Where You Go
Chapter 2

Copyright© 2011 by Robert McKay

Larry lived – had lived – in the same apartment complex where I'd lived when I first came to Albuquerque. That was, in fact, where I'd met him. Back then I'd had a more conventional schedule, since I hadn't been as rich then as I am now. We'd found ourselves checking the mail at the same time two or three days a week, and things had gone on from there.

Since I'd gotten married I'd seen less of him, for I spent most of my free time with my family and lived considerably further away from the apartments. But we kept in touch, and occasionally we'd eat lunch together, or spend a weekend in the mountains, or something. Neither of us wanted to lose touch.

I hadn't seen Larry for a month or so, though I'd talked to him on the phone about a week before the police called me. He'd talked about taking a trip to Colorado. He was a former Air Force officer, a graduate of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, and wanted to see the place again. I'd used to joke with him that he had to go to college to become an officer, while my brother Memphis came up from the ranks. He'd needle the mustangs, as they call officers who used to be enlisted men, and I'd joke about ring knockers and trade school boys, terms Memphis had taught me that referred to graduates of the Academy. He hadn't seemed despondent or upset; in retrospect he was just Larry.

I pulled into the apartment driveway off of Montgomery, just a mile or so up the road from where I'd been living when I met Cecelia. I went straight back, and had to park away from the door because of the cop cars. Until there was an official determination of suicide the police would treat the death as a homicide, and for a homicide there's a large initial response. Not every case retains the large investment of time and resources, though; the cops don't have infinite manpower or money and they have to give some deaths more attention than others. I don't like it any more than anybody else does, but I know why it happens, and I can't blame the cops for not being able to do everything.

I walked down to Larry's apartment. A cop stopped me and asked for identification. As I dug out my drivers license I said, "Jerry Miles called me and asked me to help ID the body. If you'll let him know I'm here I'd appreciate it."

He held onto my license as he spoke into the microphone hanging from the epaulette of his jacket. I idly noted his badge number as I waited. I wouldn't need the number later, but my mind was searching for things to do. It's been a long time since I had to listen to the radio and I'd lost the knack of picking out what I needed to hear; to me the reply was just modulated static. But the officer gave my license back and told me to go on in.

I did. Jerry was in the entry, and led me into the living room. It was chaos. There were officers everywhere, some standing around waiting for their turn, and others busy doing whatever they did as part of the initial investigation. I noticed them only peripherally. All my attention was on the sofa, which faced the sliding glass doors that formed the far wall of the room. I walked around to look at the sofa from the front. "It's Larry."

"You're sure?"

I spoke formally. "That is Larry Entragian."

"Very well. Thank you."

I glanced over at Jerry Miles. "But he did not commit suicide."

"I know you don't want it to be that way, Darvin, but we have evidence of suicide and none to point in any other way."

I opened my mouth, then reconsidered and closed it again. Larry's eyes were closed. There was a hole in his right temple, and some blood – not a lot – had run down the right side of his face. Most deaths aren't as bloody as Hollywood depicts, though there are some where it seems like gallons of blood come out of one person. Larry's right hand lay beside him on the sofa – the left was in his lap – and the butt of a revolver rested in the palm. It looked like a .38, and the state of the wound reinforced that conclusion. There was still a faint smell of gunpowder in the room, and with the cold there wasn't yet any stink of decomposition; apparently the heat was set low. It was actually a pretty peaceful scene. Corpses don't shout at you.

"How did you know to come here?" I asked Jerry.

"We got a call this morning about a gunshot. We investigated, and an officer looking in through the glass—" he waved toward the sliding doors "—saw the body."

"You mean someone actually reported a gunshot?" I was amazed. This is a town where on the Fourth of July all sorts of idiots fire guns in the air; the previous year a little baby had got hit with a descending random round. Reporting gunshots isn't a common thing in Albuquerque, at least not in the areas I'm familiar with.

"Yeah. It's a guy who just moved here from Kansas. He's not used to the city."

That would explain why it hadn't been the smell of decomposition that prompted a call several days further on. It's the odor that leads to the discovery of most indoor bodies.

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