On the Subject of Irrational Numbers
Chapter Three: A Million Eyes and Two Different Ears
Henry still couldn't shake the feeling that he was being watched. If anything, it had only gotten worse the day before when Detective Riley had spent the entire day hovering. He couldn't blame the man, especially since he had apparently not had much to do with the forensic side of investigation.
But he never asked any questions, a small part of Henry's brain was warning him. It was the same part that told him to run when someone found out about his secret. He just watched all day.
The case that Detective Riley was working was strange as well. The woman had asphyxiated because she had somehow inhaled hydrogen cyanide. But it wasn't the kind of substance that someone like Ms. Harmon would come across in her daily life.
It was clearly murder, but the motive was less obvious. Just from what he could gather from her body, she was not a person to hold grudges or to let something she had done go un-apologized. Her worst crime was probably an overdue library book or a stealing candy from someone's hidden stash. Nothing that would induce someone to murder her in such a violent and personal way.
"She must have found out about something," Henry realized as he reviewed the notes for Detective Riley. "Something big. She would have reported it without really understanding what it was."
Henry's office phone rang and he picked up the receiver. "Dr. Morgan here."
The dissonant warble of a voice changer hummed in his ear. "Drop the Harmon case."
Before the person on the other end of the line said anything else, the line disconnected, leaving Henry slightly shaken. He grabbed his coat and made for the door.
"Oh, hey, Doc," Lucas said, just getting in for the morning. "Where are you going?"
"I need to talk to Detective Riley and Detective Fusco. If Jo comes looking for me, I'll be at the 12th precinct."
Henry still didn't know that he trusted John Riley. Most people were unsettled the first time they saw his autopsy methods. Even Jo had been disgusted when she walked in on his opening up the dead subway driver that ignited their relationship. In fact, to say unsettled was an understatement.
But John Riley—he was calm. He didn't relish the sight, but it failed to turn his stomach, which meant that the detective had seen a lot of gore in his life. And the man wouldn't have seen enough working for the Narcotics division to have developed such a passé attitude around so much death.
Briefly, he entertained the idea that John Riley was another immortal like him. But it was unlikely that Adam, in all his years of searching had not found another immortal while Henry discovered two in his second century of eternal life.
And if the man was immortal, it was not Henry's place to discover his secrets the way Adam had so forcefully uncovered his own.
The immortal got off the subway a few block away from the precinct and walked down the rest of the way.
One of the officers directed him to Detective Riley's desk, which was in the back near the interrogation rooms. The building seemed a little older than one he and Detective Martinez worked in, but he could appreciate the intimidation of an older generation of police when the rules weren't quite as strict. He had been on the receiving end of that intimidation more than he cared to remember.
"Dr. Morgan. Is something wrong?" Detective Riley was quite perceptive. Henry was sure that he showed no more outside signs of unsteadiness from the phone call, but the man had picked up on something right away. The immortal medical examiner heard Detective Fusco stand up and come closer so he could be involved as well.
"I received a phone call, I don't know who it was, from someone who told me to drop Miss Harmon's case."
"Did they threaten you?" Of course that would be Detective Riley's first question. But it looked the question was also on Fusco's tongue.
"Not explicitly," Henry confessed. "But between the voice changer and the tone of the words, it was heavily implied."
It was almost as if something clicked in Riley's head. He was suddenly standing straighter, poised to fight. It seemed that Fusco recognized this attitude in him as well. Henry could barely hear the shorter detective as he whispered, "Wonder boy, we're in a police station. No one is going to try anything that stupid. And if they did. There are fifty cops between the door and us."
Detective Riley relaxed, but not by much. "We can take you into protective custody."
"Why would they be after me? I'm only the medical examiner," Henry pointed out. "I simply told you because it means that we are asking the right questions."
Suddenly Henry remembered what he had been saying right before the phone call. It had really just been thinking out loud, but for his thoughts to have been followed so closely by the phone call… It was possible that someone had planted listening devices in his office, possibly throughout his work space. He would need to talk to Detective Martinez and see if she could get her hands on any devices that would detect them faster than cleaning.
"I think that Christine Harmon discovered something, and if she had been given any more time to process it, she would have uncovered something damaging." Henry needed to walk them both through the conversation he had with himself before he got the strange phone call. "As it was, I think she reported it before she really knew what it was she was reporting, and they killed her so she would never understand what she had found."
"That makes sense," Fusco said. "So we should probably start looking into her workplace then."
John nodded. "I can take you back to your precinct, Dr. Morgan." The way the man phrased it, Henry didn't get the idea that he had an option in the matter.
Out in the car, Detective Riley offered him a cellphone. "It just a burner with my number programmed into it."
"I believe I made my attitude toward those kind of phones clear," Henry pointed out. "And I highly doubt that any of the materials in that are particularly combustible."
John sighed. "It's cheap and disposable. It's called a burner phone because it's hard to trace, and if it does get traced, then you aren't throwing away something expensive or important when you get rid of it."
"I really don't see why I need one…"
"Look, just take it. If for no other reason but that I'll feel better if I know that you can reach me if you need to while you're not near a landline."
Henry still refused. If he started carrying one now, Jo would expect him to have one at all times, and that was one piece of technology he could never get used to.
Back at the precinct, Henry went straight up to Jo rather than face whatever might be in his office alone.
"Lucas said that you'd gone to the 12th. Did Riley need something?" she asked as Henry stood over her desk.
"Actually, it's quite the opposite. I needed to tell him that the investigation is headed in the right direction. Someone called me and told me to drop the case."
"It's fine; there were no explicit threats and it would hardly be worth the effort to worry about it."
"Still," Jo protested. "We should tell the lieutenant."
"But first, I wonder if you can help me procure an item that finds listening devices."
Jo stared at Henry as if he had grown another head. "You think your office is bugged?"
"Yes, and as you know, such surveillance can only lead to more problems."
"Jesus, Henry." Jo ran her fingers through her hair, "You get into the most trouble when you're supposed to be keeping a low profile. I think I can borrow something from Cyber-crimes that will help."
She had told Henry that she would meet him in his office so Henry went back and waited for her, filling out paperwork in the interim so that if he spoke, the only thing his listeners would hear were the items on his request forms.
Detective Martinez appeared at his door with a finger on her lips. She set down a small grey box on his desk and flipped a switch on it. "Okay now we talk freely. That device jams any signals that are trying to get out. And this…" She held up another device, "This is for finding them."
They worked their way methodically around the room and Jo handed the tiny bugs to Henry, who put them on the desk near the jammer.
"Uh, Henry?" She was poking at the pile they had gathered. "I think you may have a bit of a bigger problem."
"What is it?"
"Well, you have two different styles of listening devices here, so either you have one person who got two different kinds, or you have two people listening in."