[If you have not already done so, you must
read the Introduction
Revenge Should Have No Bounds 089
Chapter 17 (5 of 11): Interviews
“Officer,” Willard began, “your record indicates that you started your career with the city police as a detective.”
“Yes. In 1988. The experience as a military policeman in Korea helped there.”
“I see. Of course. And apparently you were quite a good detective. Both as indicated by the record I have in front of me, and according to you former supervisor, Detective Light.” He nodded in Phoebe’s direction.
Darling said nothing.
“And yet,” Willard went on in his quiet but intense way, “after twelve years you’re suddenly walking a beat. Can you explain that?”
“Yes and no.” Now a certain unease crept into his demeanor. There was something like a faint scent of blood in the small room.
“Yes and no? That’s kind of confusing.”
“Yes. What I mean is, yes, I could explain it, but, no, I’ve been told to keep my mouth shut.”
“No, you really don’t,” Darling corrected, not angrily or with a raised voice, but calmly and factually. “And that is all I’m going to say about it. If you want to know more, you should check with the tenth floor. But I’m not saying anything else on the subject.”
His disquiet had disappeared. But he did not touch the glass of water that stood in front of him.
“All right, let’s move on then.” He extracted a sheet of paper from a pile. “You said that you were married, and that you are now divorced.”
“Yes. That’s what I said.”
“And that your marriage was not in the best of shape.”
“That’s for sure.”
“And you’d been married since,” Willard gave the sheet in his hand a quick glance, “1992. Is that correct?”
“So, for eight years.”
Fabian nodded but said nothing.
“If I could ask you please to respond verbally. We’d like that tape recorder to pick it up.”
“Right. Yes, that’s about it. Eight long years.”
“It wasn’t a good marriage?”
“It was fine, I guess, for several years. Then around 1998 it started to take a dive.”
“Any special reason?”
“Who knows? Familiarity, boredom, indifference, tedium, somebody else? Take your pick. What difference does it make? Is this really relevant? I mean, I want to help, but I’m not sure I see where this is going. This is all ancient history. Bad water over an old dam.”
Willard plowed on. “Your wife was Japanese, wasn’t she?”
“Did you meet her while you were stationed in Korea?”
“Yes. We often took leave in Japan. Funny thing is, though, she was American. Japanese-American. Studying in Japan when I met her. In nineteen eighty-eight.”
“Given the dates involved – you left the service in eighty-eight and got married in ninety-two – I assume you … you picked things up stateside. Is that a fair assumption?”
“Right on the money, detective.”
“Can you elaborate?”
“Well, there’s not much to elaborate. She got back to the states — L.A., that’s where she’s from – a couple of months after I got back here, and we kept up with each other. Letters, phone, that kind of thing. We visited each other. She got her degree from U.C.L.A. Two of them: Japanese and statistics. After a while we decided to tie the knot, and so we did. End of story.”
“Are you still in touch with your ex-wife?”
“Yes. She lives in the city.”
“Your last name? Darling?”
“Yeah. Yukiko Darling.”
Fabian has picked his forage cap up off the table and was running a finger along the shiny black of the visor.
“Yukiko Darling.” Willard jots something down on his pad. “I see.”
He gives Phoebe a heads-up to pass it on to her.
Fabian puts the cap back down in front of him and stretches on the chair.
“Officer Darling,” Phoebe goes to work, “I wonder if we can get back to the murder victim, Trinh Cao. She was your … your girlfriend?”
“That’s right.” His voice is low.
Phoebe, along with the others, observes discreetly a slight watering of Darling’s eyes. Crying, she knows, is a sign. A sign that can signify many different things. In short, people cry for a lot of reasons. It is not always out of grief. It may even come from laughter. Or, sometimes, from guilty regret. Fabian, she speculates idly, certainly has the size and the heft to bash anybody’s brains in. Of course, sometimes tears are a sign of what they are usually a sign of, of deep grief.
Fabian shakes his head and makes a quick swipe of his sleeve across his face. He inhales noisily through a nose that has started to run. He pulls out a large handkerchief and blows gently into it.
“Do you think you could tell us a little about how you met Trinh Cao?”
“It’s not a short story,” he says. His manner is subdued.
“That’s fine,” Phoebe says. “I think we’ll take ten-minute break here and then pick up again. The time is now,” she checks the large industrial clock above the door, “two minutes of three. We will be taking a ten-minute break.”
She turns off the Panasonic and signals to Pete to stop filming. The bright light above the camera goes off and throws the room into relative dimness.
“Can I get you a Coke or something cold to drink, Officer Darling?” she asks solicitously.
“Thank you. That would taste pretty good right now.” He has stood up, stretched, and walked haltingly back and forth at this end of the room. Phoebe noticed he had a conspicuous limp.
“I’ll get us some cold drinks,” Ulla volunteers and disappears from the room.
A short while later they are again seated around the table, cans of soda in front of them, and a few unopened ones in the center.
Phoebe turns on the recorder and leans forward to address its recessed microphone. “It is now three-fifteen and we are recommencing the interview with Officer Fabian Darling in the matter of Trinh Cao, case number H-2004-01-12-01. The same people as before are present.” She sits back.
“Please, Officer Darling, if you would tell us how you met Trinh Cao.”
Fabian puts his elbows on the table and starts talking, in a level monotone.
“Well, when I went on foot patrol I was assigned hotel row and the nearby area around the university. Up around Vale of Lilies and over by Crick Drive. You know the area.” Everybody nods in acknowledgement and scratch pens across their pads. “So, I walk these streets, get to know the shop people, the hotels, some of the kids and professors at the university. There’s a nice coffee shop on Newton that I like, and from time to time I stop in there to get a bite to eat or something to drink.”
Darling becomes agitated as he starts into his story, but soon settles down.
“I was sitting in this place one afternoon next to campus. It was the time between the lunch rush and the dinner hour, so the place was fairly empty. I was busy with the student newspaper and not paying a lot of attention to my surroundings. At some point a young woman sat down about three seats away from me but on the opposite side of one of the counters that run the length of the shop.
“I noticed she was Oriental. I didn’t pay much more mind and went back to my crazy crossword puzzle. After a while I heard a sniffle from the woman’s direction. When I looked up I could see she was crying, kind of soft, holding a napkin up against her eyes. Her shoulders were going up and down. I admit I was moved. But I wasn’t sure if, or how, I could intervene without seeming rude. Who wants to intrude on a private grief?”
“Then she resolves my dilemma for me.
“She looks at me, and gives me this brave little smile through the tears, apologizes for the spectacle she’s making. ‘I’m sorry,’ she says. ‘Please forgive me. I am so embarrassed at all of this.’ And then more tears. ‘Is it really that bad?’ I ask. I pick up my coffee and paper and move down a few chairs so that I’m sitting opposite her.
“Even through the tears I can tell this young woman is truly beautiful. I admit I’m partial to Asian women. No crime in that.
TO BE CONTINUED