Later that day, Pete Cassidy’s Office…
Pete had just left the meeting and returned to his cubbyhole, a small office next to that of his DA boss. He was putting some notes from the meeting onto his computer but finding it hard to concentrate. He had the strange feeling that Tony Moffat was being railroaded. Was there any real evidence of this though? Or did he just feel that way because Moffat was an army veteran, too, like himself. But a vet who seemingly hadn’t yet adjusted to being back in civilian society. Maybe he didn’t want Tony to be guilty, so that was affecting his analysis and judgment. Or maybe it was just that he was watching way too many crime shows on TV.
No, he thought it was more than that. Moffat had motive, of course. He had abused a woman before, when he was drunk. And he had means. The gun was definitely his. But then there was that minute shaving of skin on the gun that remained unidentified. Not conclusive proof that he didn’t do it, but it did leave the door open for that possibility. Apparently there was enough to get a DNA profile, if only the right ‘match’ could be found. But would law enforcement officials be looking diligently for that match when they believed that they already had their man?
And then there was something else he couldn’t stop thinking about, even though he didn’t want to. His boss had mentioned during the meeting that, on the night of the murder, he was at a library doing some research, just a few blocks from the crime scene. Not true. That particular library was closed that night, due to a short in the electrical system. Pete happened to know that because he had met his cousin Joe (it was his birthday) for pizza that night. Joe, the ‘birthday boy,’ worked at that library and had spoken about its closing down at 1 p.m., giving him an unexpected and welcome afternoon off. “Happy birthday to me,” Joe had kidded.
Could it be that Fleming had lied because he was involved in some way with the murder of Allison Drake and wanted to have a reason for being in that neighborhood, just in case he was spotted by someone there? His boss had known Drake, since she was a witness in a case that had been handled by the office. But that certainly wasn’t proof that Fleming had been involved with her romantically or that he had killed her.
Fleming did have an eye for the ladies though. That much he knew for sure. There were glances at females that were–well, just a little bit longer than they needed to be.
And for a while there, he was pretty sure that his boss had a girlfriend. Fleming’s wife, a high-powered executive in a pharmaceutical firm, traveled a lot; they didn’t seem close. There were long lunches that Fleming took about once a week. He never said where he went. But then, why should he? He always looked especially well groomed on those days though. And, after one of the lunches, when he finally got back to the office, he had what looked like lipstick on his collar. Pete was thinking of the old tune, sung by Connie Francis; he hummed that line, “Lipstick on your collar told a tale on you,” in his head. Now that he thought about it, the long lunches had ended around the time of Drake’s murder. Hmm.
During that same time period, something strange happened. Pete had seen Fleming with tears in his eyes. He had mistakenly figured his boss had left for the day and had gone into his office without knocking to get something from the files. Fleming was sitting at his desk, and he had definitely been crying. Pete was sure of it. His boss claimed he had an allergy. No way! The allergy had never shown itself before or after that one time.
But none of this was proof of involvement in the death of Allison Drake, Pete told himself. His boss had been good to him. He didn’t want to think of him as a suspect in a murder investigation. But still–he wished he had the know-how and resources to do some investigating on his own. Without rocking the boat, that is.
He didn’t want this, hadn’t asked for it. He was just an administrative assistant who got a decent salary, but not enough to deal with this kind of issue, this kind of pressure. He thought of that old, now defunct, military directive: “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” Although it was meant to apply to the issue of gays in the military, it seemed to apply here as well. Should he just keep his mouth shut? His future was at stake, and he didn’t want to risk it. But then he thought of Tony Moffat, accused of killing Allison Drake. What kind of a future did he have? And maybe he was an innocent man.
He remembered seeing on TV the scruffy-looking Tony Moffat being taken into custody. His eyes looked haunted. It was like they were pleading with Pete to remove the word “Don’t” from the outdated military dictum.
“Ask, tell” then became the command.
END – Part II
For Pete’s Sake – Part III By GAIL FARRELLY will unfurl next Wednesday, July 19, 2017 at 9am DST
Original publication by Kings River Life Magazine.