Turner was handling the transcripts from the interviews with the victim’s spouses. He had poked and prodded at the slight inconsistencies in their testimony, but every angle ended up covered when their memories were working right. None had disclosed by accident some vital information, and any slip-ups were simple rounding errors. They too were busy with their popular lives, and it was only expected that the exact accounting of their time had to be recorded in notebooks rather than recalled from memory.
Nothing more than little slips, the kind where they mentioned drinking a coffee and eating a donut, except they had actually eaten the donut first and drunk the coffee second. Inane, stupid things that were even a source of frustration for Chance.
But it all fit. Those spouses, as angry as they were at supposing their mates were cheating, had schedules that kept them out of rooms where they could disappear unaware, phones that hadn’t made any secret calls to some sort of hit-man, and enough GPS data from the devices that never left their side to rule out any sort of suspicion whatsoever.
It’s best to just summarize the agony here, as ultimately it proved futile to pin anything on one of the spouses. The immediate and ultimately true answer was that they had nothing to do with Ivan and Patricia’s death, and when the detectives came to that conclusion they felt beaten.
Three days had gone by since the deaths, and not a body was in custody for them. Which was making everyone antsy, media and all.
“You’re kidding! I mean, it’s annoying to deal with, but that’s not really a problem, they all are. Why, chief?” Chance asked.
“I said to stop and listen to everything I had to say, Chance! Now sit down!” yelled the chief. Turner hadn’t jumped, he was still in his chair watching Chance’s reaction.
“It better be good! I’ve got a theory going that I think’ll actually get us somewhere, the past week has been pretty enlightening! Another week, no, three days and we’ll get something solid on it and a body in custody. I mean, I got this one crazed fan we’ve been looking into,” Chance said.
“I said shut up and listen!”
Chance took his cue from the chief and sat down. He crossed his arms and huffed. A little explanation is in order. Chance and Turner had been pulled off the celebrity case. The chief only got that far until Chance interrupted him. As for why, that was about to come. But let’s be upfront: this case only served to get the ball rolling on the real problems Chance was about to find himself facing. He wasn’t the only one annoyed at the lack of progress, and one of those people happed to dislike all the media attention the celebrity case was getting, and decided to do something about it. The chief started explaining.
“Chance, this isn’t the time. We’ve got a problem. A major one. One shocking enough to give me the biggest headache this year has yet seen, and it’ll be a shocker for you. You notice how Peterson and Nunez didn’t come to the office this morning?” the chief asked.
“Nothing strange about that,” Chance said.
“Normally, yeah. But what you’re about to hear doesn’t leave this room. It’ll be getting out soon anyways, it’ll be impossible to keep it hushed for long. But even the media guys know better and will keep a lid on it for a bit. New development in the Apologist case. He struck again,” the chief said.
“He struck again?” Chance asked aloud, rhetorically.
“Yeah. It’s not like the rest either. It’s bad this time,” the chief said.
“It’s always bad. Wait, what does this have to do with us? Turner, say something,” Chance said.
“I’ll wait till I hear it all. Once I hear it all I’ll have my outrage and shock and whatever you think is right. But sit down, you’re jumping around so much Chance,” Turner said. He even chuckled slightly.
“Fine. I’m not liking this. Not one bit,” Chance said. He sat down, again, made a motion for the chief to continue, and then crossed his arms.
“Thank you. But you’re not gonna be so offended for long. Again, this is kept quiet. I need you guys on the Apologist case now. Wait until I finish, Chance. Don’t worry, Marks and Wineblock have been following your case pretty well and they just finished up their load, they’ll take care of the celebrity crisis. I know, why not put them on this, you’re asking. Well let’s face it, I think you two are better, and as frustrating as the celebrity case has been, it’s probably easier to figure out. That, and they have family. Listen here, this is the problem we have. Peterson and Nunez aren’t on the case anymore. The latest victim of the Apologist was one of Peterson’s kids,” the chief said.
Chance dropped his arms, and Turner had looked up at the chief. There was a lasting silence while the words sunk in. The news sucked all the energy out of the room, and Chance had all the realizations and implications of this news dawn on him at once. Now he was feeling bad for his constant interruptions of the chief, though it was tempered by his sympathy for Peterson.
“Nunez asked to be taken off, right?” Turner asked.
“Yeah. He’s with Peterson now, but he’s got a kid too. This is bad, you guys,” the chief said.
“We sure it’s him?” Turner asked.
“The note matches. Same as always, apologizing for killing yet another person. No forensic evidence turning up anything different. But to go after the kid of one of the detectives on his case, that’s a new one. Just why, why, I can’t figure out why,” the chief said.
“It was possible for the public to find out who was following the case, if they wished,” Turner said.
“Yeah, it’s been public for a while. But this guy hasn’t targeted like that before. Just why’d he have to come out after one of us. Once the media feels like enough time has passed, this story is going to be front and center. You boys know that,” the chief said.
“I’m not up on the case,” Chance said.
“We’ll have their files soon enough. Get reading,” Turner said.
“This is a mess,” Chance said. He was still looking sore at the news. It was a shock, but he was starting to recover.
“Find him, Chance. Find this guy, and bring him to me. Of all the victims, why. The rest we understood, they fit with his serial killings. But this one, just why? Just leave now, you two. I’ve got some calls to make,” the chief said.
“One more thing,” Chance said, realizing something from their conversation.
“What?” the chief asked.
“You said something about us. You’re not just putting me on this case for my fantastic skills, are you?” Chance asked. The chief grumbled.
“No. You know why,” the chief said.
“Thought so. This is a fine mess,” Chance said. He and Turner rose and left the room.
Turner went to his desk, and Chance stood over him.
“So looks like the bachelors have it,” Chance said. He wore a grim grin. He wasn’t happy, but letting himself fall into the sorrow of it wasn’t going to make things better.
“Shame about Peterson’s boy,” Turner said. “I wish he could’ve been left alone. Poor guy. Losing a child. It’s a shame, Chance. It’s a real shame,” Turner said. He looked down at his desk and just shook his head for a while.
“Yeah Turner, it is. We’ve gotta find this guy. This isn’t right. But not just for Peterson. For all the victims,” Chance said. He thought about it some, and then looked over Turner’s desk. He noticed a picture frame. Without asking he reached for it and took a look. He wasn’t expecting someone’s picture, he knew Turner better than that. But he’d never really taken a look at any of the items Turner kept at his desk. “Is that a tree?”
“Hey Chance, don’t take things that don’t belong to you. Yeah it’s a Juniper,” Turner said.
“You like these? Well, I suppose to each his own. I don’t recognize it. Is this one of the ones that stays green through the winter? Looks familiar,” Chance said.
“This one does, it’s an evergreen. I happen to like them. But anyways, put it back. Quit wasting time and start reading files,” Turner said.
Chance put the picture down. He looked at another couple picture frames by glancing at them briefly, only seeing a couple plants or trees. He remembered the chief’s words, they were both men who were single at the moment. So of course Turner wouldn’t have pictures of family. Well, he was a private man, Chance reasoned, and his past was his to keep. But there was something about Turner’s reaction when he heard about Peterson’s kid that made Chance think. He wished he knew his partner better, but he knew better than to pry too deeply into a man’s past. He cracked open a file at his desk and got to reading, taking photos of the stuff he really wanted to remember for later use.