Two men were standing slightly behind her, one on either side.
Definitely not Bodine groupies, too old, too unfashionably dressed, no piercings or visible tattoos. One had a shaved head. Both were big.
"You've mistaken me for someone else," Mattie said. She took her coffee and turned to leave.
"We're with the RCMP drug squad," the bald guy said. "Can you spare us five minutes?"
"Why don't we sit down over there. Watch that coffee, it's hot."
The other plain-clothes officer smiled, placed his hand on her upper arm and guided her toward a table in the corner of the shop.
"Is this about Bodine?" Mattie said. The cops were now sitting across from her at a table away from the windows.
"Do you know Linda Castelo?" the bald one said.
"You've been seen with her numerous times, once you were identified driving the vehicle while she made an illegal drug transaction on the Surrey strip."
"Liz." At high school Linda was called the Lizard Lady. It had been shortened to Liz and stuck. Mattie felt sick.
"Now you remember." The cop smiled. It wasn't friendly.
"She said she was dropping off a sweater to a homeless friend."
The cops looked at one another. Even to Mattie it sounded lame.
"We believe, Linda, Liz is a low level dealer of illegal drugs for Leborg Kovacevic."
"She volunteers at The Reptile Refuge he runs."
"The refuge is a front. Kovacevic has been using it to smuggle drugs into and out of the country."
"You're sure about this?"
The cops said nothing.
"Why don't you arrest him?"
"Do you know where he is?"
"Why would I know where he is?" Mattie felt hot and cold at the same time. Did they think she was involved? If the tabloids got hold of this she'd never be able to go out in public. "Maybe now would be a good time for you to show me some identification."
The cops flashed their IDs. They looked legitimate, but how would she know?
"Okay, what do you guys think is going on?" Mattie said
"Why don't you tell us?"
Ten minutes later the two RCMP officers knew everything Mattie did about her relationship with Liz except she was coming over in an hour to cut Mattie's hair.
"What about the van?" the bald cop said.
"The one parked on your property."
"Liz brought the reptiles to the sanctuary in it. She said it wasn't safe to drive and she'd get it towed away."
"When was that?"
"A couple of days ago."
"We think there are drugs in the van and Castelo has left it there because your compound is secure."
"Look, my partner, Bodine, isn't aware of any of this and he doesn't need any bad publicity. Can't you just discreetly impound the van as evidence or something?"
"We could, but we'd rather leave it. You see we think Kovacevic will get in touch with Castelo. When he does he'll want what's in the van and she'll come and get the vehicle and lead us to him."
"And then what?"
"Well, if we get to them first we'll arrest them."
"What do you mean "first"?"
"We're not the only ones looking for Kovacevic."
"Will Liz will go to jail?"
"Considering her record, it's likely."
"Assault, possession, shoplifting." The bald guy pushed a business card across the table to Mattie. "If you help us out we can keep this quiet."
"Leaks to the press happen all the time. You know how the media can twist things."
"What do you want me to do?"
"Just let us know what your friend is up to, her comings and goings, anything you think we might be interested in."
Mattie didn't say anything.
"You're being used, Madison." The silent partner finally spoke. "A friend wouldn't put you in this kind of situation."
But that was just it. Liz hadn't coerced Mattie into doing anything, she had done it of her own free will. Now they wanted her to be responsible for sending Liz to jail.
"Can I go now?"
"Yes, thanks for your time," the bald cop said.
Mattie got up to leave.
"Oh, one more small thing."
"This is going to work a lot better if you don't tell Liz about this conversation."
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