The Chief - Cover

The Chief

Copyright© 2011 by Robert McKay

Chapter 24

I waited about 30 minutes, just sitting quietly with Darlia, and then said, "I'm going to go give it my official chiefly presence."

She grinned and said something in what I recognized as Lahtkwa – she's taken an interest in the Indian side of her heritage and by now speaks the language well enough to carry on simple conversations, or so my brother Memphis, who's lived on the reservation most of his life, tells me. She saw that I had no idea what she'd told me, and her smile grew even broader. At that hour her hair was completely loose, combed straight back from her square forehead and hanging below her waist. She's got a natural golden color, which her time in sun keeps dark, and to me she's the most beautiful child in history. Her smile just adds to her beauty.

"What I told you, Dad, was 'Among the People a chief doesn't give orders, just suggestions.'"

"I knew that," I said, "not what you said but the fact. But I'm not a chief among the Lahtkwa, just here in the RHPD. So sit down and wait for someone to give you a suggestion."

She laughed, and sat down, and waved me away. Unlike Cecelia and me, though she loves to read Darlia can sit quietly for hours without a book or a magazine to occupy her mind, just – apparently – thinking about things. She was sitting there, quietly, as I went down the hall.

I stepped into the interview room, and Allen Mills looked up. He said for the record, "Chief of police Darvin Carpenter has just entered the room at... 4:07 AM."

I leaned on the wall behind Mills, who was across the table from Ramos. "You got anything to say?" I asked the suspect.

"Cállate, idiota," he said.

"No soy idiota," I told him, "porque no soy un criminal." Cecelia had kept on translating, since most if not all the people who might later hear the tape or read the transcript would speak only English. Thus it was on the record that I wasn't an idiot because I wasn't a criminal.

Ramos spouted something at length. Cecelia let him get going, and then translated it: You say you're not an idiot because you're not a criminal, but you haven't proved I'm a criminal. You're just a pig, someone who makes his money off the backs of the poor. You white pigs think you know everything, but the brown race knows more than you'll ever imagine.

"If you're so smart, what can you tell us about the death of Héctor Rodríguez Rios?"

Nothing, man. I don't know anything about it. I wasn't there, I didn't see it, I didn't do it, I don't know anything about it.

"Then what can you tell us about shooting this police officer here?" I asked, pointing to Cecelia.

Oh, is that a cop? I thought it was the maid.

"What can you tell us about that shooting?"

Nothing. If I ever shot a cop, she'd be dead.

"Well," I said, "you talk big, but you don't say much." I moved to where I could see Mills. "Has he said anything useful at all?"

"Not a thing."

I looked back at Ramos. "What sort of physical evidence do we have?"

"The blood in the house, which is Rodríguez's." He was stretching things a bit there – until the DNA results came back we couldn't be sure of that. "We've got the gun, and we've fired test rounds and they match the bullets that came from Officer Carpenter's vest, so that ties him to that." That was stretching too. We had a microscope we could use to examine bullets, but none of us were ballistics experts and our word wouldn't stand up in court. "And in the trunk of his car we found a replica of an old fashioned pirate cutlass. The blade appears to match the wound in Rodríguez's forehead, and there are traces of what appears to be blood on the hilt – we've taken samples and will send them and it to the lab. Right now, we've got enough to hold him on multiple major charges."

Cecelia had been translating that as Mills spoke, and I was watching Ramos' face. I got the impression that while he'd heard the charges – I knew he had, because I'd told him myself – he hadn't really thought of them all in a package the way Mills had just stated it.

"¿Quieres decir algo?" I asked him.

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