Even though the Precinct 13 interrogation room was more like some strange, overgrown faerie amphitheater, I felt pinned to the spot with Tengu’s question. He might as well have shown a flashlight in my face and asked, “Where were you on the night of the 5th?” Because, the thing that Jack and I had been fighting about was Valentine.
Jack and I had both seen Valentine in his dragon-form carrying the burlap sack in his talons as he flew over the farmhouse. Neither of us could deny that the sack looked large enough to hold a body. Jack had wanted to report the incident, tell them everything he’d seen; I wanted to… yeah, here’s where things got ugly, didn’t they?
The agents waited for my answer.
Tengu sat beside me on the bench that looked over the koi pond. His mirrored glasses pushed up on his head and his hands folded primly in his lap. Meanwhile, Furfur stood, blocking the sunlight that streamed in from the huge windows, his meaty fists on his hips.
Even in this oddly green and park-like setting, their matching dark suits made me hyper-aware that they were cops—worse, they were the cops that policed other cops, Internal Affairs.
I opened my mouth. My instinct was to lie to them, to come up with some completely fabricated story that involved something innocuous like, that Jack and I were fighting over favorite 80s punk bands or some sports team. But, when I couldn’t even settle on which lie to pick, I closed my mouth.
Besides, I knew from personal experience that the lies you told cops always came back and bit you in the butt. Once you were busted, it was too late, anyway. Lies were for people who weren’t already caught.
Taking a deep breath, I said, “I was trying to convince Jack not to report what we saw.”
Furfur started, like he was surprised not to have to beat it out of me. “Yeah? And what did you see?”
“Your dragon familiar?” Tengu asked. When I nodded, he continued, “What was he doing?”
“Flying over a farmhouse.” I said. This terse, simple response was a weird habit, one I’d gotten into at a very young age, after watching some lawyer show or other that I no longer remember the name of. The lesson stuck, however. The TV lawyer had explained to the person who was about to go on the witness stand that when the opposition asks, “Do you have a watch?” Most people will pull out their cellphones and answer with the time. It’s a trick. The right way to deal with it is to simply answer the question about the watch with a yes or no. For whatever reason, this stuck with me my whole life.
I couldn’t necessarily say it served me well. Frankly, I think my terseness to authority figures often made me seem guilty of something automatically. I had a crap time crossing borders, for instance. Border guards tend to get very suspicious when you don’t natter on about your family’s vacation and only answer in the shortest, most precise manner. You sounded schooled… or practiced.
My response was getting the same sort of reaction from the agents.
They exchanged one of their silent glances. I wasn’t sure if they had the kind of relationship-telepathy that came with being partners a long time, or if, not being human, they really could talk mind-to-mind. Regardless, Furfur nodded to some unspoken cue and said, “I don’t get it. Why didn’t you want Jack to tell us something like that?”
An open-ended question, much harder to get around. With a sigh, I explained, “Because it made Valentine look guilty.” Tengu opened his mouth to ask the next logical question, but I continued, unprompted, “He was carrying a big burlap sack in his talons.”
YOU ARE READING
Alex Connor thought that being the South Dakota Hughes County Coroner was going to be a boring cushy job. She didn't count on the fact that her first case would leave her with a magical, living tattoo and awaken her latent magical powers. Now she'...