PLEASE NOTE: This is part 4 of the story, part 1 is online here, part 2 is online here, and part 3 is online here
Back in his dressing room, Aaron questioned Orbison again, but there wasn’t much information to be had.
“The British band has been sort of a nuisance to you, haven’t they, Sir?”
“Sorry, Roy,” Aaron agreed.
“No, up until the incident in the commissary, I’d only met one of them - George - he seemed nice enough, came in and talked to me about God for a bit. I tuned his guitar for him. I’ve already told you about the other one that I was eating with. So what’s going on?”
“We’ve got a security problem, and the guy you were sharing a table with is kind of our only suspect at the moment. You’ll tell us if he contacts you again?”
“Thanks, Roy.” There was a silence that went on just a beat too long, and even behind the sunglasses, Aaron could sense Roy was thinking about something.
“Can I ask you a question? You’re good at your job, all these people clearly adore you, but you don’t seem comfortable with it, Aaron. You don’t seem like a man who feels like he fits in. How did you end up doing this?”
“Uhm…how is this relevant to the case?” Aaron asked.
“It’s not. I just find I like you for some reason, and I’m curious. You don’t have to tell me anything.”
Aaron sighed, “Long, long story. I actually wanted to be a musician when I was a kid. I even recorded a song for my mama one, but, well, the session went badly. My daddy told me to give up my pipe dreams and knuckle down, so I drove trucks to put myself through college, got a degree in criminology, and went to work for Pinkertons.”
“Only a few million, but, you know, life…” he trailed off, suddenly uncomfortable.
“You want to in my place,” Roy said. It wasn’t a particularly trenchant insight: He was rich, he was famous, he was uniquely talented, he was not only the King of Rock and Roll, but more-or-less the inventor of it as well. *Everyone* wanted to be in his place. He was used to this kind of thing. Aaron went poker-faced and stared.
“Let’s assume you could make a deal with the devil, and go back in time and change your life so you’re in my place, what makes you think you’d fit in to my life any better than your own?”
“Huh?” Said Aaron, who was completely unprepared for this level of intimacy with a total stranger. A famous total stranger.
“Take Johnny Cash - I’ve never seen a man so eaten up with his own demons. They’d still be there if he was singin’ or pickin’ cotton. He’s a great guy, he’s my best friend, but he’s never known peace and he never will this side of the grave. It’s just his nature. Sometimes the thing we really want isn’t good for us, sometimes its disastrous. Claudette and I have had more than our share of troubles, owing entirely to the fame and the money and the temptation…but I can handle it because I’m kind of *built* to handle it. I’m longsuffering. But this kind of life could easily kill or destroy someone who wasn’t suited for it, you know?”
Aaron wasn‘t sure if this was friendly advice, or an insult.
“I have to go talk to Tom, excuse me,” he quickly excused himself.
“Not to mention,” Roy yelled after him as he left, “That if you took over my life, I’d have to do something else, and that doesn’t seem fair. I mean there’s not really anything else I’m fit for…”
Once again, Tom refused to lock down the base. It could be anything, it could just be that he had a pocket full of loco weed and didn’t want to get busted. Aaron had to agree, he didn’t really have the burden of proof at this point. Besides, no one had reported anyone missing or otherwise unaccounted for, everyone was where they were supposed to be. It was a quandary. Aaron had to reluctantly agree, and left.
“It’s still nagging at you, though, isn’t it,” Evans asked.
“Yeah. Well, eyes and ears open for our limey friend, and we’ll grab him when he comes to sound check.”
As it happened, it didn’t even take them that long. The West Gate called in that one of the musicians was trying to leave without a pass, so they quickly apprehended him, and dragged him back to Aaron’s temporary office. He screamed and fought and pissed and moaned, and was surprisingly tough, but in the end he gave in. Everyone was exhausted by then.
“Who did you kill?” Ron demanded.
“Who did you kill?”
“No, you’re going about this all wrong, mate,” the man said, “If you’re tryin’ to nab me for something, you don’t want to admit that you don’t know what it is I did.” Aaron silently admitted to himself that it was a good point.
“We know you killed someone,” said Ron, “So who was it?”
“Well, if you don’t know who it was, then you don’t have a body, right? And if you don’t have a body, then you clearly don’t know I did it, ‘cuz, there’s no evidence.” ‘Damn,’ thought Aaron, ‘he’s a lot smarter than his silly hat would lead you to expect.’
Evans continued to use the hard sell on him, but Aaron just sat back and watched it. After about ten minutes, the Englishman didn’t crack, so he simply said “He didn’t do it, Ron. You can go, sir, sorry for the inconvenience.”
“You’re bleedin’ well right you’re gonna’ be sorry for the inconvenience! This is wrongful imprisonment, I’m gonna’ sue you…”
“No, wrongful arrest. Wrongful imprisonment is something else. If we’d tied you to the chair, that would have been wrongful imprisonment, but we just wrongfully arrested you. And as we’re private detectives paid for by Boeing, you were never charged with anything formally, so it’ll be hard to make it stick. I’ll be happy to recommend a lawyer for you, if you like though. Ron, call Susan and have her pick out some lawyers for Mister Le….”
“All right, all right,” the Brit cut him off. “So what’s going on?”
Aaron sized him up for a moment, then said, “We think - thought - that there’s been a murder somewhere…”
“Boss, no!” Evans exclaimed!
Aaron continued without pausing, “…on the base, but as you and the head of Boeing security point out, no body: no crime,” then shot his sidekick a cold stare.
“He’s our chief suspect!” Evans exclaimed.
“Oh, he is not. He didn’t do it.”
“you don’t know that,” Ron said.
“Yes I do, and you do too. Just look at him. Did you kill anyone, son?”
“No sir,” the Brit said, “no, I could never kill anyone….life is too sacred, All you need is…”
“Then why did he run?” Evans demanded.
“Probably because we chased him,” Aaron offered.
“’S right, mate! Human nature!” The Brit said.
“Again, I’m sorry for all the fuss, sir. I do ask that if you see anything suspicious here, you please let Mr. Evans or myself know, ok?”
“Gear!” And he walked away.
When he was out of site, Evans said, “You want me to tail him?”
“Oh, hell yeah!” said Aaron.
TO BE CONTINUED
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