Bring the story around to the pedophile case involving Judge Traylor or Bill’s purpose. You need another 8-9k words.

Published by frontporchmusings694846020

I am a good ole country boy residing in North Mississippi. I love to read, fish, hunt, hike and go to garage sales. Flea markets are a passion of mine. I read anything, but some of my favorites are: Dean Koontz, Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, T.S. Eliot, Shakespeare, and I possess a fondness for the writings of William Faulkner and Mark Twain. If I am forced to choose, I prefer baseball to football. I enjoy Alabama football (Roll Tide)! My baseball teams include: The Colorado Rockies and Boston Red Sox. I am divorced, the father of two daughters and live by myself with Chunk and Roscoe (my dogs).

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