Chapter Eleven, Part One




ELEVEN
 
The Accusation
 
    Detective Banks arrived in the County’s Impala.  
    “So what’s all this about?” Banks asked, excitedly.
    “Tell me,” Reggie said, “when you examined Noah’s body, was there anything odd about it?”
    “There was,” she replied, sounding a little uncertain.
    “I’ll bet I can guess,” Reggie smiled. “You found two bullet holes in Noah Renard. They showed traces of silver. Which only makes sense if the killer thought the victim,” Reggie paused in what I’m sure he thought was a dramatic fashion, “was a werewolf.”
    “A werewolf? But why would he think that?” Banks asked, tilting her head to one side and fumbling for her notebook.
    “I gave Street the rundown,” Reggie said.
    “Give it to me,” Banks replied.
    “Fine,” Reggie said. “There’s an old White family legend, that I can let you see, if you’ll answer me one more question,” Reggie’s grin grew ever wider. I had to stop myself from laughing. His showmanship amused me, even though I’d been behind the curtain and seen how the magic show worked. Banks was still patting her pockets, trying to find a writing utensil.
    “What’s your question?” she responded, once she’d finally located both notebook and pen.
    “Did Noah Renard have any old money on him?” Reggie asked. “Antique? Perhaps stuffed into his mouth?” I had to suppress a chuckle at the theatricality of it.
    “Wow, how’d you know?” Banks asked, her eyes bulging.
    “It’s all in here.” Reggie attempted to lead Banks into the shed, where he’d left the book, but Banks took a step back.
    “Hey,” she said, “I don’t know if I can go in there.”
    “Of course you can!” Reggie blurted out. “Can’t she Sam?”
    “I’m not licensed here,” I said, putting my hands up and taking a step back.
    “Sam, I can see wheels turning in your head. Don’t hold back on me.”
    “No,” I shook my head again, for emphasis. “Y’all dragged something out of me the other night when I was feeling prideful, and maybe had too much to drink. No more free advice from this unlicensed lawyer.”
    “How’d I get saddled with the world’s most honest attorney?” Reggie howled. I arched my eyebrow at him.
    “Banks can figure this out!” I insisted.
    “What if I just read it to her?” Reggie asked. “The confession? Isn’t that probable cause?”
    “Look, I don’t know about this” Banks said, chewing her pen.
    “I’m surrounded by legal eagles!” Reggie said, grabbing himself by the hair.
    I wasn’t trying to be an obstructionist. I was really conflicted about the whole situation. Maybe it was a bad time to grow a backbone, but I’d felt taken advantage of again and again, and the last thing I wanted was a sanction from a State whose Bar I didn’t even belong to. On top of that, if I were wrong, I could screw this whole case up. At this point, that seemed likely anyway. It sounds overly Zen when I put it this way, but I needed to find a way of advising, without advising. I tried another approach.
    “Look, ah, Detective, ma’am,” I said, “why don’t you call your partner, maybe she can straighten this whole thing out?”
    “Oh right!” Banks cried, throwing her notebook to the ground. “Call Street. Everything I do, I gotta call Street. Because I’m Sandy Banks, the inept cop. Is that what you think?”
    Reggie and I exchanged a glance. Reggie tilted his head and mouthed the words “Sandy Banks?” I don’t know how we hadn’t put that together before. If we started laughing at her name now, though, we’d never get her to do what we wanted. She seemed on the verge of weeping. The way she channeled her distress into anger was admirable.
    “Hold on, there, ma’am,” I said, both palms out to her in a gesture that was probably patronizing. At the time I thought I was being soothing.
    “I’ve heard what they say about me,” she went on, “I’ve heard them say I only got this job because my father was friends with John Angelini’s mom.  Well let me tell you, Aunt Carmina doesn’t pull that much weight with John.  I had to take the damned tests, same as everyone else. I had to pass the written, and the shooting, and the fitness, and that wasn’t easy at 52! Okay, so maybe I’m not a walking procedures manual like Anne is, and maybe I had to take some of those tests more than once, but I’m still a detective, and this is my crime scene, and…”
    Det. Sandy Banks sat down on the ground, put her head in her hands, and racked her brains. Above us, the clouds were gathering, and the light was nearly gone. The wind still tore at our faces and I could feel the occasional drop of water whip past my ear. I began to try again to convince her to call Street, but Reggie stopped me. Finally, Banks got up, walked over to the Impala, and opened the driver’s door. Reggie and I both began to protest, but without getting in she slammed the door shut as hard as she could, opened it again, and slammed it again. Then she started kicking the tires and shouting obscenities. She cussed a blue streak for a solid minute, took a deep breath, then fished her cell phone out of her pocket. She began to dial, but stopped short.
    “It’s my crime scene,” she said, looking straight up at the sky. “This is a crime scene. The Whites gave us permission to come onto the property to investigate a crime.” I sighed with relief. She groped around on the ground for her notebook, and finally found it. “So where is this thing?”
    Once Reggie had shown Banks the volume of confessions, she spent a good hour reading it. The wind cut through gaps in the boards of the shack, and the candle was useless. I had to get a flashlight from the emergency kit in the Jag. Every attempt Reggie made towards summarizing, or convincing her to jump to the end, was ignored, waved off, or met with anger. The sun finished sinking, and the moon, now waning gibbous, appeared on the horizon. Reggie paced up and down outside the shed. I sat wondering where Melvin White had gotten to. I was comforted by the fact that, although Sophia had apparently turned the boy, it was now past the full moon. Where was he, then?
    Finally, Banks left the shed. She appeared resolute, determined, ready to play chicken on the train tracks.
    “Let’s go up to the house,” she said. “I’m sure he’s up there.”
    “Finally,” Reggie mumbled.
    “You armed?” She asked Reggie.
    “What?” Reggie balked. “No. That’s a good way to get shot.”
    “You might wish you were. Armed, I mean. Not shot. It sounds to me like the whole family’s cuckoo.” She stuffed the book inside the big yellow coat she wore.
    “I’d have thought signing that confession showed remorse,” I suggested, following as she got into her car, and Reggie got into the passenger side of the Jag.
    “Then why hasn’t he turned himself in?” Reggie pointed out.