― Michelle McNamara
I went back and sat in the green room where I interviewed Harold because I didn't want distractions―I wanted to think and see clearly, not jump to conclusions.
Was I doubting myself? Yeah, probably.
As Mark Twain sagely observed, supposing is good, but finding out is better.
Harold Franklin seemed sincere but that could be misleading. As one of my Criminology profs used to say, interrogation techniques are designed to ferret out anxiety but sometimes they create the very situation that make you feel the subject is guilty.
Could the reverse also be true?
I wasn't sure if Harold played me and Flora' s contrived 'chance' meeting could have been orchestrated by both of them in advance.
I rubbed my forehead. My brain hurt, no doubt the result of second-guessing.
All through this investigation I had been tempted by tantalizing clues that led in opposite directions. I could have wasted days looking for an ex-army sniper who had a beef with migrant workers.
The thing that niggled at me was Harold back at the beginning who mentioned Nat Beatty and told me he was ex-military. Was that a coincidence or a ploy? Yeah, the jury was still out on that one.
The bottom line was I couldn't take anything for granted, not until I found my Killer and had him safely behind bars.
I had a choice―I could go home and rest, have a good supper and pick things up in the morning when I might see things clearer, but I also could go out to my land and allow nature to heal me.
I elected for the latter and half an hour later was back on top of my cliff at my lookout point.
It felt good lying back against a sun-warmed rock in the late afternoon stillness. I needed quiet more than sleep and clarity more than enticing clues.
Sometimes too much information was worse than not enough.
I waited until I became part of the silence and birds fluttered down and foraged for food beside me, treating me as part of the landscape.
Thoreau was right, I thought―although the primeval may be exploited by man, it is not inhabited by him. The land resists human needs and it was this element that allowed me to shut off my mind and simply be.
I was taking in my surroundings, reaching out to pick a wild flower when it happened. A flash on a distant ridge, a small puff of smoke and then limestone fragments exploding beside me, cutting into my skin.
On instinct, I turned, rolled over and flattened myself, hearing the dying whine of a rifle shot.
Everything around me grew bright. I could feel adrenaline coursing through my veins. My fingers and toes were tingling.
I knew any movement would tip off the shooter to my exact place but I had to find cover.
I decided I'd be best behind the rock and could use it to crawl to the path that wound back toward the ground.
I made one quick lunge and rolled into the shadow of the rock but there were no further shots. I waited for several minutes before crawling backwards to the path and slowly making my way toward the cliff's bottom.
From time to time I'd stop and peer through the trees toward the distant ridge from where the shot came, but could see nothing.
When I got to the bottom, I phoned Neil for backup and ten minutes later the lane and grounds were lined with police vehicles.
The Swat team arrived from Brantford and secured the area and dispatched men to check out the cliff from which the shot was fired, but as I expected, they found nothing.
"Seems like you're making progress," Neil said with a deadpan understatement only law officers can manage.
"Looks that way," I grunted, rubbing my right elbow, while a medic swabbed antiseptic on my bruised cheek.
"I need to take a look at that," the medic said eyeing my arm and rolling up my sleeve to expose a red abrasion. "It's bruised. You should get x-rays."
"Yeah, I'll get on that," I muttered, having no intention other than heading home for a glass of wine and supper.
"I think it's time to get back-up," Neil sighed. "Things are heating up and I can't risk losing you, besides, Ella would never forgive me."
He grinned and clapped me affectionately on the shoulder.
I smiled back. "Message received."
I guess I found it hard to accept help. It had been a while since I was part of a family.