New Flesh on Old Bones

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Zorn waited in a chair with Kasick standing at his side when Joe escorted Colton into the interrogation room. The place was bare except for a small table with legs bolted to the floor and a pair of handcuffs bolted to the top by their chain, and one chair also bolted to the floor.

“Thanks, Joe,” said Zorn. “You can leave us now.”

The officer nodded and closed the door behind him.

Kasick looked at the bundle in Colton’s arms. “What the hell is that?”

“A puppy.” It squirmed. “I hope that this isn’t going to take long because it’s almost the pup’s feeding time.”

“What the hell?” asked Kasick. “You can’t have that mutt in here.”

Zorn placed his hand on Kasick’s shoulder. “We’ll make an exception.”

Kasick frowned at Zorn. “Why are you treating him like an old fishing buddy?”

“Because this isn’t a formal investigation,” he told the junior detective.

“Then why am I here?” asked Colton.

“Sit.” Zorn motioned to the chair.

Colton seated himself in the hard seat that was sure to escalate from uncomfortable to excruciatingly painful within a matter of minutes, but that was probably its primary function.

Zorn waited a moment before saying, “I want to show you something.” He removed his phone from the pocket of his jacket. The detective scrolled through a series of images and settled on one. He turned the screen toward Colton. “Do you recognize this face?”

Colton paled. He turned his ace up and looked at Zorn. “When and where was this taken?”

“Yesterday morning at the docks.”

“That’s impossible!”

Zorn scrolled to the next image. “How about this face?”

“Yeah, that T Boy.”

“Someone has kept their bodies on ice.” He placed his phone on the table.

“Why would someone freeze their bodies?” asked Colton.

“You tell me,” Kasick shot back.

“I didn’t have anything to do with this, I swear!”

“Gans is dead,” said Kasick. “That leaves you. Not that it matters. You’ve got your get out of jail free card. You’re untouchable.”

“At least by the law and the courts.” Zorn reached down, planted the tip of his finger on the screen and scrolled again to The Boys Are Back in Town. “I took a sample of the red paint and had it analyzed. There’s only one manufacturer that supplies this shade of red or cars. I called and found out that you are one of the buyers.”

“That doesn’t prove anything,” said Colton.

“No, but it does point the needle in your direction. He took a pause. “And folks here are starting to get edgy. They need a scapegoat.”

They’re looking at you,” said Kasick. “I wouldn’t be surprised if one night you just up and disappeared. There are miles of marshland around here.”

“You’re trying to scare me away.”

Zorn shook his head. “You don’t know what someone will do when they’re afraid and their back is against the wall, but I have.”

“I’m not leaving,” said Colton.

“Be smart,” said Kasick, “High-tail it out of here as fast you can.”

And if everything suddenly stops that’ll erase and doubts from people’s minds that I’m behind this.”

“There’s always the other side of the coin,” said Zorn. “You leave and things continue.”

“It’s too risky.”

“All right, said Zorn, “But if you insist on keeping yourself in the spotlight then I need to know something. Was a third party involved?”

Colton shook his head. “Not that I’m aware of.”

“Who are you trying to protect?” asked Kasick.

“No one.”

Kasick said, “Well, things aren’t tallying up. You may have escaped the death penalty.” He pointed a finger at Colton. “But I’ll find something new on you, and when I do I’ll see that you are prosecuted to the fullest.”

Joe opened the door and glanced at Colton before setting his focus on Zorn. “I need to talk with you.”

He followed the officer into the hall and closed the door leaving Colton alone. He heard their voices as a tangle of undecipherable murmuring. Time became elastic and the chair uncomfortable. Colton figured they were purposely designed for discomfort. He was about to get up and stretch his legs when the door opened and all three of the officers filed in.

Zorn dismissed Colton from the examining room before he elaborated with his cohorts exactly what the problem was. Which was fine with Colton. He was glad to be out of the limelight for the moment.

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