row2k Features
Body of Water - Chapter Nineteen: A Good Lie
November 1, 2021
Dan Boyne

"I THINK I NEED A DRINK, AFTER ALL OF THAT," Sue Chasen said, plopping down into an overstuffed chair. She took a quick look around Delaney's apartment, which looked like a cheap hotel room. It smelled faintly like a gym.

"You certainly deserve one," Delaney said. "Great job tonight."

"Thanks. But I don't think I ever want to do that again. I'll stick to examining people after they've died."

Delaney smiled and poured her a glass of Merlot from a previously opened bottle that he'd failed to recork.

"Sorry, it's all I have," he apologized.

"Desperate times," Sue quipped. "So...what was Ed Masterson doing in the Sparks's garage tonight?"

"He claims that Maya told him to meet him there, and even gave him the access code beforehand."

"Okay...weird," she said, trying not to wince after she tasted her wine.

"Well at least that explains why the alarm didn't go off," Delaney said.

"But why invite someone over during a huge house party?" Sue asked. "Unless you purposely wanted to have them get caught."

"Maybe that was Maya's plan," Delaney said. "She seemed pretty convincing tonight in her portrayal of Masterson as an abusive ex-boyfriend. Setting him up could've been payback."

"It was definitely a good performance," Sue agreed.

"So you don't believe her?"

She shrugged. "What else did Masterson say, when you got him back to the station?"

"He still maintains that he's innocent of any wrong-doing, both tonight and on the Charles River."

"And you believe him?" Sue asked.

Delaney shrugged and took another sip of wine.

"He did confess to carrying an off-again, on-again relationship with Maya, even after she got married to Sheldon Sparks. But when I mentioned her recent allegations about him, he went ballistic. He seemed genuinely surprised, confused, and pissed-off."

"So either Masterson is a great liar, or he's a total chump who just got played by his ex."

Delaney nodded. "You were in the same room with Maya, what did you think of her?"

"Well, she certainly had me on her side for a while, but she doesn't strike me as the victim type - way too smart."

"Smart women can still be victims," Delaney countered.

"Certainly," Sue agreed. "Sometimes they're even made to drink day-old wine."

"Hey, nobody's forcing you," Delaney laughed.

Sue gave a mock grimace as she stared down at her abandoned Merlot, as if weighing the pros and cons of taking another sip.

"Okay, so what's your take, detective?" she asked. "Is Maya Sparks lying, or is she telling the truth? After all, you and Marsh were listening in to most of our conversation over Bluetooth."

"A good lie always has some element of truth to it," Delaney mused. He was starting to feel the liberating effects of the alcohol.

"That's very philosophical of you, but cut to the chase. What part of her story is true, and what part is not?"

"Ah, yes. Now we come to the real detective work."

"Why not just get them in the same room together and grill them?" Sue suggested.

"Great idea, but it's a little more complicated than that. Remember, Maya Sparks isn't guilty of anything yet, and she knows it. For that matter, neither is Ed Masterson, aside from a possible breaking and entering charge. We can't omit the possibility that they might have been working together, at least initially, so I need to keep them both guessing about what we know and play them off each other."

"So, what do we do now?" Sue asked, with a tone of frustration in her voice. She was beginning to get annoyed by the way that Delaney seemed to be enjoying himself, using her as a foil for his own problem-solving process. That, and the fact that she was still sober.

"Basically, we need more information. There are still a lot of unanswered questions that would help us decide our next course of action," Delaney said. "Like whose child is Maya Sparks carrying? And how might that tie in to a motive for murder?"

"And now we have three possibilities for the paternity, not just two," Sue pointed out.

Delaney nodded, refilling his wine glass. Suddenly he smiled, realizing how much he enjoyed his repartee with Sue. She'd become much more of a partner to him than Marsh McDonald ever had been.

"It might be helpful if we could gain access to Maya and Sheldon Spark's medical records," he said. "I'll be willing to bet that they visited a fertility clinic somewhere along the line. There could be some clues hidden among all the paperwork."

"Okay, it's a bit illegal, but I can probably call in a few favors," Sue offered.

"Thanks," Delaney said. "I owe you a dinner. And a decent bottle of wine."

"That's for sure," Sue laughed, bravely reaching over and draining her glass.

"One thing is certain-Maya Sparks was quite the femme fatale," she continued. "And quite possibly a brilliant criminal mastermind."

"How so?" Delaney asked.

"Well, when you step back and think about it, she could've orchestrated this whole thing from the start, using all three men as her pawns."

"It's definitely an interesting theory," Delaney said. "But as the chief would say, with no proof I can't make something like that stick. In court, it might easily come off as chauvinistic conjecture. Any good lawyer would tear it apart."

"It's not all conjecture," Sue protested. "Remember, according to Masterson, Maya was polyamorous, so she'd have no problem with that part of the equation."

"You mean like 'any old port in a storm?'" Delaney teased.

"Charming," Chasen said. "Talk about a typical male response."

"Guilty as charged."

"What I meant was, Maya might have purposefully slept with all three men to get exactly what she wanted-money, prestige, and a baby to boot. And then she leaves the crew coach holding the bag."

"That's quite a trifecta," Delaney said. "But again, we need proof."

They mulled it over a bit, sipping their wine. Delaney's cell phone rang. "State Police Barracks" popped up on the caller ID. He put the call on speaker after he answered it.

"What is it, Marsh? It's almost midnight, and I'm trying to get some sleep," Delaney said, winking at Chasen.

"Sorry, boss, but Favio and I are still combing through those downloads from Finley's computer. I think there's something you need to see."

"Okay, but can't it wait until morning?"

"I guess," Marsh replied, sounding disappointed.

"Okay, okay. What is it?"

"Well, remember that video of Finley jumping off the bridge? The one we thought his teammates took?"

"And later claimed they deleted?"

"Yeah, well, it looks like it was uploaded onto Finley's Facebook page from his laptop, after the fact. It must have been done by Maya Sparks, unless Finley can code from the grave."

"Good work, Marsh. See you bright and early."

"So, what does that mean?" Sue asked.

"It means we can finally bring Maya Sparks in for questioning."

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