This story started here.
"Hang on," I said, holding up a hand. "Let's get introductions first. I'm Marshall O'Connor, if you don't know, and I work for Jan Sleet. She's on her way, and she will solve this, but let's at least get each other's names, and then maybe we can start to put this together."
"There isn't anything to 'put together,'" one man said. "This is not some fancy whodunit. She went back there to go to the can, Barney probably said something stupid – he was a jerk around women – and she shot him, without even thinking about it."
"I want to get names," I said, looking around. I caught Pete's eye, hoping he'd back me up, since he obviously wanted to keep this situation under control.
"I'm Pete," he said, attempting a smile, "in case anybody can't recognize me in the gloom." He gestured at starling. "And this is Katherine."
"My name is Lenore," said a throaty voice, "and I'm just sitting in."
She was sitting on the edge of the small platform that held the drums. Her red hair was full, and her expression was somewhat sardonic. She held a cigarette in one hand and a bottle of beer in the other. It was difficult to tell in the dim light and smoke, but she looked to be older than the others, maybe in her late thirties or early forties (which appeared to be starling's age as well, as near as I could tell).
"Lenore and I are not in the band," Pete said. "We just came to jam this afternoon." He smiled a bit. "These guys are really rough on rhythm sections, so they can't hold onto one. Typical guitarists."
The taller man seemed to relax. "I'm Mac," he said. "I sing and play guitar." He was big and solid, with dark, bushy hair and a beard. He moved and spoke slowly, but I could tell he was aware of everything that happened in the room.
I was forcing myself to be calm, with indifferent success. I looked around the small room, slowly and deliberately, noting the drums and guitars and home-made speaker cabinets and so on, including the foam and carpets and perhaps other invisible layers that covered the walls. I hadn't noticed many details until then, because it was difficult to take my eyes off starling. My tendency, unless I controlled it, was to glance back at her every second or so.
She hadn't killed anybody since the founding of U-town, and I knew she was in therapy. I'd even read some reports of Ray's sessions with her, including their disagreement about whether she should continue to carry her guns. I reminded myself that if she should decide to start slaughtering all of us, it wouldn't make much difference how closely I was watching her.
And I reminded myself that they had tried to overpower her, and she had fired a gun to keep control of the situation, but that apparently she had managed to do this without injuring or killing anybody. Given her history, that must have been deliberate.