When Byrne walked into the office he was more than a little surprised to see that, in addition to Sergeant Westbrook, there were Michael Drummond from the DA's office and Inspector Ted Mostow. In the corner, arms crossed, smug look in place, was Dennis Stansfield. Russell Diaz held down the other chair.
'Inspector,' Byrne said. 'Good to see you, sir.'
'How've you been, Kevin?'
'How's the baby?'
Byrne shrugged, more or less on cue. 'Ten fingers, ten toes.'
It was an old expression, one that meant all was well with whatever case you were working on. In homicide you responded that way whether the case was going well or not.
Byrne nodded at Michael Drummond. 'Mike.' Drummond smiled, but there was no warmth in it. Something was wrong.
'Please, have a seat,' Westbrook said. Byrne took a chair near the windows.
'As you know, Detective Stansfield is working the Eduardo Robles homicide,' Drummond began.
Byrne just listened. Drummond continued.
'In the course of his investigation he discovered the existence of a surveillance camera on the opposite side of the street, just across
from the Chinese restaurant. After watching footage from the time frame in question, and running the plates on the six vehicles parked on the street, he contacted and interviewed the owners. All but one checked out, and had solid alibis for where they were that night at that time.'
Byrne said nothing.
'The sixth vehicle, a black Kia Sedona, belongs to a man named Patrick Connolly.' Drummond fixed him with a stare. 'Do you know a Patrick Connolly?'
Byrne knew that Drummond, along with everyone else in the room, knew the answer to that question, along with most of the questions he had not yet heard. Byrne had been on the other side of the table too many times not to know the game. 'Yes,' he said. 'He's my cousin.'
'When Detective Stansfield interviewed Mr. Connolly, Connolly told him that he had loaned the minivan out, that he had loaned the vehicle to you. Is that true?'
'Yes,' Byrne said. 'I borrowed the van six days ago.'
'Were you driving it the night in question?'
'Were you in Fishtown that night?'
Again, Byrne knew that everyone knew the answer to this question. No doubt they had spoken to patrons of The Well, people who had put him in the bar that night. 'Yes.'
'Do you recall seeing Mr. Robles that night?'
'Did you have a conversation or interact in any way with Mr. Robles on that night?'
Byrne had begun to answer the question when Inspector Mostow interrupted. 'Kevin, do you want your PBA representative in here?'
The Police Benevolent Association provided legal advice and representation for police officers.
'Is this on the record?' Byrne knew the answer to that question - there was no court reporter, he had not been sworn in, and no one was writing anything down. He could confess to the Lindbergh kidnapping in this room, and it could not be used against him.
'No,' Drummond said.
Byrne looked over at Stansfield. He knew what the man was trying to do. This was payback. The two men locked eyes, matching wills. Stansfield looked away 'Then let's put it on the record,' Byrne said.
Drummond took a few seconds, looked at Inspector Mostow. Mostow nodded.
Drummond gathered a few papers, spirited them into his briefcase. 'Okay, we'll meet back here in the morning,' Drummond said. 'Eight o'clock sharp.'
Stansfield piped in. 'Inspector, I really think that we should-—'
Mostow shot him a look. 'In the morning, detective,' he said. 'Are we clear?'
For a moment, Stansfield didn't answer. Then, 'Yes, sir.'
Byrne was out of Westbrook's office first. Every detective in the duty room had their eyes on him.
As Byrne crossed the room to get a cup of coffee, Stansfield followed him.
'Not so much fun, is it?' Stansfield said.
Byrne stopped, spun around. 'You don't want to talk to me right now.'
'Oh, now you don't want to talk? It seems you couldn't keep your mouth shut the past few days about me.' Stansfield got a little too close. 'What were you doing in Fishtown that night, detective?'
'Step away,' Byrne said.
'Doing a little cleanup work?'
'Last time. Step away.'
Stansfield put a hand on Byrne's arm. Byrne pivoted, lashed out with a perfectly leveraged left hook, his entire body behind it. It caught Stansfield square on the chin. The impact sounded like two rams butting heads, echoing off the walls of the duty room. Detective Dennis Stansfield spun in place, went down.
'Ah, fuck,' Byrne said.
The whole room shut down for a moment, drawing a collective breath. Stansfield didn't move. Nobody moved.
After a few moments Nick Palladino and Josh Bontrager slowly crossed the room to see if Stansfield was all right. Nobody really cared all that much - no one in the room would have denied that he'd had it coming - but it didn't serve the department too well to have one of its own sprawled spread-eagle on the floor in the middle of the homicide unit duty room. Witnesses, suspects, prosecutors, and defense attorneys came through this room day and night.
Jessica glanced at Byrne. He rubbed his knuckles, picked up his coat, grabbed his keys off the desk. When he got to the door, he turned, looked at Jessica, and said: 'Call me if he's dead.'