Critical Markers – Part 7

Saturday 16 – Wednesday 20 May 2015

The fight to get Angus Stewart into an interview room was long and difficult. His parents, Ben and Carol, understandably upset by the notion that their eldest could be implicated in the murder of their young son, refused to allow Angus out of their sight until the exorbitantly paid lawyer they had hired joined them at the police station. Angus was advised to say nothing, a role that he took to well. He sat almost perfectly still during the three hours that Forbes and Tyler attempted to question him, an insipid smile all that he was willing to share with the detectives.

Forced by Angus’ silence to conclude the fruitless interview for the day, the detectives thanked the Stewarts for their cooperation, and allowed them to take their son home. With a couple of hours to spare before the end of their shift, Forbes and Tyler decided a visit to Fredrick Moore might provide them with a way to get Angus to speak. They found the psychologist poring over files from Wilmot High. So engrossed in the files, Moore leapt with surprise when Forbes greeted him.

‘Jesus, Forbes, you could’ve made your presence known instead of creeping in here like a spook.’

Forbes and Tyler sat down opposite the slightly frazzled psychologist.

‘Relax, shrink man,’ Tyler laughed. ‘We just wanna ask you a coupla questions about these freakin’ kids we’re havin’ to deal with. What’s gonna make that kid of Stewart talk? The little shit didn’t say a word today, other than to confirm his name. Rest of the time he sat there with that creepy ass grin slapped across his face.’

‘Detective Tyler, you have such a glorious way with words,’ Moore replied. He pushed back from his desk and the files, put his hands behind his head and stretched out the knots in his spine. ‘It’s no wonder he didn’t answer your questions.’

‘What’s that supposed to mean, asshole?’ Tyler whined.

‘Shut up, Johnny. He’s pulling your chain.’ Harry Forbes was quicker on the uptake than his partner of too many years. ‘In Johnny’s defence, Fred, we’ve had a very long day with no reward what-so-ever, so he’s a little slow.’

In an insincere gesture, Moore chuckled at the comment. He wanted nothing more than for his two visitors to retreat back to their own workplace so that he could attend to the files he’d already spent the better part of the day reading.

‘Look, the short and uncomplicated answer is nothing. There’s nothing that you can do to get him to answer your questions.’

‘What’s the long and complicated answer?’ asked Tyler.

‘It’s long and complicated.’

‘Then give me a shortened version of your long and complicated.’

‘Dear God, you really are a fool, Tyler.’ Moore sighed, the stupidity of the detective was becoming too much for him to deal with. ‘Let me explain it to you in as simple a way as I can. To get Angus Stewart to talk, you’d have to spend a great deal of time telling him how fantastic he is, how much of a genius he is at manipulating the lowly masses into doing his bidding. You’d have to play to his ego. But you two have spent the day badgering him, bombarding him with your questions and accusations, so you can kiss goodbye any chance you had of getting the truth out of him. He’s not going to tell you a thing.’

‘Shit. There’s gotta be something we can do, some way we can get it out of him.’ Tyler rubbed his face with his calloused hands, frustration etched in every line.

‘You’ve got a lot of work to do if you want to catch Angus Stewart for these murders and Teddy Lange’s suicide. My real concern is that he’s got someone else lined up to manipulate.’ With that, Moore had Harry Forbes’ full attention.

‘You really think he’ll be working on another kid?’

‘Yes, Harry, I really do,’ Moore replied. ‘If you’ve got any hope of getting this kid for all of this, then you’re going to have to work your ass off. This is a long game.’

Forbes sighed. Long game collars were exactly that. Long. He and Tyler could be working towards charging Angus Stewart for years before any indisputable evidence was uncovered. Those investigations took it out of everyone assigned to the case. With this information, Forbes would leave it up to Chief of Police Gray to decide whether or not they would follow the investigation through, or be satisfied with Teddy Lange as the perpetrator.

* * * * *

Legs stretched out in front of them, Angus sat on the river’s edge with a boy from his little brother’s class.

‘You’ve got a lot to learn, Brendan, and the first thing you need to learn is that you’re not to tell anyone else that we’re friends. Okay? It’s important, and it’s a secret, so you need to pinky swear because a pinky swear is unbreakable.’

Brendan cautiously offered up his little finger to his older friend. Angus locked his own pinky around the boy’s and they shook.

‘I’m going to teach you some things, Brendan.’

‘What sorta things?’

‘Things that my dad taught me when I was about your age. Things that I was helping Teddy Lange to get better at. Things that I was trying to teach my little brother before he broke our pinky swear. You see, Brendan, my dad taught me how to beat the critical markers at school as a start. You know what they are, don’t you?’

Brendan slowly shook his head. He had no idea what critical markers were, and he didn’t think he liked the sound of them either.

‘Critical markers are what the teachers at school use to see if we’re good kids or bad kids. If we’re good kids, they don’t really need to worry about us. And if we’re bad kids, they give our names to the police and they watch us for the rest of our lives in case we do bad things to other people.’

‘You mean, like my dad?’

‘Your dad is a bad guy?’ Angus asked.

‘No, he’s a policeman. My dad is Detective John Tyler. He solves murders and stuff.’

Angus smiled. How much fun he’d have training up Brendan Tyler to do his heinous bidding.

‘If you break the pinky swear, if you tell your dad that we’re hanging out, if you tell anyone that we know each other, you see that river?’

Brendan looked from Angus’ face to the river, and nodded as he looked back at Angus.

‘That’s where you’ll end up . . . just like my little brother. You remember Michael, don’t you?’

Brendan nodded again.

‘Good. Now, let me explain to you how this is gonna work . . .’

. . . The end . . .

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About Danielle

I like to write. What more is there to know?
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