The new addition was completed, and it seemed that everyone had recovered from the break in. The Jackson business seemed totally behind them. Tim mentioned in what Lily always thought of as his way too casual voice, that the whole case was pretty much wrapped up, and all the indictments, and there were enough of them, were handed down, and the evidence was pure and plentiful, and by the way—here it comes thought Lily—they did get a hit on those cigarette butts found near her property in Iowa, that for sure it was Jackson stalking her that far back, and it helped screw the whole thing down, and the guy that followed up on it—his name was Redding—yeah, he was watching her face for any reaction, but she was ready for that—and the Bureau had issued him a memorandum for his file for his foresight and cooperation, and, “I thought maybe I’d go down there and give it to him personally and kind of put a more positive spin on it and maybe give the guy’s career a little boost, cuz otherwise, it’s just a piece of paper and since I’m kind of personally involved and all, and I’ll take the bike tomorrow and why don’t you guys drive down after school and we can make a long weekend of it?”
“And you wanting to check him out personally doesn’t have anything to do with it?”
“So what if it does? Should I not show an interest–my wife having been nearly murdered and all?”
“This is ancient history, and you know I don’t mean the Jackson thing, but I get the ego thing, like I was avid and anxious when I had to meet Paula at the airport that time, so go ahead. Just be cool. He’s a good guy with a beautiful family.”
“Yeah, and so very fucking helpful to you when you really needed it. . .”
“Could we not just let this be? Or do you really want me to do the putting my foot down thing? Go satisfy your curiosity and play big city Fed honcho at the same time. Didn’t know the ego was feeling so starved, but whatever.”
He left early the next morning, taking the bike, she knew, being a huge part of the macho thing he had to express to this poor little hick town cop, and the weathered old black biker jacket, and no shave, and those old biker boots, and those crappiest of all black jeans. He’s so cute. But wait til he gets a load of Darryl. I don’t want to have to see that. No. On second thought, it might be kind of fun to be a fly on that wall.
Tim had of course checked with the locals in Iowa so he knew Darryl would be at the station, and he told them why he was coming by and insisted this was not to be any kind of ceremony, but he did want to discuss a few loose ends about the case, which was the purest bullshit. He roared into the parking lot of the little police station and that in itself caught the attention of everyone in the stationhouse and half the neighbors. The desk sergeant said to the secretary that was busy flirting with him and laying a little unnecessary groundwork, “Who the fuck is this? Paul Fucking Bunyan? Blue Ox MC? And why the fuck would anybody that big have to wear those boots? Does he honestly think he needs to look any fucking taller?”
“It has something to do with safety and the brake pedals on the bike, I think.”
“Right. Whatever. Jeez, huge fucking bike. I sure as hell hope this guy is here to pay a fucking traffic ticket and not kill us all.”
“Maybe it’s that guy from Chicago to see Darryl.”
“Right. Like this guy could be FBI? He’d be driving a fucking Taurus and wearing a cheap, shiny blue suit.”
So when Tim took off the helmet and was shucking the jacket, because, damn, this station house was like a fucking oven, and the desk sergeant got a look at the shaved head and the tats and the grizzled face and the pecs under the tight faded black t-shirt, and Tim did the badge flashing thing and announced who he was, the desk sergeant at least had the grace to give the cute little secretary, who was having a little trouble catching her breath, a slightly chagrined smile as she went to get Darryl.
In a kind of a shocked state when the guy walked out to meet him, Tim quickly introduced himself and flashed the badge—ID thing and tried not to trip over his tongue. What kind of vitamins did this guy take? A fucking red head? Jesus Christ. She’s already weird for red heads. Chiseled face like a fucking Celtic god. Do I need this? Six foot two at least. Well, I’ll give him three, so who cares if he’s as tall as I am, and we’re not going to have to have a pissing contest, and why wouldn’t Lily pick a huge good looking guy. Jerk probably has his fucking polyester uniform tailored. Probably has to. Huge fucking shoulders. Why would she pass this up for me? If I was gay I’d be fuckin’ fallin’ in love, maybe am a little, falling in love, that is. Damnit. I never should’ve done this. Fuck. Tim felt a small unfamiliar shiver of inadequacy which he quickly shook off. Well, so what if he’s younger; of course, I’m the better man. After all, I won. He offered Officer Redding his hand and asked if there was somewhere they could talk. “It is Officer Redding? Or would it be deputy?”
