What’s She Holding Back?

Copyright © 2018 Helen Starbuck All rights reserved

Death is as casual—and often as unexpected—as birth. Jim Bishop

Frost watched her get into the elevator with her lawyer and leave. There was something there, he wasn’t sure what, but after being a homicide detective for fifteen years he could feel it. He often felt that buzz about things, and more often than not he was right. Despite the buzz, he was sure that her friend’s death was a suicide and that she wasn’t responsible. She’d unfortunately found the friend and tried hard to keep her alive, but there was a lot she wasn’t saying.
And there was something about her lawyer that had his buzz going as well. Something more there than just a professional relationship, he thought. He hadn’t missed the concern in the young lawyer’s face or the under the table hand squeezes; he felt sure he’d seen the guy before; he just couldn’t place him at the moment. It’d come; the name or where he’d seen or met him would pop up eventually. If he were right about it, he’d bet that the guy was crazy about her and that she hadn’t a clue. Probably considered him a friend and nothing more. Wasn’t that always the way?
He went back to his desk where his partner Denise Miller stood waiting for him. He wasn’t crazy about her and it wasn’t because she was female; he liked working with women. She just wasn’t homicide material and he’d bet she’d be gone before the year was out. Dead bodies upset her and the hours interfered with her personal life she’d said. He’d almost laughed when she’d said that. Dead bodies and no personal life—that was homicide wasn’t it?
All kids her age talked about was work/life balance, he’d heard it from his own kids. Well you didn’t find that in homicide. Dead people had no respect for your work/life balance. Fortunately, he’d been married forever and his wife was a tolerant woman who loved him. Even so, the job had played havoc with their marriage over the years.
“What’d you think about her story?” Miller asked as he sat down in his desk chair.
“I think she’s telling the truth, just not all of it, and I’m not sure why. Almost doesn’t matter, it’s a pretty clear case of suicide. Still, I’m curious about what she’s not saying.”
“We could bring her back in.”
“Nah, not worth the trouble. She’s not guilty of doing anything to her friend except trying to keep her alive, so no point really.” But damn, I would like to know what she’s holding back, he thought.
The DA’s office! The thought popped into his head like a jack-in-the box. That’s where he’d seen the guy. He was an assistant DA or something. That was interesting. How had she ended up with an ADA representing her? One more piece of the puzzle that suggested more than a professional relationship. ADA’s weren’t in the habit of representing clients not associated with trials. So, maybe they were friends. Poor guy, he thought shaking his head.
He spent the next hour sorting through and filling out paperwork, his mind on autopilot with the familiar, tedious tasks that had to be done to keep the machine of justice functioning. That made him laugh. Justice was a fluid concept in his mind. Sometimes there was no justice and no reason for the things that happened to people and sometimes the payback, or karma, or whatever you wanted to call it, was pretty horrendous. There was no rhyme or reason to it as far as he could see, you just kept plodding along and hoped you wouldn’t be singled out like some of the homicide victims he’d had the unpleasant experience of tending to.
And this Libby Matheisen, he thought, what a waste. She’d been a beautiful woman and talented artist; rich, privileged, pampered, and dead by her own hand. It was a shame that someone hadn’t been there to intervene and stop her, and maybe that’s what he was picking up on with the friend. Guilt that she hadn’t been able to save her, but also that she hadn’t been able to prevent her suicide.
He shook his head absently, shuffling papers, and then filing them. Miller had wandered off, who knew where, and he was glad. He could never think of things to talk about around her. There was too much of an age gap and they had little in common. He wasn’t sure why she’d asked for homicide. It had this surface gloss and glamor that didn’t take long to dispel. A floater or a bloater or a dead kid and most new additions to the department made a hasty exit.
It was kinda mean he supposed, but he and several fellow detectives had a bet going on how long she’d stick it out. He’d bet on 10 months. If he was right, he’d win $500 and maybe he’d take the wife somewhere nice for dinner and an overnight at a fancy hotel. She’d like that, maybe he’d get lucky. He sure hoped Miller didn’t disappoint him.


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