2nd day | excerpt chapter 4
When Michael disappears from sight, Thomas impulsively decides to pay their suspect a visit without leaving a note for his colleague. Will you miss me while I’m gone, Michael had said. Thomas chuckles, no way. The guy has been acting so pompous lately, he would probably start preaching about proper procedure. To hell with that.
But on the way to his car, Thomas comes to his senses and calls Jennifer, who decides to skip lunch and join him. They need to take every opportunity to get the suspect to talk, and Jennifer agrees that now is a good time to confront him again. They find themselves between a rock and a hard place; the only circumstantial evidence they have is the suspect’s confession, his presence in the missing girl’s camper and the text message announcing his arrival. Without any hard evidence of the alleged crime, they will have to release him the day after tomorrow. Jennifer calls Mr. Carter to give the suspect legal advice during the interrogation.
“It is only the second day into the case and I am already starving. I didn’t have a proper dinner last night, and I did not bring anything for lunch today. What about you?” says Jennifer to Thomas as they hit the highway.
“I cannot eat right now,” Thomas says grimly, “but after our visit to loony we can stop in town for a bite, is that okay with you?”
“Damn, I already agreed with Michael to do some research in town, I don’t think there is time.” Jennifer is painfully aware that Malcolm’s expectations are high, and she does not want to disappoint him. Only a year into her role as deputy, she feels the pressure to bring this case to a successful conclusion.
“Can I ask you something, Jenny; what is going on with you and Lemont? I don’t want to embarrass you, but I have seen him staring at you a few times. Is something going on between the two of you? You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to, but Michael’s been so angry lately and taking his frustrations out on Demi. It’s not good for team spirit. Before Malcolm finds out that things are not running so smoothly between the members of his dream team, you might want to talk to him.”
“You know very well what is bothering Michael, it is still about my promotion. He has to learn to deal with it, I cannot help him with his ego issues,” Jennifer says gruffly.
Thomas notices that Jennifer is trying to hide her face by pretending to look out the window. Jennifer is a beautiful woman, so he would not be surprised if Michael had the hots for her; he wouldn’t be the first policeman to try to get her attention. But as far as Thomas knows, Jennifer has never crossed the line. Thomas shrugs. But you never know, it’s human nature, he thinks. He doesn’t want to interfere in her personal affairs, but he is glad he mentioned it. Now it is up to her to deal with the situation.
When they arrive at the detention center after a 20-minute drive, Jennifer and Thomas are shocked at the transformation loony has undergone in the day and a half since his arrest.
Clean-shaven, with neatly combed hair and a sharp look in his eyes, he grins jovially at the detectives, “Good morning!”
“There you go, Mr. No Name, you clearly decided to drop the crazy mask. Good for you,” Thomas says, his voice dripping with sarcasm. “Let’s see if it is also good for us and our missing girl.”
The lawyer has also changed his attitude. Where he was reserved yesterday morning, he now objects to everything Thomas and Jennifer say. Carter has a problem with Thomas calling his client ‘crazy’, ignoring the fact that it was he who warned about the suspect’s mental state in the first place.
Jennifer notices Thomas’ agitation and intervenes by giving her colleague a warning look. But then the ‘good cop, bad cop’ precept might just prove useful again, Jennifer decides as she turns to the suspect. “Sir, this will come as no surprise to you; we have the results of the blood tests and we found only your blood in the van, on your clothes and on the knife, which leaves us with pressing questions that only you can answer.” Jennifer thinks it helps to make the suspect feel like he is in control, but also to appeal to his emotions. After all, he called 911 himself, which suggests killer’s remorse, so she will try to work with that to provoke a response. “I sincerely ask for your cooperation; we are dealing with a grandfather who is missing his granddaughter. What should we tell him? We are struggling with this right now, and I have a feeling that this will not leave you indifferent either.”
“I may sound like a lunatic, but I’m not crazy!” says the suspect with glee.
But Jennifer notices the jovial expression on his face change, if only for a second. There you go, she thinks, the suspect’s behavioral changes are just a mask. If Thomas can contain his frustration a little, we will get somewhere.
Jennifer asks for a short break to discuss her strategy with Thomas.
“This is bizarre Jennifer, we don’t even know who he is yet, this proves his manipulative and strategic mind. I don’t see how velvet gloves are going to be effective with this cunning guy.”
Thomas decides to ignore Jennifer’s advice. When back in the interrogation room, he drops the question without hesitation. He gives neither Jennifer nor Carter room to interrupt.
“Mr. No Name. I am done with your game and I need you to tell us right here and now, who the hell are you?”
Carter protests and Jennifer rolls her eyes. My God, are you for real, Legrand; what was it again about dream team members sailing smoothly? she sneers inaudibly. Once again, Jennifer feels the pressure to live up to her role as deputy; is she any good if she can’t even tame the self-preoccupied behavior of her detectives?
But then, out of the blue, loony speaks: “My name is Conner Hudson Brooks,” he says calmly. “I have no problem telling you who I am, since it is only a matter of time before you figure it out for yourself. I am 55 years old, I design watercraft for a living, and I recently moved to Palomino from Tennessee. That is all I am willing to reveal and I would like to end this conversation now.”
Bam. It is as if a bombshell dropped on the spot.
Jennifer addresses the lawyer. “Since Mr. Brooks has not yet recanted his guilty plea, we have the right to hold him for further questioning. It will be in his best interest to tell us what happened to the girl before the trial.”
“Nice try, Mrs. Rodriguez,” Carter says smugly. “But I agree to an extent, and I also advise my client to clarify yesterday’s events to restore his honor and innocence.”
The lawyer pauses to give Brooks a chance to respond. But to no avail, as expected. Carter shrugs indifferently, not bothered by his client’s strategy for now. “Detectives, you have no basis for requiring Mr. Brooks to provide additional information because clearly, you have no evidence of a crime being committed, despite Mr. Brooks’ earlier assertion to the contrary. I would have preferred that my client shed light on yesterday’s unfortunate circumstances, but if he chooses to wait until court, that is fine with me. He has every right to do so.”
“Were you already aware of his identity?” asks Jennifer in return.
“It was as welcome a surprise to me as it was to you,” Carter says, indicating his departure by putting his papers in his pocket and buttoning his jacket. “Anyway, I thought it was a pleasant meeting. Short and sweet, shall we say?” he smiles slyly.
Damn you, sly fox, Thomas thinks, you and your client are evenly matched.
Jennifer rubs her forehead as she watches Carter and Brooks leave the room, her head hurts and she feels drowsy. Michael will have to wait, she needs to eat right now. “Let’s go Legrand, I have a bone to pick with you. Shall we have lunch after all, I am dying to hear your understanding of a smooth sailing detective team.” Jennifer says as she manages a wry smile.
“Call Malcolm first, Jenny. Bring him up to speed before shit hits the fan; they have probably been looking for us. After that we can eat and talk. Hey, we made some progress today, didn’t we? Tranquillo, Rodriguez. Relax!” says Thomas, who is suddenly in an excellent mood.