“No. We go by Officer and Chief. It’s deliberate. We’re trying to get away from the Barney Fife image.”
“Well, pleased to meet you and I understand you go way back with Lily and her late husband, Ben?”
“Yeah. Team mates. Double dates, standing up in weddings, neighbors, the whole nine yards. Ben was a great guy. Terrible tragedy. Wrecks a small town like this for a while. And Lily is such a doll. Shouldn’t a happened to a sweety like her. Cutest thing. We’d all go skinny dipping out at the quarry, well. . . I was crazy in love with her, but Ben was my best friend. And he was that kind a guy, y’know, no one stepped on his toes. I just had to keep my mouth shut. Y’know how you never get over that stuff. . . Did you get to know her at all working on the case?”
“Kinda. Talked to her about it a little.”
“How is she doing? Heard she married a Fed. Hope it’s not some wimp bureaucrat asshole. She deserves the best.”
And you did your part trying to give it to her, you small town prick. “That would be me.”
“That would be me, the wimp bureaucrat asshole she married? I’m Senior Special Agent Tim Raia, if you didn’t bother reading my creds when I flashed ‘em for you, and Lily is my wife now and the mother of our year old son. And she’s fine, she’s doing just fucking fine. And thanks so much for asking. . .” Edge on the voice now very apparent.
“Sorry, sir. Thoughtless of me, sir. Not thinking you’re FBI, sir. Don’t look it, sir. Sorry. Well, congratulations, sir. (Am I twelve?) You’ve got yourself a real sweetheart there. Everyone loves her. Give her my best.” Darryl was just glad his voice still worked and wasn’t too sure what he was actually saying. Stopped himself up short when he realized he was actually backing toward the door. He knows, he fucking knows.
“You fucking red heads, with that fucking blushing, blinking on and off like a fucking Christmas tree. . .” He was kind of talking with his teeth gritted. I hope what you did give her was at least your best, god damn it. I never should’ve come down here. “Actually, I’m kind of ill at ease here, Darryl,” Tim said, white-knuckled, his hands gripping the back of the thankfully bolted down metal interrogation room chair, “putting bits and pieces of what I’ve heard from Lily about you helping her out back then, together with tying up the loose ends of this nasty case. You are not at all what I was expecting, and this is apparently an Alpha dog situation, since I am pretty good at sizing up people, and we both know Alpha dogs don’t sniff each others’ butts. They go nose to nose, and one of us is going to have to back down and this time, I’m just guessing here, it’s going to have to be me because I don’t want the fucking roof flying off this cute little stationhouse you have here in your cute little home town. Just make goddamn sure I don’t hear your name from my wife’s lips, ever again. No, actually, I never heard your name from her lips, and we best make sure we fucking keep it that way.” Or maybe I should just go ahead and rip your fucking head off your fucking shoulders right now. And he slammed the tan envelope with the now forgotten letter of commendation down on the desk and stalked out of the office and the little brick building and roared out to the farmhouse and poured himself a stiff drink.
“Jesus, Darryl. Did he know you fucked her? You didn’t tell him, did you?”
“Nobody’s s’pose to know that, Ned.”
“Everybody fucking knows it, Darryl.”
“Yeah? Well, I better not find out who told him.”
“He’s Bureau, Redding. He didn’t get where he is not being able to add two and two, now, did he? And y’know we’re supposed to think those FIBs are a bunch of pansy ass detectives? I’d steer clear of that one for a while. Lay low a little. They’re out at the farm house every couple weeks. God help us you run into ‘em at fucking Pizza Hut or something.”
Hours later, Lily and the boys drove up to find a slightly stiff Tim waiting for them on the front steps. The lawn was mowed, the storm windows up, the pond closed down for the winter, the gutters cleaned, the furnace cleaned and tuned up for the coming winter, the floors mopped and dinner was simmering on the stove all within a very few hours fraught with anger and nervous energy. He got up and walked across the yard and grabbed her in a little bit too hearty of a hug and planted a little too wet and serious kind of kiss on her and said, “Don’t say a word about him. Don’t dare ask me anything. Fucking bastard told me to send you his best? I shoulda shot him right then and there. Fucking small town ass-hole trying to play big city detective with his fucking sniffer dog and his fucking DNA lab. Don’t say another word.”
Lily was still smiling about it in the morning when she got up to fix breakfast even though Timmy hadn’t let her do much sleeping. It was a nice weekend anyway. Gorgeous weather for this time of year.