I approached the counter and asked the clerk if there were any messages for me and he checked the box for room 305, took out a slip of paper and handed it to me. As I was reading it two men who had been sitting in the lobby when I walked in got up and headed for me.
I read the note. It simply asked me to call Detective Howard Miller and gave me a phone number. The two men walked up, one to either side of me, and the one on my right asked me if I was Frank Thomas.
He flashed a badge and said, "I'm Detective Larsen and the gentleman to your left is Detective Phillips."
"Yes? And what can I do for you?
"Is that note in your hand from Detective Miller of the Bransom Police Department?"
"It is from a Detective Miller, but I have no idea where he is from."
"Apparently he called and left that message at a little after nine this morning and when you never returned his call he called us and asked us if we would find you. May we ask you where you have been all day?"
"Why? What's this about?"
"Can you just humor us for a second and answer the question?
"From eight until around nine I had breakfast here in the hotel restaurant with a couple of acquaintances. From nine until noon I attended a seminar here in one of the hotels meeting rooms. Noon to one was lunch with some of the folks I met during the seminar and from one to four-thirty I attended the afternoon session. Four-thirty to six was the cocktail hour following the seminar. Six to seven-fifteen or thereabouts it was dinner in the hotel restaurant and from seven-fifteen until five minutes ago it was drinks in the Boom Boom Room. Now it is my turn. What is this all about?"
"I think it would be best if you talked to Detective Miller about that."
"One last question. Where were you last night between the hours of midnight until four?"
"In bed sleeping."
"Any one who can confirm that?"
"Why would I need someone to confirm that I was sleeping?"
"Again, you need to get that from Detective Miller."
I looked from Larsen to Phillips and then walked over to the house phone. I told the operator to bill the call to my room and then I placed a call to the number on the note to Detective Miller. Apparently it was a cell phone because in spite of the late hour it was answered on the third ring.
"My name is Frank Thomas and I have a message to call you."
"Oh yes, Mr. Thomas. You are a hard man to get in touch with."
"I have been in meetings most of the day. I didn't get your message until just now. I have two policemen from the local force with me right now and they are asking me questions, but they won't tell me what it is all about."
"I'm sorry to have to be the one to tell you Mr. Thomas, but your wife is dead."
"How? What? She was alright when I talked to her last night."
"What time was that?"
"Where did you call her from?"
"My hotel room."
"Sometime between midnight and four this morning she was murdered."
"Yes sir. It appears that someone broke into your home and killed her."
"Oh my God. Oh shit! Any idea who did it? Was it a robbery gone bad? Anything stolen like the TVs, DVRs or things like that?"
"I can't talk about it on the phone Mr. Thomas. We will go over the details when you get home."
"I'll try and be on the first flight in the morning."
"Could I please speak to the officers with you?"
I handed the phone to Larsen. "I'll be up in my room packing. I need to call the airlines and leave some messages for the people giving the seminar."
On the flight home I thought about Melisa. We'd met at a cocktail party and I had fallen head over heels in love with her. A fiery redhead with a face that lit up a room when she smiled and a body that was built for sin. She was with someone and since the party was attended by quite a few people that I wanted to do business with I had to play it cool. I waited until I caught her alone and when I didn't think anyone was looking I handed her a piece of paper with my name and phone number on it and a short message — "Call me."
She called me the next day and asked why I had presumed that she would call.
"Nothing ventured, nothing gained" I said, "and a Brit military unit has a motto that fits this situation. "Who dares wins."
"How can I pass up a chance at meeting someone so confident."
"You really shouldn't."
She gave me her address and I picked her up at six that evening for dinner. She had the whole package. Looks, wit, charm and intelligence. On our third date she told me that we would be eating in and I just needed to bring the wine. When dinner was over and the bottle of wine was empty she took my hand, said:
"I hope you hadn't planned on leaving early. We need to see if we have a future together."
She led me into her bedroom and proceeded to fuck my brains out. The woman was insatiable, but I must have done all right because in the morning after another strenuous romp she said:
Nine months later we were married.
My thoughts were interrupted by the "Please put your seat backs and tray tables in their upright position" announcement as we prepared for landing.
I had called ahead to let Miller know what flight I'd be on and when it was due in. He and his partner, a Detective Paulsen, were waiting for me when I came off the plane. After the introductions he asked me to accompany them to the station and I told him I'd get my car out of the parking garage and either follow them or meet them at the station and he said that they would really rather that I go with them.
"And I would really rather not. I'm here, my car is here and there is no sense my going all the way downtown with you and then have to turn around and come all the way back out here to get my car so unless you are arresting me I'm going to get my car."
"One might wonder why you aren't being very cooperative Mr. Thomas."
"No one in my situation would wonder. How about we shorten the dance a bit. My wife has been murdered and we both know that I am a suspect even though I was almost four hundred miles away and can prove it. We both know that you have the officers you talked with last night checking out everything that I told them before I called you. We both know that you wouldn't tell me anything about hat happened to my wife when we talked last night. All you said was that we would talk about it when I got back here. Now you want me to just walk off and leave my car here? That tells me that you don't think I'm going to need it any more which tells me that you have pretty much decided that I'm your guy and you expect to see me behind bars before the day is over so my car can just sit. And you expect me to cooperate? Cooperation is a two way street detective."
He looked at me and then nodded his head. "I guess we are getting off on the wrong foot here."
He looked around and then pointed at one of the many food places scattered throughout the terminal and said:
"Lets get a table and some coffee and I'll bring you up to speed."
Once we were sitting with coffee Miller said, "At approximately nine-ten yesterday morning a friend of your wife's, a Mary Osbourne, arrived to pick your wife up for a prearranged shopping date. When no one answered the bell she tried the door and found it open. She called for your wife and got no answer. She checked and saw that your wife's car was still in the garage so thinking that your wife might have overslept she went upstairs and found your wife dead on the bedroom floor. She called 911 but according to the coroner your wife had been dead at least four hours when her friend found her."
"You said that she had been murdered."
"She had been shot twice."
"Why do I have the feeling that you aren't telling me everything?"
"Because I'm not. There is a procedure that has to be followed in cases like this. There needs to be a formal interrogation at the station which will be recorded. I've already told you more that I'm supposed to have. Go get your car and meet us at the station."
"Should I have an attorney with me?"
"That is up to you. You certainly have the right. As a policeman I have to admit that I don't want you to exercise that right. Attorneys have a habit of constantly interrupting and it impedes the flow of the interrogation and a smooth flowing interrogation in itself can tell the interrogator something."
"So I am gong to be interrogated?"
"Of course you are. You said it yourself. Until you are cleared you are a person of interest as far as the investigation into your wife's death is concerned."
We finished our coffee and I took the shuttle to pick up my car. At the station I was ushered into a room and Miller and Paulson joined me. They warned me that the session was being recorded and asked me if I wanted an attorney present. I told them no. I was asked my whereabouts on the night in question and I told them the same things I'd told the detectives at the hotel. Then Paulson asked me:
"Do you own a handgun?"
"OH? Any .22 calibers?"
"No. Mostly Colt .45s and Glock .40s."
"I may have a couple of .357 Magnums, but I'm not sure."
"How can you own them and not be sure?"
"I don't actually own them; my company does."
"Paladin Security Services."
"You own Paladin?"
"Yes I do."
He pondered that for a couple of seconds and then asked, "Do you know a Robert Turner?"
.... There is more of this story ...