A Jump To Conclusions No. 11

Amber and Baker went in, and Heath stood, angry words on the tip of his tongue. Before he could bite them out, Amber spoke sharply: “Have a seat, Mr. Heath.” Taken aback by her tone, he did so almost automatically, and before he could get in a word Amber’s voice softened. “Is there anything I can get for you?”

“My solicitor?” Heath said, caution written in the lines of his expression.

“If he’s not on his way already, I can have him called if you have his card. In the interim, I’m sure you wouldn’t be opposed to answering a few questions regarding a matter under investigation?”

“It doesn’t look as though I’m spoiled for choice,” Heath replied. “Ask your questions. My solicitor’s card is in my wallet.”

“See to it, Mr. Baker,” Amber said. Baker stepped out into the hallway, and Amber called up a picture on the table. “This is Abbot McKenzie. You are acquainted with him?”

“He works for me,” Heath replied. I caught a moment’s hesitation before he answered, but in itself that wasn’t suspicious, and Amber would have noticed too.

“Director of Finance for Heath, McKenzie, and Company.” Amber nodded. “I’m familiar with his work. Would you describe Mr. McKenzie as a friend of yours?”

Heath pursed his lips. “Once, I might have, and proudly at that. It was two years ago his wife left him for me, though, and he’s never forgiven me. When they were together I told him he’d not be married to her and to his job for very long, but it was advice he didn’t take.”

“Even unto his final breath,” Amber said. She wasn’t normally so cold, but she was pushing Heath for a reaction. She got one I didn’t expect. Heath blinked, but I could read nothing from him. “Mr. Heath, Abbot McKenzie was shot and killed several hours ago. Can you account for your whereabouts tonight?”

That got him. He had been expecting the question—it was written plainly on on his face, if only for an instant. He shifted in his chair.

Quickly, so as not to interrupt his answer, I spoke into my microphone. “I don’t know if he did it, but he knows something.”

“I spent the night at home, or I had been doing until I was dragged here,” Heath said.

“Can anyone else attest to that?” said Amber. “Your wife?”

Amber had years of experience in interrogation, and it showed. I thought her timing faultless. Heath was thrown off-balance; I couldn’t see it on his face, but I felt sure the gears in his head were turning, trying to work out how much we knew. Amber had already demonstrated no small knowledge of his life, and as he spoke it seemed he had resigned himself to at least some degree of truthfulness.

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