Interview With a Madman

Who Killed Walter Carton? Chapter 3

The room was narrow, dull, and softly lit. The bottoms of the walls were painted a bland green, and the tops were off-white. There was no furniture except for a bed, where Caleb Merton was reclining, his torso tilted up at a 45-degree angle, his arms, wrists, and forehead strapped down. One of his arms was coated in a thick cast from fingertips to elbow.

“What’s with the restraints?” asked SMS.

“It’s for his own safety,” explained Pavelec. “He still thinks he’s kept his powers. He shattered his arm pretty badly trying to punch his way through the concrete wall.”

Caleb followed their movements with his eyes as they entered the room. “Hey, little brother,” he mumbled. “Happy to see me?”

“Max isn’t here,” said Pavelec, sternly.

“One night only,” said Caleb.

“See?” said Pavelec to SMS.

SMS walked around to the side of the bed. “My name’s Shawn,” he said. “I have a couple of questions for you, Caleb.”

“There’s no point,” said Pavelec. “He’s got nothing to give you.”

SMS ignored her. He looked into Caleb’s eyes. “Do you have any idea who killed Walter Carton?” In response, Caleb jerked against his restraints and shrugged his shoulders up around his neck.

“He’s trying to fly,” said Pavelec.

SMS tried again. “What happened on the night Walter Carton gave you your special abilities?”

A text message from Cyber buzzed into SMS’s ear. “So,” it said, “why do you think Innis is playing along with the SU?”

SMS fired a message back this time. “don’t bother me. i’m trying to work here.”

“Might as well leave the poor guy in peace,” texted Cyber. “The lady’s right: he’s too fried to tell us anything.”

“We know you didn’t kill him,” said SMS to Merton. “We want you to help us find whoever’s to blame, so we can bring them to justice.” Huh. ‘Justice.’ Now there was a word SMS wasn’t used to saying in his line of work.

Cyber texted him again. “We should go find something more productive to do.”

“no,” replied SMS. “when i get an order i follow through on it. if you want to get any further in this organization, you’d better learn to do the same.”

“Is that what you think I’m after? Climbing the ‘corporate ladder’?”

“isn’t it?” said SMS.

“I think my motives might surprise you.”

SMS was still trying to decide how to interpret this when Caleb raised his head and said, “Levi St. Laurent.”

“What?” breathed Pavelec.

“Mean something to you?” asked SMS. He saw that the agent’s face had turned pale.

“…No,” she said. “Well, maybe. I’ve heard the name before, but… I don’t see what it has to do with this case.” She took a breath and composed herself. “St. Laurent is a person of interest to SU in Quebec. He’s been hit with a handful of organized crime charges, but nothing has ever stuck. So he’s kind of like a French-Canadian Ian Innis, in a way. He has a similar obsession with gathering info about specials, too, though he’s always held his cards much closer to the chest than Ian has.”

SMS raised his eyebrows.

Pavelec gave half a smile. “What’s wrong? You don’t think you’re the only person Innis has ever shared a secret with, do you? Don’t be naïve.”

SMS forced himself to take this in stride. Pavelec was probably just trying to mess with his head. After all, they weren’t exactly on the same side. “So why would Merton know St. Laurent’s name?” he said.

“He probably overheard it while he was waiting at the police station after he was arrested. A lot of stuff gets floated around in the hallways there.”

“Uh huh,” said SMS. Sure, he thought. It felt like she was trying just a little too hard to sweep the name under the rug. Maybe there was some kind of deeper connection that she didn’t want to share. This seemed like a piece of information he might be able to get some mileage out of, if he got the chance to do some research on his own, later.

SMS spent a few more minutes trying to coax something relevant out of Caleb, but got nowhere. “All right,” he said eventually, “I give up.”

“I told you it was a waste of time,” said Pavelec. “Let’s get some real work done. Innis said he’d get me a contact.”

“Sure,” said SMS. “I’ll get in touch with him.” He pulled out the dummy phone he used when he wanted to disguise his abilities and pretended to type on it while he composed and sent a text to Innis directly from his brain. “all done here,” he wrote. “what next?

GET ANYTHING FROM MERTON?” asked Innis. He still hadn’t fixed the caps-lock issue on his phone.

no. just babble,” said SMS.

TOO BAD,” wrote Innis. “BRING MIA TO THE HOLE ON VIEW. DROP MY NAME AND ASK FOR JOVO.”

“The Hole” was shorthand for a block of apartments in a building on View Street where a lot of meetings and exchanges took place among the gang crowd. SMS had been there once or twice, and knew it to be a pretty hostile environment. As he relayed the instructions to Pavelec, he wondered if she was armed. At least she wasn’t in uniform.

While they were walking out of the prison, Cyber stuck his hand in his pocket and texted SMS again. “Did you tell Innis about Levi St. Laurent?

“should i have?” wrote SMS.

“I guess that depends,” said Cyber, “on your endgame.”

The hair on the back of SMS’s neck prickled. “i don’t know what you’re talking about.

Suit yourself,” said Cyber.

SMS’s heart began to race. His “endgame”? What was that supposed to mean? What did Cyber suspect? What did he know? And how much of that had he been sharing with Innis?

Suddenly the growing confidence Innis had been displaying in Cyber was starting to look more and more dangerous.

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