The Amateur

Downtown, the detective was polite and efficient, but he did not seem to like this part of the job. He took me in to see the body, and had me identify her. He studied my face the whole time, never looking at her or the medical examiner. Later, he had me wait in a bare room while he talked to the two officers on the other side of the glass wall.

He came back in a short while later, carrying his clipboard, clicking his pen in the other hand. Several pages were folded over the clip, and a fresh blank page faced up, ready for the next set of questions.

"What happened?" I asked him, after an awkward pause.

He studied my face again before speaking. He had heavy eyebrows, gray and black, like the thick hair on his head. A neatly trimmed mustache rested like a heavy fog on his upper lip.

"The report says she was outside the church, talking to a Mrs. Henderson, when she fell over. Nobody heard the shot, but the traffic noise was pretty loud. The bullet went right through, we'll be looking for it. The M.E. won't say for sure until he's done with the exam, but he thinks she was probably dead when she hit the ground. It looks like it went through one lung, the heart, and a major artery or two."

He studied me closely. I studied him back.

"Who would do this?" I asked. "Why would someone do this?"

"Mr. Bloch, I have to ask you some routine questions. These questions may seem to indicate that you're under suspicion, but they are just routine, some things I have to fill in on a form. Are you OK with that?" I was.

"Were you at home all morning?" I said I was.

"Does your wife normally go to church without you?" I'm not the church-going type of person.

"Were you and your wife having any trouble at home?" No.

"Were you and your wife close?" I thought about that. It was common knowledge that we didn't do things together, that we had drifted apart. "We have separate bedrooms." I said.

"Were you or your wife seeing anyone else?" No. I'm sure she wasn't. Her days were a predictable routine. She worked as a volunteer at the church five days a week, had her social club, and church on Sunday. Nothing about her routine had changed in years.