The Nefarious Mr. X

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Chapter 6

6

10:21 a.m.

Corigan travelled to the sub-basement via the central elevator. He glanced up a few times to read the posters on the interior walls to pass the time. Many of the advertisements were taped liberally with mounds of scotch tape, like the one who placed it had feared these signs would fall down if a hurricane suddenly struck the office and found its way into this one elevator, past the working officers, tearing the posters asunder and reigning down gale force winds until the walls were barren.

The elevator paneling was a cheap laminate, created to look like wood, with an oak like texture and smooth age lines painted in. The lights, though dim, flickered above him.

One problem with renovating an old building into a new one is sometimes the classics remained, being worked around like a highway bridge built overtop a home owner’s residence who refused to move at the city’s request. In this case, what remained was the slow and somewhat inefficient elevator system, restored to its original beauty yet maintaining its horrific travel times.

But Hell, it beat walking.

One of the posters advertised a coming craft sale by the administration staff in accounting for Friday. Another for a lost puppy who disappeared near the station. Lost months ago. No one ever pulls down a lost puppy poster. The one thing cops will always tell you, they were almost all animal lovers.

The doors parted. Standing outside was Catherine, one hand on her hip, the other holding a half drunk coffee, distain covering her face.

Corigan knew right away what her issue was as he stepped into the hall. “Look, I read the building blueprints months ago. The stairs are specifically designed to only be used in emergencies.” The elevator doors closed. “Not exercise, commuting between floors, or anything else. If I were to take the stairs, I would be defying the architects, engineers and builders all with one snub. It would be wrong for me, and why you do it, is beyond me.”

Catherine just shook her head in annoyance, turning without saying a word. She paused and looked back. “Seriously, doesn’t the smell of all that bullshit bother you.”

Corigan shrugged, “After a while, you get used to it.”

She scowled one more time for good measure and moved ahead of him.

They walked down the hall towards the back area together. A line of fluorescent track lighting hummed loudly above them. If he had not known of the light’s eerie sound, he would have covered his head with his jacket and shouted ‘Look Out! Bees!’ And raced for the stairs.

Well, probably the elevator.

As they walked along, Corigan noticed several nicks, dents and scratches once adorning the station walls, from less that pleased guests to be held here and their foiled attempts of escape, were plastered over, painted or sanded down. It looked almost welcoming. Pristine and new as it were. With the exception he also knew they would be damaged in less than a week. Prisoners rarely took into consideration keeping their police stations clean and scratch free, especially they do not want to stay. Like the uninvited houseguest who never leaves, they rarely made an effort when they were struggling to depart to take into consideration, the walls, the banisters and floors.

The smell of fresh paint was overpowering. Corigan twice had to hold his elbow up to his face so he could take in a deep whiff of fresh dryer sheets from the previous evening’s laundry.

Catherine just kept her coffee at a higher nasal level. She presumed it was better than inhaling the diminishing paint thinner stench combined with drying ammonia from the janitor having just passed by.

The scent was starting to give Corigan a headache. He knew he would have to grab some aspirin. Headaches were rarely good for interrogations.

They sauntered by a few officers just leaving the area, both in a deep conversation spouting phrases back and forth like, ’Done like dinner’ and ‘Too bad we don’t support execution.’ They vanished into the stairwell.

The sub-basement was where all suspects were kept before transport to the minimum security facility in Milton, presuming they were considered flight risks, dangerous to the public, or highly likely, the guilty party.

They arrived at the interrogation section security door. It was a huge portal with a thick frame. Inset was a reinforced titanium door riveted with iron metal straps to make the door appear more intimidating. Adorned within that was a small square window, near the top, positioned to the right. The glass seemed thin, but it was laced with tiny filaments of steel, hairline wires which crisscrossed to prevent the window from being broken, at least without a lot of force. Even if broken, Corigan would have been impressed with anyone who could slip through a three inch by three inch opening. But then again, he did remember about that episode in X-Files.

Sometimes, strange things just happen.

To the right, next to this massive door, was a much larger window. Clear and clean with a sliding glass panel, outlined by a brass coloured frame and fitted with a hinged lock on the interior side, all which led into a tiny booth.

This booth was small and cluttered. There were several empty shelves, a clipboard, numerous pens and pencils in cups, many individual lockboxes with numeric codes required, and a lower end computer on the desk.

As much as taxpayers whined about the cost of upgrades and technology for public servants, they would be far more shocked when they saw some of the older hardware the police used.

Many times Corigan could count the minutes on his hand it would take an older end computer delegated to basement duty to complete one function. In that time, based on statistics, four new crimes were committed in the city. Almost made spending that extra couple of grand for speed well worth it. Criminals did not buy their technology from garage sales, so why the police did, was outside his scope of imagination.

