Novel 3: Act II, Chapter 3, Scene 1b

TOC page here.

We’re in Claire Longstreet’s office, where she’s reluctant to help our detectives with their case. She doesn’t have enough useful information about the latest victim, anyway. When she says, “Anything else?”, we get this:

Diana said, “Well, while you’ve still got the computer out, there’s another gentleman we like to speak with, but we don’t know his real name. We’re still trying to find Alex Dawson’s killer, and several people have mentioned this fellow Red as a source.”

A bit of an eyeroll. “Henry needs to watch his tendency to gossip. The man you’re talking about is in recovery, in a fragile state. When Alex was killed, he’d already left Peachtree-Pine in the care of his brother and sister-in-law, a month or two before. He wouldn’t know anything that would help you: he was in an in-house program where he only left to go to meetings, and Alex never even went to a single meeting, as far as I know. He’s still my patient, and I’m going to protect him.”

Diana said, “Even though he might could help us?”

“I highly doubt that.” At their continued silence, “Very well. I’ll contact him and ask him if he’d like to speak with you. But if he’s not interested, that’s as far as it will go.”

Diana said, “Mr. Buchanan said that this Red gentleman was a real success story of yours.”

Longstreet shifted uncomfortably. “Not mine. God’s. And Red’s hard work.”

Mustapha said, “Look, just tell us the man’s name. I can see why you’re reluctant to trust us, but we’re public servants trying to treat a homeless guy’s murder with the respect you’d want us to. We just need him to confirm a couple of things for us.”

A quick shake of the head. Diana and Mustapha shared a practiced glance. “If that’s the best you can do,” said Diana, trying to sound tolerant. “One more thing: when I was here the night Mr. Dawson was killed, I met a gentleman named Bill Knight.”

“He’s in recovery, too: he doesn’t have any contact with the crowd Alex ran with. Or Mario.” Before Diana could draw breath, “I was there when you spoke with him, Detective. He told you he stays inside the shelter.”

Diana held up both hands. “No, this is different. He used to know my ex-husband, before he… ended up here. My ex remembers him fondly, and would like to talk with him. So, Ms. Longstreet,”

”Claire.” She finished for a notepad. “Write down a contact number, I’ll pass it on.”

Mustapha stood up. “Sorry to rile you up. We’re not out to close your shelter.”

No, they’re not; but lots of other people are. That’s Claire’s problem: everyone wants her gone, because the land Peachtree-Pine sits on is too valuable. But who is Red and what does he know? He came up before, Claire stonewalled them then, she’s clearly stonewalling them now. Her excuse is plausible, but only just; however, since she’s got all the information, they have no way of calling her bluff that the family doesn’t want him involved. And it might even be true.

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