“Fifteen seconds. Maybe less than that . . ..” Her face pinched in horror as Mrs. Becker struggled to recount the shooting’s details. She twisted and tore at the napkin in her hand.
“I know this is difficult,” Detective Mackey said, “but we need to know . . . everything.” He flashed his best empathetic detective look. Her pain was his pain.
Actually Mackey’s head-pounding pain came from last night’s Bundaberg rum shots at the Jackaroo Sizzler Saloon. “Any detail might help.”
She looked up at Detective Mackey. “He ate his fries slowly so he wouldn’t spill ketchup on his Packers jersey.” The detective’s eyes were strangely comforting. “I’m a Packers fan, too. I had hoped Weston would,” she sobbed at the thought of her young son, “grow up to be Aaron Rodges.”
“Can’t go wrong with a future Hall of Famer.” Mackey patted her sweaty hand.
Mrs. Becker’s blonde hair was cut short and framed a plain face with too much makeup. Her breasts were nothing special. He wished he’d gotten a better look at her ass. “What else do you remember about the man?”
“When he finished, he put his trash in the waste bin,” she said. “I respect neatness. Order.” She looked again at Detective Mackey. His blue Men’s Warehouse suit was pressed, his fingernails manicured.
“Then what happened?”
“He looked up from the trash and saw me watching him. I didn’t mean to stare. But he just smiled.” She continued to wring the wad of napkins she’d used to clean the blood from her skirt. Mackey waited. “Suddenly there was a gun in his hand. A Ruger P95L 9mm.”
“That’s a serious gun . . ..”
She nodded. Mackey appreciated a woman who knew firearms. “There was a flash and my son’s head exploded. Weston’s brains were in my lap and the man was walking out the door like he was late for a dental appointment.” She stopped. Her eyes were gray and glazed over.
“Did you know him, ma’am?” asked Detective Duffy. Mrs. Becker looked up, noticing the female officer for the first time. “Who?”
“The shooter. Did you know the shooter?”
She shook her head. “He had brown eyes.” She hesitated. “He’d been watching me. I thought he might ask me out. I haven’t dated since my husband was killed in Afghanistan nineteen months ago. Bob shipped out on Weston’s first birthday.” She looked at Detective Mackey.
“Why am I telling you this?” He had blue eyes.
“You’re in shock.”
An hour ago if Mackey had walked in for a burger and saw Mrs. Becker sitting in the booth sipping on her vanilla shake, he wouldn’t have given her a second look. With a kid in the booster seat beside her, he’d have walked right by. Hell, if he wanted a kid, Mackey could call up his ex-wife and see his own. .
“Just take your time.”
Mrs. Becker wore a white cotton blouse, and a brown leather skirt. The skirt wasn’t real short or real tight, like something a hooker might wear, but there was a three-inch slit up the side. When she shifted in her seat, the skirt crept up her thigh.
“Can you think of anything else?”
As she sat in the booth sobbing, mascara streaks down her cheeks, blood and brain matter splattered on her blouse, Mackey kept staring at the slit and the expanse of muscular thigh it exposed. He imagined what it would be like to crawl up between those legs. Wondered if she wore panties or a thong.
“After you’ve seen to your son, I’ll have some more questions. We’ve got descriptions from the other patrons, and I believe there is a surveillance tape . . ..”
Duffy, his partner, was nodding.
“We could talk at the station, or I could swing by your home if that would be more convenient . . ..”
Duffy gave him The Look, but she kept her mouth shut. They got along, Duffy and him. But Duffy was too ugly to screw. That made her a better partner.
“I would appreciate it if you could stop by . . .. “ She looked at Mackey, expectantly. “I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten your name.”
“Detective Mackey.” He reached into his suit pocket with his right hand and pulled out his card. “Dennis.”
She set his card on top of her purse beside her unfinished Caesar salad. “I’m Janis.”
Mackey made note of her name. Sometimes he forgot names. Better to write them down. “Is there anyone we should call?”
She shook her head. “My mother lives in Cleveland. My father is . . ..” She started sobbing again.
Mackey slid off his chair and knelt beside her. He stroked her arm. When she didn’t pull away, he slipped his left hand onto her bare thigh. She didn’t object. Only Duffy seemed upset.
“When the Medical Examiner is finished, do you have a place where . . .?”
“My husband’s funeral was at McGinnis.”
“I’ll take care of it, Janis.”
“Thank you, Dennis.” She patted her hair and adjusted her blouse.
She seemed oblivious to his hand on her thigh. He edged his other hand under her skirt.
“I always brought Weston to Mac Donald’s because we met such good people here. And today, when the brown-eyed man started walking toward me, smiling, I thought, ‘Today I’m going to meet someone really nice.’”
She jumped when Mackey’s hand reached her panties. When he started to pull away, she squeezed her thighs together to stop him. That’s what Mackey loved about shooting victims, their unpredictability.
Duffy leaned over and whispered, “Get your hand out of that woman’s crotch, or I’ll castrate you.” Duffy had a way with words.
He eased his hand out from under the leather skirt and stood up. “Janis, my partner tells me we have a lead on the killer. We have to go.” Mackey motioned to the tight-assed uniform, Mimi Montgomery, who he’d been hitting on since before her divorce. “This is Officer Montgomery. She will see that you get home. Call me when you want to talk. Any time, day or night.”
“Thank you, Dennis.”
Mackey watched as Officer Montgomery led Janis Becker to the squad car. Maybe he was imagining it, but he could swear their butts swayed in unison. He wondered if a three-some was out of the question.
“You’re pathetic, Mackey,” Duffy said, pointing to his erection. “If that woman wakes up in the morning and finds you in her bed, she’ll puke.”
“It’s a risk I’ll take.” Mackey and Duffy walked past the Medical Examiner wheeling the child’s body out the door. Mackey noticed that the hot Hispanic reporter from Channel 5 Eye Witness News was in the parking lot. Motioning to the TV crew he said, “Maybe we should stop and throw them a sound bite.”
Duffy looked at the young piece of fluff in the straight white skirt with the big black microphone. “You do that, Mackey. You throw Dora the Reporter a sound bite, while I go out and catch the bastard that shot the kid.”
Mackey stopped. Duffy was competitive. He liked that. “Maybe a bet is in order. First one to catch the scumbag gets . . ..”
“. . . oral sex for life,” Duffy suggested. She smiled.
Mackey paused. He couldn’t lose. “Deal,” he said. He took another look at Duffy. Her looks were growing on him. And she had good eyes. Steel colored.
Duffy started walking toward the car. “Go give your sound bite. I’ll meet you back at the station. You can catch a ride with a black and white.”
Mackey watched her open the car door. Duffy had a nice ass, no doubt about that. He tried to imagine her head buried in his lap during stakeouts. Suddenly a microphone was in his face. “Detective, this is Dora Gutierrez from Channel 5 Eye Witness News. Can you comment on the shooting?”
As the reporter leaned towards him he got a good look at her cleavage. He knew he had to focus. He wondered if her turquoise eyes were the real deal or if they were contacts.