“Have you absolutely lost your mind?” I asked quietly. I had my body under rigid control so I wouldn’t do anything stupid.
“I know you don’t want to hear this, but I want you to listen to me. And I want you to use your head. I know he’s your friend, but Jack has the potential for the kind of violence that it took to commit these crimes inside him. Couldn’t you see it in his eyes when he was sitting in front of you a few minutes ago?”
I shook my head, more to keep the words from penetrating my brain than to deny that I hadn’t noticed.
“He’s got a reputation with women. He uses them and tosses them aside. I’d say that’s a type of abuse right there.”
“Are you sure you want to go casting that stone?” I asked more calmly than I felt.
“It’s different between us, and you know it. I’ve heard things about what happened with Jack in D.C. that don’t appear in any official reports. And they aren’t good. He knew enough about the victims to know what kind of home life they had. He knew about Fiona’s abusive husband and could have planted the necessary items to implicate George. And his own Detective was having an affair with the second victim. Do you honestly believe he had no idea about that when it was happening right under his nose?” He asked, shaking me a little. “And then what about Dr. Hides?”
“This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard, Brody. Jack’s my best friend. I’d know if he’d done something like that.”
“What about Dr. Hides?”
“I didn’t want to tell you this, but I saw Jack in Nottingham early this morning while I was getting gas at the Diamond Shamrock. It was after we were finished at the crime scene, and you weren’t with him. Dr. Hides hadn’t been dead long when you’d gotten to him. And Jack knew exactly where to go and what he had to do to get rid of those files.”
I remembered that Jack had asked for an hour to get things in order before we went to see Harvey Wallace. My stomach felt heavy, like I’d swallowed a ball of lead, and I had to ask myself if Jack could have taken that hour to kill Dr. Hides. Was a man I’d known my entire life capable of such a thing? There was no doubt that Jack was capable of violence. You could always see it just under the surface, and his temper had gotten him in trouble when he was younger. But he’d learned to keep it under control as he’d gotten older. And one of Jack’s best traits was his sense of honor. He had a strict moral code that made him one of the best men I’d ever known, but that didn’t mean he didn’t bend the line every now and then to get what he wanted.
“And I bet if you ask him, he won’t have a solid alibi for the time of either murder,” Brody pressed on.
I tried to think back frantically through the last four days. I wanted to say that I could give Jack an alibi, but I couldn’t. He’d been off-duty the night before Fiona’s murder. He’d told me he had a date, but I didn’t know who with. I’d seen Jack Sunday morning before Fiona was buried, and I remembered he’d looked tired and worse than I’d seen him in years. Had he come straight to me after killing Amanda Wallace? I did know one thing, Jack had been the one to call me and tell me the news of both murders. And now I didn’t know what to think, or who to trust.
“You need to leave,” I said dry-mouthed, pointing towards the door.
“Just promise me you’ll be careful, Jaye. I don’t like leaving you here with all of this going on.”
“I’ll lock up behind you. Just go. Please,” I begged.
“All right. But I want to tell you that I hope it’s not Jack for your sake. You may not believe it, but the last thing I want is for you to be hurt. In the mean time, I’ll keep digging and maybe I’ll find out something that will point to someone else.”
I stayed silent and flinched when I heard the sound of the screen door slam behind him. I couldn’t watch Brody drive away. I was too busy trying to keep myself upright. What he said couldn’t be true. Jack would never do those things. But the doubt was there, planted firmly, and I knew it would only grow over time until the issue was resolved.
I lost the battle to keep my dinner down and barely made it to the bathroom before I was violently ill. When my stomach was empty I dunked my head under the faucet and came up sputtering. I couldn’t think of these things now. I had Amanda Wallace and Dr. Hides waiting for me.