Martin was just getting out of a newly painted Charger when we arrived at the station. We watched him from our own car- a black midsize Chevy with nothing to indicate it was a police vehicle except for a small parking sticker on the back. He was in uniform, walking with the sort of limp briskness that comes after a long day out on the streets. It implied he was too tired to keep up with what I liked to call the "Officer's stride", but could not help walking that way due to repetition. He had been busy cleaning the streets no doubt.
"Are you sure you want to interrogate Martin?" I asked, uncertain about Deforge's plan.
"Who else would have stolen the only valuable video record? We talked to everyone who had access to the files and none of them took it. I'm sure he's behind it," Deforge answered in a low, grumbling voice that alerted me to his surliness. I still had by doubts but didn't bother to interrupt. "Besides, you never know about these narcotics guys and what they might be up to." We got out of the car and I questioned no further.
Martin rubbed his brow with the light brown of his fingertips, clearly wanting nothing more than to go home. "I don't know what either of you are talking about, but whatever this video is, it sounds like it's a dead end."
I graciously turned to Deforge, awaiting his response while trying to keep the smugness from my expression.
"Don't play fool with me, Jerald. You hinted last time we talked that you had something we didn't." Deforge had his arms crossed. He always crossed his arms when he was trying to look serious or intimidating.
"Okay, this has been fun," Martin said in exasperation. "And I respect your wager, Inspector, but this has gotten a little out of hand. You're accusing me of theft of evidence. I'd like to think we're both above this sort of criminal activity. Men of honor, am I right?"
I smiled. Martin knew how to charm Deforge almost as well as I knew how to annoy him. "Oh yes," I muttered. "Real men of honor. Making wages to see who can figure out why Lakey committed suicide first. Gambling is very honorable indeed."
Martin turned to me with a harsh gaze and the dark folds of pronounced frown lines. "Indeed?" he scoffed. "What is this, the nineteenth century? Come on, Sharald, I know you're enjoying this more than I am. Lakey's turning out to be a difficult case, and now that he's dead all his mates seem to have run wild." He rubbed his eyes. "I thought I had the advantage, but now he's gone."
"Gone?" Deforge repeated. "What's gone?"
"You mean who," I corrected quietly so only Deforge could hear. "He's talking about another man." Deforge nodded, irritated.
"Lakey's partner in crime. A guy named Andy Mayweather. They call him Flowers on the streets. I know, you can laugh, it's funny." None of us laughed. "I got a tip from one of the guys I sent undercover that together they had accumulated a large amount of cocaine they were selling in bulk. I'm talking pounds. Now Flowers has disappeared and I have no idea where the stash is." He paused for a minute, rubbed around his eyes some more, threw down his hand and shouted, "Shit!"
"What is it?" I asked.
"I gave all of that away and I just remembered I left my coffee back on second." He sighed. "I really needed that coffee."
I sighed in turn and began walking away. I would let Deforge settle his dispute and leave Martin with all the formalities of a farewell. Eventually he would follow me out of the station and leave the poor man alone while I would crawl back to my house and imagine all the ways that this drugged up mystery could possibly unfold.