Friday, September 25, 2015

Fiction Friday - Contemporaries - Chapter Eight

After relaxing for awhile with Christine, Karen finally worked up the nerve to call the detective. She dialed the number, expecting to get an answering machine of some kind, or even expecting it to just be the main phone line for the police station. She was somewhat surprised when the detective himself answered the phone.
“Hey, this is Pat. What’s up?”
“Umm, I’m looking for Detective Patrick Smith?” Karen hated when she sounded like a child on the phone. She tried to be more professional, “I’m returning your phone call regarding the Miles Tanner case.”
“Eh, alright. Hold on a second.” In the background, Karen heard his talking with a woman, she wondered
if it were his partner or his wife. It certainly sounded more like a personal line when he answered.
After a few disgruntled sounding mutterings in the background, the detective finally came back on the line.
“Sorry about that, it took awhile for you to call back, but I did bring the file home with me today, I just had to unbury it.”
“I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to disturb you at home. I just now got the message. I was in Kentucky working on the estate, and didn’t get great cell phone reception.”
“Well, we appreciate the call back; we’d like you to come down to the station as soon as we can arrange it to answer some questions regarding your connection to the deceased.”
At least he didn’t say victim, Karen thought to herself. “Sure, I have some questions of my own, as I really didn’t know him very well. I’ve already taken a couple of days off work though, is it something that we could schedule really early, or over my lunch break? I do try to take a lot of my vacation over the holidays, but I’ve used more than I wanted and it’s only June.”
“We can try. Early would be better, but you may want to cancel any morning meetings and give your boss the heads up.”
“Okay, what time?” Karen wrote down the time and decided she had better go to bed early.
Early the next morning, after stumbling through her morning routine way too early, she made it to the downtown police station by 6am. She talked with a less-than-friendly receptionist and eventually found her way to a conference style room on the third floor. The room was empty, so she made herself comfortable in one of the stackable chairs.
After a few minutes, an African-American man in his mid-40’s walked in and sat at the table. He was almost as short as Christine. Karen didn’t think he looked like the man she talked to on the phone. “Umm, I’m supposed to be meeting here with Detective Smith?”
“Yeah, that’s me. What, did you not expect me to be black or something?” He looked way too serious, but Karen hoped he was joking.
“No, I just didn’t think you looked like you sounded on the phone.”
“Ahh, the old assumption that short people can’t be in the police force. Sadly, that is untrue. Detectives specifically can be any color, shape, size or age. We do the brain part of things, so we don’t have to tackle bad guys very often. But if you’re concerned for your safety, I have a black belt in judo.”
Well, Karen hadn’t been surprised that a black man in Charlotte was a detective, but she was a bit surprised that he knew judo. The height thing was still a bit confusing, as well. She wisely kept her thoughts to herself.
After a brief silence, the detective could apparently tell she was bothered by his height. “You know, if Muggsy Bogues could dunk a basketball at 5’3” I determined I could do whatever I wanted at 5’4”, I had him beat by a mile.” He grinned at her confusion. “I guess that particular basketball star is a little before your time. He played for the Charlotte Hornets for ten years. The original Hornets, I mean.”
“Anyway, moving on from that topic, you can call me Pat, or Detective Pat if that’s easier for you. If you call me Detective Smith I might get offended. If you call me Mr. Smith I might have to shoot you.”
Karen really needed to get a handle on this man’s sense of humor before the interview was over. Everything was said in the most serious tone possible. She supposed that was what happened to your tone of voice when you dealt with crime all day. “Well, I hope it doesn’t take too long, but like I said, I do have some questions of my own, since I really didn’t know Mr. Tanner very well.”
“I supposed you must have known him a bit, since he left you all his money.” Detective Pat went silent and gazed directly into her eyes.
“Well, I’m honestly not even sure where the money is. The checking account wasn’t huge. The property in Kentucky isn’t huge, and I’ll probably try to leave that for the people living their now, at least while they’re still alive. I couldn’t find the house deed, and the car was on a lease. I’m not sure about retirement accounts; I was going to call about that today.”
