By Curtis C. Chen
"There's good news and bad news," Lahane says to the assembled federal agents. "The good news is, we've recovered the murder weapon from Todd Mason's apartment." She touches the display board to her right, and an enlarged photograph of a black semi-automatic pistol appears.
"Sig Sauer P326," Oliver says quietly, probably to himself, though I'm standing close enough to hear. "Nine millimeter, modified barrel."
"The bad news," Lahane continues, "is that we still have no idea who's running this show. Mason and Garcia were just cutouts. They were both hired over the Internet, through anonymized e-mail and forum accounts, but we've been able to backtrace the IP addresses to rough physical locations."
She touches both boards at once, and they flash to two different street maps of Buffalo. "The account used to hire Garcia was accessed here, using wireless from a public library. We're pulling security footage now, but coverage in that part of town is spotty. Thank you, privacy laws." She points to the other board. "This location, on the other hand, also a wireless access point, leased to the Pissing Pony Saloon, a dive bar frequented by one Todd Mason—and this man."
She touches the screen again, and a mugshot appears. I know who it is before Lahane says the name out loud.
The man at the bar swivels around on his stool, and the smile on his face fades as soon as he sees the FBI badge and ID card that Lahane is holding up. Westmark has come up on the other side of Reynolds' stool, casually leaning against the bar, and Oliver and I stand behind Lahane, arms crossed.
"Can I finish my drink before we go?" Reynolds asks, holding up a lowball glass of amber liquid and partly melted ice cubes. His eyes are bloodshot and gleaming with just a hint of wetness.
"Sure," Lahane says. "You're not driving."
Reynolds nods and raises the glass toward his lips. Before it makes contact, he jerks his arm to the side and throws the drink in Lahane's face. She staggers backward, cursing loudly, and Oliver and I catch her.
Reynolds leaps off his stool and makes a break for the door. He runs straight into Westmark, who pulled away from the bar as soon as he moved on her partner. Westmark grabs Reynolds' shoulders, spins him like a rag doll, and shoves him up against the bar.
"Ow! What the fuck!" he screams.
"FBI," Westmark says, slapping her badge down on the bar. Reynolds groans.
"So," I say to Oliver, "would you say that glass was half full... or half empty?"
He shakes his head at me. My best material is wasted.
Lahane finishes wiping the whiskey from her face and pulls a pair of handcuffs out from under her jacket. The bartender and other patrons have all moved away, minding their own business.
"Let's hope that's the worst decision you make today, Reynolds," Lahane says as she cuffs him. "Otherwise it's going to be a real bad day for you."
Image: great scot! by IntangibleArts, May, 2008