Reading the open file, Emily Breen looked up through heavy-rimmed glasses before speaking again. “We meet again, Detective Deal. Sit.”
Breen pointed to a regular-looking seat on the opposite side of the desk from her high-backed executive chair. She continued reading. Deal sat watching her in silence.
Peering over her glasses, Breen said, “Remind me. When was the first time we met?”
“I think you know. It’s all there in my file. Larry Etchwell, Coroner’s Court. I was still with the Human Trafficking Department.”
Breen was silent. She appeared to be deep in thought.
Her next words broke the silence. “The psych evaluation is all good. Says you are fit to remain on active duty.”
“Good. I knew that but it’s good to hear the experts say it too.” Deal emphasised experts. The sarcasm wasn’t missed by Breen.
“Deal. You know the score. Why do you make things difficult for yourself?”
Deal ignored caution. “I always do things the hard way. Haven’t you heard?”
Breen ignored him. “What is this thing with the stutter?”
“How do you mean?”
“You’ve seen the report. What you told the shrink.”
“Remind me. What did I say?”
“If you were a rattlesnake, the stutter would be your rattle.”
Deal smiled at the thought of that meeting with the shrink. “Yeah. That’s what I said. It’s a fact.”
“But why? Why a stutter?”
“I don’t fucking know why. Why does a rattlesnake have a rattle?”
“There you go again, Detective Deal.”
“Not helping yourself.”
“Are we done?”
“No. We are not. I have to tell you, one more loss of control. One more death, self-defence or not, you are finished. Do you hear me?”
“I hear you.”
“Good. Is there anything else you wish to say?”
“Can I ask a question?”
“Why does a bird fly?”
“What do you mean?”
“Asking me why I stutter if threatened is like asking a bird why it flies. Why an elephant has big ears. It’s just so. And one other thing – ask these guys what they were going to do to me.”
“I can’t. You killed them.”
“Too right. Before they killed me.”
Deal stood. He wasn’t interested in any answer. Leaving the room, he thought, Shit.
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