We drove back to the department, Lilly headed straight for the interview rooms. I paused to get me a cup of coffee and headed back to join her. Lilly sat in front of Maxwell; they had both locked eyes in a battle of will. I pulled out my chair and sat down. I sipped my coffee and watched.
Neither backed down from the other.
“Maxwell, we went and checked out you and your attorney’s alibi.”
Maxwell turned and looked at me. I met his eyes. He glared at me, I smiled back.
“Neither you nor Maximillian were at the country club. If you’re smart, or have an ounce of self-preservation in your body, you will tell me what happened.”
He crossed his arms and sat back. Maxwell’s attorney looked at him, then at me, and shrugged as if to say, “he’s not that smart.” I shrugged back.
“Well, I’m going to make the same deal to Maximillian. He’ll have no problem letting you take the blame for murdering Figgy.”
“He won’t do that.”
“You’re not very smart Maxwell. Maximillian is going to throw you under the bus and walk out scotch free. Someone, today, is going to confess to the murder, and someone is going to cut a deal. Your attorney is used to making deals. He will see the writing on the wall, and he’ll bail. Watch and see.”
I got up and walked out of the room. When I left, Maxwell still sat with his arms crossed. “Stupid kid,” I thought as I walked down the hall. “He wouldn’t know good advice if it walked up to him, shoved its hand up his rump, and operated his mouth like a puppet.”
Maximillian sat at the table, his fingers laced, not a drop of worry upon his brow. I pulled up a chair. He smiled a knowing smile. I didn’t smile back.
“You lied to me, hoss.”
“No, I didn’t.”
“Pull out your membership card to the country club.”
“I don’t have it on me.”
“You can’t stop lying. I spoke to Yvonne. Your membership is revoked for failure to pay your dues.”
“That’s a lie. Yvonne would not dare cancel my admittance to her prestigious club.”
“I don’t lie hoss. Yvonne, and her attorney both agreed to testify that you are no longer a member, and you were not there the night Wilson Figueroa was murdered.”
“THAT’S A LIE.”
“What? That you weren’t at the club, or that you were strapped for cash and decided to kill Figgy to take over his schemes?”
Maximillian crossed his arms. His attorney, a fresh-faced public defender, tried to whisper advice to his client, but Maximillian ignored him.
“Not quite so arrogant now, are you? What was it you told Yvonne’s attorney? “Boy could use some culture.” Well, you will get cultured in prison.”
“You’ve got nothing. I didn’t kill Wilson Figueroa, Maxwell did.”
“Well, that didn’t take long. So, take me through it.”
“Wilson Figueroa was a conman. He had his thick fingers in every pie. Environmentalism was one such pie, the government dropped tons of money into his pocket for him to fly all over the world to preach the Gospel of Climate Change.”
“As you said, I was broke. For six years I labored under Wilson’s guidance. Never once did I think he would snitch me and Maxwell out. I had no idea he was a snitch for Internal Affairs until Maxwell brought me the list of people, he would rat out next.”
“So, what happened next?”
“Maxwell said we needed to get rid of Figueroa. He was enraged by the thought that his beloved mentor would betray us. Maxwell grabbed the first thing he saw, a sledgehammer, and we drove to Figueroa’s house. I tried to talk Maxwell out of killing Wilson, but it didn’t work. As soon as Maxwell saw him, he went to work on Wilson.”
“We cleaned up, changed clothes and what have you, and I drove to the country club to establish our alibis. I forgot my membership was forfeit.”
“So, your story is that it was all Maxwell. The murder, the discovery of Figueroa being an informant, you’re only guilty of being a good friend.”
The public defender looked at me, I just shrugged. The betrayal of accomplices was nothing new, it was as commonplace as mustard on a chili dog. I stood and shoved my chair under the table.
“Detective Konan, you understand that my client wants a deal, right?”
“Yeah. I know what he wants.”
I walked out of the room and went back to where Lilly still was engaged in her battle of wills with Maxwell.
“Lilly, we’re done here. Let’s go.”
Maxwell averted his gaze from Lilly and looked at me. For the first time, fear crept across his face. Beads of sweat formed on his forehead.
“What do you mean,” he asked.
I walked in and pulled out a chair. He leaned forward; his eyes glued to mine.
“Maximillian gave me the full scoop. I offered you a chance to tell me what happened. Now, I know what happened. So, there’s no reason to play this stupid game with you.”
“You don’t know the full story. Whatever Maximillian told you is not the whole truth.”
“Of course, it isn’t. Why would he tell the whole truth? But I have my killer. You.”
“What? I’m not the killer.”
“I found a list of people Figgy would snitch on next. We had no idea he was an informant. Maximillian suggested we get rid of him. Wilson peddled drugs using the security members of the compound. Chuck, the gate guard, pimped out the young women. And Wilson fingered us to rat out. We went over to Figgy’s to confront him, but he just laughed. I told him he shouldn’t laugh, because he’d betrayed us. That made him laugh even more. Six years we gave him. We were loyal to a fault. I tried to talk to Figgy, but he said, ‘what’s done is done.’ That’s when Maximillian bashed him in the head. He kept slamming the hammer into Figgy, all while screaming ‘snitches get stitches.’ When he was done, Maximillian laughed like a maniac. He said Figgy needed a lot more than stitches. He swore we would get away with it. Now, you know the whole story.”
Tears ran down Maxwell’s face. His show of emotion disgusted me, where was this emotion when he thought he would get away with it? If he cared so much about what had happened, why did he wait until now to tell his story? As far as I was concerned, both were guilty of murder.
“Where’s the hammer?”
“Where is the hammer used to kill Figueroa?”
“It’s in the trunk of Maximillian’s car. He said he kept it as a souvenir to remind him that some things required a personal touch.”
Lilly scooted back from the table. She cut her eyes to me, and I nodded. While I questioned Maxwell, she pulled up Maximillian’s license plate and address.
It took all of five minutes. Lilly knocked on the door and stuck her head in.
“I’ve got it, Konan. Let’s roll.”