<--Younger | The first New York Magician | Older-->
Before we went to the police station, I made Patrick stop at the mailbox place. I divested myself of most of my emergency gear, leaving only the Desert Eagle (my original) and one phone, stashing the rest (especially the variety of IDs) in the fanny pack, stuffed into my mailbox. Then we went to see the cops.
Patrick did the talking. I surrendered the Desert Eagle at the desk, along with my pistol permit, and got a receipt and a suspicious squint. We were directed to wait, and eventually a pair of detectives came downstairs and crossed the lobby towards us. I recognized them - they were the two who had come to execute the warrant on my apartment which resulted in them taking my pistol for ballistics.
The older man introduced us. "Mr. Wibert, I'm Detective Massengill, and this is my partner Detective Polvani." The younger woman nodded.
"I'm Mr. Wibert's lawyer, and you can call me Patrick." Patrick took the reins immediately. "Where are we going?"
Polvani answered. Her voice was younger than she looked, even. "Upstairs to an interview room."
"All right then. Lead on."
We trooped upstairs. They offered coffee, which we declined, and when we were all settled (Patrick and Polvani both had notepads out and were surreptitiously looking at each others' pens - it must be some kind of cop/lawyer precombat ritual) Massengill started out. "Mr. Wibert, have you ever seen this man?" He slid a photo of Raymond across the table. I leaned forward to have a look.
"Yeah. He said his name was Raymond."
They looked at each other. "Where did you last see him?"
Patrick was being quiet, so I went on. "On Ninety-Sixth street, just west of Broadway."
"What were you doing there?"
Patrick stayed quiet, so I gave them a civilian's version of my assault on the substation, wincing internally as I realized that I'd left my gear there and hoping I'd be able to get to it before they did. Polvani took a bunch of notes. I changed the ending, telling them that Raymond had let Galina and me leave the building, coming out with us. I didn't mention the golem.
"So he just let you go?"
"Yes. He said he wasn't the one who had taken Galina, and Galina confirmed that for me both then and later when we were alone."
Massengill came back. "And Donald Belzer?"
"He was the bartender, right? Yeah, Galina said he was involved in grabbing her, but she didn't elaborate on it. I don't know how Raymond got her from Belzer."
"What were you doing there in the first place, Mr. Wibert?"
I stared at him. "My partner's daughter was missing. I was looking for her."
"That wasn't what I meant. Why were you there? At Ninety-Sixth?"
Oh. Um. "Raymond called me. He told me where he was and where Galina was. He told me to come get her."
"And you didn't call us."
"You guys had said you wouldn't start looking for her for 72 hours."
"And you didn't think that someone calling you and admitting they were holding her against her will, and giving a location, wouldn't have changed our minds about that?"
Patrick jumped in. "My client didn't know if this was serious or a prank. He had been told not to involve the police, so he did not."
Back to Polvani. "But he went armed."
I snorted. "Wouldn't you?"
"Let's move on. When was the last time you were in your apartment?"
"When Officer DiCanzo was there. He wanted to talk to me about the Broadway Bridge."
"Tell us about the bridge."
I told them what I'd told DiCanzo. They, predictably, looked extremely skeptical.
Polvani looked up from her notes. "How did you know to go to the bridge?"
Patrick stirred, but before he could speak I held up a hand to stop him. "You're not going to like the answer."
"We'll be the judge of that."
"Yeah. Well...to be honest, I followed someone there."
"I don't know. I had gone back to the substation. I was trying to find Raymond, and that was the only place I knew he'd been. I even camped out there one night seeing if he'd come back, but he never did. Anyhow, I was there and this guy showed up and came into the station. He wasn't an MTA worker. He had on a hat and a jacket." I described one of the gray static homunculi that I'd set Mario on, figuring that it couldn't hurt to have the cops looking out for him or it as well. "He came into the substation and looked around from the doorway and headed out. I figured it was possible he was looking for Raymond, and that he might lead me to somewhere else Raymond might be hiding. He took the 1 train uptown, and I followed him. We walked onto the bridge. He climbed the stairs, and I waited to see if he would stay up or come down - I figured if he came down, Raymond wasn't there. He came down all right, and then he ran for it. I figured it was more important to know why he ran, so I went up. I found the scene like I described it to DiCanzo."
