When I walked through the door, the waitress gave me a nervous, shifty look, which told me she knew who I was and what had happened.
“Excuse me, Deputy.” I rushed up behind him before he sat down at the bar. “Can I speak with you?”
“Sure thing. But please, call me Mac.” He turned from the bar with clear reluctance and gestured to a booth. He took off his mirror shades and his hat and raked his fingers through his hair, which improved his visual aesthetic. If I could somehow have removed the cop badge from my field of vision, he might have even been attractive.
The waitress automatically brought Mac coffee with cream and gave me an even shiftier look than before. I ordered two fried eggs and a Bloody Mary.
“Come here a lot?” I asked.
“Closest thing to a donut shop in town.” He shrugged out of his jacket before taking a seat opposite me. Once again he’d defaulted to that deceptively quiet manner of talking. He took a drink of his coffee, stirred in a spoon of sugar, then tasted it again, all with agonizing slowness.
“Don’t you want to know what I have to say?” I asked, unable to wait any longer.
Mac turned his full attention to me. A hint of a smile creased his cheek.
“I’m sorry. I was just getting comfortable. I’ve been on duty since six this morning. Please go ahead and tell me whatever it is.” He retrieved his notebook from the pocket of his jacket. His pen looked small in his hand and somewhat awkward. The face of his watch also seemed like it had been owned by a smaller guy—his grandfather maybe?—and I could just see the tip of a thick scar protruding from his right shirtsleeve just above his elbow.
I related my conversation with Alfred. Mac listened, nodding occasionally and jotting down notes.
“Alfred Tomkins,” Big Mac clarified.
“Yeah, Danielle Tomkins’ brother.”
“He specifically told you that Dorian had taken his monogrammed Zippo lighter?”
“He didn’t go out of his way to tell me. Just mentioned it in passing.” Mac must have found the lighter. Maybe he’d hoped it would be the clue that busted the case open. “When I found out he had been at the party, I asked him if he knew what had happened to Dorian.”
“What time did this conversation take place?”
“Right after I finished talking to you. Two o’clock maybe.”
“I’m curious why you waited until five p.m. to contact me.”
“What do you mean?”
“You had my number, you could have easily texted me right then, and I could have spoken to Alfred myself.” Mac sat back to allow the waitress to set a plate containing a pretty good-looking Rueben sandwich down in front of him. She delivered my food without making eye contact.
“You seemed busy with the investigation, and I didn’t want to interrupt you. Plus I didn’t want to seem weird.” I slurped my Bloody Mary.
“Weird in what way?”
“Because I was asking people about the murder. Isn’t that one of the giveaways of a guilty person—inserting yourself into the investigation?”
“That does sometimes occur, yes,” Mac said. “If I were you, I would be more worried about my personal safety in questioning potential murderers than relating information to a member of law enforcement.”
“Alfred is a suspect?”
“Everyone is a suspect,” Mac intoned.
“And that includes you then, right? Because you were there too, sitting in a patrol car down the block.”
Mac went quite still.
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