She got out from the car. Her hair was a tight, high chignon that gave an elegant length to her neck. Make up as war paint, eleven o’clock at night and ready for a fight. The suit was a single breasted black blazer and tailored trousers, a Vera Wang shirt. Small towns seldom appreciated the effort of good fashion and beauty but Gloria Ellis understood that image was everything.
‘You’re Mr Foster?’
He put out his hand. She gave him a warm, dry grasp and gestured towards the station.
Lee rolled his eyes at the sight of Avery but when he saw the thin smile of the lawyer, he sighed and shook his head.
‘He’s not asked for a -‘
‘Deputy, I would like you to inform Mr Foster that his brother is here and that he has secured my services, can you do that?’
Lee looked at her, blank and frightened.
Two years ago, he had been called upon to give evidence in a possession beef. A brick of mexican weed in a trunk and Lee, realising that his station in the world was being cut to pieces by the sing song questions of the woman stood before him. Charges dropped and a civil suit that meant the order for the new rifles had to go into another budget. She took his balls from him, smiling as she did it and his face tightened into a knot of confusion and recrimination.
He went to inform Mr Foster, slouching like a whipped dog.
Avery’s eyes narrowed and Gloria Ellis laughed.
‘We have some history, Mr Foster, but that works in our favour.’
He rubbed his chin as he looked at her.
‘Mind telling me how?’
She smiled and Avery was reminded of how some of the special forces guys would get when they were being briefed. A cold blade across the throat, barrel up and trigger pulled, steel always on target. He made a mental note to thank Madeline later.
‘Because they know not to fuck with me, and by proxy, your brother.’
Even through his grief, Harlan knew that he was not going to turn down a lawyer.
The police do not want the truth, they want a conviction. Cases closed are not always cases solved. In their defence, when the lie is the default mode of communication, when the evidence chains are oftentimes made of daisies rather than links of cold steel, some do the best they can but an innocent man does not have the luxury of believing that the truth will out. Harlan did not feel his palms grow damp whenever a policeman walked by, but he also knew that law enforcement was a career, a job, an opportunity. There were those who believed, those who followed the rules and those who saw it as a means to get even or get over. That jock in high school, when you find him weeping with coke dusted nostrils and a college girl having a seizure in his hotel room, a lot of entries get crossed off the ledger. Weakness was not a danger to a man in a lot of areas, but a weak and angry policeman was a terrible thing to behold.
Harlan held that thought like a matchflame against the wind, it burned him when he asked himself if he was referring to Eddie or Sheriff Turner.
Then the lawyer came in and he felt something dangerous.