The Chief - Cover

The Chief

Copyright© 2011 by Robert McKay

Chapter 18

While Mills and Cecelia were out talking to Hispanics, I wondered where Rodríguez had died. If it was outside of town, we might never know. But it seemed to me that probably it had been in town. It was purely a guess, but I guessed that it had probably been a house in the southwest, the area of town where the drug dealers and users mostly lived, the part of town I'd wanted to clean up but hadn't gotten the necessary funds. I'd thrown a lot of requests at the city council, and was happy that I was getting some of them – but it would have been nice to be able to clean up the southwest.

Probably cleaning it up wouldn't have helped prevent or clear the case. People like Rodríguez get dead sooner or later, and usually sooner. You can't be a violent thug, associating with violent thugs, and expect a long life. If he hadn't died in the southwest, he'd have died somewhere else, and if he hadn't died in Red Hawk he'd have given some other town's cops a headache.

But I was certain that he probably died down there. I had a feeling that if I could march into every building in the southwest, and look around, I'd find evidence to back up my guess. But the Bill of Rights doesn't permit that, and for me that's not just the law – it's a matter of right and wrong. Not everything that's wrong is illegal, and not everything that's illegal is morally wrong. There are some laws which turn perfectly good people into unwitting criminals, with their pettifogging insistence on finicky nonsense. But the Bill of Rights isn't like that – it talks about things that are wrong or right by nature, and protects rights that come from God Himself, as the Declaration of Independence recognizes.

So I couldn't just start kicking doors in the southwest. And I couldn't go tell Allen Mills to keep in mind that we wanted to know where Rodríguez died, because he knew that already, and in the interviews he'd be doing he'd try to find it.

That made for a frustrating few days. But it wasn't quite a week later when Mary Gillespie came to my door and told me that Mills and Cecelia wanted to see me. All I was doing just then was officer evaluations, and mostly I endorsed what their supervisors had said, so I tossed my pen down, leaned back, and had her bring them in.

They sat down where they'd sat before. Cecelia was wearing a black blouse with gold piping at the cuffs and collar, and black jeans over a pair of moccasins – I'm no expert, but I thought they were Lahtkwa style, which I've seen occasionally for most of my life, since my dad was a full-blood. She'd never altered her hairstyle in order to conform to department regulations, for she didn't have to – and so she had her usual short ponytail at the base of her skull. I've told her umpteen times I'd prefer something more like an Afro, but she likes her hair the way she does it and keeps it that way. Her face was, as usual, completely free of makeup, and her black shining eyes tilted like a cat's as she looked at me.

"Tengo una buena noticia," she told me.

"That's good," I said. "I suppose the next three words will be you proving that I don't speak any more Spanish than I've already understood."

"You are less ignorant than that," she said with a smile, "but it is true that no one will ever mistake you for an expert in the tongue. The good news of which I spoke is an individual who knows something, and wishes to speak with you."

I raised my eyebrows. "Why me?"

"Apparently this guy thinks you're trustworthy," Mills said. "I don't know where he got such an idea."

I smiled. "I know it wasn't from my wife here. She's got this nasty habit of telling the truth about me."

Cecelia smiled, but stuck to the facts. "You have a reputation in this town, Chief Carpenter. Part of it is a memory of your previous time in the department, part springs from your performance in the Stryker matter, and part is the way you've managed this department these past months."

"I'd rather everybody forgot Stryker," I said. He'd been a Red Hawk cop I'd caught extorting local businesses, and he'd shot himself when he realized he was caught. "But I'll use my reputation if it's there to use. Tell me about this critter."

Mills looked at Cecelia. Even if he conducted every interview, she was the one who actually understood the Spanish, and anyway she heard everything he did, even with English-speaking people.

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