Portland, Oregon.

This guy is a real class act, Detective Suarez tells his LT.  He refuses to talk trash about his ex and her friends.  Who does he think did it?  He’s not speculating.  We asked him to put a check next to any of the people on the list that his ex gave us, and he looked it over and handed it right back to us and just shook his head no.  "These are my friends; I would open my home and my wallet to any of them".

What does he say about his ex?  Just that he knows it’s not her.  Why did they break up?  He wouldn’t talk about it.  "I’m not going there", is all he’ll say.  What did she say?  That he’s infatuated with Lana Radley.  Who initiated the breakup?  She told us that he forced her hand.  That he tried to hire Radley to do an FBI quality background check on her, but Radley refused, and then poisoned his mind against her by telling him to ask her for a credit report, and he did - at a dinner party in front of all of their friends.  And she told him to go to hell.  Then he left to hang out with Simon Barjona in New Orleans.  Who does she think did it?  She thinks he hired someone to set the fire himself as a way of burning his bridges.  She’s really bitter.

Will good cop, bad cop work on him?  No, he’s way too smart, the detective replies.  It works on everyone, the LT replies, but let’s use a perceived neutral third party to break the deadlock.  Who?  The FBI.  Let’s put him and his ex together in my office, and I get called away, and we’ll listen to their interactions.  You want me to wire your office?!?  Yes.  But it won’t be admissible in court.  I don’t need a conviction, just an explanation.  The mayor is pushing me hard for results on this one.  He doesn’t want to upset the Silicon Forest apple cart.

***

I had nothing to do with this, Riley.  You have to believe me, Jillian tells him with tears in her eyes, barely able to keep her composure.  He gives her a hug, and she starts sobbing in his arms.  I believe you, he tells her.  This is the most awful experience I’ve ever been though, she sobs.  Let’s go hear what this detective has to say, Riley tells her.

You have powerful and well-connected friends, Detective Suarez tells them with a frown and his arms crossed.  A tall gaunt bald black man in a suit approaches.  I’m LT Murphy.  Please follow me.  He leads them into a plush corner office.  Thank you for coming down to the station and making yourself available, LT says smoothly.  Can I get either of you something to drink?  A water perhaps?  Coffee?  A water would be nice, Jillian admits.  Sir?  The officer asks Riley.  Sure.  He goes to his office fridge and pulls out two I RECYCLE water bottles and hands them to each.  Thank you.  The man nods.  The reason I asked you both to come in is because we are leaning toward classifying this as a hate crime.  Riley and Jillian look at each other.  The FBI is en route to interview you.  Their polygraph machine is state of the art.  Now I’ve got a couple questions while we’re waiting for them.  There’s a knock on the door.  Sir, she says she’s willing to confess, the newbie detective tells him.  I’ll be back shortly, the officer tells them, and leaves the room and closes the door behind him.

The officers crowd into an interview room and listen.

A hate crime?  Jillian says incredulously.  Who knows, maybe it’s Antifa targeting me, makes more sense than what Simon thinks.  Who does he think did it?  He’s convinced that there is a DARK MONEY conspiracy at work, because I made a big donation to Senator Johns presidential campaign.  He says that they’re making an example of me. That’s crazy, Jillian exclaims.  Is it?  Politics is a bloodsport.  Have you ever heard what Bush’s operatives did to Perot back in the 90s?  What are you talking about?  Simon told me that they threatened to ruin Perot’s daughter’s wedding if he didn’t drop out of the race.  Riley, that’s a far cry from setting your condo and Yukon on fire.  Think about it, Jillian.  Tom Steyer bankrolled Obama just to get the Keystone Pipeline spiked.  Billionaires are willing to spend hundreds of millions to get their Manchurian candidate into office, and if grassroots gets in the way…they take them out.  Who is they, Riley?  DARK MONEY.  You know that’s completely circular, right?  Yes, I do, but do you have any better ideas of why this would happen?

You didn’t do it?  She asks him.  No.  How can you even ask that?  Because you and I are the only suspects.  Why do you think they’re bringing in the FBI’s polygraph machine?  To clear us obviously, Riley replies, and to satisfy the insurance companies.   Do you have any enemies that I don’t know about?  Jillian asks.  Probably whoever didn’t make the cover of Wired that month, Riley says chuckling.  This isn’t funny, Riley; you need to take this seriously.  I’m seriously considering leaving town permanently.  Bettina wants me to move down there.  We need smart transplants, is what she told me.  The next day she even baked us some carrot cake cupcakes and brought them over to welcome us to the neighborhood.  Southern hospitality is no joke.  So you and Simon got a place next to theirs?  It’s a couple blocks away.  Who does Bettina think did it?  She thinks it’s a faceless one-off because there weren’t any death threats.

