A Web of Lies
By Jack B. Strandburg
Note: This Flash Fiction was composed from a three-word creative exercise: housewife, hotel room, necklace.
Detective Nathan Trask, Chicago homicide Inspector, sat across from Jake Timmons in the interrogation room at police headquarters.
“Have you found the man who killed my wife?” Timmons asked.
Trask pulled out sheet of paper from a manila folder on the desk and placed it on the tables. It was a photograph of a necklace.
“Have you ever seen this before, Mr. Timmons?”
Timmons’s mouth fell open.
“My God, that looks like the necklace I gave Marian for our third wedding anniversary! It was stolen last year.”
“We found this under the bed at the motel where your wife was murdered,” Trask said. “Did you report it stolen?”
“Of course,” Timmons insisted. “I needed to file a report for insurance purposes.”
“It looks very expensive,” Trask said.
“It cost me over twelve thousand dollars. We were devastated when we found out we’d been robbed. Marian treasured that necklace.”
“Robbed,” Trask repeated, sitting back in his chair. “That’s interesting.”
“What do you mean – interesting?” Timmons asked.
Trask removed another sheet from the folder and placed it in front of Timmons.
“You ever see this man before?”
Timmons looked at the photograph and shrugged but his Adam’s apple bobbing in his throat was not lost on Trask.
“Never seen him before. Who is he?”
“That’s Joseph Landry; he works for Johnny Reeves, a known loan shark. We found his body last night not far from the motel where we found your wife.”
“What does he have to do with all this?”
“His fingerprints were all over the necklace.”
“Are you saying Landry killed my wife?” Timmons asked.
Trask slowly shook his head.
“One might assume that was the case, but we’ve talked to a known associate of Landry’s who told us Landry got the necklace from a man as payment for a loan owed to one Johnny Reeves. You know anything about that, Mr. Timmons?”
Timmons bit his lip and his eyes went from the photograph of Landry back to Trask.
“I can only assume whoever stole the necklace from our home owed money to this man Reeves. That’s obviously why he stole it – to pay the loan.”
“You design websites for a living, don’t you Mr. Timmons?”
“Yes, that’s right, why?” Timmons asked with a frown.
“I imagine you need a creative mind to be successful in that business, don’t you?”
“I suppose,” Timmons said haltingly.
“I have another photograph for you to look at, Mr. Timmons, but before I show you, I have one more question. I want you to think long and hard about the answer.”
“What is it?”
“Have you ever met Johnny Reeves or Joseph Landry?”
Timmons hesitated, looked deep into Trask’s eyes, and then shook his head.
“No, sir, I have never seen either of these men before.”
Trask smiled, removed another sheet from the folder and placed it in front of Timmons.
The photograph clearly showed Jake Timmons sitting in a booth at a restaurant talking with Joseph Landry. On the table between them sat the necklace.
Timmons stared at the photograph for a while before looking back up at Trask.
“Where did you get this?”
“Johnny Reeves is more than just a run-of-the-mill loan shark. We’ve been building a case against him and Landry is one of his collectors, but,” Trask pointed to the photograph, “you already know Landry’s association with Reeves. So what was it, a gambling debt, an investment? Why did you take out a loan with Reeves?”
Timmons lowered his head.
“Yes, it was a gambling debt, like you said.”
“Well, you certainly don’t lack for creativity, Mr. Timmons. That’s another lie.”
“What are you talking about?” Timmons asked, and his head shot up. “And what does all this have to do with my wife? Aren’t you supposed to be looking for her killer?”
Trask shook his head.
“We found him.”
Timmons narrowed his eyes to slits.
“What are you talking about?”
Trask picked up the photograph of Joseph Landry.
“This man’s real name is Phillip Marconi, Lieutenant Phillip Marconi. He’s working undercover on the Timmons case.”
“What do you mean – the Timmons case?”
“You sold the necklace to Lieutenant Marconi for twenty grand as down payment for a drug deal, Mr. Timmons, and don’t bother to come up with another lie because we have the entire conversation recorded.”
Timmons sat back in his chair and spread his arms.
“So if you have this on tape, why didn’t you just come out with it? Why dance around with all this loan shark stuff?”
“I’m just trying to find out how much more you’re prepared to lie, Mr. Timmons, because I’m lead investigator on the case involving the murder of your wife. Why did you kill her?”
Timmons shot up from his chair and pressed his fists against the table.
Trask kept his cool, just looking into Timmons’s eyes and smiling.
“She was having an affair with one of her co-workers. They met at the motel just about every week. Is that what you wanted to hear?” Timmons screamed. “Are you satisfied?”
Trask raised a finger.
Don’t forget she also found out about the drug deal, didn’t she?” Trask said and then slowly got up from his chair and nodded to two officers who came into the room when they heard the chair hit the floor.
“Take him away.”
The two officers took Timmons by the arms and escorted him to the door.
Timmons turned back to Trask.
“You’re just as big a liar as I am.”
Trask raised his eyebrows and shrugged.
“I prefer to call it creative interrogation.”