A quiet neighbourhood under a clear blue sky. A faint wind was blowing through the trees and bushes in the gaps between the few houses. His gaze roamed around, and twenty metres farther on, he spotted three vehicles along the sidewalk. Four passing pedestrians weren’t even looking at him. Any neighbour watching him from behind drawn curtains might consider him as another official arsehole going to harass the poor widow. He rang the bell. Behind the closed door, he heard a dull sound of an electric gong that slowly faded away while frantic footsteps approached. Then the door swung open and appeared a good-looking black-haired woman dressed in blue jeans and a white silk blouse with decent cleavage. He laughed charmingly.
‘Mrs Dumont, Denise Dumont?’ His voice sounded hoarse.
She looked him up and down.
‘That’s me,’ she said hesitantly. Without a briefcase, I am not looking like a salesman. Her features got relaxed.
‘Ministry of Defence, Lucas Dupont,’ he said, showing a brown card with three-coloured slanted bands over the corner. ‘It’s about your late husband, Commander Marcel Dumont,’ he continued.
She frowned. ‘Julien, one of my husband’s colleagues, has been here yesterday. Is there something new?’ she asked excitedly.
Indeed, this Julien was the reason for his visit. He gave her a neutral smile.
‘Perhaps we should go inside,’ he said.
She let him in, closed the door, and led him to a spacious room. Soberly furnished. His nose caught the scent of beeswax. At one end was a tall window bordered by grey curtains whereas the most exquisite lace filtered sunlight, at the other end a large television, with on each side a bookshelf. In the centre were a long leather-covered sofa, two armchairs, and a small table. On the rear wall hung four framed paintings, he immediately identified as Tahitian Women on the Beach, Two Tahitian Women, The Yellow Christ and the Post-Sermon Vision. Cheap replies by Paul Gauguin, he thought. The sunlight on the brown parquet shone with a beckoning warmth.
‘Please sit down,’ she said invitingly. ‘Anything new about my husband’s death?’
‘Uh, first, I’d be pleased if you tell me why Mr. Julien Cartier has been visiting you,’ he answered.
Denise Dumont took a seat on the large couch, and he sat down across from her in an armchair. She’s handsome. Prettier than on the pictures he’d seen. Friendly features, grey-blue eyes, little seesaw nose, and a mouth to be kissed. Sturdy grapefruit-sized tits with long nipples beyond that transparent blouse. He liked small tits. Everything a hand was unable to hold, he considered as wasted. He was sensitive to beauty, and in other circumstances, he would have tried her.
‘Julien claimed that Marcel’s death wasn’t an accident, but cold blood murder,’ she said firmly. ‘By a hitman.’
He shook his head. ‘Ma’am,’ he said, ‘you reckon that your husband ought to have blackmailed a superior?’ Bending forward, he muffled his voice. ‘Julien Cartier has PTSD. During that shooting out in Mitrovica, he has witnessed his two friends dying. It was a heavy shock for him. Unfortunately, his chiefs found out too late that he was psychologically disturbed. Pretending that high-ranking officers have conspired is going to increase the suffering of the concerned families. So, we have to stop him.’
Denise’s big eyes started flickering in disbelief and distrust.
‘You guys are going to cover up the whole affair, aren’t you?’ she called out.
What else could he have expected from a Judicial Police Inspector? But he kept smiling.
‘Ma’am,’ he said with a neutral smile, ‘the Minister has ordered an additional investigation. He has read Cartier’s statements over and over again, checking any inconsistency. Then he appointed three independent psychiatrists who diagnosed PTSD. Moreover, we have gathered dozens of statements from natives who have witnessed your husband’s killing. Don’t forget the countless casualties among the citizens. All those witnesses are unanimously claiming that the killing of the two brave policemen was just bad luck; they were at the wrong place at the wrong time.’
‘Bollocks,’ she answered dryly. ‘Julien isn’t traumatised, he has been very persuasive to me. He mentioned photographs that might substantiate his claims.’
