Holter, Hosiah and Dexter sat in the young woman's living room and drank coffee from borrowed mugs. Their hostess looked pale and drawn, but she wasn't crying. She answered their questions readily enough.

"So you and the deceased were married?" asked Holter.

"No, but we were engaged to be," said the woman.

Hosiah frowned. "But…. You lived together."

"Yes," said the fiancée.

Hosiah and Dexter exchanged glances. Holter arched an eyebrow. "Can you tell us about your Arabic fiance's confrontation two nights ago?" he asked.

The woman smoothed her skirt over her knees. "Well, his family has a tradition of eating pizza together at the end of the week," she said. "We were all at Stromboli's, sitting outside, when this big skinhead guy came up and started picking a fight."

Dexter was confused. "So… you were part of the family?" he asked. "Because, you know, you lived together."

"Almost," said the woman sadly. "Anyway, that crazy guy got mad over nothing. He was out of his mind! Fortunately the restaurant manager threw him out, but not before he threatened to come back and 'finish the job'."

"Is it possible," Hosiah asked, "that you were actually common-law married?"

"I don't know," said the victim's girlfriend, now thoroughly confused.

"Had you ever seen this person before that night?" asked Holter.

"No, never," the woman said firmly. "I'd remember that face."

"And did your fiancée know him?"

"I'm certain he didn't," said the girl.

"Are you positive?" Holter peered penetratingly at the woman. "You know, sometimes they lie."

It was her turn to frown. "'They'?"

Holter shrugged. He pulled out a metal case and opened it on the coffee table. He removed two metal cylinders with leads snaking out of them, and he handed them to the woman. "Hold these firmly in both hands," Holter said, "and answer the next series of questions as truthfully as possible."

"What is this, some kind of lie detector test?" asked the woman.

"No, no," scoffed Holter. "You know, lie detector tests are terribly inaccurate."

"This is a Dianetics test kit," Dexter explained. "We're going to audit your engrams."

"But," said Hosiah, almost to herself, "you *lived* *together*."

"Hush," Holter ordered, and began.

Read more... )
Holter sat down in the interrogation room opposite the middle-aged man. "You're the father of the deceased, and also his employer," he said. "I'm sorry for your loss. May I ask you a few questions?"

The man bowed his head. "Of course," he said. "Anything to bring my son's killer to justice."

Holter frowned. "You're of Middle Eastern descent," he said. It wasn't a question.

"Yes," said the man. "Syrian, originally. Why?"

"Never mind," said Holter. He shifted in his chair. "Your son was born without his left hand, is that correct?"

"That's right," said the father. "Fortunately he was right-handed."

"I notice you have two hands," observed Holter. "Was your wife an amputee?"

The man frowned. "No," he said. "My son's hand was just a genetic mutation."

Holter smiled sadly. "Ah, the dead-end pseudoscience of genetics," he said. "Of course, nowadays we've discarded Mendel in favor of Lysenkoism, and the notion that descendants take on the attributes of the parent. So either you're ignorant… or you're lying."

The father of the victim flushed. "I don’t see what this has to do with putting my son's murderer behind bars," he said hotly. Holter slammed a fist down on the table.

"Enough small talk," he said. "Show me the lines on your palm."

The man recoiled. "I don't have to show you anything," he said. Holter leaned forward.

"Listen, A-rab," he said intensely. "I'll get a warrant if I have to. But one way or another, I'm going to read your fortune."

Read more... )
Lieutanant Holter ducked under the police tape surrounding the crime scene. It was a dry cleaning establishment, and according to Holter's records it had been closed for four hours before the shooting. Holter's CSI group was already there, sweeping the area for clues. Holter noticed a clear bullet hole through the storefront glass and arched one eyebrow.

A uniformed officer met him on the front sidewalk. "I think we've got the perp, sir," he said. Holter held up an arresting hand.

"We'll let the facts be the judge of that, officer," Holter said curtly. "The facts, and the best science Tennessee can bring to bear on the problem."

"Yes, sir," said the officer doggedly, "but the facts are pretty damning. Our perp was seen by three witnesses entering the premises and shooting the victim. He's confessed to the crime. There was also video surveillance that has a very clear view of the shooting. The perp was in a fight with the victim yesterday, and we already have witnesses saying he threatened to 'finish the job'."

Holter frowned. "Don't say that word," he said.

The policeman blinked. "What word?"

"'Damning'," said Holter. "It's not Christian. Where's the alleged shooter?"

He was in handcuffs in the back of a cruiser. Holter opened the door and looked at the perp, head cocked. The man looked back sullenly. Holter frowned. He slipped nitrile gloves onto his hands, then removed from his belt a measuring tape and a large set of calipers.

"You go to church?" he asked the man, carefully measuring the circumference of his skull.

"Yeah," said the man. "Baptist."

Holter nodded approvingly. "Ever had any relations with sinners? Persons of loose moral character?" he asked, stretching the calipers over the perp's skull to measure the distance between his temples.

"Naw," said the man. "I like to keep it clean. Except for killing folks who deserve it."

Holter shrugged. He put his tools back in his belt and felt the bumps and nodes on the man's skull with his gloved hands. "Have you ever," he asked seriously, "received any markings or tattoos upon abduction by individuals not native to this planet?"

"Hey, now," said the uniformed officer. "What's all this about?"

"What's this about?" asked Holter, straightening up and looking the cop in the eye. "This is about science. Phrenology, specifically, and physiognomy. Per Browne et all, the configuration of the eyes indicates strong character, and according to Gall's diagrams, his Destructiveness node is far too small to support criminal behavior." Holter removed his gloves emphatically.

"Science says this man is innocent," he proclaimed. "Cut him loose."

Read more... )

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