Inside the cubicle, hunched over his desk sat an elderly officer, Jason Pollack. His uniform was impeccably clean, with no tears, worn threads or faded colours. He had a small pale face, sharp brown eyes, grey hair, and a huge handlebar mustache that draped down his cheeks like coat hooks looking for a fallen jacket to be hung upon them. His mustache drooped past his chin and nearly reached his chest. Or maybe not that far. It was hard to tell because Pollack’s back was arched over so deeply, due to the many years of sitting and bent over his desk, his height and spine were no longer distinguished enough for the casual observer to ascertain where his back ended and his head began.

Pollack’s skin was sallow and saggy, like taffy in a pulling competition. Father Time had not been his friend. He was nearing retirement age, if not past already. No one knew his true age in the station.

No one ever asked.

Books and pens were his only companions. Civility and courtesy was not.

Corigan leaned into the window, giving the man reason to frown and look up from his meticulous note taking. “Can I help you with something Detective?”

Corigan smiled. “Nope. Just missed you and thought I would come by and shoot the breeze with you.”

The man was not even slightly amused. “Give me your gun. I’ll start the shooting.”

Catherine chuckled under her breath.

Pollack held out his hand, palm up. But it was not the least bit inviting. Pollack’s fingers were short and pointed, with hair on the knuckles and easily evident, deeply chewed fingernails.

Corigan would not place his hands in the booth for fear they would be eaten.

Catherine just sighed. “Jason… We have a meeting with Beckham.”

Pollack paused. “Jason?” speaking under his breath, looking insulted. “In my day, we addressed our elders with some respect. Officer Pollack would be nice.”

Catherine knew it was not worth explaining the woman’s movement over the past several decades to Pollack. She also knew she could have just called him ‘Officer’ as well, but pride was a valued commodity for cops.

While Pollack started keying their request into the computer, Corigan was admiring himself in the black and white monitor on Pollack’s desk. He tilted his head this way and that, checking his hair.

Catherine watched in amusement. ‘And Corigan thinks women are vain?’

Pollack spun leisurely around on his chair, as slow as possible it seemed, to retrieve a steel box from the shelf. He keyed a few numbers into the front panel and the lid opened. “I need your weapons, badges and any sharp objects.”

Corigan placed his gun in the box. “What about my wit?”

Pollack replied earnestly, “I‘ve heard your wit. Plenty dull to bring it with you.”

Corigan took that one in the chin.

As sour as Pollack was, he was fast on his feet.

Corigan took the clipboard off the wall, which hung just left of the sliding window panel. He grabbed a pen from the desk, all under the scrutiny of Pollack. Like Corigan was going to steal a pen from the troll at his bridge. That was a laugh. Pollack would chase him to the end of existence to get his precious treasure back.

Corigan signed himself and Catherine in and held out the pen.

Pollack snapped it back and dropped it into his pen holder, perfectly aligned with the others.

Looking down the document, as Pollack locked the container with their weapons inside, placing the box into one of the empty shelves behind him, Corigan read the names. He groaned. “Dykes is here?”

Even Pollack’s sour expression seemed to darken. “Yep. Better bring your towel with you. The slime is particularly greasy today. I called down Jesse to mop up the hallways he walked down. To prevent slippage from all the oil.”

Pollack was not a fan of lawyers.

And Dykes he felt was their leader.

Catherine rubbed her eyes, “Well, we figured it would be him or Tricia Darby. Anytime we have a high profile case in this city, with a lot of press, one of them always shows up.”

Pollack passed each of the officers a security pass, which included a buzzer on a chain for around their necks in the case of emergency. If pressed, in came the Cavalry. Actually two heavily armed S.W.A.T. members with Tasers, but it was enough.

Pollack pointed out. “He got here even before the press did. I was impressed.”

“You?” Catherine grinned. “Impressed with Dykes?”

Pollack pressed his keypad, under the desk for the security door. “I figure Dykes must have been right on that ambulance’s ass as it passed to arrive as fast as he did.”

Corigan and Catherine burst into laughter.

There was a beep followed by a bolt disengaging on the door.

The door to the interrogation hall opened.

“Let’s go see our prisoner.” Corigan said while he finished his chuckling. He moved to the left to allow Catherine to pass.

Once through, the door locked shut behind them. The hall was short with five doors on each side, each leading to a separate interrogation room.

Corigan paused, snapping his fingers sharply. He turned back to the video camera above the door. There was no access to Pollack’s booth once you were through. Only someone from the outside could disengage the locking mechanism.

