"Where is the woman?"
"On that bench over there. She says she can't stay; she has to take the old lady home."
"And what about her? Did she see or hear anything?"
"She can't talk. The nurse says she can understand the occasional grunt, but she doesn't think the old lady knows what's going on around her. In any case, she didn't seem to be scared or shocked by anything."
"Why didn't they sit on an empty bench?"
"All the others were taken."
"None. Nobody saw anything unusual."
"What did you find out?"
"Not much. He was shot point-blank while sitting on the bench, his back to the grassy part of the park. The murderer could have come up from behind, across the grass, silently, with the weapon hidden behind a newspaper or inside a bag. The noise of the traffic from the two avenues is enough to muffle the noise of a gun with a silencer. A professional job."
"What was a detective from the Third Precinct, downtown, doing at three in the afternoon on a weekday sitting on a park bench in Copacabana?"
Espinosa had hardly finished the question when he realized that it could apply to himself as well. What had he been doing at that same hour, sitting in a cafe downtown? If he'd been shot in the head, what would his death have to do with the fact that he had been drinking a cappuccino downtown? No investigator, no matter how expert, could have guessed that he was there only because he'd randomly decided to sit in that cafe at that moment, his eye attracted by a slit skirt.
"Try to find out if he lives around here, or if some relative does. The park must have someone in charge of it; talk to him, ask if he'd ever seen Detective Silveira. I'll go talk to the chief of the Third Precinct. Did anyone go through his pockets?"
"I did. Wallet, ID card, cell phone, keys, notepad, pen, handkerchief. His weapon's in his belt. Nothing written on the notepad."
"Could anyone have done it before you?"
"The cops who answered the call, but if anyone went through his pockets they don't seem to have taken anything. His wallet still has his credit cards, checks, and some money."
"If you've already taken down the names and addresses of the woman and the nurse, you can let them go. If Silveira met people at this park, the caretaker must have noticed something. Squeeze him a little. I'll see you back at the station."
The station was five blocks down the Avenida Atlantica and two to the right, up Hilario de Gouveia. Whenever possible, Espinosa preferred to take the Avenida Atlantica. The soft breeze kept the sea calm, with small waves, and seagulls flew in groups toward the Cagarras Islands. Why would someone choose a public place, a park, to murder a policeman? One answer: because no one would think to do it there. Another possibility: because he happened to be there. Third possibility: because the cop and the murderer had arranged to meet there. There were other options, but since the walk to the station wasn't very long, Espinosa contented himself with those three. The third was probably the most likely. Now, if the cop had arranged to meet the murderer there, and was waiting for him while peacefully sitting on a bench, it was because the cop didn't know that he was a murderer, or because he knew but it didn't occur to him that he himself would be the victim. It probably wasn't a meeting arranged to settle scores, or the cop would have been more careful. The laid-back way he'd waited for the other's arrival suggested that they knew each other. They might even have been friends. Espinosa eliminated the idea that they were meeting to exchange some merchandise. The location was too visible, and there was only one exit. The breeze from the sea took the edge off the heat and even made the walk fairly pleasant, provided, of course, that Espinosa stayed in the shade.
From A Window in Copacabana by Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza. Copyright 2001 Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza. Originally published in Brazil in 2001 under the title Uma Janela em Copacabana. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher, Henry Holt & Company.
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No Man's Land
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