Cristiãn

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Chapter 10: A Night Out

Cassidy arrived outside of The Cavern Nightclub at half past seven in the evening. She did not expect to see the club’s strange group of six regulars or any of the club’s patrons this night. The club was closed and would be until Thursday evening. The person she did expect to see was David Burrell. She had called him earlier that day and requested access to the club’s surveillance videos. When she arrived, David was waiting outside the front doors of the ‘The Cavern.’

“Thank you for doing this,” Cassidy expressed as she walked up to him.

David turned about and opened the front door to the club just as Cassidy spoke. His response to her greeting came as she walked through the doorway.

“You made it sound important.”

“It’s time sensitive,” Cassidy corrected dismissively.

This response was not at all inaccurate. Cassidy knew that the club’s security recordings had a two-week lifespan. This was information she learned during her first meeting with David Burrell. By this calculation, Cassidy knew that she had until the end of the week to recover video of the night that Albert Haynes received the call from the burner phone that may have been inside the club.

David led the way into the vestibule of the club. Cassidy followed two steps behind. The emergency exit signs provided the only light, they did little more than highlight the room’s boundary. The darkness made the center of the vestibule barely visible. David walked over to the wall on his left and turned on the lights above the entrance. This provided enough illumination to for them to see their way across the vestibule. David led the way to the entrance of the main room and turned on the lights above the bar. This illumination was more than enough to guide their walk across the room and into the hallway on the right.

“I heard about your partner,” David broached as he walked down the hallway and up to his office door. “I’m sorry for your loss.”

“Thank you,” Cassidy returned with acquired detachment.

David paid no notice to Cassidy’s unemotional reply. He unlocked the door to his office and pushed it open without hesitating to give heed to her response. He then turned on the room’s overhead light and stepped just inside the room. Cassidy followed through and walked to the center of the room behind David’s invite with a gesture of his hand.

“I thought the case was closed?” David questioned while closing the office door behind him.

Cassidy quickly thought up a lie she could use as a response to this question.

“We’re just tying up loose ends.”

“Does this Haynes person have a connection with The Cavern?” David questioned as he began to remove his overcoat while moving towards his desk.

At first Cassidy was without the words to respond to this. Her training forced her to regard David as a suspect, but her intellect told her that this was next to impossible. This thinking was supported by the knowledge that he was living in Great Britain when all nine of her victims were being killed. After a moment of thought she came up with a reply that she felt comfortable with.

“We’re hoping to eliminate The Cavern as a connection.”

David threw his overcoat over the left chair in front of his desk. He then started his walk to the backside of the desk. Following his lead, Cassidy removed and threw her overcoat on top of his two seconds behind.

“I see,” David returned as he took a stance behind his desk.

David said nothing more as he turned on his computer and activated the security program inside. In response to a gesture from David, Cassidy moved in beside him and watched as he brought up the program. When it was up and running, he gestured to the chair. Cassidy took the seat behind the desk as David stepped aside.

“How do you pull up the recordings from the Saturday before last?” Cassidy questioned after taking a moment to examine the display on the monitor.

David leaned in and gave a point to a location on the display as he spoke his answer.

“Just type in the date and time here and press enter.”

Cassidy wasted no time reacting to this information. She typed in the date for the Saturday before last and the time that the call from Albert Haynes was made, plus one minute before. As the playback started she began to watch it with her full attention. David noted her focus and moved to the other side of the desk. He then spoke to her at a level that was halfway between a whisper and his regular voice.

“I’m going to be out for a few minutes. If you should need me just press the button on the phone marked kitchen.”

Cassidy gave David a glance in reaction to his announcement. As he left the office she paid no notice at all. Her attention was fixed on the monitor in front of her and the video it was displaying. The space of time she was examining passed in less than five minutes. The video playback showed the entrances to the club, the activity behind the bar and the interior of David’s office. The main room was not visible, nor was the hall outside of the bathrooms. By the end of this viewing Cassidy was more than a little frustrated by these omissions. She saw no one on a cellphone in the areas that were being observed. The person that received Haynes’ call had to be somewhere outside of these spaces. After a single run through she concluded that the identities of everyone in the club at the time the call was made had to be acquired and examined. She knew that this was the only avenue left to her for identifying the receiver of this call.

