View to Murder

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.

16 thoughts on “View to Murder

  1. calgal says:

    This is an interesting idea, and I like the M/C. A couple comments – This section feels over-written and somewhat repetitive. Maybe try a line edit to get rid of repeated thoughts and extra words (especially “had” – it’s all over the place and interferes with the flow…) There are places where contractions would help streamline. On another topic…I’m confused about why a police detective would transfer to a fire rescue department (Backstory would probably clear that up….is that common practice? Just curious….) Finally, the bit about Clinton and “that woman” is cliche.
    You’ve got a good start! Keep going…

    • 10penguins says:

      Thanks for your comments. You are definitely right about “had.” I went back and counted 17 of them. Way too many.
      This is from Chapter 3. The backstory about how/why Ives is working with the Police Department is explained in an earlier chapter. I guess I should have explained that in the context section.

  2. jmpayer says:

    The only thing that really stuck out to me was how the first paragraph didn’t make sense with the rest of the story. It goes on and on about how there’s good guys, bad guys, and this was one of the ‘best’… but then I don’t see any of that guy’s good qualities in the rest of the scene. He seems like an ass. If you want to keep that beginning then I’d have him start off cooperative and polite, gradually working toward the friction until she doesn’t recognize the guy in front of her anymore.

  3. mediumlaura says:

    I like the story and I think it flows well. The only thing that really caught my eye was the over use of his name.

    Quote: “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,” /endquote

    I don’t think you need his name quite so much. We know from the first request that Drew is pacing and she wants him to sit down.

    Good story 🙂

  4. Eliza Worner says:

    The story flows quite well for me. She backs herself into a corner a bit by offering another detective when she can’t. She should be a bit more uncomfortable and embarrassed when he calls her bluff.

    I see that Drew is a model citizen who appears to have an alibi, so why is he being accused of murder? Who made that accusation? I’m sure that comes from previous chapters, but I am interested to know the process that brought him to the spotlight. You did mention a witness, but he also says he’s already revealed his alibi. If lots of people can account for his whereabouts, wouldn’t that let him off the hook?

    I’m guessing from the revelation about Clinton that he organised the hit rather than doing the deed himself. If that’s the case, then you’ve given too much away. If it’s a red herring, is it really necessary?

    As a writing technique, try to avoid using “she thought”. Usually the thought is apparent without needing to state it. It helps keep the reader in the flow of the story.

    • 10penguins says:

      Thank you for reading and commenting!
      The witness saw him throw something off the bridge into the river. Drew’s alibi will prove to be only partially accurate. I had originally written the scene where Rachel was the witness who saw him throw something off the bridge, but then I decided that did not fit with where I wanted to go. So I went back and rewrote this scene. In rewriting it, I seem to have lost some of the energy of the scene and muddled some of the plot points.

      I am usually a pantser for the first few chapters. Then I analyze what I have and actually sit down and write a plot outline. The result is that I have to go back and rewrite some of the earlier chapters. This book also started in first person. I went back and rewrote them as third person.

      • Eliza Worner says:

        I do the same. You do go through that fuzzy phase where things get jumbled. I tend to finish a draft, get the story down, then start a new draft fresh. I keep the old drafts for reference.

  5. Rick Sherman says:

    Well written, I like your style. I agree with writing too many hads, I tend to do the same thing. Sprinkling, “she thought, he thought,” is okay. If it’s not in there, it sounds like switching to first person if there’s an, “I” in the sentence.

    I think it could be tighter. It tends to be drawn out a little too long. Great work, though. I’d be curious to see what develops.

  6. Jennifer Eller-Kirkham says:

    This passage worked for me and I enjoyed it and would keep reading. The characters are clear and I believed in them and I think you explained the good guy- bad guy thing with Drew well by saying that he was behaving like a different person from the one he was a year ago at Thanksgiving. In makes sense to me that if he has committed a murder (possibly) that he would behave like an ass. The only thing that jarred for me was when she says ‘so you think I should recuse myself’. She knows she can’t, she knows it is a play from the assholes’ playbook, she recognises that, so why would she be drawn in and answer it? I don’t think she would allow herself to be sidetracked like that. She would stick to her questions and keep asking them i.m.o.
    I think you write well and with more editing and polishing, you will have something quite readable. Not sure about originality factor as it feels like a genre that has been well-trodden, but still enjoyed by readers who like a murder mystery. Good luck with it.

    • 10penguins says:

      He is behaving like an ass because he believes Rachel has found out something about him. (She hasn’t yet, but she will in a later chapter.) He is not the killer, but he has a secret that he is trying to hide.

      You make some very good points!

  7. Arlene says:

    I like what you have done and frankly don’t want Drew to be guilty. You said he was one of the good guys, and he is a relative; I’m not certain why she would jump to “asshole playbook” if that is not who she knows him to be. He is in a bad situation that would throw anyone off and she has lost his trust by not talking to him first. If he is going to be guilty later, maybe there would be more impact if she is bending over backwards to believe him at first. I probably wouldn’t read further if I thought this is just another one of those “thought he was a good guy but he wasn’t” stories.
    Since, we don’t have more of your story to contextualize this though, I would keep reading further. Good luck.

  8. smithreynolds says:

    I liked the energy of your writing. There was some flow and purpose, and I understood that the characters had a dilemma. I understood she was in a bind to be professional, even though there is a personal connection. The whole thing with Ives is confusing. Why is a fire dept employee watching a police interview, even if he used to be a cop? Secondly, I didn’t really believe that she cared about Drew, because her inner monologue basically called him an asshole. You really threw me out of it with the Clinton comparison. Doesn’t work. I did read the whole thing, and found your style interesting. Thanks for sharing.

    • 10penguins says:

      Thank you! I appreciate your comments.
      I know a couple of officers who have gone back and forth between Fire Dept and Police Dept. Maybe it is more common in small towns. There is an explanation in an earlier chapter.

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