“Detective Allerton, how can I help you?” he asked as the two shook hands.
“Mind if I have a seat?” David motioned to a sofa against the wall.
“Yeah, sure, cop a squat.” Blanchard sat down in his chair, which squeaked when he landed. “What’s up?”
“I have a few questions concerning a case I’m working on, and I thought you could give me a little insight.”
“Yeah, go ahead.”
David held up the IC recorder. “Mind if I record this?”
Blanchard sat back and crossed his arms over his chest. “No—go right ahead.”
“Thanks,” David said as he turned on the device. “I’m investigating the murder of Hugh Osterman in upstate New York—”
“A little outside of everyone’s jurisdiction down here, don’t you think?”
“The investigation led us down here—”
“What do you mean, led?”
“Well, it appears that Mr. Osterman, along with his partners, ran a club called the Midnight, downtown.”
“Yeah, and what has that got to do with me?”
David’s face darkened with consternation as he replied, “I’m an investigator, Lieutenant. The case has led me to you.”
“In what way, Detective?” Blanchard never strayed from his poker face.
“You and some of the boys in your division were shaking down the managers of the Midnight, weren’t you?”
Blanchard feigned a smile as he said, flatly, “I’m sorry. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I have firsthand accounts from several people that you were the muscle for the club, and also took a pretty hefty payoff to look the other way.”
“I can assure you I’m being falsely accused. This information must be coming from my enemies in the area trying to pin some shit on me.”
“Is that a fact?” David asked, trying not very hard to hide the sarcasm in his voice.
“Yeah. I don’t know the owners of the Midnight, other than what I’ve read in the reports.”
“So you’re telling me that you haven’t been receiving two-hundred thousand dollars a week from the owners?”
“I’m telling you. Nada,” he added with a grin.
“You don’t know of a thug named Two Smooth Williams?”
“A drug dealer named Chase Arthur?”
“I know of him only from the police reports.”
“So you have no idea, no clue, no knowledge whatsoever of any corruption in your precinct?”
David nodded sternly. “I see. Well, could you be of any help to me at all concerning this case?”
“Not really. I can only read back to you what’s in the reports.” Blanchard cracked a smug smile from the corner of his mouth.
“Of course you know that I have to report everything that I’ve got on this case to I.A., correct?”
“You got to do what you got to do, Detective.”
David stood up from the couch. “We’re on the same side, Lieutenant. We’re all just trying to solve this case.”
“Meaning a little cooperation can go a long way.”
Blanchard sat forward in his seat, which creaked again, rested his elbows on the desk and growled, “You come into my office and accuse me and my division of shaking down local clubs, and you want fucking cooperation?”
“I’m just telling you about some of the evidence we’re getting from people we’ve interviewed in the course of our investigation. I’m giving you a chance to represent yourself. To give your side of the story.”
“I gave you my side of the story, Detective.” Blanchard’s face was starting to turn red with his vehemence. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, and my impression is that my foes are trying to railroad me. Consider carefully the nature of the sources of your information.”
“I’ll do that.”
“Grand, just grand. Now. I have work to do, Detective. Real work,” Blanchard said by way of a dismissal.
David went to the glass door, its shades rustling as he took hold of the knob. “Blanchard. Do you know of anyone willing to, or capable of, killing Osterman?”
“The list is too long, Detective.”
“Give me the top of your list, then.”
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