Chapter 3: "Do, Re...."
Monday lunch found Smith back at his office desk, thinking with a notepad. There was Foster. There was Wilson. There were Santos' band members. There was even Detective Thompson. There was the aunt back east. The professor was tartan velvet, a doctor of fine arts. He was not an open book, but he read to the detective a story of man cool, practical, thoughtful, and thoroughly, dutifully preoccupied with the trappings of his world. The professor's best alibi was his demonstrated reasonability. And as went Foster so went Wilson. The band were a busy lot of working artisans. Professional musicians. They operated as a business unit, and they all readily noted their historical oversight taken not to imperil their livelihood with inter-member sexual affairs. The band's best alibi was ostensible reasonability.
As innocent as it does not sound, Thompson, Lt. Dan MacKinney, and the county coroner Dixie Thompson (Detective Thompson's ex-wife), were at that exact moment at the tow lot, burning an ambulance involved in a recent interstate crime spree that, about 36 hours prior, culminated in a deadly shootout at a warehouse parking lot on the north side of the city. No less than a riot. Moreover, an officer from Oakland, involved with the same investigation, had driven all the way up here that morning, not only to witness the destruction of the vehicle but to help them do it. Thompson himself had gunned down multiple perpetrators at Saturday night's fiasco. But it was Smith's observation, over the previous year, that Thompson had rough edges, but the man's inner workings were clearly displayed to the contrary.
Thompson was a good investigator, an ethical peace officer, a man simple, divorced. His requisites were the opposite of those needed by axe murderers. That is, Thompson was wired to destroy evidence for the safety of the community, and to skillfully kill freaks in a public melee – not a girlfriend in some cowardly ambush.
Beyond that, in order to be thorough in his investigation, Smith needed to have an in-person conversation with Santos' aunt. It was a long trip for what would probably be a 30-minute interview with an old lady in a straw hat, but he felt it was an important point of order.
As another point of order, Smith decided to take a lunch at Kelly Sammys. It was an Irish tavern of brass and dark wood buzzing with a the lightness of a beery, lunching university crowd. The detective sat alone at the end of the bar, and was handed a menu. He ordered a hamburger and a soda. After him, a group of students walked in the door, ordered a round of cheeseburgers and several pitchers of beer, and took over one of the large tables. He set his badge down next to his wallet. In about 10 minutes, his food arrived. The barkeep was busy, but Smith asked anyway:
“Do you know Tina Santos?”
“Yep,” he answered.
“She was murdered in her apartment Friday night,” Smith said.
With that, and with a pencil in one ear, a short-order pad in one hand, and another hand on a beer tap, the barman looked up and studied the detective more thoroughly. “Are you a policeman?” he asked.
“Yes I am. And I'm investigating her death. How well did you know her?” Smith asked.
“I knew her as a regular and welcome patron here,” he answered. “A very nice lady.”
“Did she have any new friends, boyfriends, lovers? I can't find anyone who can give me any reason why anyone would want to hurt her,” Smith said. “Not any of her regular acquaintances.”
“Not as far as I saw. She kept to her crowd. Like the guys in her band,” the bartender said. Smith studied the bartender. Late twenties, early thirties, medium build, short dark hair, blue eyes. In jeans and a blue knit Kelly Sammys shirt.
“What about Daisy Wilson and Professor Foster?” Smith asked.
“Also part of Tina's circle,” he answered.
“Would you say that the professor and his wife had or ever had any sort of romantic relationship with Ms. Santos?” Smith asked.
“I wouldn't be able to tell you what goes on in the privacy of their own homes, officer,” the man answered, ringing up another pitcher. “But they were obviously very dear friends. Tina's crowd is all good people, and always welcome in here.”
Smith finished up his burger and soda, and paid his bill.
He returned to his office. He telephoned Santos' aunt, and requested to meet with her for a short time in the coming days. The woman accepted, and Smith booked a red eye departure to Philadelphia for the next morning (Tuesday), returning Wednesday night.
When he got off the phone, the line double-chirped, indicating an in-house call. It was MacKinney: “Something for you in downtown Olympia. They fished some body out of Budd Inlet, this morning. Go talk to the city guys down there investigating it, the deceased was a musician. See if there might be any correlation with the Santos case.”
It was about 2:30 by now. Smith headed south on I-5, to Olympia's old downtown district.
Next page —>