Xenocide, part 9
Upping the Jig
Upping the Jig
“That’s the way I figured. I had a lot of time to think on the drive home. When you depend on the whims of the voting public, you don’t get to let your imagination run loose too often, you know. You got a good imagination though, Adler. I’ll bet you can come to the same conclusion I did in a lot less time.”
“Conclusion?” The sheriff nodded. Why would the CIA still be hanging around if they knew who did the deed? “Oh shit.”
Carmichael laughed. “You’re faster than I thought.”
“They’re gonna pin it on someone local? Damn. I bet I know who, too.”
“I suspect they’re under a lot of pressure from above, and… from above.” He pointed at the sky. “But if you know who they’re gonna blame, you got a big jump farther than me, and about an hour faster I might add. If I thought you were the political type, I’d be worried for my job.”
I laughed. “You’ve got nothing to worry about there!”
I had to do my usual cop duties through the day, which actually worked in my favor for a change. Shortly after the smoke break, I got a text from Tenesha: Are we really both off-duty tonight?
As much as we ever are, I responded. I’d figured the Moss family wouldn’t be together until evening. I planned to wait until eight, to give them time to finish supper, then visit them. Around 9 then?
If I HAVE to wait that long… I guess. See you then!
At 8 p.m. sharp, I pulled up to the Moss residence and rang the doorbell. I remained in uniform for this visit.
A woman opened the door and gave me a puzzled look. “May I help you?”
“Mrs. Moss?” She nodded. “Are your son and husband at home?” Another nod. “Good. I need to talk to all three of you. It’s very important.”
She wasted no time ushering me in and giving me the comfy recliner while she rounded up the men of the house. The elder Moss came in first, with a smile and a handshake. “Good to see you again, Officer. If you’re here about the case you mentioned, I still haven’t heard anything.”
“It’s related to that. But I’d really like to wait until everyone’s here.”
His face fell. “Jacob’s a good kid. He can’t be in any trouble —”
“No trouble, not any he’s made for himself,” I assured him. “He’s been a big help with this case, in fact.”
“Really? He hasn’t said anything about it to us.” The elder Moss looked both proud and confused.
“Is that his computer?” I looked at the desk in the living room.
“Yeah. We heard somewhere that it’s a good way to keep the kids from looking at sites they shouldn’t be looking at, to put their computer in a more or less public space.”
I didn’t bother mentioning smartphones. If Moss Sr. hadn’t figured that out by now… but then mother and child came down the stairs to join us in the living room.
“Um, Mrs. Moss?” I began the conversation. “May I ask a personal question? Have you cleaned under the sofa recently?”
She gave me a strange look. “To be honest? No. Jacob’s too old to be hiding his toys under the sofa these days.” The kid rolled his eyes.
“Do you mind?” I reached under the sofa, found what I expected, and laid it on the coffee table.
“What is that?” Mr. Moss asked.
“That,” I said, “is a listening device. A bug, in the common parlance.” The parents stared at it goggle-eyed; the son gave me a dirty look that said Why didn’t you say something? I shrugged back. “Your son discovered a murder victim last week.” He looked like he wanted to protest, but I continued. “It turned out to be some kind of alien species — and by alien, I do mean from some other planet.” I paused a moment to let them chew on that; it took a little longer than planned. “Two people claiming to be FBI agents nominally took over the case, but we’ve continued to pursue it, and I daresay we’ve gotten farther than they would like.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” asked Jacob.
“It means we have a pretty good idea where the shooting took place, and who did it,” I said. “We’re pretty sure that the shooter — or an accomplice — has a son in the CIA. It’s pretty likely that the so-called FBI agents are actually with the CIA, and they’re desperate to find some sucker to pin this murder on. Someone not related to one of their agents.” I let that sink in for a moment.
“You’re saying… these people are going to try to pin it on my son?” the elder Moss asked.
“Maybe him. Or maybe you,” I said. “But they’re listening in to this conversation —” I pointed at the bug on the coffee table — “so they know the jig’s up. I’m taking the device with me as evidence. We take that whole ‘serve and protect’ thing seriously, so we’re not going to let them pin a murder on an innocent citizen without a lot of publicity. If they have any sense, they’ll find some other patsy. Preferably someone not in our jurisdiction.”
All three members of the Moss family just stared, stunned. I picked up the bug. “We’ll have someone watching the place, just to make sure nobody tries to arrest you for a crime that none of you committed. Stay home if at all possible, it’ll help us help you. All right?”
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