Lilly stood next to the unmarked sedan wearing a blue blazer, a crème-colored blouse, and blue slacks. Her black shoes were sensible. Konan thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world. Her brown hair was tied back into a tight bun. The Smith and Wesson 9mm attached to her hip, and badge just completed the image of a tough, empowered female in Konan’s mind.
“Morning,” she said as he walked toward the car.
“Morning. You appear ready to tangle with whatever comes our way.”
She winked at him as he got in the passenger seat. He winked back. In a world where the overly sensitive looked for any reason to play the victim card, Konan and Lilly carried on in a manner that would suggest they cared not one whit for the current state of things in their society. In fact, they took great pleasure in living their lives unhindered by the ‘sensitive folk.’
“So, to the warehouse then?”
“Coffee and donuts first,” Lilly said as she started the vehicle. Konan nodded and leaned back, planted both feet firmly to the floorboard and gripped the handle tightly. Lilly didn’t drive often, but when she did, he felt like he was a front seat passenger in a demolition derby. Mainly because Lilly drove like she was competing in one.
He closed his eyes and prayed he would survive long enough to have one last cup of coffee.
The Donut Hole was empty, save for a small van that advertised for the local retirement home. Lilly guided the car into the drive-thru and ordered two large coffees, and a box of mixed donuts. Then, she pulled out into traffic. She used the siren liberally to get to the front of traffic, and then sped toward the environmental group headquarters.
Two guards were at the gate. Konan opened the box of donuts and pulled out a chocolate covered donut. He took a bite and sipped his coffee.
“Looks like they’re expecting company,” he said between mouthfuls.
“Yeah. Let’s go introduce ourselves.”
Lilly stepped out and started for the guards. Konan got out, the remaining half of his donut hung out of his mouth, his left hand held his coffee. He walked quickly to catch up to Lilly.
“Morning, I’m Detective Lilly Thompson. We’re here to speak to whomever is in charge now that Wilson Figueroa is dead.”
Konan waved his donut at Lilly and muttered, “I’m with her.”
One guard walked away and pulled out a radio. He spoke quickly and quietly into it. The other guard stared at the two detectives.
“Let ‘em in, Chuck.”
“Chuck,” Konan said. “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?” Lilly grinned. ‘Chuck’ glared at him and opened the gates.
“Thank you, Chuck.” Lilly shook her head and walked in. Konan winked at Chuck and followed her in.
“Chuck did not seem impressed, Konan.”
“Ah, he’s the solemn type. He was tickled pink with my deft tongue, but he refused to show it.”
“Uh-huh, that’s why he looked like he wanted to kill you.”
“I have that effect on people.”
Inside the compound, groups of people huddled near containers. Each container was painted green, with a dash of black to add depth. Each group marked the detectives with stares. Konan smiled and waved at them, ever so often he pointed at his badge.
Two people, both male, waved them over. Konan waved back. The two men smiled when they drew near.
“Good morning, detectives,” they said in unison. “Welcome to Heaven’s Refuge.”
“Thank you,” Lilly said graciously. Konan winked and grinned. “I’m Detective Thompson, this is my partner Detective Konan.”
“A pleasure to make your acquaintance. I’m Maxwell Longfellow, and this is my attorney Maximillian Heatherton. How can we serve?”
“Wow. That’s a mouthful.” Lilly stared at Konan. He meekly stepped back. “I apologize Maxwell, my partner is apparently in the middle of a sugar rush from all the donuts he ate on the way here.”
Maxwell smiled and waved his hand dismissively. “It’s no problem, Detective Thompson. Shall we go in?”
Lilly walked with Maxwell. He stood by her left side, Maximillian on the right. Konan trailed behind and sipped his coffee. The members of the compound painted banners and spoke in hushed tones when Maxwell led the detectives through their midst.
In the center of Heaven’s Refuge, double-stacked containers stood alone. These were painted white, with blue trimming. Double staircases were welded to each side leading to the upper floor. Maxwell took Lilly by the hand and led her upstairs. Inside, the floor was spacious and well lit. It was sparsely furnished. A desk sat in the center of the room, along with four filing cabinets. Two floor lamps flanked the desk. Two chairs sat in front of the desk. Maxwell motioned to them. Lilly sat on the left, Konan the right.
“I understand you have questions concerning the passing of Wilson Figueroa. How can we assist Fredericksburg’s finest?”
Konan watched Maxwell. He was smooth, Konan gave him that. A little too smooth if Konan was asked. Lilly acted like she had never ran into a smooth talker before, but Konan let it slide.
“Um, how well did you know him?” Lilly had trouble getting the question out. Maxwell stood well over six feet, had plenty of meat on his skeleton indicating a steady gym routine, and had all the markings of an education that was top tier. Konan didn’t like him.
“We worked together for a little over six years…”
“Are you in charge now,” Konan interjected. Maxwell gave him a grin that bordered on unfriendly.
“We need the names of your staff, your financial reports, and any other pertinent information you can provide us.”
Maximillian smiled coldly at Konan. “What kind of information?”
“Any insights that you or Maxwell may have observed during the six years you worked for Mr. Figueroa.”
“He liked to be called Figgy,” Maxwell said. “That was his calling card. Then someone…”
“Bashed his head in. Yeah, we know.”
Konan’s abruptness with Maxwell and Maximillian did not go unnoticed by Lilly. After they said goodbye, she fixed her hardest stare on me.
“What was that?” I shrugged.
“You seemed to have some trouble getting the questions out, so I figured I would help out. Why? Did I do something wrong?”
“You treated them like suspects.”
“Because they are…?”
Lilly let out a heavy sigh and we walked in peace the rest of the way to the car. Chuck met us at the gate. His attitude had not improved during our time with the leaders of this commune. I winked at him.
“Bye Chuck. We’ll see you next time.” He glared at me as we walked past. At the gate, I turned and gave him a wave. It would probably kill me to not be friendly to the people I meet.
Chuck looked as if he could kill me with his bare hands. The look he gave me could chill water. I got behind the wheel while Lilly sat in the passenger seat. So far, we gathered some details, but nothing was sticking out to me.
I glanced at my watch. It was 1100, time to go see Tammy.