His Father’s Eyes – Snippet 04
“Yeah, smart ass, you have the right to go to jail. Felder would have been happy to fire you and be done with it. But you took shots at me, which makes this armed robbery. You’ll probably wind up doing ten years at Lewis or Florence.”
“Shit,” he said in a whisper.
“No kidding. Of course, if you tell me who you’ve been working with, maybe Felder will decide not to press charges. And maybe I’ll be willing to forget about those shots you fired off.”
The police car came around the corner with a squeal of rubber on pavement, the siren dying away. Doors opened on either side of the car and two uniformed officers got out, both holding shot guns, both using their doors for cover.
“Drop your weapon!” one of them shouted.
I placed my Glock on the pavement where Darby couldn’t reach it.
“Now, lie down and put your hands on the back of your head.”
“Your word against mine, PI,” Darby said, as I followed their instructions.
I couldn’t see his face, but I knew he was grinning.
“Not quite, asshole. I didn’t fire any shots. You did, and the lab can confirm that. And that’s your car filled to the ceiling with stolen goods.”
“Quiet, both of you.”
By now the cops stood over us, their shotguns no doubt aimed at our heads.
“What’s going on here?”
“My name is Jay Fearsson,” I said, before Darby could answer. “I’m a private investigator, and I used to be on the job. My license is in my wallet. I was hired by the owner of Custom Electronics to find the employee who’s been stealing from them since February. That would be the moron lying next to me: Mark Darby. I caught him in the act, and he fired three shots at me. Missed all three times. His weapon is on the ground, a few feet to the left of him. And that’s his Subaru pulled up to the loading dock.”
One of the officers, a short, barrel-chested white guy, bent and picked up my Glock. “Did you fire your weapon?”
I heard him sniff at the barrel. He retrieved the other weapon and sniffed at that one as well. I couldn’t see him well in the darkness, but I thought I saw him nod once to his partner.
“All right, Fearsson,” this second cop said. “You can get up.”
I climbed to my feet and pulled out my wallet. The other cop checked my ID before handing me my pistol and walking over to the wagon.
The second officer, a young, light-skinned African-American man, kept his shotgun aimed at Darby, but he was watching me. “You’re the guy who caught the Blind Angel Killer, aren’t you?” At my nod, he said, “That was nice work.”
“And now you’re back doing grunt work like this?”
I grinned. “That’s the job, right? I still need to earn a living.”
“I hear that.”
The other cop, who was still by Darby’s car, let out a low whistle. “There must be twenty grand worth of stuff in here. Maybe more.”
I walked over to Darby. “Your word against mine, eh?”
He raised his head fractionally. “Screw you.”
They cuffed Darby and read him his Miranda rights, and then they took a statement from me. I made sure to mention my suspicion that Mark was working with at least one of his fellow salesmen. While I was still answering questions, a second police cruiser showed up. A few minutes later, so did Mister Felder, driving a BMW, dressed in a suit I couldn’t possibly afford, and flinging himself out of his car very much like a man who had been called away from a social occasion he didn’t want to leave.
One of the cops explained to him what had happened. Felder eyed the loading dock and Darby’s car as the cop spoke to him, but when they were finished talking, he walked straight over to me.
He shook my hand, a tight smile on his tanned, round face, but there could be no mistaking his tone as he said, “I thought we agreed that we were going to handle this matter without involving the police.”
“Yes, sir,” I said, not flinching at all from what I heard in his tone. “But then Darby took a few shots at me with a .380. Someone heard the shooting and called it in. It wasn’t my decision.”
“He shot at you?”
Felder huffed. “Then I suppose it couldn’t be helped.” A pause, and then. “You’re all right?”
“Thanks for asking. Yes, I’m fine.”
Even as I spoke the words though, a memory stirred. Not of the shooting itself; I’d have nightmares about that — the flare of flame from the muzzle, the deafening pop! pop! pop! of the shots.
Rather, I recalled — as I should have long before — that fraction of a moment during which I felt magic all around me, charging the air like an impending lightning strike.
I roused myself with a small shake of my head and faced Felder again. He was watching me, expectant; I assumed he’d asked me a question.
“I’m sorry, sir. What did you say?”
“I asked if Darby did all this alone.”
“No, I don’t think he did. The police showed up before I could get a name out of him. But I have some experience with these things: he won’t hold up long under questioning. If he had a partner, you’ll know it soon enough.”
I turned. The African-American officer was striding our way.
“Sorry to bother you, man, but Darby is claiming that you assaulted him. He says you hit him with your weapon.”
I glanced off to the side, exhaled.
“It was hardly an assault,” I said. “I was asking him some questions, and he was having trouble remembering stuff. I was trying to jar the memories loose.”
The cop laughed; even Felder allowed himself a chuckle.
“But officially,” I said, “I never hit him.”
“Good enough for me,” the cop said. “You can go. If we need you for anything else, we’ll let you know.”
“Hey, wait a minute!” Darby called from the back of one of the squad cars.
“His word against yours, Darby,” the officer said. He gave me a wink.
Darby swore loudly.
“Come by tomorrow, Mister Fearsson,” Felder said. “I’ll cut you a check.”
“I will. Thank you.”
I walked back to the Z-ster, favoring my bad leg, conscious as well of a dull ache in my arm. I guess this is what the doctors had in mind when they warned me about trying to do too much.
Still, I was pleased. Sure, the police had shown up, but Felder hadn’t been too angry. And given how the evening could have ended — with me in a body bag — I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome.
Again, I thought of that frisson of magic. I hadn’t cast a spell, and I was certain that Darby was incapable of casting. Had I imagined it? Everything had happened in such a rush — it could have been a sensation of panic and desperation. But how else could I explain the fact that Darby had missed me?
I needed to have a conversation with Namid’skemu of the K’ya’na-Kwe clan, the Zuni shaman who had been my runemyste for the past seven years, and who had been dead for close to eight centuries.