Part 8

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CHAPTER FIFTEEN

The lawyer they fixed me up with was an average-size man, one or two years younger than myself, with thinning fair hair and watery blue eyes. We talked in the interrogation room. The lawyer drew two columns on a yellow legal pad and headed them for and against. The evidence piled up against me was all circumstantial and no prosecutor in the country would want to go into a trial court with it.

Or so I thought.

The lawyer looked uncomfortable and cleared his throat. "The police have disclosed two other relevant facts that have just emerged. First, a roll of insulated electric flex and a bubble-pack of batteries, of the same type as the two recovered from the scene, have been found in the trunk of the VW you've been driving. There were two batteries missing from the pack."

I groaned. "What's the second?"

"Ryder had been at his desk completing paperwork up to Sunday lunchtime. The scenario the detectives are favoring is that the bomb was rigged sometime between twelve-thirty Sunday afternoon and nine the following morning. They say you're having trouble accounting for three or four hours on Sunday afternoon."

The lawyer meticulously wrote down everything I told him about my trip to the track. Then asked, "You're sure there's no one who can confirm that you were at the track?"

"Positive. I didn't speak to anyone, though I saw a couple of guys there that I knew."

"Did they see you?"

I shook my head.

"Then they're no use to us. You could have been there for only a few minutes before slipping away to rig the firebomb."

"I thought you were supposed to be working for me."

The lawyer's face reddened slightly. "Sorry, I'm only trying to put myself in the prosecutor's shoes. You didn't hold onto your admission stub?"

"No. I tossed it. I would have kept it if I'd known I was going to need an alibi."

"Can you remember the names of the winning horses?"

"No."

The lawyer gave me a doubtful glance and said nothing more for a while. He chewed on the end of his pencil as he concentrated. "How do you account for the batteries found in your car?" he asked softly.

I told him about hiring the VW from one of the other Exxon employees and that I hadn't had call to open the trunk. For all I knew, they could have been there for months.

The column under 'For' was still empty.

"Have you any idea why somebody would want to kill Ryder?"

"Ryder was running a scam. He was screwing fifty bucks a week out of the paroled ex-cons."

"What proof do you have of this allegation ...sorry, extortion?"

"None, but one of the others might testify."

He chewed on his pencil some more. "We'd be safer not opening that particular can of worms at the arraignment. It only hands the prosecution additional motive. It might be worth mentioning it to the detectives after the hearing and suggest they check it out."

It was gone midnight before the lawyer was through. He packed up his pencil and pad and advised me to try and get some sleep. He didn't leave me any false promises.

I spent the night in a holding cell with two other men. One had been picked up for dealing, the other for robbing a liquor store at gunpoint. They swapped glances and kept their distance from me.

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