A Jump To Conclusions No. 25

Amber let the silence stretch uncomfortably before she continued. “Now, we have something else to show you.” She slid the sheet of soft copy square to Heath and tapped it. It flashed, and then showed a still from the recording of Heath’s flight down the stairs of my building. She tapped it again, and it switched to a shot of Heath walking away from the Police Arm cordon. Again, and Heath going into an alley, the timestamp prominent in the frame. Again, and Heath coming out a minute later. “Mr. Heath,” said Amber, “you’ve already been caught in two lies. I don’t suppose there’s anything else you’d care to clarify?”

Heath remained mute, but I could see worry creeping into his expression, written in the set of his brow and the line of his jaw. Amber saw it, too, and embarked upon the second phase of our plan. “Very well. I’ll tell you what happened that night. Our technicians discovered something very interesting, you see. You were embezzling, Mr. Heath.”

I watched Heath’s expression with something like fanatical intensity, and grinned a triumphant grin when I saw confusion on his face.

“You were embezzling,” Amber repeated. “A pittance to you, but of course your greed knew no satisfaction. When McKenzie found out, your oldest friend or no, he had to go. You knew he would be making a jump that night, so you followed him there, your gun in hand.”

Heath’s expression grew concerned again. He fidgeted. I could see his struggle with the impulse to speak out. “Keep at him,” I said.

As advice went, it was not groundbreaking. Amber stood and began to pace around the interview room. Carpenter remained seated, his patent Caledonia glare boring into Heath. Amber said, “You came upon him just as he made ready to jump. He heard you coming to shoot him in the back, and he turned to face you.”

Heath twitched in his chair, drummed his fingers on the table, bounced his leg. I let Amber be; she was more than capable of bringing it home from here.

“You shot him—” she began.


“Do not interrupt me, Mr. Heath!” Amber shouted. “You shot him in cold blood, and then, to cover your tracks, you took the only thing of value he had with him—his revolver—to throw us onto the scent of a robbery! And then you expected to get away with it. Let me tell you, Mr Heath—”

Heath, in desperation, cried out, “That isn’t how it happened!”

Amber slammed her fist into the table. “Liar!”

“No!” Heath said. “He shot himself!”

“You were there?” replied Amber.


“You pulled the trigger?”

“I did, but I saw with my own eyes that he shot himself!”

Amber relaxed, looked toward the observation room, and said, “Did you get that?”

I looked at Baker, who looked back at me. All of us knew the cameras had been rolling the whole time. Into the microphone, I said, “Very theatrical.”

Something of what he’d just walked into dawned on Heath, and he paled. Pleasantly, Amber explained, “Your gun fired the shot that killed Abbot McKenzie. We found forensic evidence that proves you were the one holding it at the time. We know all about McKenzie’s attempt at a frame. It wouldn’t have worked, Mr. Heath, but in killing him you granted him his vengeance.” She pressed the intercom switch by the door. “Take him to holding, if you would.”


By the time we were ready to leave, the sun had gone down and the skyline had lit up. Amber closed the file, and that marked the end of our day. Nineteen hours had passed since the shooting; we’d come in a full six hours under one day from crime to arrest. There would be paperwork to do, and likely appearances before the tribunal, but that was not in our immediate future. Baker had left half an hour ago, and Carpenter a few minutes after. Amber had started on the paperwork, and I had opened my notebook to begin the task of recording the case. After we’d both made a measure of progress, we came to the unspoken consensus that it was time to go; thirty-five hours uninterrupted is a long time to be conscious.

“Interesting enough to publish, is it?” Amber said.

I lifted a shoulder. “Certainly, it was out of the ordinary.”

She nodded. We watched the floor indicator tick downward toward the motor pool. “No doubt,” she said, “you’ve some teeth-gnashingly horrid pun for a name.”

I smiled. “Well…”

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