Knowing he now had to tread very cautiously lest he spook his only lead, Rue nodded in what he hoped was a supportive and understanding manner. A firm believer that a good thirty percent of PI work was playacting, he innocently asked polite questions about said brother Jack, quickly happening upon the knowledge that he’d been out of town these last several days and (stroke of luck!) had returned and had, in fact, planned to stop by later this morning. And, as Rue debated the wisdom of digging in his heels and finding any excuse to stay and meet the elusive Jack, he found that, by playing the part of sympathetic listener, he’d gained access to a wealth of damning details on dear brother Jack.
Jack had never “approved” of Dawayne, holding less hope for change in the make-a-buck Dawayne than his starry-eyed sister. This difference in opinion had led to a familial rift – one that widened when Jennifer found herself pregnant with little Preeta. It was around this time that the strange, troubling occurrences began – the ones that had led to Dawayne’s hiring Rue Dobbs, something that Jack had apparently railed against – though he’d only told this to Jennifer in the past day or so, as more of Dawayne’s secret dealings had come to light. In fact, some of their phone conversations following Dawayne’s death had led Jack to believe that Dawayne and her brother had been in communication behind her back, Jack acting as her advocate to try to convince Dawayne to clean up his act.
Told with a sob and a sigh, Jack’s words painted a rather bleak picture for Mr. Jack – a man curiously absent from CPD interviews but clearly involved enough to beg the question: Why hadn’t he stepped forward to help?
Within moments, Rue had his answer.
Physically Jack fit the profile. Short of stature, with a cool confident swagger that marked him as one who clearly believed he knew how the world should be run, Jack met the PI’s gaze with something akin to hostile challenge. The terrible thrill of meeting Dawayne’s murderer face to face, to claim the victory all to himself without police interference, was overshadowed only by the curious power of the anger emanating from the young man. Rue was tempted to go all “Yoda” on him, so much was his anger.
Instead, Rue smiled and listened, taking stock of the familiar dynamics while his thumb tapped out a quick text to Mackey.
It would have been over much quicker had the cops who entered to arrest the suspect had understood they were now after a young five foot male rather than a petite blonde woman. But it worked out alright in the end when Jack tried to bolt and certain words from Rue convinced the arresting officers that Dawayne had mentioned his girlfriend’s brother in less than innocent terms. Reasonable cause led to fingerprints that matched, an alibi that crumpled and a Cinderella-style shoe fitting that sealed the case against angry brother Jack.
Through it all, Dobbs was confident, smug, and reasonably insufferable, that is to say, he was his old self again. Which made Mackey’s revenge all the more sweet. Oh, he valued Rue’s having cracked the case – especially having managed it before the CPD had rounded up more than a handful of suspicious-looking blondes for questioning, a pattern that had already raised the eyebrows of more than one erstwhile journalist. Rue’s license reinstated, he’d earned the respect of the local force, and a week later, Mackey even took him out to dinner where he presented the still gloating PI with a gift, a simple token of appreciation from the CPD.
“We were closing down the case and came across something we thought you might like to have.” If Rue noticed the corners of Mackey’s mouth twitch, he didn’t comment. The unevenly-wrapped parcel was placed on the table between them and Rue, with only a slight polite hesitation, reached for it. “Please accept, with our gratitude, this small remembrance of the case, Rue. We at the force know when we’re well and truly licked,” Mackey prompted, eagerly waiting while Dobbs unwrapped the gift.
It was the steering wheel from the car that had killed Dawayne.