Chapter Fifteen: The Word on the Street
Jerry was gone for many hours. It was midmorning when he left, and the street light was on out front before he got back. I did the crossword puzzle in the leftover Sunday paper. I scrupulously avoided reading the news, not wanting to see anything about me and/or Anne. Evidently, Jerry or Anne are big fans of “Detective Novels,” there were dozens on the bookshelf. I read a large portion of one, just to pass the time. For the life of me I can’t recall any of the details.
Jerry strode up the steps and flung open the door, gun in hand. “You got some ‘splaining to do.”
He sat down at the kitchen table, laid the gun on the table—sorta pointing in my direction—and generally appeared to be in a foul mood. “The police traced that gun that you purchased to another crime. The ballistics tests indicate that gun was used to murder somebody else years ago.”
My face paled. My eyes widened. I knew I must look guilty. I didn’t doubt that is what he had been told, I just couldn’t fathom it being true.
“How long have you owned the gun?”
I figured in my head, thinking back to where I was living, and when the years that I lived there. It took a couple of minutes. “I guess nine to ten years.”
Immediate follow-up: “Where did you buy it?” He seemed to be in his interrogation mode, now.
Without hesitation, I told him “’Green Top Sporting Goods’ on Route 1 in Ashland.”
Quicker: “Have you ever known anybody who was murdered?”
I thought a moment. “No.”
“Careful,” in a threatening tone of voice.
This time I thought for much longer. “No.”
“Anybody that you have been close to know anybody who has been murdered?”
“My wife, before she divorced me, knew two people when she was in high school who were murdered. But that was decades ago.”
“Anybody else, more recently?”
“I can’t think of anybody.”
“I don’t believe you.” He re-adjusted the pistol to be pointed directly at me. And not by accident.
“Nobody is coming to mind. Why don’t you just tell me what this is all about?”
My face blanched. “He’s dead? He’s my ex-partner, but I didn’t kill him.” I thought about my gun, and the fact that I couldn’t find it. “I saw him recently. I might have killed him if I’d had my pistol, but I couldn’t find it. Hell, I’m glad I didn’t have it with me the last time I saw him. …”
“That gives you motive then.”
I paused. True. Maybe I’d better shut up. Maybe this guy was interrogating me for the police.
Jerry held up his hand to get me to stop: “He’s not dead.”
I was puzzled. “What about Joseph Graff then?”
“He’s going around saying that you must have killed his ex-wife. That’s who was murdered by your .357 magnum almost nine years ago. When you owned the gun.”
“You already knew when I purchased the gun, and where I purchased it.”
“Thought you didn’t know anybody close to you who had been murdered? Your own partner, only nine years ago, and you didn’t remember?”
“It was before he was my partner. Back when we were at best golfing buddies. He’s had several ex-wives. And I have a shitty memory.”
“Did you have a motive to kill her?”
“I never saw her a day in my life, not one time.”
“Joe Graff says that you did.”
“He’s lying, then. I didn’t know her, I have never, ever, had anything to do with her. Period.”
“When it comes right down to it, everybody who says that you murdered somebody is a liar, right? Is that about it?”
I had no answer to that.