Polvani was taking notes again, and they were both airing professional skeptical expressions. "Okay. Let's take that slowly from the top again..."
It went on for an hour at least. Patrick kept them focused, heading off 'random' questions about other events or times. I stuck to that story, that I'd never seen the hand in my fridge and that I'd been out when the apartment burned. When they wanted to know where, I hesitated, then said "I was back at the substation."
"Why did you tell DiCanzo you were out of town?"
"Well, I was trespassing on MTA property, and I wasn't home, and I didn't want him asking where he could find me."
"I did. He just phoned me and asked where I was. It didn't sound official."
That didn't make them happy either.
"Okay. So you were in the substation. Did you see anyone?"
And so on. I was pretty sure that during one of the coffee breaks they'd radioed to have someone check out the substation, and I was right, because eventually Polvani came back into the room after a break (Massengill was out somewhere) and said "We found your gear."
"I told you it was there."
"Let's start over."
Patrick broke in. "Officer, we've been over this five times now. If you're going to arrest my client, I need you to tell me now. Otherwise, I'm going to just recommend to him that we leave now, before he gets tired enough to start making mistakes in his account."
I sat back. Polvani stared at me levelly; I shrugged at her and indicated Patrick. She turned her gaze to him. "Mr. Dwyer, Mr. Wibert is a person of interest in a murder investigation."
"I understand that, Detective. But he has voluntarily come in to assist you in your inquiries multiple times when requested. He has not avoided you, or left the city other than on personal business when not requested to be here by the police. In short, he is not a flight risk. If you need to ask him more questions, I would suggest you come up with ones that are different to the ones you have asked him at least five times each now, and we'll be happy to come back."
They stared at each other. I think Patrick was actually somewhat attracted to Polvani; certainly he was being less combative by far than I'd seen him be with cops in the past. That of course in no way meant he was going to let her off the hook. I looked from one to the other, internally betting on Patrick but rooting for Polvani for the potential humor value.
The floor shook slightly. All three of us snapped up and stared at the door. "What was that?" Patrick asked Polvani.
"Stay here, please," she said (I noted she remained courteous even then) and went out the door, shutting it behind her. I could hear some slight hubbub outside, voices raise in question from the desks around the bullpen, before the soundproof door swung closed again. Patrick and I looked at each other.
This time the room shook more heavily. We both stood, and I motioned Patrick to stay near the back wall as I moved to the door. I opened it a few inches and this time I could hear shouting. I turned back. "Patrick, stay here. Don't move unless the cops come get you and evacuate you, whatever you do."
"No, listen." I cut him off. "This doesn't look right, and if it doesn't involve you or me then you'll be safe here. If it does involve us, I'll come back and get you and I want to be able to find you, so stay here."
Before he could answer, I swung out the door and shut it behind me. Looking around, I became aware of a steady movement as cops from around the floor headed towards the elevators and stairways. I grabbed one as he went past. "What's going on?"
"Stay here, sir." He shook himself loose and continued. A couple of people within view were using portable radios, but I couldn't hear what was going on. There was a bit of a pileup around the emergency stairs down the hall between us and the elevator as cops milled about, waiting their turn for the stairway. I took stock automatically; my Desert Eagle was checked at the desk downstairs. I had my bandolier on because the Patek Phillippe had gotten it past the metal detectors underneath my coat, but that was all. Well, and I 'had' the Beretta (I hoped) but the pocket pistol was sitting in my office (or maybe in some police lab somewhere if they had picked it up).
I turned right and headed down the hallway with everybody else. I had gotten perhaps thirty steps when there was an incredibly loud, earsplitting noise from the elevator. As I (and everyone else) turned to look, the door buckled outwards as a bladed object - which I could see was shaped like a hand - came through it, then slid aside with the screaming of rending metal as whoever was inside slammed it to the right. I stepped back to put my back against the wall of the corridor as nearly everybody in the hallway reached for and produced a gun (in some cases, two).
I was starting to edge left, back the way I'd come, when the first of the gray men burst out of the elevator (or the elevator shaft, really, I could see no car back there, just dark space) and swiveled its head once, twice - then locked on me over the heads of the cops in between.
<--Younger | The first New York Magician | Older-->