Corigan queried. “Who is watching the interrogation?”

Corigan waited as Pollack checked the system.

There was a crackle of static as the microphone activated behind the camera. “You have both eyes and ears.” Meaning you had two live bodies on the third floor recording and taking notes. This case had obviously attracted some heat. The red folder scoring was not understated in this matter. “Kitchura on eyes and Podolski on ears.”

They were good officers.

Corigan knew they would have copies of the interrogation for his review in a few hours which would include both a crisp DVD and an elegantly type written transcript, prepared for his evening review at home.

Corigan nodded. “Thanks.”

Stuffing the file under her arm, Catherine turned and started for the interrogation room.

Corigan followed diligently in the direction of room 4B.

They passed a small waiting area on their left which consisted of two blue faux leather chairs, a magazine table, littered with recent editions, and four vending machines.

One dispensed hot beverages; coffee, tea, hot chocolate and chicken soup. It also provided cold drinks; bottled water, juice and green tea. Another had candies, chips, energy bars, jelly beans and other confections. The third was for sandwiches; from tuna on rye to roast beef on a croissant, ham and cheese on whole wheat with a touch of Dijon to a seven grain bread with bacon and tomato. So many varieties, each nicely packaged and rotated daily. It was hard to keep track in this ‘change-requesting-delicatessen.’

Finally, the fourth contained all the remaining odds and ends which could not be organized into one of the previous three machines. Bags of pretzels, yogurt covered raisins, peanut butter infused crackers and much more.

All these machines were considered very valuable assets and commodities to a good interrogation. You would be surprised how quick a sour discussion perked up on the promise of a handful of chips, a chicken soup with a plastic spoon or half a turkey sandwich wrapped in cellophane.

Corigan pulled out some change. He planned to grab himself a quick candy bar. Struggling through the nickels and dimes, he sputtered, “Cath. Do you have a Loonie?”

She reached into her pocket and tossed him a Toonie instead.

Within seconds of the chocolate dropping to the opening at the bottom of the machine for retrieval, a definitive throat clearing filled the hall.

Corigan just rolled his eyes, grabbed his prize, his change and resumed his path for the meeting at the end of the hall.

In front of the closed room, 4B, arms crossed, looking down at his watch as though he could charge the two officers for the minutes, which he was likely doing to his client, stood defense attorney Darrell Dykes. Standing at five foot ten, he was dressed in a beautifully custom black suit, double breasted, with a tiny red rose pined to the lapel. His dark brown hair was slicked back behind his head, perfectly styled without a single loose strand. He had dark tanned skin, from too much time at the salon, tempered by cracks at the outer edges of Dykes lips. There was evidence of cosmetic surgery, but hard to confirm. His face was chiseled and near perfect, pretty almost, with the exception of a small scar under his right eye.

Corigan always presumed someone hit him. Being how long he knew Dykes, and what he thought of the man, he understood the reasoning.

Corigan and Dykes hated one another.

Catherine once asked why.

Corigan had summarized it as follows; Dykes had once represented a pedophile. Patrick Donovan. A vile human being Corigan had arrested for raping a seven year old boy in his small town community centre. Donovan had both confessed to the deed and expressed his desire for vengeance at the boy ‘ratting’ him out.

But Dykes found a technicality in the arrest report.

It was not Corigan’s error. A rookie had typed the wrong name on the affidavit. But it was enough to overturn the conviction process. Corigan had implored Dykes, begged him not to use the technicality to get the guy off, as Corigan knew the beast, and the man was an animal, would do it again.

Dykes response via email was, ‘I am not God. I am not a jury. I am merely a man. A mere mortal if you will, giving another man a second chance at redemption. What a man does with that redemption is his own. A fate for which is why God has granted us all free will.’

Corigan had nearly tossed his laptop through a window when that email arrived.

But Dykes had not finished his sermon ‘As a secondary note, had God wanted this man in prison, there would be no police blunders to free him. I have faith that this man will not commit this heinous crime again.’

The pedophile was released.

And Dykes was right. Donovan did not commit the same crime. He committed another one. He found the child he molested, kidnapped him and murdered him, only after thirteen hours of torture.

Then the monster committed suicide, hanging himself from the barn rafters of his country home, tied tightly with a leather belt he had stolen from the child, thus ending both the family’s hope for justice and Corigan’s thirst for thirteen hours of his own, alone with Donovan to return the favour as bestowed upon the boy.

Corigan would have guaranteed a far different man would have slithered out of that meeting than the one who Dykes had got off.

But to add a cherry on the sundae of Corigan’s distain, Corigan made the error of emailing Dykes with the story of what happened and a few of the crime scene photos.

