"Any legal work you need me to do?"
"Not yet." He squinted at me, anticipating what was coming.
"So why am I here?"
"Appearances," he said bluntly. "I called Frist as part of the usual procedure, but I told him we didn't need anyone at the crime scene."
"And he said?"
"Something along the lines of -- Walker channeled his best Frist -- "'Uh, that's fine, Detective Walker, but, you know, the news'll be all over this one. Why don't I go ahead and ask you to get Kincaid out there; it'll be easier down the road if something comes up."
"Your impersonation's better than ever."
"I'm pleased that you're pleased. Now, as for why he dimed you up instead of someone else in the unit, I can only guess."
"And your best guess?"
"Honestly? To see how you'll cut it. You've got to admit, the one other time you got handed a hot potato, your approach wasn't exactly traditional."
He was referring, of course, to the aforementioned case of the missing judge. By the time that one played out, I had leaked information to a defense attorney and helped him subpoena some of the biggest muckety-mucks in the county. Yes, I suppose Walker was correct: My boss wanted to put me to the test.
Ray Johnson walked back to the carport with his black leather steno pad open in front of him, Montblanc pen in hand.
"They find a neighbor?" I asked.
"Looks like we've got a possible girlfriend."
That got Walker's attention. "I thought the guy at the paper told you there was no girlfriend."
"So maybe Percy didn't tell the guys at work everything. A couple nights ago, one of the neighbors came home late to find a car parked in her designated spot. She got ticked and took down the plate so she could complain the next day. Later on, she saw Percy walk the lady to her car. He gave the neighbor the mandatory apologetic wave, so she let it go, but she's still got the plate for us."
"Good," I said. "Run it and find out her story. Anything else?"
"That's it from the patrol so far, but Chuck just called. He and Mike are working last night's PPDS entries from the area." The Portland Police Data System is the clearinghouse for every piece of information collected by the bureau. Generating a list of arrests, stops, and traffic tickets in a given location during a stated time range was a snap.
"Anything worth following up on?" I asked.
Johnson glanced at his notes. "Yeah, maybe. They're still culling through the full list, but there's a couple that jumped to the top. A broken taillight on a two-time car thief down on Twenty-third Avenue. A stop-and-talk with some kid at the bottom of the hill; we still need to get the details from the patrol officer." He flipped a page of his notebook. "Another stop farther up Burnside; that one's for drugs. We'll see, right?"
He closed his notebook and switched gears.
"Also, I finally got through to the human resources chick at the Oregonian. Crenshaw's local emergency contact is just a friend. Closest family's his parents down in Cali."
"I'll do this one," Walker said quietly.
Johnson tucked in his lower lip and nodded. I knew how much they hated notifying the families. "Oh, before I forget, he said, pointing at me, "when I talked to Chuck, he and Mike were just finishing the warrant applications."
From Close Case by Alafair Burke, Chapter 1, pages 3-17 of the hardcover edition. Copyright © 2005 Alafair Burke.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
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