The Naked Eye - A Trilogy

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Chapter 2

The back of Lombardo’s chubby fist pounds on the heavy wood door.

Furor lowers his head, places a thumb and forefinger on the bridge of his nose.

Lombardo eyes him hard.

The jangle of a chain lock being loosed causes both to look up. The door brushes back as a thin, dark-skinned man in long slack suspenders, sleeveless white undershirt, and brown fedora stares out from behind a pair of milky white eyes.

“May I help you?” he asks, his gaze directed at some unknown, indiscriminate spot between them.

Lombardo speaks, “May we come in?”

The man’s head shifts to align with the direction from which the sound has come. Then, as if searching for the man’s stated accomplice, he fixes his empty stare in Furor’s direction.

“I’d hoped you would,” he says, stepping aside to open a path to his living room.

The air inside is damp.

Dirty clothes, stacks of old newspapers, and empty cardboard boxes lie cluttered throughout the room and countertops. In the dining area, an overflowing trashcan spills rotting waste and garbage onto the floor. Two standing lamps cast an orange haze about the room.

“The first officer who came by didn’t seem to think I had much to say,” he says, navigating effortlessly towards a large, cracked leather chair. “He just apologized for disturbing me and told me everything was under control.”

Lombardo nods, settles into a rough-worn sofa across from him. From the dining room, Furor drags a chair, spins it around, and saddles it with his chest against the backrest.

From his pocket, Lombardo removes a pack of cigarettes, taps one against the crystal face of his watch, and says, “Sorry to hear about what happened earlier. Some of these younger guys…” Then, clearing his throat, says, “I’m Deputy Commissioner of Operations Vincent Lombardo, this here is Detective Max Furor. We’re here to ask if you—”

“The man you’re looking for went about five-foot-ten, two hundred and twenty or so pounds with a dark suit, and briefcase.”

Lombardo removes the unlit cigarette from his mouth. “Excuse me?”

“I said the man you’re looking for, he went about five-foot-ten-inches tall, two hundred—”

“I heard what you said, but how could you possibly know all that?”

The man turns, directing his gaze at Lombardo. “I wasn’t born blind you know.”

There’s an awkward silence before he smacks a hand against his thigh, exploding with a low, bellowing laugh.

Lombardo secrets a glance at Furor over his shoulder.

“Go on,” Furor says.

“Height is easy. It’s a matter of picking up the rhythm of his strides.”

“I’m sorry,” Lombardo balks, “are you telling me you can discern how tall a man is by the time lapse between his footsteps?”

“Why not, the science is simple enough?”

“How tall am I?” Lombardo challenges.

“You’re about five-foot-eleven, but the heels in your shoes and the orthopedic insoles put you closer to an even six foot. Your partner on the other hand is about six-foot-two with an uneven step because when his left foot points at twelve o’clock the other is pointed at one.”

The look Lombardo gives Furor is one of surprise.

The man’s smile reveals a set of brilliant, white teeth.

“And weight? I suppose that has something to with how loud their footsteps are?”

“On carpet, it’s not so easy, but on rickety old floorboards like they got in the hallway, yes. And before you ask, you carry a solid two hundred and thirty pounds, whereas your partner comes in at just under one hundred and ninety-five.”

“And the dark suit?”

“He was wearing dress shoes not sneakers. I could tell by the scuff of the stacked leather heel and outsoles. And like I said, he was carrying a briefcase. Only businessmen carry briefcases and businessmen wear suits and fancy shoes.”

“But you said the suit was dark,” Lombardo says.

“Today’s forecast called for rain. No one wears light colored suits when it rains.”

“What about the briefcase?”

“The squeak of the hinges,” he says. “But I can tell you, by the sound it made when he placed it on the ground, it wasn’t carrying papers. This thing was heavy, unnaturally so.”

Lombardo turns to Furor. “That’s probably where he was stashing the cables.”

Furor nods.

“What about the altercation?” Lombardo continues. “Did you happen to overhear anything that was said or any other details?”

The man stares down at the ground, places a single shaky hand on his forehead.

“I suppose I heard a brief exchange just after she opened the door,” he says.

“Did he give a name?”

“I seem to recall he knew her name, but asked as if it were the first time they’d met in person.”

Lombardo nods. “Did he say anything else?”

“Without giving a name, he introduced himself as a lawyer and was about to say the name of the law firm when my phone rang. After that, I didn’t hear anything else.”

“And what time did all of this occur?”

“Last night around seven o’clock.”

“That puts this guy in her apartment right in the middle of our kill window,” Lombardo says, again directing the comment to Furor. Then, turning back around, Lombardo makes use of the scratchpad in his hand while going back over the blind man’s witness statement. Afterwards, Furor and Lombardo huddle in the hallway.

“How well do think that testimony will go over with a jury?” Lombardo says.

“Are you asking if I’m confident in the description given by a blind man listening through a door to the sound of footsteps? If so, the answer is no. Other than confirming the kill window, nothing he offered is going to help us catch this guy.”

Lombardo expels a deep, diaphragm clearing breath. “I suppose you’re right. In the meantime, since we won’t be hearing back from the forensics lab or the pathologist until tomorrow, it looks like today is going to be spent catching up on paperwork. At least on my end. How’s the rest of your day fixed?”

“I’ve got some paperwork to finish up, as well,” Furor says. “But first, I think I’ll head home, shower and shave.”

Lombardo nods. “Give me a minute to wrap things up here and I’ll drop you off.”

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