Lilly finished with the first officer on scene and walked over to where I stood. She crossed her arms; her green eyes bore into mine.
“Mr. Figueroa had his head bashed in by multiple blows. He reeked of gasoline. Tammy is going to do the full battery of tests and an in-depth autopsy. We’ve been invited to the morgue for a detailed rundown.”
“Don’t Konan. I don’t want to hear it.”
“Come on, man. I apologize for offending you.”
“You didn’t offend me, Konan. You’re so stuck in your freaking way that you don’t even consider other people’s opinions on anything.”
“That is not true.”
“Yes, it is. You don’t even know who Figueroa is, or what his beliefs are, and you called him a hypocrite.”
“Okay. Fine. Let’s talk about this and squash it. Tell me what he believed in.”
“Science, Konan. He believed in science.”
“The statistics that showed the number of years we have before we experience a cataclysmic event that will destroy all life on this planet.”
“Jesus. How many of these life-destroying events are prophesied and none have happened yet. There was the bird flu, mad cow disease, the Mayan Calendar SNAFU, Acid Rain, the impending nuclear winter….”
“See? I can’t even talk to you about this without you cracking jokes.”
“I’m not cracking jokes, Lilly. I’m saying that the world is always ending. In my lifetime, this is like the…fifth or sixth one that was supposed to wipe us all out.”
“Konan, you can’t even have a rational conversation about this. I’m done.”
“When did rationality enter the conversation? Look man, I am jaded. Okay? These guys are modern doomsday prophets. “The world is ending!” Figueroa prophesied it would end 35 years ago. Then it was a dozen years, and now…we are 25 years away from extinction. Every time they miss it, they move the goalposts.”
Lilly cocked her head and glared at me. I shrugged and bit down on my lip to suppress my grin.
“Oh my God. You know who Figueroa is.”
“Uh, yeah man. Kinda hard not to know who he was. He was always ranting and raving like a madman on television.”
“So, because the world is always ending, we should do nothing to try to solve it?”
“Okay, I’m going to be serious now. Here’s my issue: Why can’t they focus intently on creating a new system that reduces carbon emissions, test it, and then if it works, we wean ourselves off fossil fuels? See, that is rational. What’s not rational, Lilly, is destroying the system you hate without another system to replace it. For example, a rational goal is to replace 20% of the homes in America with solar panels by 2031. If you hit the mark, great. If you don’t keep working. When all the homes are converted, then replace the system if it’s effective. That’s not how Figueroa and his alarmists worked. They wanted to destroy the current system and then figure it out. “Give us all the money so we can do all the things.” That’s not how things work.”
“I know that Konan. I just worry that Gareth…”
“…won’t have a world to inherit. I know. I worry about it too. However, I’m not for destroying our way of life without an efficient alternative in place to replace it. If Figueroa and his lunatics were serious about it, they would have sold out to their cause…but they didn’t.”
Chief Janko was waiting by the vehicles when Lilly and I walked outside. His face was beet red, his eyes narrowed as he watched us walk toward him.
“Well,” he grunted. His mustached trembled from the grunt.
“Tammy has the body, we will know more in a couple of days.”
“Okay, but that’s not how that works, Chief.”
“Lilly, look over there and tell me what you see.”
She turned and looked where Janko pointed. A large crowd of onlookers had gathered behind the cars.
“Um, looks like a crowd of people.”
“Protestors, detective. They are protestors. In Fredericksburg. I don’t have to tell you that this case is going to be followed by all the media outlets, right? Time is of the essence. Get on it, stay on it, until it is complete. You guys understand?”
I nodded my head and stared at the crowd of people. They said nothing, nor did they carry the usual picket signs, but the air was thick enough to cut with a knife.
It wasn’t even that humid out.