Kathleen talks to Derek Fisher.
The first thing she thinks when the door swings open is that Derek Fisher has striking eyes, their soft blue contrasting with the milky brown of his round face. She shows him her badge, asks if he'll answer a few questions. He looks faintly curious but not surprised or upset or nervous. He glances at his wristwatch and nods, saying, "I've got a few hours before I have to get to campus. Please come in." He bolts the door behind her and leads her to a striped couch.
He manages to get her a cup of coffee just the way she likes it without making a fuss or hovering, but she's aware of how his quiet motions, unobtrusive though they are, have made it clear that she is on his turf, and that he is under no obligation to speak to her at all. When he meets her assessing gaze again, though, she can tell that none of this is deliberate; he is simply detached, his mind on something else.
"Mr. Fisher," she begins, "you share this apartment with someone named Tom Tracy, is that correct?" He nods calmly. "Did he ever use the last name Graeblowski, as far as you're aware?" He looks a little puzzled now as he shakes his head in denial. "And has Mr. Tracy been missing for about a week?"
"He hasn't been here, if that's what you're asking," he says, his voice still remarkably unperturbed.
"May I ask why you didn't report him missing, sir?"
"He's always off somewhere or the other, performing. I think he said something about a show in St. Louis that would be on at about this time."
The explanation makes sense, and she has no reason to mistrust Fisher, but his calmness is rattling her. There's something here that she needs to tease out, and until she can figure out how, she has to get him talking. Most people are more than pleased to talk about themselves, so she starts him on that track, paying close attention to what he does and does not say. "And what is it that you do, sir?" she asks, politely, as if it is just a courtesy, as if she is not intent on drawing him out.
"Me?" At last he looks surprised. "I'm a grad student down at the university."
"Is that Lincoln University?" He nods and she keeps moving forward. "And what is your field?" There's nothing in this living room to indicate his area of interest, no books or papers scattered around.
"American history," he says, his eyes going shy behind his horn-rimmed glasses. "The expansion of the railroad and of the country, really," he continues, sounding more and more enthused. "Would you like to see?" He stands and leads the way to a small bedroom. One entire wall is taken up by books, stacked on the floor, crammed into crates, shelved haphazardly into a sagging bookshelf. There's a desk in there as well, covered in papers marked by pen and highlighter ink. She turns to survey the room and her eye is caught by a procession of strange little figures marching across the windowsill. She moves closer to inspect them, frowning a little when she sees that they're made of bone and wood and hair. He's gotten lost again in contemplation of the nineteenth-century map of the country that hangs on the wall, but he hears her when she clears her throat questioningly. "Oh, yeah, those. My grandmother made them for me when I was born. Made me promise to keep them by my window for as long as I lived." There's fondness in his face now, and she has no compunction about slipping in underneath his guard.
"What about Tom's bedroom? Could I see that, please?"
He's obedient, still the dutiful grandson, and he leads her to the bedroom on the other side of the apartment without a murmur. She opens the door and thinks that, without ever having known Tom Tracy alive, she'd have guessed that this was his room. It's messy, clothes strewn everywhere, mostly designer labels or convincing knock-offs. There are black-and-white movie stills covering the walls, some with autographs. There's a dresser with a mirror above it opposite the bed, and on its surface lie empty glasses frames, a bottle of self-tanner, and a small collection of silver jewelry. "Do you know what he took with him when he left?"
"No," he says thoughtfully, looking at her, and she wonders if he's figuring it out, that she's not here to speak with Tom, that she's here to tell him that Tom is dead. "He usually packed a small suitcase if he was going to be working out of town for more than a few days, but I think that's it right there," he says, pointing to the blue fabric peeking out from under the bed. "But he wasn't really himself the last time I saw him."
"How do you mean?" she asks, focusing all of her attention back on him, since the room is no more and no less than what she expected.
"Well," he begins, a small smile crossing his face, "he was never really himself. Always acting, trying on characters - changing his clothes, his hair, his accent. But the last week before he left - before I thought he left for St. Louis - he stayed in one character the entire time." She stays silent, waiting to hear more, though it is too much to hope that he'll be able to offer an explanation for how Tom ended up dead in Jefferson City rather than alive and on stage in St. Louis. "He was wearing these weird contacts that made his whole eye black, and his voice got deeper. He kept talking about his father, about stopping the threat. It made no sense."
"Like he was learning lines?" she tries.
"No, like he knew the lines but not who he was supposed to be," he finally says, weighing his words.
That's not exactly clear, but there seems to be nothing more to be said. She's walking to the door when his voice stops her. "He's dead, isn't he? Officer?"
Her hand is on the doorknob but she pulls it back to face him. "Yes. I'm sorry. He is." He nods, his face still set and calm, and she lets herself out.