A few hours later, after taking the time to calm down from the morning’s events, we pulled into the police station indicated on Detective Ames’ business card. I was still worried about why I was being called in for questioning, but at least at the station it was unlikely I would get shot at by a detective with an itchy trigger finger who was bitter about his dead-end career.
I had told Joseph that he didn't have to come with me, but I think he felt that his local reputation might protect me a little. It was a nice thought.
We walked into the station and asked for Detective Ames. The woman at the front desk shot me a look that I could swear was sympathetic before she pointed us in the right direction.
The bullpen was a decent sized, open room that seemed much smaller than it really was since it was crammed full of desks. We stopped an asked a young deputy where Ames' desk was at. He pointed at a desk across the room unsurprisingly piled with papers.
Detective Ames was sitting in a chair that was probably older than he was, leaning back with his feet on a tiny spot on the desk that wasn't piled high with manila folders and dot-matrix printouts. When he saw us walking towards him, he quickly dropped his feet down and stood up, straightening his unbuttoned jacket.
“You came,” he accused me.
I raised my eyebrows. “I said I would. Now, can we get this over with? I have places to be and things to check out.”
Detective Ames looked at Joseph and pointed to the hard, wooden benches outside the bullpen. “You can wait there. Ms. Crandall, come with me.”
We went to an interview room, a tiny dark space with a large table, three chairs and a full-wall mirror. I primped my long dark hair with a smirk before sitting down. I wondered what the people on the other side of the mirror were thinking.
Detective Ames brought in a digital recorder and a legal pad, and dropped them on the table in front of me. A younger officer followed him in with a banker box marked with several letters and numbers. The officer dropped the box on the table and left.
Detective Ames opened the lid with a flourish and pulled out the manila folder on top. He sat down, flipped open the folder and scanned through the top page before pinning me with his eyes. “Where were you around 1 am on April 8th, 2010?”
“What?” I gave him the are-you-crazy look.
“Where were you on the morning of April 8th, 2010, at approximately 1 am?” Detective Ames repeated, leaning forward.
I stared at him in shock for several minutes. That was more than five years ago. Why would I remember that? I realized he was serious and I began searching my memory for any information to give him. “Well, I would have been around 6 months pregnant with Ella. So, home, alone, in bed, asleep.”
Detective Ames sat back and stared down his nose at me. “Are you certain of that?”
I snorted. “More or less. I mean, I don't specifically remember, but I don't recall ever going out that late during my pregnancy. I kinda became a hermit.”
I shrugged. “I went to work. I went to doctor's appointments. I went to the grocery store. Sometimes picked up some drive-through.” I leaned forward on my elbows. “Most of my socialization was by phone, text or internet, if I bothered to do that much. And I was pretty tired throughout my pregnancy, so I got in the habit of going to bed early. Since I don't recall any specific event that would have changed that pattern for that specific day, it's a pretty good guess that that's where I was.”
Detective Ames huffed and flipped to another page in the folder. “So, you were alone. And no one can verify that you were home all night?”
I pressed my lips together. “I was alone, so... no, no one can verify my whereabouts.”
“And how did you know Jim Addison?” Detective Ames asked.
I frowned. “I don't recognize that name.”
“Jim Addison. A security installer. Engaged to Erica Dansby. Lived in the neighborhood of Glendale.” Detective Ames bit off the words, raising his voice.
I sat back and folded my arms over my chest. “I don't know him. I don't recognize those names. I didn't hang out much in Glendale.”
The detective watched my face for several moments before he turned his attention back to the folder. He flipped to another page. “Tell me about your involvement in the group known as Thor's Hammer.”
I blinked. “I've never been involved in Thor's Hammer. Aren't they a white pride type of gang?”
“You know what kind of gang they are but you've never been involved with them?” Detective Ames smirked at me, with a disbelieving expression.
I cocked my eyebrow and stared at him for a moment. I caught my reflection in the mirror behind him and I nearly laughed aloud at the idea of being in an Aryan gang, with my dark complexion and curly black hair.
It wasn't uncommon for people to think I had some African in my ancestry, and that wasn't wrong, though my roots were more Italian and Romani thanks to my father's lineage. I would stick out in a white-pride group like a wolf among sheep.
“I've heard of Thor's Hammer,” I admitted. “Just enough to know to stay away from them. That's it.”
“But you are Heathen, aren't you?” Detective Ames asked with a sneer. “You are all over these Heathen chat groups online.”
I sighed. “Yes, but...”
“And this Thor's Hammer gang is a Heathen gang. But you are claiming you aren't associated with them at all?”
I leaned forward, glaring. “Are all Baptists the funeral protesting fanatics, Detective? Are all Seventh-Day Adventists part of the Branch Davidians?” I gave him a brief moment to process that, then sat back. “No, I'm not associated in any way with Thor's Hammer. Yes, I am Heathen. The connection between the two is circumstantial at best.”
“So you say.” The detective muttered before he looked down at the folder again, reading through several pages. I watched the bulge of his double chin change size as his head moved while he read down the pages.
After several minutes, he looked up. “And how often did you visit the Zoot Suit during that time?”
I jerked my eyes from his wobbling neck. “The what?”
“The Zoot Suit.”
“I'm not familiar with that name,” I said. I barely kept from rolling my eyes at his attempts to “catch me” by phrasing his questions as if he expected me to know these people and places.
Detective Ames poked his finger into the table between us. “It's a jazz bar. In Broad Ripple.”
This time I rolled my eyes. “I never really went to any jazz bars. Unless there was karaoke. I’m a bit of an introvert that way.” I pulled my phone out of my pocket and checked the time.
Detective Ames reached across the table as if to grab the phone. “Hey! You can't use that in here.”
I glared at him, holding the phone out of his reach. “I'm checking the time.”
I put it back in my pocket, taking my time just to annoy him. “Speaking of which, I've given you enough of my time. If you don't have any important questions,” I put a lot of emphasis on “important”, “I am in town for a reason, and I’d like to get back to that now.”
The detective stood up and leaned forward on his hands. His face was close enough that I caught a whiff of garlic and pickles from his breath. “I'm not entirely satisfied with the answers you've given me, Ms. Crandall. We received a tip that you are involved in this case, and I intend to find out how.”
I stood up calmly, reaching for my power to give me presence and a tiny bit of intimidation. I was sick of this treatment.
“I am NOT involved in this case,” I said. “I never have been. Unless you have decided to arrest me - and you'd better have good evidence to do so - I am leaving.” I walked around the table and opened the door.
“You have my number if you decide you need to ask me about any other neighborhoods in Indy.” I stepped out the door, but I couldn't resist calling over my shoulder, “Or just buy an atlas.”
I picked up Joseph on my way out of the station. He seemed to sense that I wasn't up to talking about what had happened yet and kept quiet as we headed to the parking lot. As we approached the car, a tall woman stepped out of the shadows of the tree we'd parked under.
I froze a moment, then relaxed and sighed. “Mercy. What are you doing here?”
“Following you,” she folded her arms across her chest. “Find anything interesting?”
I exchanged a look with Joseph and he shrugged. I looked back to Mercy and nodded. “We checked out Keith's little show. It was impressive.”
“And Nicola nearly got herself shot and arrested due to excessive snark in the presence of an officer of the law,” Joseph said, opening the passenger door. “Let's go grab some food. I think better when I'm chewing.”Mercy headed for the back seat. “Sounds good.”