Monday 5 – Wednesday 7 May 2014
Arriving at his usual time, Felipe Martinez lumbered into the backyard, his arms laden with the tools and equipment of his trade. Without concern, he dumped them haphazardly on the grass and then stood, motionless, gazing at where they had landed. Despite the beautiful weather, Felipe’s heart just wasn’t in his work today. Lost in thought, he did not see or hear Jenna approach.
‘A penny for your thoughts?’ she asked. Her voice startled Felipe, causing him to stumble sideways and only narrowly did he avoid falling headfirst into the pool. Jenna burst into laughter.
‘Oh, what? Sorry, I was miles away.’
‘And by the looks of things, you were almost in there.’ She playfully pointed at the pool.
Wrapping her arm around Felipe’s, she led him away from the pool and over to the patio seating.
‘Sit, Felipe, and tell me what has you so distracted.’
‘I don’t know . . . I’m worried, I guess.’ He dropped into a chair, and rested his head in his calloused hands. Jenna leaned across and rubbed his shoulders.
‘Worried about what?’
‘That the police will link me to these murders,’ he replied, head still in his hands.
She crinkled her nose and brow. He sensed her disbelief.
‘You don’t think that they can do that? Think about it . . . Four of the seven women who’ve been killed were my clients. I’m a pool man, and the papers have named the guy The Pool Man Killer. I have a police record. Culturally, I’m a minority being Puerto Rican. As far as the cops are concerned, I’ve got criminal written all over me.’
‘I think you’re over thinking this whole thing, Felipe. I’m sure the police don’t consider you a suspect. If they did, I doubt that you’d be here now. They would have arrested you, and they’d have you holed up in some interrogation room somewhere, and they’d be grilling you or beating a confession out of you.’ Jenna smiled, clearly finding her little speech amusing. It didn’t, however, amuse Felipe. He was not smiling about the situation.
‘Maybe I should go to them myself. Tell them I worked for most of the women. Take myself off their radar. What do you think?’
‘I think, Felipe,’ she replied, ‘that you’re an idiot. If you go to the police and confess to having cleaned their pools, then you’ll put yourself on their watch list. That kind of action screams guilty, or at the very least, that you have something to hide. Believe me, they’ll already know about your sordid criminal past.’
The conversation was doing nothing at all to curb Felipe’s concerns.
‘My father’s right – I’m a screw up. Everything that I do, everything that I touch turns to crap.’ He was unable to stem the flow of tears and sobs that overcame him. Head in hands, he rocked back and forth, crying at the predicament that he saw himself in. Jenna, uncomfortable with his outburst of emotion, rubbed his shoulders, eventually yielding to his anguish by wrapping her arms around the pool cleaner’s shoulders in a wooden embrace. Her secret plan was falling nicely into place.
* * * * *
Six hours in a grimy interrogation room at the police station was more than enough time to make Drew want to scrub himself with bleach. When he’d arrived home, he’d showered and then eaten dinner as he watched a news broadcast. Now he had spread out on the sofa, a bottle of beer in his hand and he was trying to rid his mind of his visit to the police by watching a B-grade movie. When the doorbell chimed, Drew took a few minutes to register that someone had chosen to visit him at such a late hour. Having turned off the security panel that housed the closed circuit TV when he left for the police station, and cautious about who might be on the other side of the door, Drew switched the monitor back on, and impatiently waited for the small screen to come to life.
The doorbell chimed twice more before the monitor displayed Coleman’s late night visitor. He pressed the button that activated the speaker outside the door.
‘Detective Butcher, what can I do for you?’
‘I need to talk to you,’ replied Butcher.
‘You don’t think that you and your partner did enough of that earlier? Exactly what do you want?’
She looked around the street, and it struck Coleman that she appeared agitated as if she might have been followed.
‘I’m not going to stand in the street and discuss this with you, Coleman. Open the God damn door.’
He considered his options: let Detective Butcher in and deal with whatever rubbish she was going to dish out on him, or send the woman on her way and spend the rest of the night wondering what the hell she wanted. Curiosity got the better of him, and he buzzed Butcher into the anteroom of the warehouse. He opened the front door and returned to his position on the sofa to wait for the detective.
‘Can I offer you a drink, Detective Butcher? Beer? Coffee? Tea? Water?’ Drew asked as she walked in and closed the door behind her.
‘Coffee would be great, if it’s not too much trouble. Thank you, Mr. Coleman.’
‘Have a seat, detective. How do you take your coffee?’ He indicated that she should sit on the sofa.
‘Black is fine, thank you. So, you asked me what I wanted . . . ’ She sat down, put her handbag on the floor next to her feet, and waited to see if Coleman would asked.
‘Look, I’ve come here off-duty so this is off-the-record. Explain to me again what you told us today. I’ve been giving your theory a lot of thought since you left the station, and I think it has a lot of merit. And frankly, between you and I, we’re not getting any closer to solving this, so any idea that makes any kind of sense is worth pursuing.’
She looked embarrassed at having to ask for help. After the day he’d had, the businessman in Drew wanted to push her to beg for help, but luckily for Butcher, Drew’s mother raised him to be a gentleman.
‘Let me get your coffee, detective, and then we’ll go back over it.’
* * * * *
Butcher’s demeanour had visibly changed from when she arrived at Drew Coleman’s apartment. She was now focussed and determined. Drew’s theory seemed plausible, and she now someone who could be considered a suspect, albeit a suspect currently short of a motive.
‘That’s where you come in though,’ Coleman said. ‘You’re going to need to look into the possible motives.’
‘I’m pretty sure I can cope with that. But there is something I need to know from you.’
‘What is that, Detective Butcher?’ He felt that she had put her detective hat back on and was going to quiz him about his past.
‘Felipe Martinez is a good friend of yours. How do I know that you’re not offering up one suspect to throw us off him being a suspect? After all, he’s had access to a number of the properties where the murders have occurred, he’s had access to most of the women and, like you, he has a juvenile record. Okay, so both records are expunged, but the fact is, you were both arrested as teenagers.’
‘For hacking, Detective Butcher. We had quite an active presence online. We weren’t murderers, and we’re not murderers now. Honestly, I think Felipe’s being set up. I know, I know, you hear that all the time. But in this instance, it’s true.’
Butcher rubbed her tired eyes.
‘It’s been a long day for both of us. I’ll, uh, I’ll look into this tomorrow when I can think straight.’
. . . To be continued . . .