This setback did not stop Cassidy from noticing that the strange six regulars were nowhere to be seen in the video during the time of the call. These were the individuals that she most wanted to see. The fact that the call Albert Haynes’ received could be linked to this location put them on the top of her list of suspects. In fact, they were the only suspects that she could refer to by name. Cassidy also took notice that David was in his office during the time the call was made, and he was not on the phone. His continual fall into the realm of an implausible suspect enhanced her filling of ease around him.

Cassidy gave a moment of thought to her next move. At the end of this time she adjusted the surveillance recording to the time just after Haynes received the call and began collecting pictures of patrons and employees exiting the club. She put the images into a file she created and labeled each with the time of their capture. A dozen minutes into this effort David came back into the office carrying a tray. On top of it was a carafe of coffee, a pair of cups and saucers, a sugar bowl and a small pitcher of cream.

“I hope you’re a coffee drinker,” David spoke as he set the tray on the end of the desk. “If not, I’m happy to fetch a tea bag and some hot water for you.”

“That wasn’t necessary.”

Cassidy gave the tray a look out the corner of her eyes as she spoke these words and then went back to collecting pictures.

“You’re my guest,” David returned pleasantly. “It’s a force of habit.”

“Thank you,” Cassidy responded without specifying a preference.

David showed no displeasure with Cassidy’s indifference towards him. He made himself a cup of coffee, black, and then settled into his chair opposite her.

“Are you finding what you’re looking for?”

Cassidy was reluctant to respond to this inquiry, but this had nothing to do with the person making it. Her problem with the question had everything to do with the fact that she was a police officer. Answering questions during an investigation was something she did not do. Her dismissive manner was Cassidy’s way of discouraging David from entertaining romantic thoughts concerning her.

“I’m sorry. Was my question out of line?” David queried after noting Cassidy’s discomfort.

David’s apology caused Cassidy to feel even more ill at ease. The fact that she was exploiting this man’s kindness while treating him like a suspect was not sitting well with her off duty status. For the first time, she entertained the thinking that she owed David Burrell some civility.

“You don’t have to apologize, Mr. Burrell,” Cassidy commenced to explain with a tinge of frustration towards the feeling that encouraged her to do so. “I’m just not comfortable giving out information about an investigation.”

“So, you do think there’s a connection with someone here and the killer?” David questioned with a fixed stare.

“I didn’t say that,” Cassidy returned defensively.

“No, you didn’t,” David spoke back calmly while giving his guest a studied look.

Cassidy took note of David’s examination of her and instantly became upset with herself for speaking with alarm in her voice. The last thing that she wanted to happen here was the start of a rumor that Albert Haynes had an accomplice. She knew that this would not be received well by her superiors, going up the chain of command several levels beyond Lt. Graham. After taking a moment to consider the damage that her words had done, Cassidy concluded that anything she said to undo the damage would have the opposite effect and went back to collecting facial images off the security video.

“Will this take long?” David questioned after a moment of silence.

The question took Cassidy by surprise. Up until this moment she did not feel as if she was imposing upon David. Subsequently, she was content to take the time she needed, within reason. The fact that she was continuing an investigation, on a suspended case, against the wishes of her superiors, while barred from working in the field, made this action feel illegitimate to her. Inconveniencing a private citizen while she was doing it made her feel like a nuisance.

“If you have something to do, I can download what I need and…”

“No,” David quickly corrected. “I have nothing to do. I just thought you might want something to eat. I’m a good cook.”

“Please, don’t bother,” Cassidy discouraged with a shake of her head.

David got up from his chair despite Cassidy’s declination.

“It’s no bother,” David assured with a smile. “I enjoy cooking, and did I mention that I’m good at it.”

“Are you trying to spoil me, Mr. Burrell?” Cassidy questioned with a mildly suspicious look.

