16 December 2011

"Interview Prep"

By Curtis C. Chen

"Mrs. Conover, Kari to her friends, reported her husband missing at about nine o'clock last night," Lahane says. "Of course, police don't file an official missing persons report until thirty-six hours after last verified contact, but the dispatcher on duty had to log the call and was meticulous enough to include a note about the name of the caller and her husband. Once we got confirmation on the identity of the dead runner this morning, Buffalo PD paid her a visit."

"And how did that go?" I ask.

"About as well as you'd expect," Lahane says. "A lot of crying, a lot of screaming kids who didn't understand what was going on. More of a notification visit than an actual interview. We're supposed to share whatever we find with BPD."

"How many children?" Oliver asks. He's sitting in the backseat with me, behind Lahane on the passenger side.

"Two," she says. "Eleven-year-old boy and a nine-year-old girl. That's not going to be a problem, is it?"

"Not for me," Oliver says. "But Harvey doesn't like children."

"Actually," I start to say.

"Why not?" Westmark asks, peering at my reflection in her rearview mirror. I see her eyes boring into me, and I shake my head.

"I'm not really the parental type," I say.

"I guess you don't have to deal with a lot of young'uns down in DC," Lahane says. "You don't need to feel parental. Just pretend you're the weird uncle or something. Or a cousin; you look young enough for that."

"How old are you?" Westmark asks. It's the first time she's spoken more than two words in a row since we met her, and it's jarring enough that I don't recognize her utterance as a question for a brief moment.

"I look young for my age," I say.

"And what age is that?" Lahane asks. I can tell they're not going to leave this alone. Dammit.


"Jesus Christ." Lahane leans back to look at Oliver. "Please tell me you're over thirty."

"I am two hundred and thirty-eight years old," Oliver says with a straight face.

Lahane chuckles, and I even see Westmark's face crinkle in a smile. "Okay, so here's what we're going to do. Let me make the introductions, Westie here will play the muscle, Harvey, you'll be the somewhat awkward but relatable older cousin, and Johnson, you're the weird old uncle who asks unusual questions. Got that?"

"You're going to feed me these questions?" Oliver asks.

"I'm going to trust your intuition," Lahane says. "And if you miss anything, I'll follow it up."

"Why am I supposed to be awkward?" I ask.

Lahane smirks at me. "I'm trying not to play you against type, Harvey."

"That's hilarious," I say. "I'm not good with kids. They annoy me and I don't know how to talk to them."

"Just let them do all the talking," Lahane says. "Trust me, make a few funny faces and they'll want to tell you their life story."

"Yeah, I'm really looking forward to that."


Image: FBI Police Chevy Tahoe by Jason Lawrence, May, 2008