Chapter Fifty-one

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My mother left about noon, so I had a couple of hours until two. Enough time to shower and wash my hair, dress in yesterday's Sunday clothes, which my mother had so carefully washed, and eat my lunch. Not nearly enough time to panic about being homeless with only the clothes on my back. Not even a book to call my own. She was good, was Mom.


I got to the PSB with time to spare and easily found a place to park. I'd been there so often I knew all the best places to look. The woman at the desk recognized me and waved me to the elevators. I was beginning to be a regular.


When the elevators opened on Odin's floor, I headed for the interview rooms. Only by chance did I glance to my right and saw Karlson at his desk. I made a hairpin turn and threaded my way through the identical metal desks. At the correct one, I slumped into the victim chair and waited.


"We've got you booked into a room at 2:15 p.m., Ms. Goddard," Karlson said.


I stared casually to my right at the cop three desks over. "I eat your mother's cannoli, you gotta call me Paulette."


"Paulette," Karlson said quietly. Something about the tone of voice was wrong. Too quiet.


Looking at him I noticed that the tailored vest for men was back in fashion this century. His was a dark loden green, which made a perfect contrast to his light loden button-down shirt, collar bar, and tone-on-tone silk tie. The jacket slung around the back of his chair was a tasteful loden plaid. If I leaned over to glance at his feet, I bet on dark khaki pants with brown shoes.


"Yes, Lieutenant." It was so much fun to needle Odin at his place of business that I forgot for a second that I was homeless.


Odin wasn't buying it. His face held a heavy frown. "Everything has to go by the numbers in interview today," he said. "No cute answers. No sarcasm. No bullshit. You got me?"


If he kept on in this conciliatory fashion, Lieutenant Karlson would piss me off well before we got to interview. "And if I don't?"


He leaned forward and his voice was a chill whisper. "Don't fuck this up, Paulette. You have no idea who you're dealing with."


I pasted a vacant smile on my face and nodded at him. Since I had a very good idea of who I was dealing with, I wasn't a bit scared of Karlson or what awaited me in interview.


Karlson shook his head, glanced at his watch, and gestured me to get up. He grabbed his jacket off the back of his chair and put it on. As usual, he looked as if he waltzed off the cover of GQ magazine. Nobody should look that good in off-the-rack. Although the picture was pretty, I frowned anyway. I had no intention of playing nice today.


I followed Karlson into an interview room, which looked exactly like the last one I'd been in only a few days earlier. He indicated the seat opposite him.


A minute or so later, Greenberg wandered in followed by a small thin man in an ugly brown polyester suit.


"Ms. Goddard," Karlson said. I could see him trying to warn me with the fire in his eyes to keep things strictly formal. "You know Detective Greenberg."


I nodded.


"This is Captain Schmanski," he said.


"Captain," I said. I didn't get up, didn't offer to shake anyone's hand, and quickly shut my mouth after that first word. It was their party. They could do all the talking.


Schmanski looked at me for a long minute as if trying to take my measure. I thought about yawning to indicate my distressing fear of short guys in bad suits, but one glance at Greenberg's face gave me second thoughts. Greenberg still stood at attention, and he looked absolutely terrified. I sat ramrod straight in my chair and waited for the onslaught.

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