“A good entrepreneur is always trying to spoil a potential customer, Detective Tremaine.” David responded with a vaguely devilish grin.

“I can afford to buy my own food,” Cassidy spoke back with a suspicious scowl and a shake of her head.

“There’s no hidden agenda, Detective.” David reported nonchalantly. “I would be doing this for you even if you weren’t a woman—and attractive,”

Cassidy was caught off guard by this remark and was hesitant to respond to it. After a pair of seconds passed she gave one with a definitive inflection.

“Men always have an agenda.”

“I suspect that would be a wasted effort on you, Detective Tremaine” David retorted with a wide smile.

The remark and the smile riled Cassidy’s suspicion. She fixed her stare on David with a dubitable look and then put into words what she was thinking.

“What does that mean?”

“I don’t think you’re easily swayed by the admiration of men,” David explained from behind an assessing squint.

This reply did not touch on anything that Cassidy might find offensive. She relaxed her demeanor after hearing it and then verbalized her thoughts reflectively.

“I’m not accustomed to being admired by men.”

“I don’t believe that for an instant, Detective Tremaine,” David quickly contradicted.

David changed his expression to a quizzical one as he finished his thought on the subject.

“I think it’s more like you’re not accustomed to being adored by a man. And if it did happen I suspect he let you down.”

Cassidy was momentarily stunned into silence by this remark. After fighting off a blush, she spoke to David with a forced sternness in her voice.

“Don’t be so sure you know me.”

“I’m not,” David replied with a look of indifference. “But I am fairly sure that you’ve had more than your share of admirers.”

With a hint of a smile on her face, Cassidy gave David a glance out the corner of her eyes behind this remark and then turned them back onto the computer monitor.

“I’m not hungry, Mr. Burrell,” Cassidy spoke with forced pleasantry. “Thank you.”

David returned to his seat in the chair opposite Cassidy. He showed no sign of being hurt by Cassidy’s sharp rebuke. His expression looked to be one of indifference as he sat back in his seat while crossing his legs and then his arms. Cassidy noted this out of concern for his feelings. When she saw that he was undamaged by her words she went back to collecting faces of individuals off the security video.

A short time into this process Cassidy noted that the number of patrons that she would have to investigate was becoming excessive. She concluded that the identity searches and background checks on all the occupants inside The Cavern at the time of the call was something that she could not do at work without the knowledge, permission and assistance of Lieutenant Graham and her peers. This conclusion was marked with a sigh.

“Is there something wrong?” David queried in response to her lament.

Once again Cassidy was confronted with the problem of responding to a question that was not in her nature to answer. She gave David a moment of study and then answered with the least offensive reply she could think of.

“No, no, it’s nothing.”

“I’m happy to help if I can,” David returned with an inflection of eagerness.

Cassidy took a few seconds to consider the offer. She entertained the idea that David might have some knowledge of these people, but she was reluctant to take him that deep into her confidence. In the end, she decided that the long way was best. The long way meant doing it by herself and in her spare time.

“I’m fine.”

“Are you sure?” David questioned back. “It looked like you ran into a problem.”

A third request on the same subject was just enough to annoy Cassidy. She never liked having her decisions questioned. It smacked of the suggestion that the other person knew better than she. Her reaction to these affronts were always the same. Her defenses went up and her responses were laced with exasperation.

“I’m fine, Mr. Burrell. You know what, I think I am going to take a copy of this recording with me. Do you have a disk I can use?”

“Sure,” David answered with a smile.

David got up from his chair, walked around to the back of the desk and opened the lower desk drawer to the left of Cassidy. From inside it he retrieved a container of computer disks and set them down on top of the desk.

Once again Cassidy was embarrassed by her treatment of this man. This repetitive abashment was an additional annoyance to her. She did not care for being discombobulated by a person. People that made her feel flawed or ineffectual were perpetual irritations, and she generally took to disliking them. This always had the effect of reinforcing her deportment in this person’s presence, but this was turning out to be an unworkable remedy with David Burrell. He was quickly becoming the worst annoyance she had ever known. But this was not because of the way he treated her. It was because she could not find it in her to dislike him.

