Fredericksburg Police Department sat catty-corner from the main town square. Three stories high, it served all law enforcement needs in one building. Homicide was found on the second floor; it took the entire floor to hold all the personnel dedicated to solving various murders in the surrounding area.
Konan and Lilly had their desk in the furthest portion of the floor. A large bay window gave them a view of the warehouse district, although it’d been decades since anyone operated in said ‘district.’ It was a graveyard of rusted containers and abandoned buildings. Wilson Figueroa and his merry band of zealots scrounged enough money to purchase several buildings and ‘converted’ them into a compound of sorts.
Lilly was staring out the window when Konan walked up.
“Hey, pard. I brought you some coffee.”
She turned and stared at the offered coffee and reached for it. Konan handed it to her. Her attention went back to whatever she was staring at.
“Konan, do you think humanity is doomed?”
“Doomed? In what manner? Extinction?”
“Yeah? As in are we doomed to fail? Are we here only to watch the world fall into anarchy, chaos, or some other derivative of it?”
“I don’t know, man. Maybe. Rome capitulated to corruption from within. Rotten fruit starts from the inside as well. Perhaps, we are doomed to fail the same lessons they did.”
“You know, I gave money to Wilson Figueroa to fight against the climate crisis. I thought I did a good thing. My house was converted to ‘green energy.’ Now, he’s gone. I’m out all that money.”
“Well, if it’s any consolation I’ve done my share of crazy things.” He took a sip of his coffee and sat down. Lilly turned to face him. Her eyes met his briefly.
“Oh? Did you take out a hundred-thousand-dollar loan for a pipe dream?”
“Close. I sent two hundred dollars to an unknown number on the chance to meet a high-profile model.”
Lilly laughed. She covered her mouth and closed her eyes. Her mouth full of coffee made her eyes water.
“No, you did not.”
“I did. True story.”
“Why would you do that?”
“I was lonely, Lilly. I rented a nice car for two weeks and everything.”
“I wanted her to like me.”
“And how did that work out?”
“We didn’t meet. Unfortunately, she was involved in a tragic three-car accident and lost the use of her left leg.”
Lilly pressed her lips tight to stifle the laugh she felt coming. Konan’s face was devoid of any emotion. She took a sip of coffee and glanced out the window.
“Poor me. A fool and his money and all that…”
A giggle escaped from Lilly. She sneaked a quick glance at Konan. His face still showed no sign of emotion.
“So…did you learn anything?”
“Yep. It’s better to be lonely and have your money intact, than it is to be lonely and broke.”
“She sounds lovely.”
“Oh, I’m sure she is. Probably propped up in a trailer park, chain smoking Marlboros, and washing down her Big Mac’s with a Diet Coke.”
Konan nodded. “Enough about me and my bad luck with love. Tammy called while I was on my way here. She sent off the tests to the lab, the autopsy will happen tomorrow. We should know her findings tomorrow afternoon.”
“Awesome. I say we hit the compound and meet with some of Figueroa’s staff.”
Lilly reached for the phone and punched in a number from memory. She spoke briskly into the mouthpiece and hung up.
“While we’re at it, we should run his finances.”
“Are you thinking Mr. Figueroa was not on the up-and-up?”
“I think that if I took out a six-figure loan to combat this environmental crap, I’m probably not the only one to do so.”
“You think someone went looking for a refund.”
Lilly nodded and took a sip of her coffee. The sky was bloody red with a dash of black splayed across it. As if God Himself sat in judgment of those who would dare scam those who sought to protect His creation.
Konan and Lilly decided to meet up at 0900 and ride together to the compound. Konan drove to O’Shea’s Pub. Paddy O’Shea, owner and proprietor, stood behind the bar when Konan walked in.
He motioned to the end of the bar. Konan had a seat and waited for Paddy to make his way over.
“Long time, nephew. How are things?”
“Oh, you know. Things are fine. How’re y’all?”
“We’re okay. Your dad’s doc says he is responding to his treatments.”
“Yeah. What brought you here?”
“The charlatan? What about him?”
“He was a conman?”
“One of the best. Dude could sell you beachfront property in Montana, along with a fully furnished condo. Why?”
Paddy laughed. “Someone got tired of being took to the bank, eh?”
“Looks that way. You know anybody who might know who’d hold a grudge big enough to kill him?”
“You gotta understand, hoss. Figueroa didn’t just scam your money. This dude sold you the dream. It was real, you know. You believed in it. When you realized you’d been taken, it felt personal? There’s plenty of people out there that wanted him to pay for what he did.”
“Yeah, I would imagine.”
“You want some grub?”
“Sure, what’s today’s special?”
“Steak and fries.”
Konan waited for Paddy to work his magic. While he waited, he thought about Figueroa. He knew all too well the feeling of being scammed, but not at the level that Lilly had been taken. If Konan felt gipped and angry over two hundred dollars, how much more so would he have been if it had been six-figures?
Paddy brought his food to him, along with a large glass of sweet tea. Konan cut into the steak. Between bites he reasoned he would’ve been angry enough to kill Figueroa. “Heck yeah. I’d totally killed him for taking me for six figures. Money doesn’t grow on trees after all.”