Burke asked Powell if he would like another beer for the road and Powell agreed. When he went into the kitchen, Carol took the opportunity to slip in and whisper a question to Powell. “Could you possibly come by the house, maybe tomorrow? And, can you not mention it to Roland?”
It was a serendipitous request. Powell had already planned to try to talk to Carol alone, so he whispered “yes.”
Burke returned with two beers and before Carol took her leave, she expressed the obligatory pleasantries to Powell and then said “I must get these boys bathed and off to bed, so we will say goodnight.”
Powell watched Burke as he watched Carol walk out of the room. He remembered the look that Burke gave Slaughter when she left a room. That look…he did not see.
In an unguarded moment, Burke looked down and said “Carol is a fine, fine woman and an excellent mother…but.” He stopped in mid sentence and stared at the floor.
Powell said “but what?”
Burkes’ voice was almost inaudible as he said “but I’ll never love her the way I loved Slaughter and sometimes, I think it’s unfair to her.”
A “goodnight” call from the boys interrupted Burkes’ nostalgic renderings.
They sat quietly and finished their beer. Promises to get together again soon were pledged with a handshake, a handshake that avoided eye contact.
As Powell walked to his car, he wondered if Burke knew the real reason that he was in Chicago. If he did, none of his actions had betrayed him.
Burke had been his partner and friend and even though Powell had taken a back seat to Slaughter, he had never completely abandoned that friendship. But now, Powell knew that he was faced with a delicate dance.
He was going to have to tread lightly while bridging the gap between his duty and their friendship. He also knew that somewhere during that dance, betrayal was going to be his partner.
Powell returned to his motel room. It wasn’t posh by any means but it was comfortable. After all, he wasn’t on vacation, he was on the job and it was a job that he knew would torment him and possibly destroy several lives.
After he showered, he took a file out of his briefcase. The name on the file was “Anne Pittman.”
To be continued________________