[previous chapter] [start from the beginning] Rose Lieberman was in her shower, thinking about Claire and me and her mother. Yeesh, what an awful combination. Hey! Can I change this line? I really don’t like being in the shower with all these women…

Anyway. There was Rose, with nobody in particular, thinking about something about what her mother had said, that sometimes a healthy habit was the best cover for an unhealthy one. She’d read that line in a novel somewhere, couldn’t remember where, but for some reason it had stayed with her.

“Sometimes a good habit is the best cover for an unhealthy one,” Ruth had said, when Rose insisted she couldn’t find anything in my daily routine that made her suspicious, after she’d followed me reasonably closely for a week. Not that I’d noticed, mind you. She was a good cop, despite her obnoxiousness.

Yeah, OK. Maybe because of it, too.

“Yes, Mom, but this guy is not doing anything unhealthy, as far as I can tell. There is nothing to hide; he goes to work in various nursing homes around Chomedey, and when he’s not at work he’s at home or with his girlfriend, and only occasionally with Abdul. He doesn’t shop outside of basic necessities like groceries and gas for his car, doesn’t go out, all he seems to do is play video games and work. He doesn’t drive a flashy car, doesn’t appear to do any drugs, only drinks beer like a normal guy. Other than his recent trip south and the fact that he seems to think cooking mostly consists of using his phone app to get pizza delivered, I can’t see any evidence of reckless spending or behaviour.”

Damn! She had me pegged, sure did.

“Yes,” her mother had to concede, “maybe this is one guy who’s clean. Except for the part where he hangs out with one of your suspects and his girlfriend does, too.”

As she lathered up her hair, Rosie turned this sentence in her head over and over again. Indeed, why would someone so clean hang out so much with someone so not clean? And his girlfriend, too? It seemed like something was up with that. But then again, she’d been asked to investigate Abdul and his break-and-enter operations, not Claire and I. And besides, as far as she could see we showed precisely zero evidence of being involved with these kinds of petty crimes that she was originally asked to investigate. “Yeah, Lieberman,” she told herself, “remember the job they big boys who work on busting organized gangs with the SQ asked you to help with? How many time zones away from that job are you now? Way to make an impression…”

She was torn between hating herself and getting even more stubborn about following her gut. She knew she would not rest until she’d had Claire and I figured out. Maybe we were people Abdul was grooming for some more senior, administrative-type, jobs with the gangs?

Oh, little cop, you’re getting warm, and not just because of where you are…

****

It wasn’t until she saw me pay another visit to Abdul two days later, to get paid for my latest mercy mission, that Rose really started to feel like she was onto something.

“But Rose,” Ray Bouthilier said, looking at her over his reading glasses as he pored over some timesheets, “I’m not sure I see the connection with what the gangs people wanted you to help uncover. How is this guy, this Jean, connected in any way to gang stuff? You’ve followed him around for a couple of weeks, and as far as you can tell all he ever does is go to work armed with nothing more dangerous than a clipboard in various nursing homes in Chomedey, hangs out with his part-time hooker girlfriend and pays a few visits here and there to your main suspect. Maybe he just likes the rough trade, who knows? That doesn’t make him a suspect…”

Rose was prepared for this reaction. “I know. This isn’t what the gangs unit was looking for. I followed the prime suspect for a while before he bumped into me and I was able to put together a file detailing as much of his activities as I was able to piece together. He does run a small network of drug dealers and kids stealing stuff for him, and he does seem to have some kind of arrangement with the gangs where he helps spot good prospects for them while not getting too big for his britches, and I’ve detailed all that in the report I already gave you. I’m not a gangs expert, but I’ve looked pretty carefully into Abdul’s affairs and I honestly don’t think he is that involved with them. Or if he is, he’s really sophisticated about it because I can’t see anything more than what’s in the report. But my antenna is tingling like crazy about his relationship with Jean, and I’d like another two weeks to investigate it please.” She saw him jump in his chair and rushed to add, “I promise I won’t ask for more than two weeks if there’s nothing more, and if there isn’t anything there and I’m wasting my time, I’ll work weekends extra for free to make it up to you.”

Well, now. Bouthilier didn’t like the sound of letting her chase me around for another two weeks, which was a feeling I entirely shared with the good capitaine. But at the same time he was reluctant to tell her not to listen to her instinct.

“What about the prints of Abdul you thought you had on your phone?” he asked, more as a way to give himself time to think than to seek information.

“It’s in the report. Basically yeah, he’s the guy the gangs unit was curious about. He’s the one spotting and training prospects, and dealing drugs. I’ve sent his prints around but he doesn’t seem to have any kind of record outside of this area. Our Abdul isn’t much of a world traveller.”

“Hum, OK.” He chewed on his pencil for a minute. So far this kid had proved herself a very hard worker and a smart investigator, and he knew she had a lot of potential. It was a fine balance, managing her. He didn’t want her to get burned on a story that wouldn’t amount to anything, but he also didn’t want to dampen her spirit too much. And since she was offering to make it up if it turned out her instinct was wrong on that one…

“OK, Lieberman,” he said, sealing my fate. “Two weeks.”

[next chapter]