What does Lana Radley think?  There’s a long pause.  Well, what does your new girlfriend think?  She’s not my girlfriend; we’re just friends.  Jillian rolls her eyes.  She’s dating this Hispanic restaurant manager now.  Remember Bettina’s clip where she used the missing cat to ask out the club owner.  Yes.  Well, that’s Lana’s new boyfriend.  How in the world can someone like her land…and Jillian doesn’t finish the thought.

I suppose she told you that I was the one who did it.  Actually the exact opposite, Riley responds.  I asked her what she thought, and she said it wasn’t you.  And Simon seconded that.  So who does she think did it?  She didn’t speculate.  She didn’t come right out and say it, but reading between the lines, she wants me to let the cops do their job.  And that’s exactly what I intend to do.  We’re not here to solve this case for them, Jillian.

Where were you when you first got the news?  I was in the bathroom, taking a dump and checking my messages.  What did everyone do when you told them what happened?  Bettina told me to call you right away.  Then what?  I told Lana that this detective wanted me to call him back ASAP, and she told me to *8 and leave a message for him.  And when I started to ramble she made a cutoff gesture.  And I hung up right away.  Bettina asked Simon if he was packing his gun, and he nodded, and they put their arms around each other.  They’re officially together now.  NO WAY!  Jillian says.  Simon’s a good guy, Jillian.  I know he is, Riley.  I saw him give this young couple a thousand dollars in cash.  It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.  You’re not making any sense, Riley.  We were at church sitting with Bettina waiting for the service to start.  I’m on her left, Simon’s on her right.  Lana is in the row behind us, seated directly behind Bettina, her boyfriend Raul is behind me, and Bettina’s dad, Tom, is behind Simon.  And I hear Simon’s phone beep that he’s got a text, and he looks at his phone and then bolts upright and turns around and tells Lana that Jon and Jenny are there.  And that Jenny wants to sit with Lana.  But the church is just packed, and there’s no room, so he points at this young couple, sitting next to Tom: you two, I’ll give you a thousand dollars cash for your seats, right here, right now.  You should have seen their faces.  They were just star struck, and could barely stammer out thank you when he handed them his bankroll.  So why is that cool?  Simon’s always been over the top.  Lana is Jenny’s hero, Jillian.

Who is Jenny?  Let me back up.  Before the concert, the Make-A-Wish Foundation reached out to Rolf and he took Jenny on a date to an opera with Lana and Simon and Bettina and Jax.  Jenny’s dying, Jillian.  She’s bald, and really frail now.  And she’s only fifteen.  Oh.

Jon pushed her up in a wheelchair and helped her stand up, and it took her a long time to walk to Lana.  But she was so determined.  And then she and Lana held hands the whole service.  Simon told me later that she’s really going downhill fast.  When she sat next to him at the opera she was really spunky, and just died laughing at the prank that Lana played on him and Jax.  Lana asked Simon out to that opera, and told him that he could wear whatever he wanted, as long as it was plaid, Riley says chuckling.

The grass is always greener, Jillian snipes.  I like people and then tend to sour on them as I get to know them, Riley admits.  Tell me about it, Jillian mutters.  But it hasn’t been that way with Lana and Bettina and Simon.  Some pastures are just greener because they’re getting better care.  <Silence>  The cops listening in all look at each other.  Burn, the detective says.

So I suppose you’re going to be carrying a gun everywhere like Lana Radley and Simon now.  I thought about it, but I’m just going with a folding knife here.  Check this out, Jill.  And he pulls a knife out of his waistband and presses the button and it springs open.  He hands it to her.  Is that a switchblade?  She asks incredulously. It’s a Benchmade, and is made right here in Portland and is completely legal.   Show me how to work it.   Neat.  I like it, and it’s even got a butterfly on the handle already.  Thank you, she tells him grinning.  He laughs.  It’s yours.  How were you carrying it?  It’s called appendix carry.  Simon says that’s the best place to carry for concealment because guys don’t stare at other guy’s junk, unless they want to get punched.  She laughs, as do the cops in the other room.  It’s a little too close to Mr. Happy for my tastes, Riley, and she clips it in her waistband.  How do I look?  She asks him.  Ready.  <Silence>

I’m going to go find a bathroom before this polygraph test, she tells him and then gets up and leaves the office.

