The police came to the factory, to interview everyone about the death by murder of Vincent Demarco. It was lunchtime, and almost everyone was in the social club, some playing pool, some talking on the phone, some sitting alone nursing egg sandwiches. Beer wasn’t served at lunch. But you could buy a Coke or a Snapple, or bring your own beverage and store it in the fridge, if you trusted people.
Leep usually brought a carton of chocolate milk. Sometimes it was still in the fridge at lunch, sometimes it wasn’t. People were dishonest, he felt. They proved it all the time, lying to you, stealing milk, and sometimes making fun of you for no reason, while pretending to be your friend. He’d learned that on his own, through experience. He believed you should learn things every day, just by living.
They were interviewing every single person, alone. They would be questioning Leep about Vince, and the night he was shot. In the face. Was that fact reported on the news? Leep thought it was, but wasn’t sure. He wouldn’t mention it unless they did. He would just lay low and try not to be nervous. Try not to show how nervous he was. What if they gave him a lie detector test? Were the results admissible in court? He was pretty sure they were.
Billy was the first to follow them into the manager’s office, vacated so the police could have some privacy. Billy had griped about them cutting into the lunch hour, instead of work time. When he came back from the manager’s office, he was all cocky and smug, because it was over and he knew what they would say, and no one else did.
The wait to be summoned was agonizing. Leep’s stomach was doing flip flops. Finally Brendan returned and said “Your turn, Leep,” rolling a fist into Leep’s upper arm. He pulled away. He wondered how they decided who they would see, in what order. The most suspicious first, or last, or random, to keep everyone off balance?
Mr Duggin’s office was stuffy. There were no windows, and nothing to circulate the air. There were two officers, a heavy-set man and a woman with red hair, neither in uniform. The room smelled of sawdust and fried food. They had Leep sit in a hard-backed chair, while the woman sat in Mr Duggin’s swivel chair and the man sat on the corner of the oak desk.
“Leep, is it?” asked the woman. Her hair was shiny. She hadn’t taken off her overcoat, which was still damp with rain.
He nodded. He decided he wouldn’t volunteer any information. Unless it would make him seem defensive. He would have to be careful about that.
“I’m Inspector Spencer, and this is Inspector Levinson,” she said, nodding to her partner. “How well did you know Vincent?”
“Well we work together,” said Leep.
“Yes, but were you friends, did you see him outside of work?” asked Levinson. He looked like he made a mess of his morning shave. His cheeks and chin looked a bit raw, but a bit stubbly too.
“We went to a hockey game once,” said Leep.
“Did you? When was that?”
“Most of the guys went,” said Leep. “It was the Monday of the long weekend.”
“The guys from the factory,” said Inspector Spencer.
Leep nodded. He felt his palms grow warm, and probably sweaty. He hoped the fact that his heart was pounding didn’t show on his face.
“Where were you on the night of the twenty-second, between eleven pm and midnight?” asked the man.
“Um,” said Leep. He didn’t want it to seem like he had an alibi all worked out ahead of time. “I was at home, I didn’t go out.”
“Home alone?” he asked.
Leep nodded again.
“Did you call anyone, did anyone come to the door, can anyone verify that you were at your home at…” The Inspector checked his notepad. “…411 Lord McAllister?”
“Um,” said Leep. “No, I was just watching TV and that.”
“Do you own a gun, Leep?”
“Did you get along with Vincent?”
“Do you know his wife, Deborah Demarco?”
“I met her a couple of times,” said Leep.
“A very attractive woman,” said the Inspector.
Leep said nothing. Debbie was really pretty, even though she sometimes dressed a bit too sexy, he thought. Sometimes she picked Vince up at the club in just shorts and a cropped top. She had long legs; slim thighs. Leep wondered if Vince really had met her at the adventure camp. She was cheerful, and smiled a lot. Leep guessed she was not cheerful at the moment. He felt sorry about that. At least they didn’t have any children.
“Tell us what happened that night at Toby’s, about a year and a half ago,” said Inspector Spencer.
Leep flushed. It was a while ago, before he started saving up for the vacation. He’d got up the nerve to talk to a girl sitting at the bar. He didn’t know the girl was there with anyone. When he tried to talk to her, the words tumbled out of his mouth and made no sense, and she started to laugh. Then her boyfriend came over, and he laughed too. He was not threatened by Leep. As if Leep would be of interest to his girlfriend. Ha, it was a ridiculous thought. So they laughed, and Leep punched him in the face.
The police were called, and he got a warning, and had to leave. But they didn’t arrest him or anything, and so he wondered how these two knew about it. Someone must have said something.
So Leep told them a version of the story; that he had too much to drink and approached a girl, and a fight broke out with her boyfriend. That was normal enough, right?
“Do you often lose your temper?” asked Levinson.
Leep felt a bit sick. He wished they would at least open the door, let in some air.
“No I just had a few beers,” he said.
“Are you sure you didn’t leave the house that night?” asked the woman.
Leep hesitated. What if someone had seen him walking around? He felt like he might choke if he said something. He took a deep breath, though, and said he didn’t think so.
“You’re not sure?” she asked.
“Pretty sure,” said Leep.
Inspector Levinson stood up and extended his hand. “That’s all for now, Leep,” he said.
Leep stood up too and instinctively took the Inspector’s hand to shake it. Then he pulled his hand back.
Leep’s palm was ice cold, but wet with sweat. Levinson stared at him.
“Could you ask Wayne to come in?” said Levinson. His face betrayed nothing, not that he thought Leep was lying or telling the truth, or if his hand was unusually sweaty and that was a sign, or if he thought Leep was a violent type because of that boyfriend at Toby’s. Did he know that some people called him Leep the Creep? Would any of the guys tell him that? Would they search his house for a gun? Would he ask Debbie if Leep ever stared at her? He didn’t, he really didn’t. Vince liked to think that he envied him, but he really didn’t stare at her. She was not his type.
Leep went back to the lunch area. There was no one there; lunch was over. So he found Wayne on the floor and passed along the message. Then he went to the men’s room, and vomited into the toilet.