After taking a deep breath to center herself, Cassidy retrieved one of the disks from the container, inserted it into the computer and commenced the process of recording the footage that she wanted. The security program in the computer was setup for this occurrence and easily so. Cassidy deftly manipulated the program that set the recording process into motion. David returned to his chair and watched as she did this. She was little more than a minute into this process when he thought to ask her a new question with a pleasant delivery.

“What motivates an attractive woman to become a homicide detective? If you don’t mind me asking.”

Talking about herself was something that Cassidy never cared to do with people she did not know or was inclined to keep at a distance. Despite this practice, she felt no compulsion to deflect David off the subject. His pleasant demeanor made her feel at ease on this subject, and she appreciated the fact that it steered him away from what she was doing.

“It runs in the family,” Cassidy returned while holding her focus on the computer monitor.

“Your parents are police officers?” David questioned with a look of curiosity.

“Just my father and a couple of uncles,” Cassidy explained while continuing to hold her attention to the computer monitor. “I also have two brothers on the force.”

“So, this is about daddy’s little girl competing with her brothers for the admiration of her father,” David surmised behind an appraising look.

Cassidy turned her attention toward David behind this remark, but it was not annoyance that caused her to do this. For the first time, she was intrigued by what was being conversed. This feeling was reflected in the fixed attention she was now giving David.

“Are you psychoanalyzing me, Mr. Burrell?” Cassidy questioned.

“A little, maybe,” David answered with a smile. “You interest me, Detective Tremaine.”

“Well, you’re wrong,” Cassidy corrected with a flair of indifference. “If I was desperate for my father’s admiration I wouldn’t have joined the NYPD.”

“So, your father disapproves of you being a police detective,” David spoke in a questioning tone.

Cassidy took a moment to ponder the question with a blank expression before responding to it.

“Actually, he would disapprove far more if I was still a uniformed officer. As far as he’s concerned that’s where the real men work. My father was a beat cop for twenty-four years. My brothers are beat cops as well. I’m the only detective in the family.”

“Ambitious—no,” David spoke and then quickly corrected. “Competitive...”

“Is that a bad a thing?” Cassidy questioned back with a look of suspicion.

“No, not at all,” David answered with a smile.

“But it’s not attractive in a woman?” Cassidy asked with a hint of a scowl.

“I think that depends upon who you ask,” David countered with a smile and a stare.

Cassidy was immediately embarrassed and flattered by this attention that she was getting from David. She had no response for this remark other than the hint of a blush. Shortly she turned her attention back to the computer monitor and commenced the process of reconstructing her defenses and professional demeanor. For the next several seconds there was silence.

“So, is it Miss or Mrs. Tremaine?” David gently asked after a time.

“Detective Tremaine and I’m divorced,” Cassidy retorted with a glance toward David and renewed defiance.

“Really?” David questioned with an inflection of surprise.

Cassidy noted the tone of his response and gave David a suspicious glance as she responded to it.

“That surprises you?”

“You just look a little young to be a divorcee,” David explained.

“It happens,” Cassidy returned without taking the time to think about it. “He’s a mistake.”

“It sounds like he’s still in the picture,” David pondered out while contemplating Cassidy’s reply.

Cassidy paused to take notice that she had given this impression with her answer. She then concluded that the die was cast and elected to explain why James was still in her life.

“We have children,” Cassidy spoke with a slight shake of her head. “Two—joint custody. He gets them the first full weekend of the month when school is in and two weeks over the summer.”

“How old…?” David began to query.

“I’m not talking about my children,” Cassidy interrupted with a definitive shake of her head.

With his usual politeness, David accepted that this subject was no longer appropriate for small talk. He allowed a silence to grow between them for several seconds, and then he began to speak on a new subject.

“Well, since you don’t trust my cooking, Detective Tremaine, can I invite you out for a dinner at a restaurant.”

Cassidy was flustered by the invite, but she hid it almost completely. After a deep breath, she turned her attention toward David and commenced to respond to his invitation with a serious expression.

