My hope that the walk from the strip mall to the police station would calm Lilly down failed. She burst through the door of the murder room. Her eyes fired daggers at me, the awkward silence grew between us. Chief Janko had walked out to where I sat, but upon seeing Lilly, he decided to forego debriefing.
“You left me on the side of the road!”
“Seriously? You said to let you out.”
“And you left me?”
Advice my dad gave me at a low point of my life clicked into my mind. “Sometimes you have to let them win.” I closed my mouth. Anything I said could and would be used against me. My silence has often been misunderstood, but as of yet, it’s never been misquoted.
Lilly threw herself into her chair and punched on her computer. Since I’d arrived prior to Lilly, I had pulled Wilson Figueroa’s record. I also contacted the vice squad and asked to speak to the lead investigator. Lilly glared at me.
“Are we going to work today, or should I go home?”
“We have an appointment at 1500 with vice, but you can go home if you need to. I can handle it.”
“No. Why are we going to vice?”
“Figueroa was under investigation for fraud, and suspicion of dealing drugs through his compound. I thought it might have bearing on our investigation.”
“He was an environmentalist, not a drug peddler.”
“Be that as it may, it’s still worth checking out, right?”
“It’s a waste of time, but fine. We will go check it out, and when you find out your suspicion is misplaced, I’ll tell you I told you so.”
I reached for my phone and dialed the local hardware store. A friendly voice answered the phone with a tiny hint of a northern accent.
“Hello, Fredericksburg Hardware. How may I assist you?”
“Um, hi. This is Detective Konan from the 117th. Do you guys sell ten-pound sledgehammers?”
“Yes, we do.”
“Could you please provide me a list of the sales for the past 90 days?”
“Um, sure. May I ask why?”
“Of course. I am investigating a murder, and a sledgehammer was used. Would it be possible for me to get the list after 3 p.m.?”
“Absolutely. I will generate the list now. We close at 5 p.m. so be sure to get here before then.”
“Will do. Thanks.”
Lilly stared at me; I forced a tight grin onto my face. Something bothered her about the way I conducted myself this morning, and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what it was. I was my usual self. It had never been an issue until now.
“Well?” Her voice was curt. I shrugged again.
“They sell ten-pound hammers. I’ll pick up the list of sales after my meeting with vice.”
“Our meeting. I’m going with you.”
“What is going on with you, Lilly? You’ve been snippy all day. Why are you defending Wilson Figueroa, the man who took you for a 100k?”
Lilly shook her head and muttered, ‘you wouldn’t understand.’ I looked back at my computer screen and motioned her over to my desk.
“Come here. I want you to see this.”
She walked over to where I sat. I pulled out a chair for her to sit in, she plopped down in it and crossed her arms.
“This is the victim’s record. Look right here: fraud, fraud, more fraud, suspicion of drug dealing, suspicion of pimping out the women in his compound, more fraud. Yet, there are no convictions. Nothing ever was proven. That is who you’re defending.”
“I know who he was, Konan. I know all of this already.”
“He’s Gareth’s father, Konan. He’s my son’s dad. That’s why…because I don’t want to tell my son his father was a useless piece of garbage who contributed nothing but misery to our world. That’s why.”
“Why didn’t you just say that? Instead of being a….” I stopped myself short. Insulting Lilly would accomplish nothing. Lilly looked at the ground.
“Look, we’ll keep it quiet, okay? We will investigate, find the killer, and leave out that information from our report. Gareth and you will remain anonymous.”
“Thank you, Konan. Sorry I took it out on you.”
“No worries. You’re my partner. I’ve got your back.”