I went into the shooting range the next day, wondering what the hell I was doing. I was so distracted, I ran into a brightly dressed man who was coming out. After mumbled apologies, I registered at the front desk, borrowed some goggles and earmuffs, and found a free stand. I figured it would be the easiest way to get people to warm up to me, and it was refreshing to aim my pistol at a non-living target. I was a bit out of practice, and started enjoying myself. I was also attracting attention.
“You’re very good,” a man with an instructor’s badge around his neck said from behind me as I came out from the shooting stand. “I don’t think I’ve seen you here before.”
“First time here,” I said, “A lady I know recommended it. Sabia?”
“Yes, I know Sabia. She’s a regular. Friend of yours?”
I shrugged, “More acquaintances. Friends of friends. I’ve never seen her shoot, but I heard she was good.”
“Yes, she’s quite excellent, actually. I taught her.”
I tried not to look as happily surprised as I felt. “Oh! When does she usually come by?”
“Every other day, if not every day, in the evening after she gets off work.”
Lucky I was there in the early afternoon. “I’ll have to keep that in mind.”
The instructor nodded with a quick smile, “Be seeing you around then.” He walked off to speak to another customer.
I returned to the front desk to return the gear. “Thanks so much - um, I don’t suppose you rent out silencers do you?”
The man behind the desk looked at me curiously. “We have a couple available for members who wish to try them, but of course they remain on the premises.”
“Of course. I was just curious. Ah, does Sabia Monahan come here?”
“Sabia Monahan. She’s a friend of mine. Do you know her?”
“Yes, I remember that name.”
“I don’t suppose her husband ever drops by here?”
“Her husband?” he was surprised.
“Isn’t she married?”
“She doesn’t wear a ring and...”
He was flustered. “It’s none of my business. Have a good day.”
Why would Sabia Monahan being married be shocking?
I went back to her apartment building to ask around. As is often the case in the Corporate Sector, very few people knew anything about her. Neighbors tend to mind their own business, engaging in only the minimum social interaction necessary to be cordial. Of course, in Non-C people keep a covert eye on their neighbors out of a general concern for personal safety. Cordiality gets set aside for a healthy dose of practical wariness.
I’d given up and was headed out the building when an older woman was coming in.
“I don’t recognize you,” she said with some sugar-coated suspicion.
“Friend of Sabia Monahan’s,” I said, “the lady in room 435. Average height, brunette? Gets home late, carries a gun?”
The gun did it. “Oh! Her. Yes. I don’t know people’s room numbers, but I keep track of everyone that comes in and out of the building. I live next to the front door, you see.”
“Do you really?” Thank god for busybodies. “It’s kind of surprising that she would carry a weapon openly.”
“Oh, she doesn’t,” she leaned forward conspiratorially, “I know about it because she was here the other night with a gentleman and they were talking about shooting as they waited for the elevator. He comes home with her often, sometimes they talk about guns, sometimes it’s more… personal.”
Nodding with a grin, she amended, “I suppose that’s what you’d call him. He was well-behaved at least. I think one time I saw him with a badge of some sort around his neck.” I described Sabia’s instructor from the shooting range. The busybody nodded, “That sounds like him.”
Interesting. “He comes by often?”
“Oh yes.” She eyed me up and down, appraisingly. “You’re not another one, are you?”
I laughed. “Ah, no.”
“Well, you’re better than the brightly dressed fellow, that’s for certain. Though I suppose I’m jumping to conclusions thinking –”
“Brightly dressed fellow?” My mind instantly turned to the man I’d run into at the shooting range.
“Short black beard, bright purple jacket. Came around asking for her last night. I told him what I’ve just told you.”
“Huh. Thanks.” That Sabia was seeing her instructor was pretty clear, but that was far from proof of her murdering her husband. This brightly dressed man, though. Who was he? Someone trying to collect on Adrian Rolands’s debt?
I thought a return to the crime scene might spark an idea. Naturally, I wouldn’t be able to go back into the apartment without a police escort, but that wasn’t my goal anyway. The apartment had been thoroughly searched, and I was sure any chance I might have had at noticing something had already passed. Instead, I wanted to see the place where the murderer must have stood when he, or she, did the deed. Feeling a trifle foolish, I attempted to emulate Sherlock’s care in observing everything around me as I climbed the steps of the abandoned building. It had been left unguarded and access was easy. As I walked up the stairs, I noticed a homeless man taking shelter from the chill winds and for a brief moment I felt a little guilty about being here instead of going around to patients, even if I didn’t have any appointments that day.
I found a room with a view of Adrian Rolands’s apartment. The room’s window had been smashed out long ago, probably in a fit of bored vandalism. Drawing my own pistol, I tried to line up the shot. I found an approximate area for where the shooter would have stood. Now that I could see for myself where the killer had been standing, I had no idea how, or even if, the information was helpful.
With a heavy sigh, I glanced around the room, turning up the zoom level of my cyberoptic in the vain hope that I would stumble across some trace of someone being here. To my great surprise, I did find something useful, though not at all what I had been looking for. I called Red.
“Hey Red, I’m in the building across the street from Adrian Rolands. Could you bring your lab boys back over here?”
I smiled. “Because I’m looking at a bullet in the wall behind where the killer would have stood.”