Pizza Noir By Denver Day
Episode Three, Page One
I woke up Sunday morning and headed to the station about 9 o'clock, where, as usual, Lt. Mackinney was already hours and hours and hours into his daily rigmarole. Different shifts strung together by the ever-flowing coffee pot. Flow my coffee, the policeman said. I briefed him regarding the night before, warts and all. "People living that hellbent-train of a lifestyle tend not to get hangovers. That isn't the hair of the dog -- they just wake up and eat the whole bloody beast allover again," he said. "So I imagine, she won't rise and shine until noon, at best. Let's go around lunchtime to catch her at breakfast."
Knock Knock. Some commotion from within and some delay, some haggling with several locks from behind the apartment door. Chinese takeout man emerged in his underwear. "She never came home last night," he said.
"When's she due back?" the lieutenant asked.
"Well, she's working tonight at 10, and she'll probably stop by here at least to clean up before she goes in."
"Any idea where we might find her until then?" Nope.
"Thanks anyway, and tell her I called if you happen to run into her." I gave him one of my cards. "You may call me if you need to."
We headed to the hotel where last night's end-run took place. I mentioned that I met a lady sax player.
"Don't shit where you eat, Ricky," the lieutenant answered.
We pulled into the hotel parking lot, walked into the lobby, and of course the whole scene was night-and-day different from last night's brouhaha. We nodded to the front desk staffer, who was yakking away on a cell phone, and rode the elevator up. Knock knock. Some delay, some shuffling about from inside, the lock clicked, and came a woman's voice, "who is it?"
"Detective Ricky Thompson with the state police, here to talk with Ms. Keri Anders." A moment.
"Coming, Ricky, be right there, hang on." It was her. Lt. Mackinney grimaced and muttered something about handcuffs and a body condom. She opened the door in navy sweatpants, flip-flops and a gray tank-top. She was smoking a menthol cigarette, and the room was thick with crispy menthol fog. She looked, relatively no more worse for the miles she'd put on in the last two days, or for that matter the last 12 hours. At this point, she was the only one left in the suite.
"Some party last night up here," I said. "Thought we might find you here; we already tried your apartment."
"Oh yeah that's right!" she screeched. "I remember seeing you last night. And thanks for the big tip, that goes a long way."
What resilience. She wasn't even limping.
The lieutenant nodded and tipped his hat: "Madam, we need to ask you some more questions about the death of your fiance, Stephen Wang, and the two others. We want to get to the bottom of this as much as you must do. May we come in?"
It was a pretty itchy in there, but the menthol cloud mitigated it somewhat. She sat on the couch where she had last night been so heavily occupied herself.
"First, we want you to know, that we're not so much worried about all this drug use as a crime, per se. With all that, it's only relevant insofar as its relationship as evidence with respect to the murder of the girl, your Mr. Wang, and the other man," the lieutenant told her. "Because we know that this sort of activity is, unfortunately, irreducible from your career choice and workplace setting. So, again, please know, that's not what we're investigating. This is a homicide investigation."
She considered this, and it might have made sense to her. With strippers like her and those of similar stripes, the dynamic is often much like interviewing a child, however. Very early in my career, a county prosecutor related to me the general investigative watermark known as the "Santa Claus Rule." That is, when interviewing juvenile witnesses for criminal investigations, the approximate benchmark for expecting credible statements from children falls approximately along the same threshold of whether or not they still believe in Santa Claus. As a general guideline, they shouldn't be expected to give useful, dependable court testimony or witness statements, if they still believe in Santa Claus. The reasoning is that such a fantastic belief indicates the child's inability to dependably make objective determinations about the world around them.
Furthermore, when a child suffers a traumatic incident or is a severely victimized, and the impact isn't psychologically stop-lossed and resolved, then important parts of their development tend to stop right there at the moment of the trauma, forever. This seemed clearly the case with Ms. Anders, as having any sort of conversation with her made clear that something in her had stopped growing at around the age of 8. And regarding certain other realms, her psychological maturity was shunted in early teens. And everything else upstairs had stopped progressing by the time she was 20, at best. Anyway, it's hard to know if individuals like this are following your forensic logic.
And, frankly, it's impossible to know if coked-up strippers are lying or not — because the integrity of his or her good word is not typically on the top of a strung-out person's list.
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