“I’m flattered, Mr. Burrell, but I’m not…”

“Flattered?” David interrupted with a mild look of surprise. “No, I was just hoping to find out why you’re so interested in my club.”

Cassidy was made visibly embarrassed by David’s challenge to her assumption. She caught her breath behind a startled expression. An instant later she began to fumble out an explanation for words.

“Oh, I um, I thought…”

Cassidy cut short her explanation in response to the wry smile that quickly spread across David’s face. An instant later her defenses and inclination for defiance went back up.

“You have every right to be flattered, Detective Tremaine,” David extolled with near to a grin on his face. “I was hitting on you. But that doesn’t mean I’m not interested in knowing why you’re here.”

Cassidy relaxed behind this confession. Her embarrassment suddenly became a source of amusement for her. She recognized David’s deception was a joke at her expense and returned his smile with no hint of reluctance.

“Thanks, but I’m not hungry, Mr. Burrell,” Cassidy answered with some sass.

Cassidy turned her attention back to the computer monitor with her smile still in place. She was not two seconds into this refocus when David tossed out a new query.

“Not ever?”

Cassidy recognized the question as a challenge to her declaration that she was not hungry. His smug expression suggested that he was toying with her, and she liked it. She felt disarmed by David’s attentions to her, and despite her best effort she did not want it to end.

“I’m not hungry tonight, Mr. Burrell,” Cassidy answered with a smile.

“So, there’s hope for the future,” David quickly retorted.

“Mr. Burrell, I don’t want to get your hopes up,” Cassidy deflected behind a smile.

“Then you shouldn’t have walked into my life, Detective Tremaine,” David countered without hesitation.

Cassidy released a short-constrained chortle. After this she gave David an amused look and then responded to his remark beneath a failed effort to hide her amusement.

“Well then, I’m sorry for having to disappoint you.”

“Such is the life of a lonely bachelor,” David countered with a look of dejection.

Cassidy lost the ability to constrain her amusement. She looked away for a moment and shook her head as she gave way to a muffled grin. When this was exhausted, she turned her attention back towards David and spoke with a smile.

“I find it hard to picture you as a lonely bachelor.”

“Appearances can be deceiving,” David retaliated behind an exaggerated feign of sincerity.

“Are you trying to work on my sympathy, Mr. Burrell?” Cassidy questioned with a forced look of disapproval.

“I’m trying to win your affection, Detective Tremaine,” David answered in a soft voice and with a faint smile.

At this moment, Cassidy was both flattered and agitated. She knew that her job was the only thing constraining her from entertaining this man’s advances. But her job came first and this reality played a part in every response she gave. She looked away to hide her blush and her smile. A moment later she wrestled control away from this inclination and responded with a blank expression.

“I can’t get involved right now.”

“Can you eat lunch?” David questioned back pleasantly.

“I eat lunch occasionally,” Cassidy answered with a nod and a smile.

“Can you make small talk?” David questioned with continued gentility.

“When I have to,” Cassidy answered with a definite smile.

“Can you laugh?” David questioned behind his usual demeanor.

“When I hear something funny,” Cassidy answered behind a short-restrained chuckle.

“Then have lunch with me, Detective Tremaine?” David asked with an earnest delivery. “Just lunch,” he continued with a wide smile. “Lunch is the universal tryout date. I absolve you of any obligation to get involved.”

Cassidy was amused by the manner of David’s invite and her inclination to entertain his attention towards her doubled. She had not reveled in the attention of a man since before her first born, seven years earlier. And even then, it did not feel like this. Cassidy had long since relegated James into the category of a protest love. He was everything that the exquisitely attractive, smoothly articulate, perfectly manicured man of her dreams was not. James was rugged, athletic and blunt in his speech. These were characteristics that she once believed would make James a better husband than any charismatic playboy. David Burrell was the type of man that she told herself not to want and believed she could never have.

“Okay, Mr. Burrell, if you like,” Cassidy agreed without a smile. “But it will have to wait until I’m done doing this.”

“And exactly what are you doing, Detective Tremaine?” David questioned behind an inquisitive expression.

