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We went inside the building and Pete closed the thick, padded door behind us. It was like stepping out of a cool, pleasant day and into a fetid swamp. The light was dim, and the air was close and warm, reeking of beer and smoke from various kinds of cigarettes. I felt like asking Pete to leave the door open, but that would have meant danger for anybody passing by on the sidewalk, because starling, the internationally known lunatic killer, was standing in the center of the room with a gun in each hand.
I asked, "What's going on here?" It sounded to me like my voice veered from authoritative to idly curious to terrified, all in four words.
"There's been a murder," Pete said. He gestured at the half-open door at the back of the room. "There's another rehearsal room down that hall. Barney, the drummer, he was practicing there. Alone."
"And she shot him," one of the men said, looking at starling. His tone veered a bit, too.
She didn't react.
"I heard a shot from out on the street," I said. "It sounded like it came from closer–"
"That was Katherine," Pete said. "They tried to overpower her." His voice was tense, but he was under control. It was possible that he'd experienced this sort of scene before, because Katherine, also known as "starling," was his girlfriend.
"I'm not guilty," she rasped. "And I will not surrender my guns."