“Let’s go back to the night of May 23, last year,” said Bonnie.
“I don’t remember,” said Nick Katanjiev.
They were talking in the “Sheriff’s Corner,” an unfurnished basement room. It was made of plain unpainted block and was poorly lit, except for a spotlight hung from the ceiling.
“If you don’t remember the date exactly, maybe you remember the event.”
“We are talking about this, always, same thing.” Nick looked for sympathy to Detective Townsend, who stood leaning against the wall. Detective Townsend only glared.
Bonnie asked: “Do you know Marco Gonzales, the ferry captain?”
“Of course,” Nick admitted.
“Did you ever transact any business of any kind with Marco Gonzales?”
“Did you ever buy a lottery ticket from Mr. Gonzales?”
“He sold lottery tickets? This I did not know. I do not go to Poke Island. For rich people. I like East Island. Better food. Nicer boardwalk. Prettier girls.”
“You never visited Poke Island? You never took the ferry?”
“If I did, I cannot remember.”
“Did you borrow or rent a white van in the spring of 2017?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Did you ever offer anyone the services of a female?”
“You are kidding me. I am professional all the way.”
“Yes or no?”
“I cannot remember doing these things.”
Detective Townsend watches as Bonnie runs the interrogation.
“You are president of Flash Entertainment, yes?”
Nick sputtered. “Flash in the pan, what it should be called.”
“What was the purpose of Flash Entertainment?”
“Did you ever make any movies?”
“What kind of movies?”
“We made no movies. Was my wife’s idea.”
“Who is Kenji Matsuoka?”
“He was cameraman. He was no good.”
“Who was Maureen Antonio?”
“What name did you say?”
“Maureen. Antonio. Dark haired. Young. Petite.”
“Maybe friend of my wife, I don’t know.”
“She is listed as treasurer of Flash Entertainment.”
“This woman, I don’t remember.”
“She’s been dead for three years now.”
“Really? That’s too bad.”
“You went to her funeral. You signed the condolence book.”
“I am emotional man.”
“But you didn’t know her? You just go to random funerals, what, as entertainment?”
Bonnie could feel herself losing her temper. She settled back in the chair. Took a deep breath.
“Your wife, Adora Vang.”
“I do not talk about her. Off limits. Marriage, the sacred vow.”
“How was she employed?”
“Console Graphics, you can check.”
Detective Townsend asked in a gravelly voice: “Did you ever play basketball with LeBron James?”
“Did I what?”
“Play basketball with LeBron James.”
“Who says these things?” Nick asked.
“Who is the mayor of Ruse, Bulgaria?” Townsend asked.
“How I should know? Haven’t been there, years and years.”
Bonnie picked up the interrogation: “How about Marco Gonzales. Has he ever been to Ruse, Bulgaria?”
“How should I know. Marco Gonzales? Ruse you said? Stupid question. Marco. They would not let such filthy immigrants into Bulgaria. In Bulgaria, they have standards.”
“So you didn’t like Marco?”
“If you never took the ferry, how did you know Marco?”
“Who said I knew this man?”
“You just did.”
“Whatever Marco told you, he is lying. I had nothing to do with this man.”
Bonnie rose from her crouch and stood looming over Nick.
“Hang tight,” she said. “Detective Townsend and I are going out for a burger. We’lll be back.” She opened the steel door, walked out behind Townsend. As she closed the door she added: “Eventually.”
Bonnie’s home away from home.
His only comment a shrug, Detective Townsend headed for the coffee room. Bonnie walked down a hallway of huge cream cinderblock and used her electronic passkey to push through a steel door and into the open air. She walked through the parking lot, past police cruisers and sheriff’s paddywagons, over the asphalt, then then the grass, then through the trees and to the muddy banks of the Destiny River.
An asphalt bike path wound along the riverbank. Bonnie sat on the trunk of a huge fallen oak and stared across the bike path at the water going by.
The Bulgarian had been coached, that was obvious. But he didn’t have a lawyer, and he’d been in jail overnight, so who’d coached him?
Bonnie took stock of what she knew. Nick Katanjiev was a pimp operating out of the Airliner Motel. He had been running girls out there for at least three years. The Airliner was outside city limits and fell under the Sheriff’s jurisdiction. In recent years, there had been zero arrests, or even calls for service, out of the Airliner. The Patrol Division had learned to pretend the Airliner didn’t exist, and some deputies even joked about it.
Bonnie reminded herself that every job has its limits. If Katanjiev had friends in the county hierarchy, then she had just hit a brick wall in the investigation of the Liz Burns case. It would go back into the cold case file.
Down the concrete path toward her came a blonde on a bicycle, whom Bonnie soon recognized as her former intern Penny LaFore, now the weekend police steno. Penny pulled up, breathless, stepped off her bike and wheeled it along.
“Get a Krypton lock for that,” advised Bonnie. “They’ll cut right through that chain.”
Penny leaned the bike on the massive tree trunk and sat to watch the river.
“Looks like a good place to think,” she said.
“Yep,” said Bonnie.
“Are you thinking over a case?” asked Penny.
“Nope,” said Bonnie. “Thinking about running for sheriff.”
Penny looked at her, shocked.
Bonnie reached out and touched her on the forearm. “Just kidding,” she said.
But she wasn’t.