Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Players - 11

Jerry Hill took his time on the drive back to the Justice Building. Keeping well under the speed limit, stopping at intersections to let other vehicles go through ahead of him, stopping at a drive-through coffee shop and spending five minutes bantering with the waitress before placing his order. He told Summer that Cedar Falls was a fine little town -- if she was considering staying overnight he could show her a barbecue place that served the best steak in the county, plus he knew of a motel he could recommend. It was basic but comfortable, and cops got a discount there, if she knew what he meant.

Treating her to his shit-eating grin, relaxed and confident, an alpha male on his home turf. She wondered how many women he’d managed to talk into taking a room at this motel of his. She saw him turning up an hour or so after she’d checked in, saw him standing in the doorway with a bottle of something or other and a couple of glasses, saying he thought she might want some company . . . And told him she planned to be back in Portland by the evening.

‘I wouldn’t count on it,’ Jerry Hill said. ‘I’m gonna need to talk to Randy again.’

‘I’ve already told you everything I know,’ Randy Farrell said.

‘We’ll see about that,’ Jerry Hill said. His beeper went off and he checked it and put on a little speed, sounding his horn as he sped through an intersection, saying, ‘Unless you want to leave Randy behind, Detective Ziegler, it very much looks like you might not be getting back to Portland tonight. Think about that motel, why don’t you? I’ll be happy to fix you up.’

‘I bet this is a fun town,’ Summer said, ‘but I really do have to get back to Portland. I think we should ask your partner if she thinks it’s necessary to talk with Mr Farrell again.’

‘She’s welcome to sit in on the conversation. You too,’ Jerry Hill said, swinging his big pickup into the parking lot behind the Justice Building. Saying with mock innocence, ‘Oh my, what do we have here?’

A TV van was parked among the black and white cruisers and civilian vehicles, and there was a small commotion at the rear entrance of the building. Two deputies were arguing with a smartly dressed woman and a man with a video camera up on his shoulder, while two more deputies helped a big shaggy-haired man in shackles and an orange jumpsuit clamber out of the back of a cruiser. Summer realized that the prisoner must be Joseph Kronenwetter, and turned in her seat to tell Randy Farrell to stay right where he was. But he was already clawing at the handle of his door, and Jerry Hill caught Summer’s arm when she reached for him, saying, ‘Let the poor guy have some fun.’

‘Get your hands off me,’ Summer said, and jumped down and chased Randy Farrell across the parking lot.

He was running flat out. When one of the deputies, a woman, got in his way and tried to grab hold of him, they whirled around in an awkward tangle. He smacked her in the eye with an elbow, she lost her footing and sat down hard, and he dodged around her, throwing wild punches and kicks at the prisoner, yelling that he was going to kill the fucking son of a bitch. Then Summer slammed into him and drove him against the side of the cruiser, grabbing hold of one of his wrists and wrenching it up behind his back, pinning him there while a burly deputy handcuffed him and two more deputies hustled the prisoner away, the reporter shouting questions, and the video camera sucking it all in.


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