Novel 3: Act III, Chapter 2, Scene 1c

TOC page here.

Mustapha and Diana are asking the wife of the recently-murdered Bill Knight questions about what she might know. They didn’t live together, but had a lot of contact as he recovered from alcoholism.

But Mustapha barely had time to settle into the throne-like office chair Diana wheeled to him before Knight returned, composed, wearing a little more makeup. “I’m so sorry,” she began.

Mustapha said, “You’re doing fine. Did your husband ever talk about Islam?”

“Islam? Oh, the writing on the bodies? Did that happen to Bill? Oh, dear. No, he never said anything about Islam. We’re Christian, but not what you’d call observant. In fact, Christianity is a bit of a problem for Bill. That Claire woman is a wonder-worker: she’s the one responsible for walking Bill down the road to recovery. But she’s a minister of some kind, and everything they discussed kept coming back to god and Jesus, and too much of that rubbed Bill the wrong way. In AA? They have this thing about a Higher Power, but Bill preferred to conceive of this as just being the vastness of the world. He talked about how he and Claire would butt heads because she and most everyone else took it literally. But it was god, not Allah or Muhammad.”

Diana said, “What else did he tell you about the Lazarus Program?”

“Just how well it works. Group therapy, individual therapy, staying out of trouble. I have to confess that I was a little jealous there for a while because he talked about Claire so much; but I have a friend who’s a psychiatrist, and he explained how transference works and how important it is.”

“Did he ever talk about being afraid, or worried?”

“Sure. But he was worried about relapsing, not about someone stalking him.”

“How about a guy named Mario?”

“Doesn’t ring a bell.”

Mustapha said, “Look, again we’re real sorry. Someone from our liaison office will call you later today, about funeral arrangements, that sort of thing. And… this is not going to be easy, as in, even over and above having to deal with grief. You remember how crazy people were about the Reaper last summer? This is going to be worse. Detective Siddal here and I are going to have to do press conferences; you can expect TV cameras to show up the minute we give out your husband’s name.”

“If not before,” said Diana.

“Yeah. So you might want to think about taking your sons out of school, maybe taking a vacation, that sort of thing.”

Knight nodded, slowly. “This is going to just kill them.”

Diana said, “We’ll do whatever it takes to bring your husband’s killer to justice, ma’am, but there’s almost nothing we can do about the media. To Mustapha, “Get out of Ms. Knight’s chair and let’s go talk to the chief.”

Is this scene just filler? (No.) So what’s the tell here? Which of these questions and answers is going to lead us somewhere new?

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