A Song of the Past: Seventeen

(Previous installment.)
Thursday, Oct. 23, 8:00 AM
Deirdre drove the car that she had signed out up to her apartment on Fountain. She would retrace the route that she and Wilfred had taken to the murder scene, and see if she could flush her half-sensed prey from its lair.

She proceeded as slowly as she thought feasible without becoming too much of an impediment to traffic—nevertheless, she heard occasional honks from behind and was given the finger a couple of times—all the while scanning the roadside. Daylight had repopulated Whalley Avenue, and it was busy with shoppers patronizing the fast food places, gas stations, and discount stores that were the main commercial presence on the avenue. Whalley was also the road that, in Deirdre’s opinion, inspired the worst driving in New Haven. Cars shot across two lanes to make a turn, weaved from lane to lane to get past other drivers, sprang out abruptly from side streets into heavy traffic, braked suddenly to enter a parking lot, and performed other stunts too various to catalog. But she successfully navigated the hazards of the boulevard and made it into the center of town.

The town green was a different place by daylight as well. Underneath the shade of an old elm a squad of percussionists beat out poly-rhythms on garbage cans and plastic buckets. Sweat-suited teens and twenty-somethings inline-skated along the sidewalks that cut diagonally across the lawn. Clusters of one or two dozen people waited at the various bus stops scattered along the perimeter of the green, and shoppers bustled in and out of the downtown stores. But nothing in the buzz of activity seemed relevant to her quest, and so Deirdre continued on down Chapel. Wooster Square—best pizza in the world. Still no tweak yet.

Just after Deirdre drove beneath the overpass of I-91, she braked with an abruptness that was remarked upon by the horn of the driver behind her. She waved him past, and then reversed back under the bridge. On the buttress to her right she suspected she had found the object of her quest. She pulled as far onto the narrow shoulder as possible, punched the button activating the hazard lights, and got out of the car. Amidst the palimpsest of graffiti blanketing the concrete bridge support, unremarkable unless you were looking for it, she saw the image of the hourglass and nine stars exhibited by the tie tack, spray-painted in bright blue and yellow. Beneath and to the right of the hieroglyph, in the same color of paint, were two letters—“B. M.”

B.M.—Ben Moore? It was almost too good to be true. Why in the world would Tyler Harrison have let this kid from the ghetto in on details of his secret society? Or had Moore connected a few dots on his own? Had she fortuitously hit upon the truth with her first conjecture: Tyler had paid Moore to kill Evelyn, after which Moore had blackmailed Tyler? If so, then there might be some evidence of cash changing hands. She would ask Alvin Blaine if Ben had seemed unusually flush the previous summer. While she was at it she might as well show Alvin this artwork and ask him if it looked like Ben’s hand. If he lent credence to her hunch, then that just might be sufficient to persuade a judge to issue a warrant for Tyler’s bank records.

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