The next day, Eliza tried hiding out in the inmate intake area, but that didn’t work out too well either. The receptionist needed to leave for a few hours, and so the chief asked her to cover him. When Eliza was relieved of her cover duty, she was asked to book a few inmates. It was a very bizarre day. She had never had so many interruptions and thought it may have been a sign that she shouldn’t be investigating the Joneses while on the clock. But, Eliza didn’t like bringing work home, and the only computer they had was in Breanne’s room. Somehow she felt like she would defile her daughter’s little temple if she worked in there.
Finally, about three hours before her shift was over, Eliza finally had the opportunity to get some real work done. She put out an APB for the suspect on her case. She could have done that the previous day, but she knew this woman was not a flight risk and wasn’t concerned about nabbing her right away. Besides, bringing her in near the end of the day was a strategic move. Everyone would be anxious to get home and would not be as focused as they should be. Eliza was no stranger to working late, so she wouldn’t seem suspicious if were still interrogating the suspect at quitting time. This woman potentially had important information Eliza needed to obtain off the record, and she was more than prepared to get it.
The suspect’s name was Ellen Joiner. Her people called her “Mama Spooks.” She was more like an enforcer for a local gang. Eliza found in her Desert Bloom Park just like she thought she would.
Eliza didn’t even have to say anything. Ellen was halfway expecting her. She simply got up and went to the police station with her. When they arrived at the station, Eliza escorted Ms. Joiner to the interrogation room. She conveniently forgot to put a new tape into the surveillance camera. Her badge was already on the line for what she was about to do; there was no way she’d hang herself over carelessness and have their conversation recorded.
“I’m sure you know I am Det. Pancakes. You are,” she pulled out the file, “Ellen Joiner, aka Mama Spooks?”
Ellen didn’t answer.
“Do you prefer I address you as Ellen or Mama Spooks?” She was met with silence again. “Ok… Ms. Spooks… here’s how we’re going to play this…” She reached under the table and got a large box full of evidence. She dropped it on the table. “Everything I know about you is right here in this box.” She let Ellen peer in the box for a second before she put it back under the table. Then, she took one piece of paper out the folder and slid it across the table. “This is a map of your gang’s not-so-secret hangout…”
She took a stack of papers and slid them across the table. “This is a log of all your activities for the past three months. I know you, Ellen. I know what you’ve done and who you did it with. I know where you sleep. I even know where you pee…”
Eliza took another stack of papers out of the folder and slid it across the table. “These are pictures of all your precious gang members. We have rap sheets on all of them…
“They’re all going down, Ms. Spooks. You can’t protect them anymore, so there’s no need to give me the silent treatment. It’s only a matter of time before they’re all sitting in that seat. You know they’re going to rat you out first, right? You’re old. Expendable. You have like, what…a week or two left in you?” She scooped up all the papers and stowed neatly back into the folder.
“I could put you away for the rest of your lifetime. Do you really want to die in jail?”
Finally, Ellen showed signs of life. She groaned and hung her head low. “No.”
“Good! I don’t want you to die in jail either. I…I’m usually not so demeaning. I apologize if I have hurt your feelings. I just needed you to understand what you would be up against if you didn’t agree to my deal.”
Ellen’s eyes lit up. “Deal?”
“Wait one second.” Eliza got up to make sure no one was listening. The station was closed, and everyone had gone home. Splendid. She returned to the interrogation room. “Sorry. Do I understand correctly that you were raised in Newcrest?”
“What’s it to you?”
“If you agree to answer some questions about a certain Newcrest family and tell me who was responsible for the latest tagging incident in Windenburg, I will let you go and never look for you again.”
“I will expunge your record.” She knew that was a bit extreme, but Ellen really was quite old. Would it really matter in the grand scheme of things? She probably had grandkids she wanted to spend time with before she died anyway.
“Whaddaya wanna know.”
Splendid! “Do you know the Joneses?”
“Arnold Jones…he’s the CEO of Newcrest Science Labs… Do you know anything about his relationship with his son-in-law John?”
“Yeah. It was screwy. Nobody heard this John guy before he married that spoiled boobasnot. You know they made him change his name to Jones.”
“Oh? What was his name before?”
“He was nobody.”
“What else can you tell me about the Joneses?”
“Him and the girl got married kinda fast…if you know what I mean.”
“I do know what you mean.” Eliza found all this new information to be intriguing. She wanted to milk Ellen for all she had, but it was nearing 7:30, and it was Tuesday; Bob was at home. She felt like she had teased herself with Ellen. She was a fountain of knowledge never to be drank from again. Why did she tell her she would never look for her again? What she really wanted was to meet her for coffee sometime and let her rip, but she had to let her go.
When she got home, she grabbed some leftover pancakes and joined Bob in the living room. He looked comfortable in his pajamas while watching TV.
“She’s outside in the puppet theater.”
Eliza smiled. “What’s the show about this time?”
“She said they’re just rehearsing.”
She laughed. “I don’t recall ever having an imagination like hers.”
“How was your day?” he asked.
“Fine,” she said quickly. “Same ol same ol. Crooks…dirty deeds…”
“I’m glad you’re taking tomorrow off.”
She sighed. “Yes…it’s been a while since I’ve had a break. And poor Breanne almost never sees the two of us together.” She paused for a moment and gave it some thought. “Do you think she will turn out all right? I mean, it can’t be good for her. The most well-adjusted children have both their parents when they need them.”
“Maybe.” He went back to his program for a minute.
Her mind drifted while she ate a few more triangles. “Well…never mind. She will be fine. Look at Kolby Pruett. He’s smart and talented, and Asia and Jared have schedules worse than ours!”
Bob got an idea. “Yeah. She’ll be fine. She might be a little lonely though.”
Eliza considered his hypothesis. “You think? Has she said anything? I don’t get that vibe from her.”
“No, but I’m sure she wouldn’t mind a sibling…”
“Robert! Are you suggesting…”
She began to laugh.
“What’s so funny?”