Dykes replied. ‘Donovan committed suicide? That is tragic. He had quite a large trust fund under his belt. I could have relieved him of some of those hard saved dollars to punish him when I defended him again. And yes, I would have defended him again. As is his legal right. Would you not expect the same for yourself one day?’

As a special touch, to show Corigan that Dykes had never even read the article, his email ended with, ‘I can always file a lawsuit against the city on behalf of the boy to get him some money for his rehabilitation. Help him get over this tragic situation if you will. I would suggest he also sue the Police department for allowing the technicality that occurred to get Donovan released in the first place. It was your collar, correct?’

Corigan never replied.

And he never forgave Dykes.

Corigan spotted Dykes at the end of the hall and shouted, loud enough for all to hear. “Look Cath. It’s a Dyke.”

Dykes lowered his yellow legal pad, his grip tightening on his beautiful and expensive fountain pen, his pad already filled with text. Dykes replied, “What was that Sergeant McAllistor?”

Corigan never bothered to correct the title of ‘Detective’.

“I said, ’Look it’s a Dyke” Corigan replied innocently. “Since there is only one of you, I figured Dykes was not plural. Am I incorrect?”

Catherine just slowed down. She could feel the testosterone levels rising. She would never step into a room with two wild pit-bulls and this was no exception to the rule. She slowed her pace to let them get the dislike for one another out of their systems so they could get down to work.

Corigan and Dykes came face to face in front of interrogation room 4B.

Dykes spoke first. “I assumed your remark was some sort of cheap insult in regards to my sexuality.”

Corigan took on a bemused look, peering left and right for an audience he could not see. “I am offended sir. I never presumed you were a lesbian.” He looked to Catherine. “Did you think Dykes was a lesbian?”

Catherine knew better than to answer. She just stared in silence.

Corigan did not. “Come to think of it, being I like women too, would that not make me a lesbian?”

Catherine muttered. “You’re something alright.”

Dykes eyelids seemed to flicker. He was losing his firm control. He could hold an iceberg at bay with his cool demeanor, but around Corigan, there was always a chip in the veneer that Corigan seemed to find and was able to whittle away at.

“But I mean, if you presumed… you did presume right? That I was making you feel less of a man by calling you a Dyke, then I was unaware of your misinterpretation.” Corigan was unrelenting. “I mean, if you had no penis, or a very small penis, I could understand your feeling of insecurity….”

Dykes glowered as he moved into Corigan’s personal space.

Corigan remained steady. “And presuming again, for the sake of presumption of your misinterpretation, yours not mine, if you were a dick-less man and I had called you a Dyke on the basis of you being dick-less, or dick size challenged to be politically correct, then I could understand the error of my phraseology.”

Dykes teeth started to grind. “One day McAllistor.”

“One day?” Corigan turned to Catherine amused, then back to Dykes. “You mean OUR day? Our special day? Our day in court? Again presuming you were dick-less, or had an extremely tiny penis because of the presumption of lesbianism.” Corigan leaned back. ”But if we did go to court, on our special day, for the lawsuit you would have to file, again for the sake of your being insulted, then the judge would have to ask you to pull down your pants, not in the courtroom of course, for the sake of decorum, and then, after we all had a good laugh, the judge then may presume, after seeing no dick, or a microscopically tiny penis, that Dyke…”

Dykes cut him off, “You are an asshole, McAllistor!”

Corigan moved forward, his face transforming with ruthlessness, his eyes turning icy with distain, coming nose to nose with Dykes. “Asshole? That would only hurt my feelings if I was not already previously aware of the fact.”

The two held there, for several seconds, face to face, neither one backing down.

“Fuck you.” Dykes threw in and backed off.

Corigan could see that Dykes had crumpled the first two pages of his pad as he tried so desperately to ignore him.

Corigan felt satisfied. He could go back to work now.

Dykes just grumbled to himself as he shuffled the legal pads in his hand into a different order, so the crisp neat blank ones were back on the top.

Dykes was an amazing attorney on paper, but confrontationally, he was an absolute embarrassment. He never had a good reply, jibe or remark. Not that he did not try, but it never succeeded. Person to person, man to man, Dykes always fluttered.

Dykes was the perfect lawyer for the press. Handsome, sharp and intelligent looking. A deadly combination for public profiling and media hounds. He was good in front of the camera, especially when the majority of his answers always started and ended with “No comment.” Most of Dyke’s cases never made it to trial as he never made the courtroom his battleground.

But, give Dykes time, a computer and he could run rings around Corigan.