He chuckled. ‘Do you believe that nonsense, ma’am? Has he shown you those pictures?’ He glanced in her eyes, aware of the effect his blue eyes had on women. But Denise Dumont was still suffering too much from her husband’s loss. Devoured by anger, she refused to accept fatality as the cause of death. She wouldn’t give up until he told her the whole truth.
‘My husband and Leduc have possessed several photos,’ she said in triumph. ‘Where are they?’
He smiled apologetically. ‘It’s a pity that the authorities haven’t found any of that stuff.’
Her hands kept moving on her lap.
‘The authorities might have destroyed all evidence.’ She stared at him with a truculent expression.
‘You are a bright woman and a good inspector,’ he said sharply. ‘Don’t be guided by emotions. Have you told anyone else about this ridiculous theory?’
‘No, I haven’t. First, I’m going to do my proper investigation. Then I’m going to discuss the issue with the Leduc family, and together we’re going to decide what to do next.’
He nodded. ‘Good idea,’ he said tonelessly. ‘Perhaps that’s the best thing you can do, and hopefully, the Leduc family have a more realistic view on the matter.’
After gazing at him for a moment, she glanced away.
‘Don’t you think?’ he continued sternly, ‘that your husband would have informed you if he had discovered a conspiracy or whatever. Why tell a friend and not his wife?’ Embraced by a euphoric sense of power, he stared at her with an expressionless face.
She hesitated. ‘My husband and I had an agreement,’ she answered slowly. ‘We discussed neither our job nor our assignments; we avoided domestic conflicts. However, Marcel hated hypocrites, and I think he would have denounced a corrupt official.’
‘Well, there’s nothing left for me, but let’s get one thing straight, keep it discreet for the time, and do not talk to the media. Think about National Security.’
‘What do you think?’ she snarled.
‘I hope that you’re going to regain your inner peace as soon as possible,’ he continued in a disappointed tone. This stubborn woman wasn’t going to accept any arguments. The families of the victims have decided to look into the matter further. Women were his weakness. He liked this woman. Too bad. He had failed.
She rose from her seat.
‘Mr. Dumont,’ he said while he stood up, ‘if you’d like advice during your investigation, I’d recommend that you call my office at the Ministry. We doubt there’s anything shady about your husband’s death, however, what if we’re wrong? Don’t play the hero and let us handle the affair.’
He picked a business card from his inside pocket. After hesitating for a few seconds, Denise reached out her hand, but before her fingers could take it, his other hand grabbed her wrist, twisting it while pushing her body forward on the couch. The card fell on the floor, whereas her astonished scream got smothered in the fabric cushion. He was holding her immobilised with one hand, pushing his knee on her spine while the other hand took a small injection pistol from his pocket. He pushed the thin cylinder against her occiput. There was a slight humming noise, and a few seconds later, she stopped twitching. He pulled a pair of rubber gloves from his pocket and put them on. Then he picked up the business card, shoving it in his coat pocket. After having found the bathroom next to the kitchen, he headed back to the living room where he threw the motionless body over his shoulder. What a pity, he thought while moving to the bathroom. There he undressed the unconscious woman and lowered her naked body into the tub. To dissimulate the needle mark, he smashed her occiput several times against the edge of the bathtub until it started bleeding. After that, he turned on the taps, regulated the temperature, and waited until the tub was almost full. Finally, he pushed her head underwater, holding it down until her heart stopped beating.
Death by drowning. No traces of third person involvement.
When he left the house minutes later, a passing young woman glanced up at him. Fortunately for her too short of making a future identification possible. He checked both directions of the road, let his eyes wander over the house facade across the street, and stiffened. Someone is watching me behind the curtain on the second floor.
He kept staring at the window for at least two minutes, but couldn’t discover any suspect movements. He sighed with relief, turned toward the street, and walked away.
Lucas, alias Brother Lynx, has ceased to exist. ×