the rock band mystery (part ten)

This story started here.

I looked around, Pete was gone. Mac was still there, watching me, but Pete had apparently returned to the other room. This was fine with me, since I had the idea that he might be helpful in keeping starling calm. The floor was carpeted, like the walls, which must have been why I hadn't heard him go.

I looked around the room again. I wasn't looking for some apparently innocuous clue (a hairpin, a dead ladybug, a tobacco stain, etc.) which might lead us directly to the killer. My employer was on her way, and if there was such a clue she would find it and figure out its significance.

What I wanted was something, some clue that would provide a reasonable doubt that starling had done it. I was confident that my employer would solve the mystery, but we had to break up the standoff in the other room or more people would die, and probably quite soon.

I opened the window all the way and leaned out. Broken concrete. Not even a chance for footprints.

I had one advantage in dealing with starling. She was in therapy, which was more or less an unofficial condition of her remaining free, and I had read some of Ray's reports on their sessions.

I did not believe she had killed Barney in outrage at some offensive remark he might have made to her. There had been a time when she had killed people over pretty much anything, but that was no longer true. I knew of situations in U-town where she had been confronted and insulted on the street by people who had a grievance against her (real or imagined) and she had either waited patiently or walked away.

However, my tentative belief in her innocence aside, there was a lot of evidence against her, and we needed to solve this or put her in custody. Which she wouldn't stand for, I knew, and the musicians in the front room were her hostages.

But she didn't want to escape, and she clearly didn't want to hurt anybody. She wanted the case to be solved, and she wanted to be able to continue to live in U-town, which was probably the only place in the world where she could live comfortably.

Entirely too comfortably, as some people saw it, but that decision had been made over my objections.

"Interesting," my employer said, putting her hand on my shoulder as I turned away from the window. I didn't actually shriek in surprise, but I did gurgle a bit.

She smiled. "They told me a few things in the other room, but give me everything."

As usual, she leaned toward me, her ear only inches from my mouth, steadying herself with her hand on my shoulder.

"So, Sherlock, find anything out yet?" Somerset boomed as he came in. "Traces of clay on the victim's–"

He stopped as her cane whipped up and poked into the center of his chest, her grip on my shoulder tightening as she leaned on me to keep her balance. "Go back into the other room," she said. "You are annoying me."

Mac grabbed his arm and moved him out.

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About Anthony Lee Collins

I write.
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