Broken Saint, The
possibly
come back in an hour?”
    “Ordinarily, ma’am, we’d be happy to do that,” I
said, shaking my head. “But we’re working on a murder investigation, and this
is time-sensitive.”
    “All right,” she said, sighing. “Come in.” She turned
and headed up the large, curved oak staircase with its wrought-iron balusters.
    We took in the foyer of the home, which was bigger
than any room in my sorry house. A minute later, Dr. Tristan came down the
stairs, wearing a silk bathrobe and pajamas, leather slippers. He was rubbing
his eyes. I introduced me and Ryan.
    “Sorry to pull you out of bed, Dr. Tristan. We’re
only gonna need two minutes, tops.” The wife was standing nearby to hold me to
my word. “Ryan, you got that record?” Ryan handed it to the doctor.
    He looked at it a moment, then pulled a pair of
half glasses out of his robe pocket and tried again. “Okay,” he said.
    “Do you remember this young woman?”
    “Not really,” he said. “She had a laceration to
her cheek. I applied a topical antibiotic, put a butterfly bandage on it. I can
get five of these every shift.”
    “So she didn’t need any stitches?”
    “No, it wasn’t that bad.”
    “And the complaint about blurry vision?”
    “That’s typical. When she fell—or whatever it
was—she might have popped the eyeball a little.”
    “You say ‘whatever it was.’ You didn’t believe her
when she said she fell?”
    “Falling is the number-one bullshit excuse. Unless
it’s a kid or an older person who’s obviously in someone else’s care, we don’t
try to figure out what really happened. But her age, the most likely cause is
just what she said: she was drunk, fell down, hit something solid.”
    “All right, Doctor. Thanks. Sorry to get you up.”
    He nodded, turned, and headed up the stairs.
    Ryan and I apologized to the wife and walked back
to the cruiser.
    “Hell, I could’ve done that,” I said.
    “Done what?”
    “Put a butterfly bandage on her cut and tell her
her vision will clear up.”
    “Lucky for him all his cases are that easy,” Ryan
said.
    “Yeah, yeah, I know. But our job’s tougher in one
way—”
    “Sometimes people shoot at us?”
    “Yeah, that, too. But I meant we gotta figure out
how they got hurt.”

 
     
    Chapter 9
    “Hector Miguel Cruz,” Ryan said, looking at his screen. “He’s
had a Montana driver’s license for six years. Three traffic misdemeanors: one
speeding, one failure to yield, one running a red light. Had a drug
possession—misdemeanor, marijuana possession, three years ago. That’s it for
Montana.”
    “Didn’t his boss at the university say he had a
battery?”
    Ryan looked down at his notebook. “Yeah, he said
they do a Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho check, but that Hector volunteered about
the battery from California. He was drinking, got in a fight. Eight years ago.”
    “How do you read it, him volunteering the battery?”
    Ryan shrugged. “Could be that he’s honest? He’s
saying, that part of his life is over, and he wants to be upfront with the guy
who’s going to hire him?”
    “I don’t know,” I said. “I got all kinds of stuff
in my own life I like to think are over, but I don’t go around telling people
about them—especially if they don’t ask.”
    Ryan raised an eyebrow. “‘My name is Karen …’?”
    He knew I was in AA, just like the chief knew. I
didn’t mind that. “Yeah, I say that, but only in front of the other drunks. You
don’t hear me saying it here in the department.”
    “I understand,” Ryan said. “But it’s really the
same thing. You say it not for the other people in AA. You say it for yourself,
to remind yourself. That could be what Hector was doing.”
    I tapped a pencil against my desk. “Or it could be
that Hector’s got some other, bigger shit he doesn’t want anyone to find. So he
offers up the California battery so bleeding hearts like you and his boss think
he’s being all noble.”
    Ryan smiled. “I’m

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