A Song of the Past: Nineteen

(Previous installment.)

Thursday, 11:15 AM
Lieutenant Muller loomed over Deirdre, who was seated in one of the two, bare wooden chairs he provided for visitors, both placed on the side of Muller’s desk closest to his office door. On the opposite side sat his own plush, leather armchair, where, if meeting with one of his subordinates, he typically would remind his guest of their relative positions in the force’s hierarchy by reclining well back from the vertical, his legs stretched out and his feet propped up on an open drawer, a posture that none of his juniors would dare to adopt in his presence. But he had just risen from that emblem of his rank, with the warrant request that Deirdre had given him crumpled in his clenched fist, and walked around the desk to the visitor’s side, and he was now waving the request vigorously back and forth, repeatedly passing it only a few inches away from her blinking eyes.

“Detective O’Reilly, are you out of your mind? You’re going to paw through the private financial records of this man, this prominent, wealthy, respected, and well-connected man, on the basis of some graffiti you stumbled over?” As he usually did when agitated, Muller had begun to stutter.

Deirdre felt sweat breaking out from her armpits and across her forehead. She trembled as she confronted the audacity behind her resolve to persist with her request until it was granted or she was ordered to cease, knowing it was making her the object of Muller’s displeasure, and her stomach was twisting into taut knots. Nevertheless, she was convinced that she was on the right trail, obligating her to stand her ground.

Her voice quavering, she responded, “Lieutenant, how can you explain the presence of that Skull and Bones symbol on that bridge, if you reject my theory?”

“Detective, I can’t explain how most of the things in the world have gotten where they are. How the hell did that jar of pennies wind up in the cafeteria? I have no fucking idea. That doesn’t mean I’m going to ask for warrants until I can find out!”

“But it’s not just the graffiti. We also have the unlikely fact that the two murders occurred in almost exactly the same place. We have the tie tack found at the scene. Did you know that there are only four people in the New Haven area, including Tyler, who might own a tack like that?”

“So probably one of those four, but we don’t know which, was somewhere near the murder scene, but we don’t know when. Of course, there’s nothing to stop any of the other… what?”

“Six hundred.”

“Six hundred, hey? So, there’s nothing to stop any of the other six hundred Bonesmen from visiting the town where their old alma mater is, either. In fact, we’d probably find that quite a few of them have been through New Haven in the last few months, wouldn’t we? I mean, alumni events, lectures, football games, business trips: maybe what? forty or fifty of them have been back recently. And any of the six hundred could have lost a tie tack, or had it stolen. I’d say a decent defense attorney could drive a truck through that hole in your case.” He shook his head in exasperation.

“Lieutenant, we have even more. We have Alvin Blaine telling us that Moore had something up with a businessman. Tyler has no alibi for the night of the murder. He says he didn’t love his wife enough to want revenge for her murder—which I well believe. But if he had her killed, and Moore was blackmailing him, I also think he would be quite capable of killing Moore to cease the annoyance and save the money. We have Moore’s prior for car-jacking. Yes, it’s all a fantastic idea. But the graffiti is the straw that broke the back of my resistance to it. I know we don’t have enough to convict Tyler now, but we have more than enough to suspect him. What are the odds against all of these links being coincidental?”

“Pretty high, Detective. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t. And with this particular case we really don’t want to be wrong.”

Lieutenant Muller walked away from Deirdre to the lone window in his office. He stared out it for a long time. “You know, what the hell? When I got promoted to this job I promised myself I’d never let all the political bullshit it involves take precedence over protecting the people who pay my salary. If I get fired for keeping that promise, so be it.” He walked back behind his desk, sat down, and placed the warrant request in front of him. He drew forth a pen from the inner pocket of his jacket, briefly waved it through the air as if brandishing a sword, and then swiftly signed the paper. As he handed it to Deirdre he said, “O’Reilly, if you are on a wild goose chase, we are both up shit’s creek.”

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