Five minutes later she comes back into the office and sits back down.  She digs into her purse and hands him an envelope from Transunion.  This is my credit report, she tells him.  I want you back.  Please give us another chance.  He raises his eyebrows.  I’ve been eating onions with every meal, well almost.  Riley chuckles.  The cops exchange puzzled glances.  Let’s go to Dunkin Donuts and get carryout and find a cheap hotel next to a liquor store.  What?  Forget Maui, she tells him.  I’m going with Bettina’s answer.  I just want to be by your side; I’ve missed you.

***

Hey newbie, get the LT a pen from the desk, a detective yells out of the interview room.    The cop comes back a minute later and hands it to him.  Do they look ready to talk?  LT asks the newbie.  He nods.  They looked guilty, sir, he tells his boss.  That’ll be all, thank you, LT says.  And he and the detectives burst out laughing when the newbie leaves.

***

The FBI had to cancel; something else came up, the LT says on coming back into the office.  Frankly, it’s just as well, the LT admits.  It upsets me to see citizens treated like suspects, but the mayor insisted on bringing them in.  He’s taken a personal interest in this case, and has been calling me daily for updates and he wants results.  Off the record – he says looking at Riley, who nods.  My gut tells me that this is a one-off publicity stunt from an extremist splinter group of these Antifa idiots you see downtown picketing.  They probably saw your face on the cover of WIRED and fixated on you.  But it’s not just you they hate; it’s the whole capitalist system they want to burn down.  It’s the definition of irony, protesting the very society as unjust that gives them the freedom and opportunity of sowing the seeds of its destruction.  He shakes his head in disgust.  We need some leadership in this country who will stand up to the DARK MONEY that is behind these pawns.

Jillian looks at Riley with wide eyes.  Back on the record, the cop says.  Hate crimes are slow to resolve; you both need to manage your expectations.  What usually happens is that the perps will turn on each other when brought in for an unrelated offense.  There is no honor among thieves.  The wheels of justice grind slow, but they grind exceedingly fine.

You had some questions for us?  Riley asks.  They were just baseline questions for the polygraph.  I’ve taken enough of your valuable time.  The officer takes his card and writes something on the back of it.  This is my personal number.  If there is anything that Portland PD can do to help keep you safe or if your insurance company is balking, you have only to let me know, day or night.  We value your contribution to our city.  Jillian beams at Riley.  I appreciate you saying that, Riley says.  Thanks for coming in and for your cooperation, SIR, the LT says as he stands to offer his hand to Riley across the desk, and then to Jillian.

***

Simon gets back to the locker room after his swim and sees that he’s got a text from Riley.  Jillian and I are going to Vegas to get some training.  Thanks doesn’t even begin to cover it.  I owe you.  –Rx

He calls Bettina.  Hello, boyfriend.  I’m in a staff meeting and everyone is staring at me.  I’ll make it quick.  Riley and Jillian are back together.  Oh.  I’m going to head over to Michigan and see Jax.  OK.  I love you, Simon.  She hangs up abruptly and grins at those listening in.  Lana says that I shouldn’t wait for some big moment to let him know.  And that it’s easiest to say it over the phone first.  The others chuckle and smile back at her.  How’s the investigation coming?  Senator Johns asks.  Riley and Jillian are back together.  That’s all the information I have, sir.

***

The mayor calls the LT.  What’s the status on the Riley Mac investigation?  Did you get his ex-gf to confess?  Sir, she didn’t do it.  Who then?  We’re going to classify it as a hate crime while we run down a new lead.  What do you have?  We think an extremist fringe of Antifa targeted him, and we want to follow the money and find out who the shot callers were.  The new lead?  The mayor asks.  We have a credible source who believes that DARK MONEY called a hit on the victim to make an example of him.  What are you talking about?  We’ve since learned that Riley Mac is a serious financial backer of Senator Johns Presidential campaign.  What?!?  I didn’t even know that’s he’s declared, the mayor says.  I know this is way outside the box, Mr. Mayor, but it gives motive.  This wasn’t a crime of opportunity; this took planning and resources that the usual Antifa malcontents don’t have.  The whole thing really sounds like a stretch, Dan.  Mr. Mayor, I’d like to put together a multi-agency task force and cast a wide net.  Hold off on that; just handle it internally for now, the mayor responds after a moment.  But give it the resources it needs to see if this pans out.  Thank you, sir.  The LT calls in Detective Suarez, who sees him beaming.  We just got greenlit to take down Antifa.