“I told you. We’re just tying off some loose ends,” Cassidy evaded.

“We? I don’t see anyone here but you,” David challenged with a hint of smugness.

“It’s my case,” Cassidy defended.

“I thought the NYPD put you on administrative leave after the shooting,” David pondered out with a questioning inflection. “Did I hear wrong?”

Cassidy’s feelings of romance were suddenly gone. In its place was exasperation. She did not like it that David was peeling away her deception. Her reply was tinged with annoyance for the inquiry.

“I’m back at work as of today.”

“And now you have an assignment, without backup, without a warrant and without DVR disks,” David pointed out with a questioning intonation.

Cassidy went silent for several seconds behind David’s remark. At the end of this time she surmised that she had no other choice but to come clean with what she is doing. It seemed obvious to her that David had his suspicions about this search through his surveillance video. She thought it best to tell him the truth in the hope that she could procure his silence at the same time.

“I’m not convinced that Albert Haynes worked alone,” Cassidy confessed flatly.

“And you believe this confederate is in some way connected with my club?” David questioned with a look of concern.

Cassidy was hesitant to go further than she had, but she soon concluded that she had gone too far to worry about the rest. Her only concern was for the prevention of rumors. She felt a confidence that David could be trusted not to speak of this if she brought him in on her thinking. She commenced to do this with her answer.

“During the Saturday night, before last, a call was made to Albert Haynes from a phone at this location. I’m trying to find out who made that call.”

“Was it to a house phone?” David asked with a look of surprise.

“No,” Cassidy answered. “It was a to burner phone. To identify the person who made it, I need to see him, or her, making the call.”

“And that’s why you’re looking through my surveillance recordings,” David returned with a nod of understanding.

“There are no cameras in the main room or most of the public spaces inside the club, so I’m going to have to go about this another way,” Cassidy explained with a shake of her head.

“And what way is that?” David queried behind an interested look.

Cassidy took in a deep inhale and let it out behind a frown. After this she responded to David’s question.

“I’m going to have to identify everyone who was in The Cavern when that call was made and do a background check on each of them.”

“Does that include me?” David asked with a start.

“You were recorded,” Cassidy informed with a point to the surveillance camera on the side wall. “You were here when the call was made, and you weren’t on the phone for at least five minutes on either side of the time of the call.”

“That’s a relief,” David returned with an upbeat intonation.

“The problem I’m facing right now is identification,” Cassidy pondered out without regard for David’s feeling of relief. “There’s more than three-dozen people in this recording.”

David took note that Cassidy’s concern about the numbers. He could see that she perceived this to be a major problem, and an obvious solution quickly came to his mind.

“Can’t the police do searches using the images of faces?”

Cassidy barely gave the question a thought before answering it with a despondent intonation.

“Not without notifying my Lieutenant, and I’m under orders to leave this case alone.”

“He can do that?” David questioned with a confused look.

“While I’m on desk duty, yeah,” Cassidy explained. “Right now, I’m just a file clerk with a badge.”

David pondered Cassidy’s situation for a moment and then verbalized the idea that the effort produced.

“Well, I can’t give you background, but I can get you the names of most of the people who were in the club that night. And I can probably get you the name of someone who knows the persons that I can’t identify. Would that help?”

“How can you do that?” Cassidy questioned with a mixture of suspicion and intrigue.

“The staff should be able to affix names to the regulars,” David answered with a nonchalant delivery. “I can match up credit card receipts with the tables and the times. And the waiters and waitresses always remember the tables where a patron sat, so who sat where won’t be a problem.”

Cassidy’s demeanor brightened a little after hearing this. She knew that it was not a perfect solution, but it did have the luxury of putting a portion of the workload on someone else. After taking a moment to consider this, she responded to David’s offer with a question.

“You would do that?”

“Yes,” David answered with a shrug. “But I will want something in return.”

“What?” Cassidy asked with a mixture of surprise and suspicion.

“On our lunch date, you have to call me David.”

Cassidy’s concession to this condition came in the form of a smile that bordered on a grin.

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