Occupation: LAPD Homicide Detective
The walls of Interview Room 1 closed in on us, the gray soundproofing foam torn and gouged by the nails and fists of angry men. I shifted in my seat, then winced—my bra strap and leather holster were both biting into the fleshy part of my shoulder. Glanced at my wristwatch—almost an hour had passed—then gazed at the mountain of an eighteen-year old hunched in the chair across from me.
Brown splotches and splatters had dried on Kobe McAvoy’s gray sweatshirt and tan Dickies. Blood, now the color of chocolate pudding, had stained the toes of his used-to-be white Air Jordans. Aggravated assault, burglary, concealed weapon… So ambitious, this kid.
Kobe folded his arms and chewed the inside of his cheek. Just… sat there as though he was waiting for the rinse cycle to start. Definitely not acting as though he was seated across from a homicide detective liking him for the murders of Destinee and Cayman Andrews, his girlfriend’s parents.
I looked at my watch again: seven minutes until six. “It’s getting’ late, Kobe.”
“Where Dee at?” he uttered, his voice a mix of molasses and hardening lava.
“Down the hall.”
The last time I’d seen Destinee Junior, she was collapsed on the carpet in the conference room. A mess of tears, wails and calls to Jesus. The sixteen-year old had refused to shed the filthy pink tank top and jeans she wore, stiffened now from her parents’ blood.
My gaze landed on Kobe’s fingernails.
Destinee and Cayman Andrews had been discovered dead in their bedroom, stabbed sometime between six in the morning and noon. A knife with the six-inch, serrated blade had been found in the kitchen sink. I had stood over the thirty-year old woman, murdered in her bed, and had stopped counting her stab wounds after reaching ’21.’
And now, hours later, I sat with Kobe McAvoy, the boyfriend. Blood everywhere… except for his nails. With all that stabbing, no blood. Hunh.
“So what happened?” I asked him for the eighth time.
He glared at the tabletop and said nothing.
“Why did you kill them?”
At eighteen, I didn’t need his parents’ permission to question him. And he hadn’t lawyered up… yet.
Kobe sighed, then sank in his seat.
The aromas of fried turkey, sweet potatoes and mac ‘n cheese wafted from the detective’s bureau to this room where Kobe and I sat. Thanksgiving Day. While the city feasted on cranberry sauce and watched the Cowboys lose to the Raiders, here I was, interviewing a felon who wouldn’t deny, wouldn’t confirm, wouldn’t do jack.
But Kobe’s stomach growled.
In response, my stomach growled louder. “Hungry?”
He gave a one-shouldered shrug.
“I am, too.” I offered the maybe-murderer a smile. “I’ll get us something to eat.”
Five minutes later, I returned to Interview Room 1 holding two plates filled with food, plastic forks and cans of orange soda. I slipped a plate in front of him.
Kobe’s eyes shone, and his shoulders drooped as the smells of a hot, holiday meal enveloped him. He stuck his fork into the mound of collard greens, and quickly shoveled the wilted veggies into his mouth.
I also took a bite of greens, but kept one eye on the big boy seated across from me. “Good, huh?”
“Ummhmmm.” He stuffed his mouth with more greens. “She don’t use pork, huh?”
I shook my head. “Diabetes.”
“Good, but it don’t taste the same.”
“Try the macaroni,” I said. “She uses, like, 603 kinds of cheese.”
He dug his fork into the cheesy noodles, then shoved a clump into his mouth. “That’s the bomb-diggity.”
I smiled. “Told you.”
He wiped his mouth with a napkin. “Destinee hated her moms and pops.”
I paused, then said, “Yeah?”
“What she say to y’all?”
With my fork I made crosshatches in the sweet potatoes. “She’s not talking much. She keeps saying, ‘They’re gone, they’re gone.’”
He sucked his teeth, then used them to tear through the turkey leg. He grunted and shook his head.
I squinted at him. “Is that headshake cuz it’s the best turkey leg you’ve ever had, or…?”
He met my eyes. “She’s the one who did it.”
I canted my head. “Can you prove that?”
A small smile. “Detective Norton, I got all the proof in the world.” He pointed to his plate. “Can I finish this, though? Cuz what I got to tell you… We gon’ be here for a while.”
Meet the author
Rachel Howzell Hall lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter. She is the author of Land of Shadows (Forge), a new mystery series featuring LAPD Homicide Detective Elouise ‘Lou’ Norton.
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