Sergeant Betty Morris glared at me from across the table. "I feel like there are things you're not telling me, Mr. Sayer," she said. "Parts of this story make no sense at all." We were sitting at a small able in the back room at Il Forno. The place was crawling with cops, and they were all pissed. Detective Al Hall's body in the walk-in freezer with a bullet in its head had them all itching for blood, and the idea that the only two people to blame appeared to be comatose did not provide their sense of violent outrage with the outlet it desired.
"It's all true," I lied. It was mostly true, but I had to invent a few things. They'd never have believed the full truth about certain things. "Which parts?"
"Tell me again how you got involved?" she said, reading over her notes to see if I told the same story.
I kept it simple. "Darla is a friend of mine. When she wasn't at the shop, I swung by her place to see what was up. Amy was there alone and scared. I took her with me. That's it."
"Where were you when Detective Hall had your car towed?" Still reading her notes.
"We were staying with Sam. We met at the gas station and went to dinner. I thought Amy would enjoy her company until her mom turned up. We kept meaning to go get my car, but we spaced on it for a couple of days. If there's a fine for leaving it there, besides what I already paid at the impound, I'll be glad to pay it."
Darla, Amy and Sam were all there, sitting in chairs against the wall. They had all confirmed the details. Sergeant Morris glanced over at them again. Darla nodded. Sam stared at the ground. She was still pissed with me, but she had gone along with the story.
"Sergeant!" It was a detective yelling from the front room. "We have the weapon."
"Good," I thought. I had decided to play totally dumb on the Detective and the gun. There was no way to work it into my story. I figured they would find it.
The sergeant stared at me, looking for any reaction to the gun. I just stared back at her, trying to look like a guy who didn't know anything. "Stay here," she said, and she got up and walked toward the front of the store. "Don't touch it," she called out to the officer in the front.
I was glad she was gone. I sat back in my chair and exhaled, reaching up to rub the swollen bruise on my cheek. Sam had given me that after we crawled out from under the house. I had seen it coming, and I was pretty sure I could have stopped her, but I didn't. I stopped the second one, though. She could punch surprisingly hard. She hated me. I didn't blame her.
At that point we heard the back door open in the utlity room. Another police officer came through the door, and Cami came in after her. When Sam saw her she jumped up and ran to her. I wouldn't have thought either of them could cry any more, but they did. Amy walked over to them and Cami bent down and hugged her too. They were all just overwhelmed to be safe and to see each other.
I couldn't look at Cami and Sam; the guilt was too much. I turned and gave Darla a weak smile and looked down at my hands. Turning them over so I could see the palms, I stared into them. Without thinking, I began to end my finger and rub the tips across my palms, staring blankly into the emptiness there. When I realized what I was doing, and where I had picked it up, I shook my hands to cast off the habit and shoved them into my pockets.
"There are clear prints on that weapon," the Sergeant said, returning to the table. "Can you tell me whose they are?" She sat back in her chair across from me and stared into my eyes.
"No, ma'am, I cannot," I lied. "But I can assure you that they are not mine."
Sam and Cami were still hugging. Looking over at them, I saw Cami staring at me as Sam whispered into her ear. She was telling Cami the story. Would she go along? When she saw me glancing at her, Cami gave me a little smile and look quickly away. She and Sam separated and, to my relief, I saw Cami give Sam a subtle nod.
"Let's talk again about the noose," the Sergeant said. "You said you cut it with a cleaver that Mr. di Marti had been holding as a weapon."
"That's right," I lied.
"And when he collapsed you grabbed it and cut Ms. Montagne down from the noose."
She glanced over at Darla, who nodded earnestly. "And then you took it with you in the car, the..." She glanced down at her notes. "...black Lexus. You took it for protection."
"But it's not there now."
"It was there when he took the car," I lied.
"And Ms. Montagne, neither you nor your daughter know what happened to it?" The Sergeant looked over at Darla.
"No," Darla said. "Maybe he threw it out or something."
It was a weak story, but it was easy to remember and had no details to forget.
Sergeant Morris glanced up at the wall, looking right at the huge cut where my blade had sliced into the wall. "Must have been really sharp," she said. "That's a strong rope."
"It went straight through it," I lied.
"You're a butcher Ms. Montagne?" the Sergeant asked, looking again at Darla.
"Yes I am."
"Why do you think a baker would need a cleaver like that, Ms. Montagne?"
"Well," Darla responded, looking the Sergeant directly in the eye. "It's not really my field, but maybe he kept it because he was a murderer and a psychopath." Damn! She was good.
At that the Sergeant actually smiled a little and dropped her head. "Maybe," she said softly. She let her eyes wander over her notes for a minute, not really reading them. Then, sighing, she looked up at me. "Mr. Sayer," she said, "Al Hall was my friend. Your story might well be true, but there are things about it I don't like at all. I also don't like having two prime suspects in mysterious comas that no one can explain to me."
"They just collapsed," I said. "Maybe a doctor could tell you what happened. It was really weird."
She frowned and shook her head to clear it. "You've all had a long day," she said. "It's almost dawn, and I'm tired. I'm going to have officers take you each to your homes. You can get some rest. Do not go anywhere. Anywhere. We will be talking with all of you some more. We're keeping all the vehicles for now."
"May I get some..." I started.
"No you may not," she snapped.
"I don't want to go home," Sam said. "Not alone."
"Me neither," said Cami.
"You can all come to my place," Darla said. "We have plenty of room."
I looked over at the Sergeant. She nodded. "We'll leave a car outside," she said. "This investigation is not over. Stay in that house until we tell you otherwise." She looked around and we all nodded to show that we understood. "Good," she said. "I'm very sorry this happened to you. Please wait here and I'll get some officers to take you to Ms. Montagne's house." She stood with a quick goodbye nod and walked away.
I looked over at the others. Sam and Cami were staring at the ground. Darla was staring at the ceiling. Only Amy looked back at me. She gave me a little smile and I smiled back.
"You did it, Simon" she said quietly.
"We did," I said.