With his research skills, writing abilities and legalese use, he could resolve a case before it ever reached a preliminary hearing. Dykes settled nearly ninety percent of his cases out of court. The remainder was delegated to his interns, trial lawyers at his firm and the other partners themselves. They knew his weaknesses and they too would not put Dykes in front of a jury and cost themselves the case.

Corigan had read many of Dykes’ briefs, after many of his cases, and even found himself impressed by Dykes use of history, research, flow of words, metaphors, legal precedents and so forth. If Dykes had not been a lawyer, he would have been a great writer, and regrettably, Corigan admitted to himself, he might have even bought his books.

But now that he knew the man, Corigan hated Dykes to the core.

That would never change.

Corigan gave a signal to Pollack at the end of the hall, via the third set of cameras, all which ran along the hallway at three foot intervals.

Door 4B opened.

All three entered.

Corigan pushed Dykes aside as he entered first.

The room was small and sparsely decorated. Twenty feet by thirty feet, gray walls, painted thickly to cover the concrete lined barriers surrounding them. There was a huge mirror on the far back, no longer two way as the room was fully covered by inlayed cameras in each of the four walls. Nothing in the room could not be seen. There were also microphones installed into nearly every crook and crack in the room. If you dropped a pin, someone would hear it. Both cameras and microphones remained off during lawyer and client meetings, for confidentiality.

But when they were on, nothing was missed.

In the centre of the room was a large stainless steel table as you would expect to find in a medical examiner’s officer. There were metal “O” rings fashioned about the table, welded firmly in place, for handcuffs. Around the table were four stainless steel chairs, each bolted firmly to the floor. They too had steel “O” rings for chains, cuffs or straps. To the left of the table was a forty-two inch flat screen HDTV, situated on a rolling metal rack for transport, a DVD player, and a basic remote, all plugged into a socket hidden beneath the table. The power outlet could only unlocked by a key, to prevent suicide by electrocution.

Some prisoners would try anything possible to avoid prison.

There were also two large air vents, covered over with thin steel mesh, hiding large intake and outtake shafts for heat and cold. The atmosphere was cool and chilly today. Moderate and comfortable. In the case of difficult suspects, with a gesture from the officers, the temperature in the room could be raised and lowered quite quickly, all without alerting the parties inside. Psychologists have noted sudden temperature changes, either higher or lower can make all the difference, to add the pressure or to relieve it, all with the turn of a knob.

Seated at that table, centre stage, was Deryl Beckham. His hands were gently placed in front of him, his British watch ticking away, his eyes revealing he was waiting patiently.

Corigan recognized him from the GTNN video instantaneously. He could almost hear the sound of the ‘Swish’ as the slam dunk was coming his way.

Deryl looked calm, cool and collected. He was dressed in a blue silk shirt, sleeves rolled up to the elbows, navy blue khakis, grey deck shoes, white socks and an attractive white leather belt. His hair was grey, with a hint of brown, cut short and styled executively. Today, the hair appeared slightly askew, probably from his arrest that morning. He was short in stature, almost meek, but with a strong posture and a confidence that emanated around him like an aura. He looked like he just left his sailboat for a quick land bound excursion for cigars, truffles and Scotch.

The one thing Corigan noted was that Beckham’s features were far sharper than the original black and white video he had seen that morning. He had bright green eyes, which moved back and forth like a cat watching a mouse before pouncing. He had a warm smile, which in other circumstances, would disarm most people.

Beckham spoke softly, yet with the firm command of a man who rarely was denied anything in life. His tone also carried a hint of the feminine mixture which usually was only heard in the homosexual community. Beckham spoke quickly, but with assurance. “Before we begin, I would like to state for the record, I am innocent.”

Catherine took the first seat across from Beckham. “We’re not judges. We’re simply investigators trying to get to the bottom of the case. As for the record, this will only occur once we start recording.”

Dykes took the next seat, beside his client, placing his hand on Beckham’s forearm. He spoke to Corigan and Catherine together. “I have already spent two hours with my client this morning.” He paused to look at Beckham and then back to Corigan. “While I disagree with him and this forum for discussion,” Dykes aimed his stony stare directly at Corigan. “I can understand his reasoning.” Dykes put two empty yellow pads on the table in front of him, filing away the completed ones into his briefcase out of sight of the officers.

Corigan took the final seat, placing the red folder flat on the table in front of him. He kept the flap closed and his marker pen atop it. The tab read, “Arrest Report: Beckham, Deryl.” Very prominently displayed so Beckman could see it.

Dykes looked on in annoyance when he spotted the tab.

Corigan turned to Beckham and asked kindly, “Before we begin, did you want something to drink?” Turning to Dykes. “Dykes did you want to get us all something?”

Catherine groaned, putting her hand over her face.

