In The Midnight Of His Heart
By AL BRUNO III
September 10, 1993
The unmarked police car slowed before the Victorian brownstone and pulled into the driveway. Detective Barbara Myles opened the door and eased out of the vehicle, glancing from the house’s front door to the rusty minivan she’d parked behind. She made a mental note of the Nevada plates in case it became important later. The back of the vehicle was loaded with boxes, it looked like somebody was moving out- which meant it was a damn good thing she’d decided to stop by and give John Sig’s cage a good rattle. Of course if her partner had known she was coming here on her own he’d have flipped; as far as he was concerned you didn’t go paying visits to murder suspects without backup.
But as far as Amelia Myles eldest daughter was concerned you didn’t solve cases unless you took a chance on a hunch once in a while. Besides, ex-CIA spook or not there wasn’t anything the old fart could dish out that she couldn’t handle.
The front door of the house swung open as she stepped onto the landing. A furious looking bald man limped up to her “What do you want?”
It took a few seconds for Barbara to recognize the skeletal form before her as John Sig. The sight of him brought back uneasy memories of her father’s death; cancer had taken a year to claim him but it had left him as hairless and emaciated as the figure before her.
“I said, what do you want?”
With his thick mustache and long silver locks there had been an almost kindly air about John Sig, but now it looked as though he had taken a nosedive into Manson territory.
“Somebody hit a whorehouse owned by a Violet Mendoza, thirteen people were killed.”
“Should I care?”
Barbara drew closer, “Funny thing about it, we can account for all of her ‘employees’ except one- a skinny redhead named Angel. A little digging helped us find out that her real name was Angela Delvecco. A funny coincidence don’t you think?”
Before John could speak a second man poked his head through the doorway, his arms loaded down with boxes.
“You don’t think I had anything to do with that do you?”
Barbara stepped aside so the other guy could get around her and pile more junk into the back of the van. He wore an elaborately embroidered leather jacket, she made a mental note of it in case it became important later, “No just being thorough. Is there anything you’d like to tell me Mr. Sig?”
“No.” he said with a dismissive gesture, “but I’m sure after what happened between myself and your partner that I must be high on your list of suspects.”
“At this point everyone’s a suspect. Where you there Mr. Sig?”
“At Violet Mendoza’s little house of ill repute.” the sight of his knuckles whitening around the handle of his cane sent a trill of pleasure through her. Barbara thought to herself that this was how a shark must feel when it smells blood in the water.
“I don’t think an old man like me would last very long in a neighborhood like that.”
“Where were you on the night of September eighteenth?”
“Home.” he replied quickly, “I had guests.”
“Don’t give me that look, I’m not lying.”
“I didn’t say you were, I was just asking you a few questions.”
“I’m sorry, it’s just that I’m worried for Angie.”
“I’m sure she’s fine.” she turned to go, walking off the porch and back to her car, “And I’m sorry I had to bother you with all these questions, we just had to cover all our bases.”
“Oh, I understand.”
“I mean, it’s all pretty academic at this point.”
The little man in the leather coat was still rummaging around in the back of the minivan and whistling an old David Bowie tune.
John’s brow furrowed, “What do you mean?”
“We have a witness.” she turned to look John Sig dead in the eye, “Well, I should say we will have a witness as soon as Violet Mendoza is able to talk.”
“Violet Mendoza is alive?” the look on the old man’s face was priceless.
“Yes. You seem pretty surprised about that.” she started walking back towards him but tried to keep the guy in the leather jacket in her peripheral vision.
“I- I- “
“Is there anything you should be telling me Mr. Sig? Anything at all?”
He took a clumsy half-step backwards, “I am a suspect.”
“I told you Mr. Sig, everyone’s a suspect at this point.”
The other man looked up from his boxes, “Even me?”
“What?” Barbara shot him a angry glance, if there was one thing she didn’t need it was a heckler.
“That’s a very broad statement you’re making. Everybody’s a suspect? Everybody?” he scratched his chin, “How are you going to question them all? If you want my opinion you might need to narrow things down a bit.”
“I don’t need- What kind of a- Who the Hell are you anyway?”
With a flourish the stranger produced a battered, stained billfold, “Special Agent August Zabladowski.”
Barbara examined the ID closely, “Do you know the penalty for impersonating a Federal Agent is?”
“Do you know the penalty for interfering with a Federal investigation is?” he pocketed the billfold.
“This is no investigation!”
“I didn’t realize that you had inside information on all the current Federal investigations in progress.” he leaned against the minivan and crossed his arms, “You either must have a very high security clearance or be a better detective than we thought.”
“You don’t know shit about me.”
“Detective Barbara Myles, age 32. Eight years on the force, made detective in record time, four official commendations, and three official reprimands. Married from 1986 to 1992. Single-handedly captured the Scroon Lake murderer after just two weeks on the case- Oh, sorry.” his smile became a mischievous leer, “I do go on sometimes.”
The sound of a door slamming nearly scared her out of her skin; she turned to see that John Sig was gone “Hey!”
The ‘Special Agent’ stepped back into her field of vision, “Your car is blocking me in.”
“You son of a bitch!”
He tsked her, “Such language, it’s really no wonder that you have three official reprimands.”
“What are you doing here? Why are you helping him? Did Gawain Wight send you?”
“I’m just looking up an old friend, there’s no harm in that is there?”
Barbara strode up to him, she was almost a full foot taller than he was, “Why?”
“Why are you protecting him? He’s a murderer, you know it and I know it. Why?”
The ‘Special Agent’ appeared to consider this, “I could no more explain my motivations to you, than you could explain Einstein's theory of relativity to an earthworm.”
“Witnesses or no witnesses this case will never come to trial, we both know that. Just content yourself with the thought that for once a cruel fate befell equally cruel people.”
“He broke the law!”
“This isn’t about the law, this is about justice.”
His smile was unshakable, infuriating. Barbara wanted to knock it on to the other side of his face, but in the end she could only retreat cursing back to her car and back out of the driveway with a screeching of tires. Not for the first time in her eight years on the force she found herself pondering why she bothered.