“I can save you time on that one. We’ve researched all the financials and the only thing we see that’s suspicious was that his paychecks were split. Only 20% went into his checking account for his monthly spending. The other 80% went into the trust fund, which paid for the house and car lease, farm expenses, and utility bills.”
“A trust fund? What or who was the trust fund for? I didn’t see any paperwork on that in my documents.”
“That’s on a need to know basis.” Detective Pat slapped a set of papers down in front of him and leaned forward. “We know you aren’t the murderer, because we’ve already checked out your whereabouts during the time of death. We also can see that you had no motive, as you won’t be receiving anything of value from the estate, unless you want to move to Kentucky or sell the property and kick those old people off their land. What we want to know, is who else stands to benefit from his death, and we think that you’re the person who can tell us that.”
“I’m being totally honest with you here. We barely knew each other. We worked together, but not really together, just at the same company. I didn’t know his friends, or if he had a girlfriend. I’m just now finding out a little bit about his family relationships, or as far as I can tell his lack thereof. I don’t know how he died or anything about his finances, or where his mother is buried or if he had any half-siblings or strange uncles or anything at all. I suggest you do the work yourself, and quit bothering me, since I’m already apparently going to be paying for this stupid estate out of my own pocket. I can’t afford the accountant’s bill with what’s left in the checking account!” Karen found herself fighting with tears, sometimes she hated being emotional and hormonal for no reason.
“Well, I imagine the trust fund might pay some of those expenses. I can’t give you much information, but I can give you the name of the trustee, and you can direct your questions to him. His name is Mr. Scott Plum.”
            “My boss! Why in Hades would my boss encourage me to be the personal representative when he knows I won’t get anything because of this stupid trust! He had to have known that. Here I thought he was being helpful, I bet he gets some ridiculous benefit from being trustee. I am so frustrated right now. So, you don’t have any leads, is it even a murder or is that all a lie too?”
“It was definitely a murder, the coroner report says that it was a single gunshot would to the head, likely by someone he knew. It happened at 11pm on Wednesday night. There were no signs of breaking or entering and no one heard anything, so it’s likely a silencer was used. The body was identified by an elderly neighbor and one of Scott’s co-workers. We couldn’t find anyone else. No next of kin, no close friends, no girlfriend. I know you say you didn’t know him well, but keep your eyes and ears open at work for anything out of the ordinary. I can’t tell you any more than that.”
Detective Pat leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms. “Anything else you have questions about today.”
“I guess not, but this is certainly not how I wanted to start my Monday morning at work. Now I have to confront my boss, and deal with the fact that there’s a murderer out there that you guys are doing nothing to find.” Karen slung her purse over her shoulder and stood to leave.
“Look, I don’t mean to imply that we have nothing to go on. You have to understand that murder on TV isn’t anything like murder in the real world. The CSI unit doesn’t usually find a single hair of someone who happens to be a friend of a suspect and then we happen upon a confession from someone. If we don’t find anything in the first couple days, the odds are definitely slim. If we have no motive, no suspect, and no evidence, there are a lot of cold cases. It’s a sad, but true, fact of life. We feel like our odds are good for solving this case, but I can’t tell you more than that. You’ll just have to trust us to do our jobs, and we’ll try to keep you updated if anything affects you directly. Is that cool with you?”

“Sure, I guess. I just feel really in the dark, and it’s hard to trust the system sometimes. I’ll be in touch if I come across anything at work, and I’m definitely having a serious discussion with my boss this morning, so thanks for that tidbit at least.” Karen sighed and wound her way through the maze of desks to some fresh air outside. As she walked from the police station to work, she thought for the first time of all the other people milling around outside the police station and courthouse. Were they suspects, victims, maybe even tried and convicted criminals? She clutched her purse tighter until she reached her building. As she entered her office, she noticed that her boss’s door was shut. She sent him an e-mail to call her when she was available, and started working on the backlog of unread messages from her time off. She definitely had a case of the Monday Blues.

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