“I’d just started in uniform when it happened,” Preuss said, “but it was a big deal around here. Ray Douglas was from Ferndale.”
He picked up his iced tea and swirled the cubes around. To get out of the heat, they settled themselves at a table in the rear of Howe’s Bayou, a low-lit Cajun restaurant on Woodward. Only a few tables were occupied; most of the action was at the street fair. The accordion windows in front were open to the traffic and hubbub of the main avenue, but Preuss and Shelley were sitting far enough in the back of the place to have a quiet space to talk.
In his wheelchair beside Preuss, Toby sat listing in a deep slumber; the hot weather and stimulation of the day’s outing had been too much for him.
Preuss gently repositioned his son and said, “From what I remember, he was convicted of kidnapping and killing the wife of a local businessman. He was picked up pretty fast—I seem to remember his daughter was involved, too, somehow. That must have been Jessie.”
Shelley took a sip of her beer and hid a small burp behind her fingers. “‘Scuse me. She told me she’s had a tough life. She didn’t go into detail, but she implied she’s just getting her shit together now.”
He considered that. “This happened twenty years ago.”
“Her story touched me. That’s when I thought you might be able to help. I knew you were retired from the police, but I heard you were doing some private work.”
“How’d you hear that?”
“I have my sources.” She flashed a smile.
“Look,” she said, “if you don’t think there’s anything here, that’s fine. I just thought: Old crime, new angle, local connection.” She shrugged. “Maybe I could still make a pitch to my editor. And if he wasn’t interested, I’d go to Hour Detroit or some other outlet. Plus,” she added, “it was a chance to connect with you again.”
She took another sip of beer and her eyes crawled over the rim of her glass to fix him with an ironic gaze.
Okay, he thought. Now I’m being played.
Same old same old. He remembered how it had been a mistake to count on her sincerity; though she came across as all candor, she was a manipulator, with the habit of telling him what he wanted to hear. And she was remarkably good at doping that out.
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