Shadowy Corners

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Grimdark Mystery: Face Off-Chapter 11

Detective Hernandez was slipping the last of the paperwork from murder victim Liam Anderson into a file, when he heard the spouse Carter Stanfield’s raised voice out in the bullpen. One of the other detectives…it sounded like Clemons was trying and failing to be placating. Hernandez sat in the interview room a few moments longer, enjoying the show. There were not many people who could outmaneuver Clemons. Stanfield was succeeding admirably.

Listening to Clemons stammer made Hernandez chuckle. Then arranging a suitably somber expression, Hernandez went, opened the interview room door and bade Stanfield to join him. His polite invitation was greeted with hostility. Stanfield pointedly ignored the gesture for him to enter the interview room and spoke louder, for the benefit of everyone around them.

“Where the hell do you get off sending one of your goons to dig through my trash?”

“Please lower your voice Mr. Stanfield. You are causing a disruption. Come on into the interview room and we’ll…”

“I’m not going anywhere with you! Just answer my question. I want everyone to hear whatever pathetic excuse you’re about to give me. You don’t have the right to rifle through my husband’s…”

“Trash? Because that’s what it became, the minute you set it out on the curb. I believe Officer Palin already explained that to you.”

“My husband was murdered. That makes him the victim. Why the hell would you people be rifling through his things? What kind of half-assed investigation targets the victim and not the murderer? Are we living in a police state?”

Refusing to indulge a tantrum, Hernandez turned away and sat at the interview room table. Stanfield stalked in and stood across from him, leaning across the table into his face.

“Don’t walk away from me you sonofabitch! I know what you’re trying to do. I’m not going to stand by and let you defame my husband!”

“Why so much righteous indignation over a few pieces of paper which you threw away? No offense Mr. Stanfield, but you’re overreacting. Is it because your husband was engaging in fraud?”

Without breaking eye contact, Stanfield pulled out a chair dropped into it. His expression was bland, but Hernandez read alarm in his rigid posture.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“So, it’s just a coincidence that right after our interview, you decided to get rid of all the falsified antiquities provenance documents, export licenses, invoices and bills of sale?”

“I’m not an antiquities dealer. Why would you assume I know anything about that stuff? I was just decluttering my husband’s office.”

“Mr. Stanfield, I know this is a difficult time for you. So, I’m trying to go easy on you. But please don’t mistake my kindness for stupidity. We both know that as a shipping lawyer, you are well acquainted with the significance of all those documents.”

Stanfield’s expression did not change. He leaned his elbows on the table and tented his fingers intently gazing at Hernandez. The two of them silently sized one another up. Stanfield was a seasoned attorney. Hernandez would have his work cut out for him, in trying to glean any useful information out of the interview. No doubt, Stanfield was well acquainted with his rights and unlikely to be caught off guard by things that would trip up the average person.

Hernandez would have to tread carefully, in order to avoid a formal grievance or lawsuit being filed against him. Suspecting Stanfield’s yelling had been nothing more than posturing, he had decided to poke the bear, in order to get the full measure of the man sitting across from him. Stanfield was definitely a cool customer. Not the sort of man who was easily rattled. He definitely knew what he was doing, in tossing out the falsified documents. Now, all Hernandez had to do was figure out what if any role Stanfield played in his husband’s illicit activities.

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