A Song of the Past: Installment 4

(Previous installment.)

Monday, Oct. 20, 9:00 AM

The next morning Johnson met Deirdre at her desk.

“Good morning, Detective. We brought you Ben’s main boy, Alvin Blaine. Alvin's a local rapper—goes by the name of Prince Leer. Typical stuff: 'She wouldn't give me no booty so I slapped the bitch.' Ben moved in his posse. We think Alvin runs their drug operation as well, but we've never been able to make any charges stick.”

“Did you say Prince Lear? L-e-a-r?”

“No—L-e-e-r, like in he's always leering. He's waiting for you in Room B.”

“Thanks. How long has he been there?”

“Five minutes.”

“A few more won’t hurt him. I’ll get some coffee first.”

Deirdre went on into the kitchen. Srinivas, one of the department’s computer programmers, was already at the pot.

“Namastee, shriimaan. Aap kaisee hai?”

“Acha hai. Aap kaisee hai?”

“Acha hai. How are the machines treating you today?”

“Oh, well, today they are my friends. They let me finish the fingerprint comparison program.”
“Good job. Can I come see it later?”

“Of course. Kyaa aapkoo kaafii chahi hai?”

“Dhanyavad.” Deirdre held out her cup and Srinivas filled it for her. As she walked out of the kitchen she bumped into Johnson.

“What were you just speaking?”

“Detective, where do you learn these bits of odd languages?”

“Ah, Sergeant, you should heed Roger Bacon. A knowledge of languages is the key to learning.”
“Who the hell is Roger Bacon?”

“The knowledge I lack of formal evening wear, you lack of medieval philosophers.”

“O’Reilly, you’re very strange.” He moved on into the kitchen, and Deirdre to her interview.

She opened the door of Interview Room B to find a sullen looking teenager of about 18, slumped in a chair, his unlaced high tops crossed on the table in front of him, wearing a UConn sweatshirt with the hood pulled over his head and nearly down to his dark eyes, and a pair of baggy jeans that doubtlessly showed about half-a-foot of boxers above the belt.

“Good morning, Alvin. I’m Detective O’Reilly.”

“You don’t look Irish.”

“I know, I know. A little mix-up at the hospital. Nobody noticed for years.”

Alvin looked consternated. Deirdre gave him a saccharine smile. She felt his pain: not only did he have to deal with a cop, and a woman cop at that, but a wise-ass woman cop. She deepened the Irishness of her English, hoping to throw him further off balance.

“Now your colleague, Mr. Moore, he’s met an untimely end.”

“Yeah—well what you call a timely end?”

“That’s a fine point, young Alvin. But I have a point as well, and it’s this: whatever you and your friends are up to on the street, we don’t want to see you getting gunned down. I assume you share me sentiment.” She looked at him quizzically, meeting a blank wall.

“Very well, since we’re in agreement, let’s get on with things. Now you were a close friend of Ben’s.”

“Maybe I was.”

“Alvin, I’m not interested in arresting you for friendship. And I’m in Homicide, not Vice. I know that Ben dealt crack, and that you were probably involved as well, but that’s not what I’m after. I want to find the person who killed your friend.”

Deirdre had stood up and walked to Alvin’s side of the table during her speech, and the last words were spoken about six inches from his face. She stepped back to watch his reaction. Still defiantly sullen, but she definitely had his attention.

“Was he moving in on someone’s turf?” Nothing.

“Did he rip somebody off?” He sat like a stone.

“Owe somebody money?” Silence reigned. Deirdre felt like she was playing a bad game of twenty questions, where she never got an answer back. She paced the room with her hands behind her back. Timing… like a candid photo…

“Was he doing a bit of business with someone wealthy?” Bingo! His eyes had flinched. Per the code of the streets, she pressed her advantage. If she could stare him down, she was in control.

“Well, was he?”

“How the hell would I know. If he was dealin’, I didn’t know nothin’ about it.”

“Alvin, you’re a shite liar.” She had the upper hand, but how to keep it? Throw him out. “Well, maybe some fookin’ vigilante’s come to gun you and your friends down one at a time. Some people here told me forget the investigation, it’s just some drug-dealing scumbag who’s been shot, but I wondered if it wouldn’t be nice to see a little justice done. But you don’t feckin’ care enough about your best friend even to want his killer caught. Get the hell out of here! If you change your mind and decide to help you know how to find me.”

Deirdre wheeled and strode briskly out of the room. A few minutes later, after a uniformed patrolman led a bewildered-looking Alvin Blaine past her desk and out of the station, Deirdre broke out laughing.

Bill Smith, the detective in the next cubicle, stood up and looked over the dividing wall. “Deirdre, you haven’t been having fun at the expense of our clientele, have you?”

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