A Song of the Past: Thirty-two

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Saturday, 5:00 PM
Deirdre traveled back to headquarters. At her desk she leaned back in the chair with her feet propped up. She closed her eyes and contemplated the impression that Jacob deliberately had been withholding some crucial piece of her puzzle. Did the piece reveal a facet of Alvin she had not yet seen? Or of Harrison, or Evelyn? Or might it even display all three of them from an angle that made obvious how they all were elements of a single picture?

Jacob had seemed most defensive when asked about Evelyn. Was it possible that Jacob had some connection to Evelyn apart from Harrison? If so, how might she discover it?

Well, she thought, why not take the most obvious route first? She slid her feet off her desk, flipped through her address book to the T's, and then dialed Harrison Tyler's number. It seemed, indeed, to be her lucky day, for he answered the phone himself.

"Mr. Tyler?"

"Deirdre! So, have you decided to fly away for a weekend after all? Or is there a new murder that you think I’ve committed?"

"Mr. Tyler, you're O-for-two. I hope you pick stocks better than you guess my intentions."

"Detective, I'm an investment banker, not a stock picker. But, if not vacation or murder, what can I do for you?"

"Mr. Tyler, you have a brother, Jacob, is that correct?"

"Certainly. But you didn't think I was keeping that secret, did you?"

"No, not at all. But I want to ask you something about him, and I hope you will consider the question very carefully."

"You have my full attention."

"Did Jacob ever have any relationship with Evelyn aside from being her brother-in-law?"

"Although I was willing to give your question as much thought as it required, it turns out that it required very little. He certainly did."

Deirdre could not quite believe how easily this had come out. "He did?"

"You don't believe me?"

"No, no, I do. What was it?"

"He was in love with her, before she and I were married."

Deirdre did not speak for many seconds.

"Detective, are you still there?"

"Yes, Mr. Tyler. Why didn't this come up during the investigation of Evelyn's murder?"

"Well, it hardly seemed relevant, did it? After all, that was nearly twenty years ago."

"And Evelyn, was she in love with him?"

"We never discussed it, but I think she was."

"Then why did she marry you?"

"Evelyn had very definite standards as to how she ought to live. She realized that Jacob would never meet those standards. A stone mansion on Chapel Street suited her much more than a ranch house in Hamden."

"Were Jacob and Evelyn lovers before you were married?"

"I never knew, nor, indeed, did I ever want to know. But if you want my opinion, then yes, I suspect they were."

"And you didn't think any of this could have had any relevance to Evelyn's murder?"

"Detective O'Reilly, not even someone as sentimental as Jacob could maintain an adolescent crush for two decades."

Deirdre realized that she was talking to a man for whom passion was a foreign, perhaps mythical, concept. That a man like Jacob, with his intense, nervous, introverted nature, might well be consumed by a single, overwhelming relationship for his whole life would never occur to Harrison. But it occurred now to Deirdre, and she needed some time to sort out the implications of the notion.

"Mr. Tyler, you've been very helpful. I don't want to take up any more of your time, so I'll let you get on about your business now."

"But Detective, there is no business I'd rather 'get on about' than talking to you."

"That's very nice, Mr. Tyler. But look, I've got a murder to solve… or perhaps a couple of murders to solve. I really have to go."

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