Novel 3: Act III, Chapter 1, Scene 2b

TOC page here.

Diana has been called by Mustapha to the scene of the third dead homeless man, but right away she recognizes him as Bill Knight, a man who’d tried to help her very early on in the book and who before he became a homeless alcoholic was a friend of her ex-husband.

She saw Mustapha look up at her, eyebrows raised. “You didn’t meet him. The first time I talked to Claire Longstreet, right after we found Alex Dawson. Remember later, when we were in her office and I was asking about Red? This guy was Red’s pal. Mr. Buchanan at the door mentioned him.”

“Right, right; and he’s one of the Lazarus Program guys.”

“Lazarus Program?” said Keller. “This guy ain’t coming back.”

Diana said, “He knew my ex-husband, too.”

Mustapha said, “You think you want to take a step back?”

“As if the chief would let me.” She looked down again, firmed up the image of Knight’s face in her mind. “I asked Andrew about him, a couple of weeks ago; before Mr. Knight climbed into the bottle, he was a real humanitarian. Well, Andrew said do-gooder, but sometimes I have to translate.”

Mustapha said, “Yeah, and didn’t he only leave the place for meetings?”

Keller said, “There’s a meeting every night. Well, you’d know that.”

Diana said, “It’s five in the morning. Dave, any idea on time of death?”

“Liver temp says between ten and midnight. He wasn’t killed right here, so if he was kept somewhere where the temperature was significantly different, that will skew it.”

Mustapha said, “So he gets out of his meeting, starts to walk back, gets popped. Or he never showed. We can ask around, see if the AA guys will break confidentiality. Maybe they saw somebody pick him up.”

Diana used her tablet to call up the picture of Mario’s chest, held it to line up with her perspective on Knight, flicked her gaze back and forth. “Looks the same to me; maybe Imam Dave can tell us if there’s a dot out of place.”

Keller said, “That actually says something?” Diana read him the English translation from where she had stored it on the tablet. “Hunh. Does Islam have the thing with Abraham and Isaac? Never mind: they’d cut his throat, not strangle him.” He stood up, looked around. “During the day, this parking lot is empty. Too close to Peachtree-Pine, which is what? Two, three blocks down there. But at night? Campers: them guys that can’t deal with the shelter rules. You’ll find them tucked in little hobbit holes all over these blocks. Why I think he wasn’t killed here: somebody would have noticed.”

Diana said, “Those kids that found him: was he face up or face down?”

Mustapha said, “Down. Curtis tore them new assholes for flipping him over. They said they thought he was just passed out, and wanted to help.”

“And that might even be true. I bet more than one person has slept off some fortified wine in this grass.”

Keller said, “He wasn’t robbed, either. Still has a wallet with a hundred bucks in small bills.”

Mustapha said, “So he can’t have been there long. Perp drops him off at 0300, even the nightcrawlers are sleeping.” He stood up, looked around: without the klieg lights, the parking lot would be an oasis of darkness. “Some of these intersections will have cameras.” He pointed toward the light at North Avenue. “There’s our most likely spot. Let’s get Purcell to authorize manpower, see if we can find a white van.” He turned around, pointed back toward Peachtree-Pine. “That’s probably our best bet for next of kin, plus we can maybe find out what meeting he went to. If anyone’s awake at this hour.”

Mostly just forensic details here: he was killed elsewhere, the writing looks legit. But these sorts of details are often important, later.

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