“H-he was one of my…. I was a teacher once, long time ago, and he….” His voice faltered, and he dropped his head back and ran both hands through his hair. “He was a student, and I can’t remember his name. God, I wanted to remember all their names.”
Linden reached out but stopped short of putting his hand on Tyler’s shoulder. Instead his hand hovered for a few seconds before he dropped it to his side. He sat in the chair next to Tyler. “Julius Hernandez.”
Tyler snorted a short laugh. “He wanted to be a screenwriter. He was in my creative writing class.” He ran one finger along the image on the screen. “What happened?”
“That’s what I’m trying to find out.” Linden folded his hands in front of him on the table. “He died by drowning. There was a suicide note, and someone wanted the world to think he did that to himself, but it’s really difficult to commit suicide that way, especially in a bathtub. There are a lot faster, easier, and less painful ways to kill yourself.”
“Christ,” Tyler said. “I seem to remember him saying he wasn’t comfortable in the water. I don’t guess that would apply to bathwater, but still….”
“Hmm.” Linden tapped on the table with one finger a few times. “Odd that someone at least a little afraid of water would choose to commit suicide by drowning.”
“Seems cruel,” Tyler said. “So how did you get the case?”
“The FBI is involved in part because he was an Army Reservist.”
Tyler nodded. “He talked about the military to pay for college. Lots of the kids did. It was their only option, really.”
“Did that myself. Joined the Army and was eventually recruited by the Bureau.”
“Are you here to arrest me?” Tyler asked abruptly.
Linden shook his head. “If I was here to arrest you, you’d be arrested, and we’d be having this conversation later in an interrogation room.”
“But you didn’t come all the way out here, in a blizzard no less, to do something you could have done over the phone,” Tyler said.
“I can’t look you in the eye over the phone.”
“Do you think I was involved in how he died?” Tyler asked.
“I don’t think you’re guilty, but you’re the only lead on a suspect I have right now. Like it or not, and with or without knowledge, you’re involved.”
“Well, I guess I should feel grateful you don’t think I did it.”
Linden smiled and nodded. He yawned and used one closed hand to cover his mouth. “Sorry, it’s been a long day.”
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