Dykes glared, pure venom from his eyes.

If it looks could kill, Corigan would have needed a funeral director.

Beckham on the other hand, grinned.

Corigan knew nothing put a person at ease more than humour. The fact it was at Dykes expense was a bonus.

Beckham replied. “No… Thank you.”

Catherine placed her copy of the red file on the table as well. She kept her pad, filled with notes from upstairs, in her lap. She liked to keep some of her documents out of sight during an interrogation. She felt when she sneaked a peek at it while the suspect was speaking, it tended to put the suspect on edge that she was hiding something important. Exactly what she wanted them to believe.

“Now that the pleasantries are over,” Dykes continued, still glowering at Corigan, “Mr. Beckham is here to ensure his character is not assassinated in the press in the short time frame he is being held. As a producer and writer, wanted by several networks, he needs to know his character is being protected.”

Catherine smiled. As one of Toronto’s public relation specialists and investigators for their division, she and Corigan knew all too well how fast the media could move on rumors and how quickly they could initiate the destruction of one’s career if one did not move equally as quick to try and contain it.”

If chum was in the water, there would always be sharks.

Corigan looked at the TV confused. “May I ask? Have either of you seen the security footage from the garage as of yet?” Knowing full well even if Beckham had not watched it, he had to know of its contents being he was the star of it.

Dykes responded. “Only myself thus far. I recommended Mr. Beckham watch it with yourselves for the first time at the end of our interview, so you could gauge his initial response when he sees this crime for the first time. As a tenant, he may offer some information that the other witness’s could not provide.”

‘Nice touch’ Corigan thought, ‘He’s already defining Mr. Beckham as a witness moreover than a suspect.’

Corigan reached for the remote, placing it atop the red file. “We’ll watch the disk after all our questions.” Corigan added, musing to himself, ’Coffin nails are always used at the end, to seal the casket.’

Catherine opened her mouth to speak when Dykes held up his hand to her, gesturing for her silence.

Catherine bristled.

Dykes threw in, “I will decide what questions will be acceptable and what ones are not.” He turned to Corigan. “I will ask my client to refer to myself before answering any question he is uncomfortable with or if I deem it unnecessary. In either case, I will answer for him outright. Especially if I feel it is not relevant. Also if I feel this interview is turning against my client unjustly, I will end this meeting immediately.”

Corigan shrugged his shoulders. He knew the rules.

Dykes knew the rules too. He just liked announcing them.

Corigan motioned to one of the cameras in the corner. A moment later, all eight cameras activated with red lights on the devices brightening.

The interrogation had begun.

For the purpose of accurate record keeping, Corigan indicated the date, time, and location. Next, he introduced all the parties present. He informed them all discussions in this room were being recorded and were to be considered evidence from this point forward. Copies of the video and transcripts would be provided to both the Crown attorney and the defense, Mr. Dykes, at the conclusion of the interview.

Everyone accepted the terms, so the meeting could begin.

Corigan decided to ask the first question on his mind. “Mr. Beckham. Do you have a twin brother, or a family member who very closely resembles you?”

Beckham just shook his head back and forth. “Mr. Dykes has remarked that this murderer’s appearance and its closeness to mine are uncanny. I have to point out, no. I have no twin brother, siblings or close relative. My mother died in childbirth.”

Dykes quickly looked at Mr. Beckham with compassion. “I’m sorry.”

Corigan remained silent. Offering his condolences to a man forty-five years after his mother’s death sounded insincere and asinine.

Beckham did not acknowledge Dykes as he continued. “Be assured, I also have no known brother or sister. Nor were siblings put to an orphanage before I was born. My father was very loving, open and kind. He would have told me had such a person existed and more likely, he would have dedicated his life in finding this child had they ever made such an error as giving him or her up before I was born.

Corigan wiped out that theory from his mind. It was thin, but he had to ask it.

Catherine started in, directing her first question about the crime itself. “Mr. Beckham. How did you know the victim?”

Dykes interjected before Beckham could answer, “I would prefer if we simply referred to Mr. Vails as the deceased as opposed to the victim. Since we have not yet charged anyone with a crime, we should not be giving titles prematurely for the purpose of this interview.”

“Fine.” Catherine rolled her eyes. “How did you know Mr. Vails?”

“He’s a tenant in my building.” Beckham answered.

Corigan asked. “Did you have a relationship with him?”

Dykes smacked his hand on the table. The metal slap sounded hollow and meaty. “And how is Mr. Beckham’s sexuality an issue?”

