A Hot Day Down South…The Build Back Better program continues…unedited…

“Speaking of the mayor and what I asked you to do, have you?”

“No chief, I’ve been tied up.”

“Get untied,” Janko snarled. “Do it today.” Janko stormed away from his detectives, and they watched him go. Konan sighed and looked at Lilly. “Will you finish up with Watterson? I need to…”

“Yeah, go ahead. I’ve got this. Good luck.”

Konan turned to Tomas and said, “Come with me. We’ll grab lunch, and go see if we can’t run down Pop-Pop.” Tomas frowned at Konan, his eyes searching Konan’s face for any sign of trouble. Konan grinned and nodded for Tomas to follow. “Right behind you, Konan.” The pair headed out of the holding area and walked toward the lift. Tomas motioned for Konan to follow him into the garage and unlocked the black Dodge Charger he and Wiggins used. 

“Where to, Konan?”

“Have you ever eaten at Mary’s Pub?”

“I’ve frequented it once or twice. Is that where we’re headed?”

“Yep, my treat today.”

Tomas nodded okay and drove out of the garage. He turned left and drove toward the center of town. Mary’s Pub was one of the more fanciful restaurants in town. The lunch crowd line extended out the door, and Tomas pulled into a spot but left the motor running.

“You sure this is where you want to eat?”

“Yeah, it’s fine. Come on, before the line grows any longer.”

The two detectives stepped out of the car and walked up behind the last couple. Tomas felt cold sweat touch the base of his neck, and he turned to Konan. After licking his lips and clearing his throat, Tomas asked, “What is this all about?”

“Getting lunch?”

“No, Konan. Not lunch, I understand the reason for lunch. Why are you here with me and not Wiggins? What did Janko mean when he snapped at you at the office? Why are you being so nice to me?” The line moved forward, and Konan took a step up. He turned to Tomas and said, “We’ll talk about it inside, okay? I promise, everything will get covered, and you will know what the deal is in just a few moments.”

“Okay,” Tomas said, as he shoved his hands into pockets and balled them in tight fists. “I expect answers.”

“So do I, Tomas.”

The line moved twice more, and Konan found himself standing before the hostess. A petite blonde stood next to a stack of menus and favored Konan with a smile. 

“Hi, table for two?”

“Yes, please. Um, may we have a booth in the back, away from everyone else -if that’s possible with this crowd?” The hostess scanned down the list of available tables and booths and nodded her head. “Yes, I have something available. Follow me, please.”

Stained glass chandeliers hung from the ceiling, the soft corpse glare from the bulbs gave the pub a moody atmosphere. Thick cut cedar beams crisscrossed the ceiling, the bar was hand carved from black walnut. This was the first time Konan had visited Mary’s Pub, and he was impressed by the scenery and staff. 

The booth provided both Tomas and Konan with a clear view of the entire room. The hostess placed the two menus down in front of them, and said, “Tyra is your server. They’ll come by in a few and take your order.”

“Thank you,” Konan said. The hostess smiled and left. Tomas glared at Konan and asked, “Well, tell me what’s going on, and don’t leave anything out.”

“That’s what I wanted to say, but you beat me too it. Okay, Tomas. I had Ashton run a recovery of the mainframe’s hard drive.”

“Yeah, I know that.”

“I found the email Mayor Smith sent you. You know the one, right? The one about making the glue stick? Do you and he conspire together often? Or was it a one shot kind of deal?”

Tyra came to the booth and gave both men a smile. Konan smiled back, but Tomas grimaced. “Have you decided on what you want to drink?”

“Sweet tea, please.”

Tyra turned to Tomas and raised her eyebrows at him. “Same,” Tomas said softly. Tyra said, “I’ll be right back with your drinks,” and vanished back toward the kitchen area with a swish. Tomas licked his lips and took a deep breath.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Konan.”

“Okay, Tomas. Let me rephrase my question. Does Mayor Smith tell you to violate your oath often? How often does that piece of garbage get involved in our cases?”

“You don’t understand, Konan.”

“Try me,” Konan snarled. “Do you realize, no of course you don’t. Lilly and I kept it quiet from everyone but Janko. We suspect the killer is a cop, and now, we find out you’re manufacturing evidence to put people in jail. How do you think that looks?”

“Now hold on, Konan. You don’t know what that was about. It was a one-time deal.”

“Un-huh. Keep talking.”

Tyra came back, two glasses of sweet tea in hand. She smiled at Konan, and he winked at her. Her smile grew wider. “Are you ready to order?”

“Yes,” Konan said. “I’ll have today’s special.”

“Same,” Tomas said. Tyra smiled and took up the menus. “I will come right back with your food.” Konan watched in appreciation as she left. She cocked her head and looked back at Konan, saw him looking, winked and blew him a kiss. Konan shook his head and grinned. 

“You were saying, Tomas?”

“From jump street that case was straight garbage. I tried everything I could think of to break that case open. It was a pedophile, and she targeted girls no older than six. We could never find any evidence to support our instinct; she cleaned crime scenes, for God’s sake. On top of that, she hurt kids, Konan. Babies. I did what I had to do to remove a predator from the streets.”

“So, you manufactured evidence to get a conviction. You know that’s illegal, right?”

“You don’t get it man,” Tomas snarled leaning over the table into Konan’s space. “She hurt children. I had a six-year-old at home, my daughter, and I wanted her to be safe.”

Konan sipped his tea and put his glass down. Tyra brought out their food, but Konan had lost his appetite. After Tyra left, Konan said, “I get it. People won’t raise a stink about you sending a baby-raping pedophile down the river, no matter how you do it. Did the glue stick?”

“Yeah, she’s claimed I framed her, but you’re the first to have actual evidence of it. I made sure enough evidence got found to keep her in jail until she dies.”

“Did the crimes stop?”

“Yeah, they stopped.”

“Has Mayor Smith ever tried to exert himself into more cases – if so, you need to let me know now.”

Tomas stabbed a piece of chicken from his plate and shook his head no. “That cat’s weird, man. He got off on setting that woman up, but no, he’s never sought to involve himself into another active investigation.”

“Has he mentioned anything to you about me and Lilly’s investigation into these murders? If he has, you best tell me.”

“He hasn’t applied pressure, but I know for a fact he isn’t happy about the way this case is going. From what I’ve heard, he’s taking the lack of progress as an insult. After all, this case is the reason he brought you back. Yeah, I understand.”

“I don’t manufacture evidence to ‘catch’ bad guys, Tomas. Some people are okay with falsifying evidence, I’m not. We work until we get enough evidence to send them away. If there’s no evidence to hold them or build a case, we keep working.”

“Okay, Konan. I got it.”

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