Considering Cincinnati is six hundred miles from the nearest ocean, the girl-watching was excellent. A wash of ponytails, taut bodies in tank tops, and long exposed legs in short skirts flooded the plaza, swirling around the preening males. If I concentrated, I could smell the massed pheromones.

Lt. Hastings appeared on schedule, her own long legs eating up the distance. I hustled to the Rock Bottom in time to hold the door open for her. A blast of air conditioning hit me like a cold compress, raising goosebumps along my arms. We joined the line waiting for booths.

“Did you take a time management course?” I asked. “And that’s why we’re meeting at an odd time? Do people keep appointments better?”

“Interesting theory, but no. I hate meetings. The captain must have decided I needed to do penance for something and gave me the marvelous opportunity to join Councilman Braun and some of his supporters and listen to their wonderful ideas on how to reduce murder in Cincinnati. The meeting was supposed to end at eleven thirty. I gave them ten minutes grace, so that’s eleven forty. Good thing. They were going strong on time, but not so much on content when I had to excuse myself to meet you. It takes ten minutes to walk here from city hall, so that meant meeting at eleven fifty.”

The hostess grabbed menus and motioned us to follow her through the noise by the bar and past the redolent smells of the kitchen before showing us a table. It really was law enforcement appreciation week, at least regarding my appreciation of the swing of Hastings’ hips as I followed her. The hostess handed us menus and took our drink orders—soda for the on-duty Hastings and a draft beer for me.

“You’ve got me here,” Hastings said. “What do you want?”

“Presser murder.” As though my words had pulled an electrical plug, her eyes went from sparkling to flat. “Can you tell me how it’s going?”

She leaned back in the booth, studying me. “You know I’m not supposed to say anything more than what we release to the media, but I figure I can trust you.” The sparkle in her eyes reappeared. “Although, since I know you’re a sneaky bastard, I just added you to the list of suspects. Where were you on the night of—?”

The waitress interrupted, bringing beverages and taking orders.

“I read about it at the time,” I said. “It’s been a while and I don’t remember many details.”

“Our release said Presser was stabbed. We didn’t say there were two wounds. First in the back, second, the fatal one, in his chest.”

“Who discovered the body?”

“Thursday, June 7th. His assistant at TransOhio tried to reach him all day. One of his friends, Matthew Yeung, swung by Presser’s apartment on his way home to make sure everything was okay. It wasn’t. Presser’s car was parked outside, but no one answered when Yeung tried the bell. Side door was locked, but the basement door was ajar. He called nine-one-one. Stayed outside until a unit got there. They found Presser on the kitchen floor—killed the night before.”

She took a long pull on the soda straw. “Forensics has been useless. The murder weapon is a stiletto—a pro’s weapon. Amateurs go for macho pig stickers. Far as we can tell, Presser was one clean kid.”

“Possible motives?”

“Not a one. Zip. Nada. No drugs. No gambling. No kiddie porn. No debt. Nothing interesting at all. Nothing stolen from his place. You looking to collect the ten grand Presser’s employer put up? Got a lead?”

“Sorry. With the cost of my kid’s college, I wish I could. So you got nothing?”

“We’ve interviewed everyone. All we get is, ‘how could this happen to such a nice guy?’”

Ant Farm (A Seamus McCree Mystery)Where stories live. Discover now