Corigan dropped his tone for Dykes, speaking directly to him, both low and cold, clearly making sure the implication of improper conduct in regards to Beckham’s homosexuality was not the point. “Dykes.” Corigan paused to emphasize the lack of the term Mister to address the attorney. “Mr. Beckham is a well-known ambassador for the Gay Pride parade in Toronto. Combined with that fact, he is known publically for being ‘proudly’ gay. His sexuality is already known and not an issue in this meeting. However his relationship to Mr. Vails is what I’m inquiring about. Not his bedroom habits. And I would ask anyone, man or woman, with an attraction to a certain sex, if they had a relationship with them if I felt it pertained to my case.”

Dykes leaned backed feeling superior

But only for a second, before Corigan finished. He added, facing Dykes, “If it was you I was asking, I would have inquired about your relationship with the Cocker Spaniel on your street. Is his name not Rubbles something? “

Dykes grimaced.

Corigan turned back to Beckham. “But as it is Mr. Beckham, I am asking, did you have a relationship with Mr. Vails?”

Beckham, even though he understood the seriousness of the situation, could not help but be amused at the obvious distain between Dykes and Corigan.

Before an argument could ensue, Beckham interrupted. “Gentlemen,” turning to Dykes, “The question Detective McAllistor asked is a legitimate one. And one I will answer if it is vital to my innocence.”

Dykes acquiesced.

“Mr. Vails was a tenant in my building. Nothing more.” Beckham continued. ’Not that I did not try to ‘ask him out’ mind you. I did consider him handsome. But sadly, he did not swing that way as it were. He politely discouraged any further attempts. I respected his position.”

Corigan nodded, turning it over to Catherine for the next question.

Corigan and Catherine followed a strict code. They alternated questions, both to keep the meeting moving and to maintain the suspect’s attention as divided.

Catherine asked. “You have stated for the record you’re innocent. What is your alibi for the time for Mr. Vail’s murder?”

Beckham looked down at the table, obviously not impressed with how he was about to answer. “I was alone. I was upset that morning, after reading a rather terse critique written about my latest production, ‘The Shadow’s Eye’.

Beckham leaned back, reminiscing of the previous evening’s show, proud of his achievement. He began, “It was an artistic play which had different poets, each eclectic characters from around the city, battling against their own shadows for the spotlight.” Beckham smiled. “The irony was, shadows always disappear under the bright light. The poets did not need to compete, as they were in fact, only battling themselves. But the artist’s desire to succeed over their shadow added more tension to the show.”

“Sounds intriguing.” Corigan commented, listening intently. Most people loved to talk and if you gave them the opportunity to do so, they would talk about anything and as per the hopes of many officers… everything.

Beckham asked. “Should you not be writing any of this down?”

Catherine smiled, gesturing to the small black flat meshed microphones spaced about the room. “Everything is recorded, transcribed and provided to us, and you, after the interview.”

Beckham had either forgotten or was not listening when he was told this at the beginning of the session.

Most people focus on the crime, not the administration work.

Catherine replied, “Everything you say is being memorialized for later.”

Beckham nodded his acceptance. “Anyway I was proud of the production. It was shown at a small library forum, just off Queen. It was a resounding success. Thirty guests showed up.”

Thirty qualifies as a success? Corigan asked. “What did the critique say in his article?”

Beckham pursed his lips nastily. “It said, ’This Shadow Play would be better left to the shadows. Maybe with enough sunlight, the shadows, the poets and the show would disappear.” He knew every venomous word.

’Ouch’ Corigan mused. He knew any vicious editorial for a new show on the market dampened potential interest quickly and broadly. “May I ask who wrote this article?”

Dykes leaned in. “Not that it is relative to his alibi, but Mr. Vails wrote it.”

“The victim?” Catherine spat out.

Dykes quickly corrected. “Mr. Vails… Correct.”

‘Videotape, opportunity and now motive?’ Corigan heard it. ’Swish.’

Corigan was about to ask, but Beckham cut in. “Trust me. I know this looks bad.”

You don’t know the half of it, Corigan mused.

Beckham continued. “But I was not at home at the time of the murder. I was in the park, sitting, thinking about how I could improve on the play. I mean, how I could improve on perfection was beyond me…’”

Corigan appreciated the confidence, but the situation was not allied with him.

Beckham leaned forward, before Corigan could reply, and stated, “And before you ask. No one saw me, with the exception of the girl at the coffee shop. But when she saw me, so did the police. It was then I was arrested, so I can only assume this witness seeing me was too late.”

Corigan, wrote a few notes on the interior of the red folder. Habit.

For the next couple of hours, Corigan and Catherine went back and forth with questions about the crime, Dykes only stopping them a few times, repeating several questions they previously asked, intentionally hoping to catch Beckham in a lie.

