Bowen and I drove for a while, an uncomfortable silence had settled over us. We found a nice-ish motel. The woman behind the counter was efficient, but not unkind. She set me up in a room near the office once she had confirmed I wasn't "one of the noisy ones". I had little clue of what she was referring to, but I had no party plans so I accepted the key with a smile.
The room was an awful shade of purples and browns with a small desk near the TV stand. The bed wobbled slightly beneath a too firm mattress, but I hoped not to be here long. I shrugged and let it go.
There was a gas station across the street where I found some more antacids and "gourmet" coffee which I sipped carefully on my way back to my room. A pleasant burn that washed away the chalky taste of the tablets.
Burton was standing in front of my door with another man, heavyset and smiling. His hair was thin and grey and a paunch hung over his dress slacks. He was wearing a dark, greenish suit. Bowen was on the phone nodding on occasion as he glanced at a driver's license in his hand. The man was glancing around nervously when his eyes landed on me. His smile broadened and he lifted his hand in a casual wave.
I disliked him immediately.
It wasn't anything about him specifically, but more how everything fit together as a whole. It was a look that was carefully crafted to be disarming, yet smart.
It screamed lawyer.
I approached and raised an eyebrow to Bowen when I caught his eye. He nodded that it was okay for me to come over.
"Detective Burton?" The new guy asked in a perfunctory way. He knew damn well who I was.
He offered his hand and I shook it. Firm grip but not too firm. Everything about the man would be meticulously practiced in just the right way. God I hate lawyers.
"What brings you to my humble home away from home?" I asked.
"A favor. Bishop Figuera, err, Anthony asked me to help him out. Or you out."
"Odd, he didn't inform me of it." I said casually, "But then he hasn't felt the need to keep me apprised of much today."
Bowen cleared his throat to get my attention and handed me the phone.
"Yes, Dear? I spoke into the headset.
"Where did you get a gun? And why the Hell are you brandishing it at your fellow officers." The Bishop's voice squawked into my ear.
I shot Bowen a dark look.
Bowen at least had the decency to look embarrassed.
"Just trying to look out of numero uno chief." I said, "You never know who's lurking behind a door ready to shoot you. Especially when your friends forget to tell you that they will be following you night and day."
"We'll talk about that later. I'm just letting you know that my friend, Charles, is here for your benefit."
"Is he now?" I asked locking eyes with my new "asset".
"Yes, for two reasons. He'll help make this funny business go away which is the important one. And the second being that if you play nice, I will let you stay on the murder case."
"You thinking about pulling me off?" I said carefully expressing my shock and hurt that he would even think such monstrous thoughts.
"If I have to. Yes. Just talk to him, Burton."
'But he's a lawyer. Even worse, he's a defense attorney.' I wanted to complain but kept my mouth shut.
"I'll talk to you tomorrow when you get back in the office."
He hung up abruptly and I sighed.
I handed the phone back to Bowen and grabbed Robert's gun from my front pocket. The only asset I really wanted. I tapped it against my thigh and nodded to Charles.
He glanced at the gun, rolled his eyes, and went first.
* * * * * * * * *
After Charlie had informed me that I was officially his client and that anything we said would be protected by lawyer/client confidentiality, the questions started. They were direct and intrusive just as I knew they would be. I answered the best I could as he scribbled notes here and there. Nodding and shaking his head at the appropriate pauses.
When he got to all the drug questions, I could only shrug. I still didn't know why they would try to frame me for something like this.
All of it was very formal, and incredibly annoying.
When he finally closed his notebook and nodded at me, I was stiff from sitting on the bed. I stretched and opened the door for him, surprised to see that daylight was quickly fading. I had lost another day meant for finding a killer. There was a sinking feeling in my gut.
Maybe it was just hunger.
I grabbed dinner from a burger joint nearby and tried to mull over everything in my head.
Two men had tried to kill me, and I hadn't taken the time to dwell on that.
The biggest question was whether or not the two men had something to do with the murders, but to me, that didn't make much sense. Taking me out would mean that I was on to something and, frankly, I had been stumbling around in the dark for too long for that to seem plausible.
I rubbed my eyes and tried to stifle a yawn.
I could get more coffee, but the little orange bottle in my pocket was calling to me. The dull pain in my chest and hand had increased throughout the waning hours. Just moving and shifting was causing little grunts of pain.
I popped two of the tablets and lay down on the bed.
I was barely able to kick my shoes off before sleep came.