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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Song of the Past: Installment 5

(Previous installment.)

Monday, Noon
At the detectives meeting that morning Captain Muller had been skeptical about Deirdre's take on her new case. He felt that they were dealing with an ordinary drug killing. He noted, with some sarcasm, that the road had not been closed to all except murderers and their victims, and that therefore the source of the tie tack and shoe print could have been two different people, there at different times, neither of whom were connected to the killing in any way. Muller suggested that she look at a rival gang, “The Phat Cobras,” who were centered around a rapper named “Blood Soup.” Deirdre had little to offer in defense of her hunch.


Three members of The Phat Cobras were brought in for questioning, but all of them claimed to know nothing about the killing. In fact, each one provided alibis for the other two—they had been at the same party that night, along with the rest of their boys. Fortunately, Deirdre had another, more reliable source of news from the street. She signed out an unmarked police car and drove across town to her Aunt's house, where she had lived for five years. She pulled up in front of the two-family dwelling and knocked on the front door, and then let herself in.

“Auntie!”

“Hi, love.” Her aunt lifted her large frame off of the couch and hugged Deirdre. It felt like sinking into a warm bowl of Jell-O.

“How are you, Auntie?”

“Well, I'm okay. I'm just watching Jeopardy, trying to relax.”

“How's work?”

“Oh, you know, it's tiring, but still and all, I enjoy helping the children. And what about you? I hope you're being careful.”

“Of course. The first thing they teach us at the police academy is not to take foolish chances.”

“Still, I tink it's no job for a woman hunting down killers. There are some vicious men out there.”

“And women.” Deirdre looked down at the floor for a moment, then back up. “Auntie, you know I can take care of myself.”

“I hope so, love.”

“Is Justin here?”
“Oh yes, him out back with Dexter and some other fellow.”

“All right then. I'll say good-bye before I go.”

Her aunt sunk back onto the couch. Deirdre passed through the kitchen and out of the back door. On the rear porch her uncle and two other, older Jamaican men sat around a card table playing dominoes. She said hello and passed by them into the driveway.

Justin, Dexter (who had a room on the second floor), and a third man stood in a semi-circle in the driveway, brown Guinness bottles in hand.

“Gentlemen, what’s happening today?”

“Yes, yes, Sister Deirdre. How’s it coming?”

“Good, Dexter.”

“Let me get you a stout.” Dexter moved to a nearby cooler and fished a Guinness from the ice.

“Hi, Deirdre. Long time no see.”

“Hi, Justin. It's been crazy on the job. You know how it is.”

“Yes. Deirdre, this is Neville.”

Deirdre shook hands with the third of their party. As she did so, a dog snaked around the corner and approached her from behind. She turned to face it and it immediately backed off about ten feet.

“Him the same dog we seen last week?” Neville asked.

“Uh-huh, that the same dog,” Dexter answered.

“M’surprised it still alive.”

“Why do you say that?” Deirdre's curiosity had been aroused.

“Dem RC-BC kids next door—we see them do some vicious tings to that dog.”

“Yeah mon. One day we in back and dem bury the dog in the ground!”

“No!”

Dexter and Justin were cracking up.

“Yeah. Dem mother come out just when dem done and lick shot dem, then dig the dog up. The next day, m’sitting out and m’see the dog rising up in the air!”

“What?”

“Dem had it on a rope thrown over a tree and dem was using it to pull up the dog. Another time dem put it in a barrel with rocks and was rolling it around the yard.”

“Jeeesus Christ!” All around her were laughter and leg slapping.

Dexter wiped his eyes. “Yeah mon, we must go. W'say we be at the park by two, and m'tink it past that now.”

“It was good seeing you.”

“Yes, sister, take care.”

Justin shook his friends’ hands, and Neville and Dexter took off down the driveway. Justin gestured to some chairs beneath a large maple. “Have a seat.”

“Thanks.” Deirdre moved to sit down, Justin following her.

“So, what's up? There’s something on your mind.”

“It's true. And I'm really sorry I haven't been around more. I love coming here, but it really has been nuts with my job.”

“Hey, you do what you have to do. No one can blame you for that.”

“Thanks.” Deirdre paused, staring vaguely toward the domino game. “Justin, I need your help. A crack dealer, Ben Moore, was murdered Saturday night. On the surface it looks like another drug killing, but I don't think so.”

“If people were to probe beneath the surface of most things, they'd see a lot that would amaze them.”

“True, true.” She tried to steer the conversation away from philosophical issues, which could engage Justin for quite some time, and back to her problem: “In any case, I think Ben was involved in some shenanigans with someone wealthy, and that there is a connection between that and his murder. Maybe Ben was his supplier and then started blackmailing the guy, or something of the sort. I want to know about any rumors on the street related to the killing.”

“But if some rich man did it, they'll never let you bring him in.”

“Justin, there’s no ‘they.' Remember, I'm a cop. I'm one of the ‘they’ you're talking about.”

“And you really think they let you know what's going on? It's the men up top who run things, and they'll protect their own, especially if he killed a crack dealer. Why you want to protect crack dealers anyway? They're just vicious parasites.”

“But people shouldn't be able to gun them down whenever they feel like it.”

After a pause, Justin nodded and said, “True.”
“Will you help me?”

“Of course. If you need my help, it’s yours.”

“Thanks. Call me if you turn up anything interesting, or otherwise I'll check back with you in a couple of days. Oh, and I just interviewed a friend of his, who I think knows more than he is telling: Alvin Blaine. He's a rapper. He goes by the name 'Prince Leer.' See what you can find out about him.”

“I've heard of him. Gangsta rap, real hard boys. I'll poke around their scene. But let me ask you, you coming to our next show?”

“When is it?”

“Friday night, at the Cape Codder. Right in your neighborhood, in fact.”

“I’m there.” She smiled warmly at her cousin.

Clinking, sparkling, their brown bottles caught the afternoon sun before tilting to waiting lips.

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