Saturday, August 10, 2013

Aftermath

In a partial daze Leslie and I, along with whoever else the authorities found littered in the hallway carnage, were scooped up and corralled into separate interview rooms on the first floor for questioning.

After hours of being harassed by what seemed like every cop, administrator, manager, bureaucrat and lawyer in the building about what had happened in the corridor on the 30th floor I was released to the light of day. Or what was left of it that could make its sorry way down this dreary hallway from the street facing windows.

I was sitting on a black leather bench, staring at a coffee machine wondering if the caffeine would help settle my nerves. I wasn’t thinking straight. I’d had enough for one day, but I had to wait for Leslie. I was supposed to keep an eye on her. That was rich. Me keep an eye on a skilled lock picker and escape artist who had kicked the crap out of me as soon as she had the opportunity. 

My numb brain had just about decided that a twenty-five cent cup of machine-made coffee was a good idea when the door to interview room four opened and Leslie walked out and over to where I was sitting.

“The said they wouldn’t figure out how to arrest me if I let you keep track of me. Some choice, but I’m not going to jail. Let’s get out here.”

Yeah, great. Her confidence in me warmed my heart.

She didn’t stop to chit chat. She stated her position as briskly as she walked by and made a beeline for the exit. I jumped up and followed her out to the lobby and into the street. She stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, faced me and looked me straight in the eye.

“I’m starving. And I need a drink.”

“There’s a place just down the street,” I offered, gesturing she follow me to a café I knew.

“No way,” as her emphatic reply. She turned and looked down the street. There was a streetcar heading toward us,”We’re going to a place I know. “

We got on as soon as it pulled up and rode for a couple of kilometers. It was late afternoon and the rush hour was just cranking up. ‘lev lag was kicking in big time. I was dead on my feet.  I didn’t know how to read Leslie. We got off outside of a club called Rick’s. 

We went in. Rick’s was in some kind of 48-odd year time warp. I didn’t know any of these places still existed. Low, jazzy music, over-stuffed plush furniture, filled with guys and dames seemingly pulled straight from the screen of a post-war movie. 

Apparently the maitre’d couldn’t believe his eyes and hustled over to us as soon as he saw Leslie.

“Miss Warden! So nice to see you again. It’s been a long time,” he cooed in complete awe of her presence in his little establishment.

“It’s good to see you Andre. Is my usual table available?”

Andre looked around, “You’re in luck. This way please.”

Andre headed into the dining room and we followed him to a vacant semi-circular booth in the back.  Leslie apparently chose her dining arrangements Al Capone style: in the back, poorly lit, but facing the entrance with a good view of the entire room.

Leslie took off her blazer, tossed it on the booth seat and then sat down. I slipped into the booth and sat on the opposite side of the table.

“A drink?” Andre asked Leslie.

“My usual, and one for him too.”

Leslie slumped back into her seat. I think I could read her now. Her vibe was definitely, I’m fed up.

“Do you have a pen?” she asked.

I reached for one from my jacket pocket and handed it to her. She took it and starting writing on a napkin.

As she wrote she gave me some pretty clear instructions, “Let’s get one thing straight: you’re not tagging along everywhere I go. This is the address, phone and terminal numbers of where I’m staying. I’m at a friend’s, and she lives near here, so I’m easy to find, and you can contact me any time. Just don’t follow everywhere I go. Got that?” She handed me the napkin. 

I put it in my pocket. “Got it. Don’t worry, I’m not even staying for dinner. I’m going to St. Mike’s to visit Adams.”

Leslie seemed to ignore me and continued, “You need to check me into your office the day after tomorrow. I’m supposed to be back for more questions and you’re my minder. Meet me in the lobby at 9.”

“Ok. No problem. I need to be there too. The police have taken over this case now that there’s streetcar hijackings, assaults and attempted murders. They’re going to go over everything in my old case files. We’re just the helpers now.”

“Well, you do have one thing that’s still all your own.” Leslie reached over to her blazer, pulled out a raygun and placed it on the table.

“That’s evidence. You need to turn that over.”

“Yes, eventually, but not right now.”

“They’ll need it and can charge you if you don’t hand it over.”

“Look, what do you think happened to the other one?”

“Somebody took it.”

“Somebody who was one of you guys. Somebody who popped out of one of those rooms, took it, and disappeared in the confusion,” insinuated Leslie.

Andre arrived with our drinks. Straight whiskeys. The aroma told it all: good stuff. Leslie knew what was what. I took a sip and replied, “There’s more traitors there than I realized. Well, regardless, you need to give it to the police.”

“Not until I’ve opened it up. In the lab we made all these things by hand. Before we tested any we did an informal inspection to see if they had any obvious problems. After you’ve seen enough of these things you can usually tell who built which ones if you look closely enough. Everybody’s got some construction quirk they leave behind. I bet that I can figure out who made this once I’ve opened it up. Not everyone knows how to make one of these things, and it’s probably someone from the lab. They might cough-up another piece to this puzzle.”

“You can do that at your friend’s place?”

“No. I need to go see the Lone Trainmen.”

“The Lone Trainmen?”

“They’re physicists I know who’re members of the U of NT’s model railroad club. My dad founded it, and they’ll get me access to the equipment I’ll need. I’ll go see them tomorrow.”

“Ok.”I checked my watch, “Look I need to go before visiting hours are over, but there’s one thing before I leave. I went and found the report the police filed after you reported Donna might have been kidnapped. Turns out, Donna might have been the person who killed Constable McMillan.”

“What? I don’t believe it!”

“Well, I’m not certain either, the report is locked up with Adams’ other stuff the police seized, but we need to visit the woman who killed Constable McMillan and see for ourselves.”

“When? Where is she?”

“I’ll make some calls tonight and try and try to pull some strings to see her tomorrow. Better put off your meeting with the ‘Lone Trainmen’ until the evening. She’s in the Moramar Maximum Security Penitentiary. I’ll call you later tonight once I’ve set things up.” 

With that, I drained my glass and headed for St. Mike’s.

The next instalment can be found here.

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