Many good lies when placed under continual queries tended to wear thin and break down.

But Beckham had his story down pat. That was another problem with actors and writers. They had great memories and a flair for giving any explanation life. A life which many jurors found believable.

Over those hours, they had coffee brought in twice and a bag of donuts. By the end of the meeting, the coffee was cold and the donuts were gone.

Corigan had completed all the standard questions and felt, it was not producing anything more than they already knew. “Shall I presume it is time to watch the footage?”

Dykes gestured to play it.

Corigan inserted the DVD, positioned the TV back so all four of them could watch. He pressed play on the remote and the video began.

The video was grainy in context, but clear to watch. Unlike the one Corigan saw that morning, this was the uncut version as GTNN trimmed down the unnecessary parts for the broadcast.

It started with an empty garage devoid of life, several vehicles, a few empty pop cans tossed about, and one vintage red sports car with a sign in the window which read, ‘For Sale. $ 5,000 O.B.O.’

Arriving at the scene, stage right, was Matthew Vails.

He had exited his vehicle, a grey SUV, and locked the doors. Vails appeared to be a slight man, thin almost at every limb, with an awkward gait usually attributed to the injured. His stature was small, five foot eight and a hundred and fifty pounds. He turned at a sound. He appeared to squint, looking to identify someone, gesturing to them off camera. Seconds later, Vails seemed to stiffen as the unseen person approached. He appeared to realize it was not someone he knew as a friend, but the same man he battered the night before in his editorial, trashing the man’s recent directorial debut.

Vails turned away and started walking. Checking over his shoulder twice, he seemed to relax as though the person he had seen had also ceased their pursuit.

Entering from the right, out of the shadows, Deryl Beckham walked into the viewfinder, dressed exactly as Beckham had when he arrived to the station that morning.

The clothes confirmed his presence in the garage.

Within seconds, Beckham had grabbed Vails with a very strong grip, and what appeared to be rope, wire, or possibly a garrote.

He slowly, carefully, and effectively, ended Vail’s life.

As the video progressed, Corigan watched the seated Beckham’s face and more importantly, his absolute astonishment.

Beckham’s left hand started to quiver. His right eye twitched as tears started to build. His mouth dropped open for a second, as if he was going to say something, but then just as quickly, closed it.

When the video was done, Beckham just sat there, like a ventriloquist dummy.

“I need more than an attorney.” Beckham whispered. “I need a psychiatrist.”

Dykes was like lightning, his mouth and body in motion, like a fluid flowing from a river into a basin. “My client did not mean that as it sounded.” Dykes glared at Beckham for having spoken as he did, but moreover, what he said. “His genuine shock after reviewing the video startled him to the point of confusion and fear.”

But Corigan had already risen from his chair.

The recording said it all.

He thanked Beckham for the meeting.

Beckham did not rise nor turn in Corigan’s direction. As far as he was concerned, his world just turned upside down.

Both Catherine and Corigan left the room, leaving Dykes with his client to discuss their defense. They could hear the two men’s voices rising and echoing through the door.

Dykes was definitively not impressed.

Minutes later, Corigan arrived at the elevator and turned to Catherine.

She had that smug little smile she got when a case was about to be closed. She saw Corigan’s face and frowned. “What?”

Corigan wrestled with himself for a few seconds, thinking about what he watched, what he observed and what he heard before voicing his opinion. “I don’t know. Something is wrong. I can’t put my finger on it just yet, but I feel in my gut, something is definitely wrong with this picture.”

“Picture?” Catherine scoffed, “You mean video. Combined with opportunity and motive, the man has a boat going upriver without a paddle, a lifejacket or an anchor.”

Corigan looked back at the sealed 4B door. “It’s more than that. Unless that man is totally insane, and I believe he’s eccentric yes, but insane, I don’t think so. He genuinely appeared like he had seen that video for the very first time.”

Catherine crossed her arms. “We’ve sent crazy people to prison before.”

“I know...” Corigan fidgeted.

Catherine put her red folder and pad under her arms. “I don’t know what bee you have in that bonnet of yours, but it must be buzzing something fierce.”

“You can say that.”

Catherine nodded reluctantly. “I’m willing to give this case some more time if you wish. We can hold the final report forty eight hours so we can do some more investigating.”

Corigan smiled. “Thanks. I’m probably wrong, but since we have no other red files on our desk at the moment, I would hate to think we didn’t look under every rock, leaf or shrub.” He always appreciated her support. “Let’s go hunting. Its Murderer season and I got the permit.”

Catherine grabbed her purse. “Look at it this way, Sherlock.” something she tended to call Corigan when he had a mystery on his hands. “I’m your Watson.”

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