Inwardly fuming, he turned away from the river and towards the shop. He walked in, a little bell clinking as the door opened and then again as it shut behind him. He looked through the shop and saw that it was nearly empty. Only one patron was present, a young man, probably a college student, tapping furiously at the keyboard of his mini-laptop. A tall clear glass half-full of some coffee drink sat at his elbow, and a Bluetooth earpiece hung on his right ear.
Kevin went to the counter of the dimly lit shop and greeted the young rotund woman who was busily grinding beans. He ordered a house coffee and a chocolate muffin from the smiling girl and then retreated to a booth in the farthest corner. From there, he could see the entrance and yet hope to have a private conversation.
Kevin sat sipping his coffee and nibbling at the muffin as he watched customers come and go. Every few moments, someone would enter the shop. Some ordered a coffee, latté, espresso, or cappuccino; some ordered muffins; and some ordered both; but all left the shop and continued on their ways. Another employee hurried from the back, a stocky young man, his arms loaded with boxes full of muffins probably for delivering to local businesses. He bustled out just as another patron was entering. It was Sharptwig.
The policeman stepped inside and cautiously surveyed the room. When his eyes came to Kevin, he nodded slightly and then ordered himself a coffee. He walked over and slid into the booth, sitting sideways so that his back was to the wall and his right leg was drawn up onto the seat. Kevin noted that this allowed his companion to see around the room while they talked.
“Everybody okay?” asked Sharptwig when he had settled into the booth.
“So far so good,” Kevin replied. “Jeannie and Heather are at the hospital with Jake. He’s awake and is being moved to a regular room today.”
The policeman nodded and smiled, yet something seemed to be troubling him.
“That’s good,” he remarked. Then, after a pause, he looked hard at Kevin. He leaned forward. “There have been . . . some developments. I am trying to process them myself, so I’m not sure how to tell you.” Kevin waited expectantly for him to continue. Sharptwig nervously took a sip from his cup. “The first thing I have to tell you is that I’m being taken off the case of your sister and brother-in-law’s assault. In fact, the matter is considered closed by my commanding officer.”
Kevin was startled. “What do you mean ‘closed’? Have they caught the men who did it?”
“Well, no, they weren’t ‘caught’ exactly. Their bodies were found along a back road outside of town. Each had a fatal bullet wound. They were found up on Tatum’s Ridge Road. From what I understand, they apparently shot each other in some drug-related dispute.”
Kevin did not know what to say at first. Then, “Does that mean it’s over?”
“Officially, yes,” Sharptwig answered, his eyes fixed on Kevin as if trying to read his expression.
“‘Officially’? Uh-oh,” Kevin said, shifting uncomfortably in his seat. “That’s a loaded word. Care to tell me what you mean?”
Sharptwig lowered his voice. “What I’m about to tell you is off-the-record, all right? Promise me that you’ll keep this to yourself.” Kevin raised his eyebrows but nodded his head.
The detective reached into his inside jacket pocket and pulled out a wad of papers. He flipped through them and pulled out two pictures.
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