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We left off with Diana searching the white van belonging to the putative serial killer and finding out that he was the Bread Man, not the Dread Man: he was delivering food to the homeless.
The van’s temporary plate came through after all, unsurprisingly to a bakery, the East Atlanta Bread Collective. When Mustapha brought back the dead man’s driver’s license, it only took a moment to show that Abdelraziq Ben Hamid al-Haddad, a US permanent resident for two years now, was employed there. “Aw, shit,” said Mustapha. “We’re gonna look like clowns.”
While he made some calls, Diana walked out of the circle of lights, the headache now in full force. She walked into the grass on the far side of the van, then stood with her back to a tree to shield herself from the worst of the lights. She pinched the bridge of her nose, did some breathing exercises. After a moment, she realized she was feeling sorry for herself and not for poor Mr. Haddad.
A rustling from the nearby bushes snapped her back into focus. She aimed the phone, activated the flashlight, saw a shadow. “Come on out,” she said. “I’m not going to shoot you.” The shadow remained still. “Or arrest you, or hassle you. Look, I’m going to reach into my bag and pull out one of my cards. Next time patrol cops hassle you? Get out of jail free.”
The shadow stepped out of the bushes and into the light. Still young, jug ears, neck tattoos. “Ma’am, I ain’t done nothing.”
“Of course you haven’t. But what did you see?”
“I saw that van. I stayed away. But then I saw it was Bread Man driving it. I’m torn, y’hear? Guy can’t speak English too good, but them muffins are the shit. But I had no time to make up my mind: Cops rolled up on him and got out waving guns. Little guy can run. That lady cop’s out of shape.”
“This is important: did the Bread Man have a gun?”
“No. I didn’t see nothing. But he was gone in a flash.”
As we’ve seen repeatedly, Diana will actually be friendly to homeless men, and this gets her a lot further than Sergeant Brown’s attitude. Of course, she doesn’t have to deal with them when they’re drunk and disorderly, either. What she finds is that Brown and Slaughter came out with guns waving instead of being polite. What she doesn’t find is whether Haddad had a gun in the first place.