CONTEXT: A WITNESS HAS COME FORWARD TO IMPLICATE DETECTIVE RACHEL BOINEAU’S BROTHER-IN-LAW IN A MURDER SHE IS INVESTIGATING. IDEALLY, ANOTHER DETECTIVE WOULD BE ASSIGNED TO THE CASE, BUT WITH ONE DETECTIVE OUT WITH THE FLU AND ANOTHER OUT ON ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE, THE CASE HAS TO STAY WITH HER FOR THE TIME BEING.
There must be a time in every law enforcement officer’s career when the bad guy turns out to be someone they thought was one of the good guys. Living in a town as small as Eastport would amplify that probability, Rachel thought, as she sat in an interrogation room questioning Drew Timmons. In most people’s minds, this man was not only one of the good guys, he was one of the best guys.
“This is ridiculous. I can’t believe you would think I had anything to do with what happened to Joan Deering,” Drew said as he paced back and forth in the small room, his hands clenching and unclenching at his sides. “I am married to your sister for Christ’s sake. How can you believe I would do such a thing? “
“Sit down, Drew,” Rachel said.
He ignored her request and kept pacing. Adrenalin, she supposed. In some people she would have suspected drug use, but not with Drew.
“Please sit down, Drew,” she repeated. “I can get a couple of officers in here to make you sit down if I have to.” He glared at her for a minute, but when he realized glaring was not an effective tactic he jerked the metal chair out from under the stainless steel table and plunked down with a leaden thud.
“Why didn’t you just come and talk to me,” Drew said, running his hand through his hair. “Why did you have to send police officers to my house to pick me up?”
She took a seat in the chair opposite him and glanced toward the mirror to her left. She could not see them, but on the other side of the mirror stood at least two other officers, observing, ready to step in if needed. One of those officers was Captain Ives. He would walk into the room after she signaled him.
When the case went to trial, everything in this interview had to be one hundred percent by the book. No preferential treatment. No matter whom the murderer turned out to be, every interview was important. The defense attorney, as well as the prosecution, would have access to the video recordings and transcripts.
“You want to talk? We can talk now, Drew. Let’s start at the beginning. Where were you three nights ago?” Rachel asked.
“I told you already,” Drew said.
She searched his eyes looking for the teenager he had been when he taught her how to swing a baseball bat in high school. She had tried out for the girls’ softball team and failed miserably. “You are in dire need of a batting coach, and here I am,” he had said to her. With that he had become her knight in shining armor.
The man now sitting in front of her was not the same person he had been then. This was not even the same man who sat across from her at the family Thanksgiving a year ago. Today he was pale, his eyes bloodshot; he had lost weight. What had happened?
“Tell me again,” she pressed. She felt a lump in her throat. She did not want to do this.
“I met Jake Peterson at Bentley’s Bar and Grill. We had a couple of drinks and played some pool. Lots of people saw us there.” He started in a polite tone, but his mouth tightened with every word until he looked like a bad ventriloquist trying to keep his lips from moving.
“Do you think you should be the one questioning me?” Drew asked, his eyes narrowing. “Shouldn’t they assign another detective to do this? We know each other. We are family. Isn’t that a conflict of interest or something?” As she heard the words come out of his mouth, she recognized the tactic as a standard move from what she called “The Asshole Playbook.” It was a playbook she knew well. Instead of answering the questions, the asshole deflected everything back to the person asking the questions.
“You mean I should recuse myself?” Rachel asked. She would have been happy to turn the case over to another detective if one had been available. A good defense attorney could always attempt to argue that bias came into play during the investigation. But, in a small town like Eastport everyone knew almost everyone else, so it would be impossible to assign an investigator who was totally unfamiliar with someone like Drew.
This was Drew Timmons, the former high school football coach who had taken the team to two state championships; Drew, the owner of a chain of auto parts stores whose likeable commercials were a constant staple on local television; Drew, the church deacon and Sunday school teacher. The list was long and illustrious.
That’s where Captain Ives came in. He had only moved to town a year ago. He did not know Drew. Ives would provide perspective if she lost her way. Unfortunately, Ives was not an Eastport Police Detective. He worked for the County Fire Rescue Department. However, he had his twenty years as a Baltimore police detective in his favor.
“That’s right. You should recuse yourself,” Drew said with a smile.
“That’s for judges, Drew, not for police detectives. Although if you think somebody who doesn’t give a shit about you would do a better job, I will see if the Chief will assign someone else. Is that what you want?”
“Yeah, I want somebody else.”
“Well, then, too bad for you the police don’t take orders from potential suspects.” As much as she pushed against it, he was getting to her. This whole situation was affecting her. She was ready to give the signal to bring Ives into the room.
“You are wrong, you know,” Drew said. “I didn’t do it. No matter what somebody said they saw, I did not murder that woman.”
A chill went up her spine. For some strange reason, those last words reminded her of the time President Clinton had stated, “I did not have sex with that woman.” The cadence Drew used was eerily similar. Clinton’s declaration turned out to be a lie – or perhaps a technical truth layered upon an untruth with the express intent to deceive. Rachel wondered if Drew’s statement would turn out to be the same. And, yet she had a hard time believing the Drew she had known all these years could lie so expertly. Could he have been so calculating and devious without her realizing it before now? Then again, he had lied to her once before. A very long time ago. He was hiding something now. She knew it.