Powell had an idea that he knew the significance of the bird bath but he didn’t tell Carol. She seemed to be genuinely concerned about Burke and her concern was out of compassion and he believed, nothing more.
Powell could only offer bits and pieces of Burkes’ past and didn’t feel that it was his place to dig up old skeletons, at least not the kind that Carol wanted to know about. But then the shoe dropped. Carol asked him straight out if Burke had ever had a significant relationship before she met him.
Powell hesitantly told Carol that he thought that question should be answered by Burke. “I’ve asked him,” she said. “He’s always said ‘nothing that you should worry about’, but I can tell that he’s keeping something from me. Don’t misunderstand. He’s such a good man and he treats us well but there’s something missing.”
With almost childlike innocence, she hesitantly asked “did she break his heart?” Powell just looked at her. She knew his silence answered her question and also knew it would do her no good to ask for particulars.
Powell could tell that she loved Burke dearly and he could also tell that she had absolutely no idea that the reason he had so willingly come to see her, indirectly involved the woman who did indeed break Burkes’ heart.
Seeing the look of disappointment and utter surrender on Carols’ face was hard for Powell to stomach but she immediately went back into hostess mode and asked when he would be leaving. “I’ll be here for a few more days,” he said. “I have to tie up a few loose ends.”
“Would you come to dinner again before you go back?” She asked. “You can’t leave without one more home cooked meal.”
Powell told her that he appreciated the invitation and would try his best, although he knew that when he came back, it wouldn’t be for a meal.
When he got to the hotel and was ready to make his usual update call, he reflected on his first interaction with his employer. Never in his wildest dreams would he have expected to get a call from Karl Pittman. He vividly recalled the conversation.
“I want you to find the mother-fucker who killed my ex-wife,” he said. “She was a raging bitch from Hell but she was the mother of my children.”
Powell was sickened as he thought “yeah, she may have been a raging bitch from Hell but you were the one who put her on the road to perdition. And now you’re suddenly feeling nostalgic because she was the mother of your children, the children you ignored, belittled and knocked around.”
Powell remembered wondering who Pittman was trying to impress after all these years with his sudden pretentious affection for his children and even more, his sudden pretentious need for revenge for the death of a woman he had all but destroyed. He remembered wondering if there was any lower piece of shit on the face of the planet and also wondered why he waited so long to find his sudden interest and desire for revenge. “There’s a back story there somewhere,” Powell thought and wondered what it might be.
He could wonder all those things but he had been hired to find Annes’ killer and his anger toward the repugnant Karl Pittman had to be put aside.
Powell had always known that Annes’ death had not been the work of the Ice Pick Killer nor did he think that it had been random. The victims of the Ice Pick Killer, including Slaughter, had been stabbed with an ice pick, which had never been found. Anne Pittman had been shot in the head with a gun, which had also never been found.
After Annes’ death, there had never been another “ice pick” murder.
Although no suspects were ever seriously considered, a mock investigation was quietly headed by Burke, who with no fanfare, subsequently closed the file as unsolved.
Burke had never discussed the case with Powell and although Powell thought it was strange behavior, he never said anything. He knew Burke was grieving over Slaughter and against his better judgment, ignored the gnawing questions that were plaguing him.
Powell wondered if it had occurred to anybody other than him, that after Annes’ death, Burke left town.
Before Burke left, Powells’ imagination had given way to thoughts and suspicions that could most certainly put Burke in jeopardy but when he approached him with them, Burke had been recalcitrant.
Not until Pittman called and revived those suspicions, did Powell reluctantly revisit those past thoughts and questions.
To be continued________________