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“I saw Mr. Twilling yesterday. He came in here for a while and then he was gone.”
The detective wrote something in his notepad and then looked up at Mookie. “You’re how old?” the detective said.
“Seventeen in one and a half months.”
“You’re a smartass.”
“Yes sir, if you say so.”
“You live where?”
“With the Reynolds in Lancaster. Foster parents.”
“You mind giving me the address?”
“You already know my address, and a lot of other stuff.”
“You were where between the last time you saw Twilling and now?”
“Here. Library. Home. Here.”
The detective leaned back in the chair and stretched out his arms and rocked his neck.
“You have a problem with the police?”
“Can't say the cops ever did me any favours.”
The detective made a quick note and looked up again.
“You kill Gary Twilling with a crowbar to the back of the head?”
Mookie sneered. “How do you know he’s dead?”
The detective made another note in his pad. Then looked up. “Say we hook you up to a lie detector?”
Mookie was suddenly scared. “Be my guest,” he said and felt his palms grow sweaty. He began to shrivel.
When Mookie came out of the office, Mrs. Twilling was busy with a customer. The detective left as another customer came in. By the time Mookie finished with that customer he could smell cigarette smoke. He found Mrs. Twilling in the back.
“I forgot my Nicorettes,” she said.
“It’s okay,” Mookie said.
Mrs. Twilling took a long puff and flicked the cigarette out the back door.
“How’d it go?”
“They’re going to put me on a lie detector, maybe tomorrow.”
“Lock up,” she said.
“It’s too early,” Mookie said.
“Lock it up anyway and come and see me in the office.”
Mookie did as he was told. When he came into the office Mrs. Twilling had another cigarette on the go.
“Sit,” she said.
“No it’s not. Sit.”
Mookie did as he was told.
“The detective finds out I’m smoking, there’ll be hell to pay. He’s a fitness nut. We’re kind of seeing each other.”
At that moment Mookie was too frightened to be jealous.
“They’re going to put me on the lie detector.”
“No they’re not.”
“The cop said so.”
“He was winding you up. It’s just Ridley being a prick. They’re not looking at you, trust me. Go and find some air freshener. He’s coming back in an hour to take me to the gym. I told him I quit smoking. No, wait, don’t go.”
“You’re seeing him,” Mookie said, angrily.
Mrs. Twilling reached into a side drawer and took out a package of cigarettes.
“What if I am? What’s it to you?”
Mookie felt himself begin to shrivel.
“My husband was a piece of work,” she said.