After some much needed rest, Laney stepped out of her apartment to run a few errands. It was a rare day the sun poked out of the late autumn sky. She locked the door while whistling the end of “Sitting on the Dock of The Bay.” She had her recycle-friendly canvas bag slung on her shoulder.
“Are you Miss Eleanor Heather Kilburn?” she heard from the bottom of her steps She spun around from the small deck to see a man at the bottom of the metal staircase. He had greying blond buzzcut hair and was dressed in a black suit and shaded Oakleys. He reminded her of the Russian thugs that kidnapped the band. “Uh, no, don’t know, and don’t know anybody by that name ’round here.”
He pulled out a badge.
'Roland Marsh, FBI . Miss Kilburn, let’s not wasted anyone’s time. According to your profile history on social media regarding your band, not to mention the Freeloader, you are undoubtedly Miss Kilburn. I need to know of your association with a Mister Todd Krupin. Can we find a more private place to talk?”
“Do I have a choice?”
“Not really, Miss.” She let out a huge sigh. It was clear that she would not be able to get past his imposing figure.
“Okay. Come on in.” She worked the locks until the door opened with a creak. She tugged the chain for the bare bulb above her small table for two.
“Have a seat.” She wasn’t about to offer him a beverage or snack. Let this fucker find his own snacks for ruining my plans for the day, she thought. The man took off his Oakleys and folded them inside their case. He placed them on the table. He did a scan of her tiny apartment, stopping for a second at Laney’s old Yamaha hanging on the wall by its strap. The guitar had “The Demands” scratched below its bridge. The guitar that she played for years and on many a gig.
“Nice guitar. Yours, I assume.”
She took off her coat, tossed her bag and keys as she sat across from him.
“Let’s not waste anyone’s time, that’s what you said, right?” Laney said with a frosty voice.
“What would you say your relationship with Todd Krupin was?”She paused, thinking of a lawyer’s misdirect of the subject matter, to no avail.
“Ehh, for a time, we were boyfriend and girlfriend.”
“How long did this relationship last?”
“Jeez, I dunno, like, a few months, three maybe? Four? I didn’t keep track. I’m not one of those girls who keeps a journal like a teenager. He turned into a real douche so I dumped him.”
“At the time, were you aware of what he did for a living?”
“At the time, I thought he just helped his uncle sell used cars or something like that. Long after we broke up, I learned he was dealing. Almost killed a friend of mine with heroin.”
“That uncle was Artur Petrov, aka Arthur Peters, former head of the Russian Mob, East Coast. Todd never mentioned any of this to you?”
“No, and why would I even think of that? He seemed like a guy with style, a smooth customer.” Bad choice of words—customer, she thought.
“So you never pressed him on his background, what he did for a living?”
“He was the quiet type and I’ll admit, I got caught up in his high-end lifestyle and good looks. I just moved here from Maryland and he was the first guy to show me the sights. First I thought he was deep, lost in his thought, but turned out he was just a himbo.”
“Do you have knowledge of his current whereabouts?”
“No. He’s off being stupid somewhere, I’m sure.”
“You have an admirable lack of curiosity for someone who witnessed the situation at The Hotseat.”
Someone must have thrown her under the bus. Most likely, one of the mobsters squealed to reduce his prison sentence. His inquiry about The Hotseat almost made her puke. But not now. Not in front of this asswipe. She blanked out as words fell out of her mouth. She was lightheaded, but maintained enough situational awareness not to volunteer too much.
The grueling conversation eventually wrapped up after he tired of her non-answers. Roland stood up, grabbing his shades.
“Thank you for your time, Miss Kilburn. When your memory improves, here’s my contact info,” he said, dropping a business card on the table.
“Namaste,” Laney calmly said, holding her palms together vertically.