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Friday January 11, 2023

He knew he tended to be a quiet walker, based on the fact he frequently surprised people if they didn’t see him coming. But he didn’t try to make his approach known either. It was good to keep people on their toes, and he wouldn’t admit it aloud but he kind of enjoyed scaring people that way.

He approached Cora Wilkins, intending on sending her on a task. She was standing at her station, work phone in hand, focusing on some matter in front of her.

“Cora,” he said without pomp or circumstance, and quietly delighted in her startled “woah!”

“Hey, make some noise, would ya, Andre?” She said, sighing. “Dang.”

He chuckled at her, “My bad,” he said. “Whatcha doing right now?”

She’d turned back to her phone, and without looking up, said, “Regretting life choices and contemplating faking my own death.” She looked up at him.

“Woah, woah, he said, holding his hands up as if to protect himself. “Calm down there.”

She rolled her eyes at him. “I’m just doing the same thing I always do, every single morning, working on these reports.” She put her phone down and made eye contact. “What did you need me to do?”

This was what he told the police officers who spoke to him, days after Cora Wilkins was reported missing. He also told them that he’d just asked her to do things he’d always asked that were part of her normal job duties.

“We never really had any issues, her and I.” He told them. “Everyone has bad days, and I know pretty well when she’s not one hundred percent. Sometimes you gotta give people space, you know.”

“Right, Mr. Garner.” The detective said. “Like we said, we don’t suspect you of anything. We are just trying to get a picture of Mrs Wilkins’ mindset around the time she went missing.”

“Of course. She seemed to be doing fine performance wise, I never have many complaints.” Andre told him. “I don’t really communicate with her outside of the job, though.” He shrugged. “Unless you count the few times I’ve texted her when she’s been off the clock. About work stuff. She hates that.” He chuckled. “But who doesn’t, am I right?” He smiled at the detective, but the man just looked bored.

“Here’s my card.” The detective said. Mike Henry was his name. Andre had forgotten it. “If you think of anything else you might want to tell us, just give me a call.”

“Yes sir,” he responded, placing the card in his pocket. “Absolutely.”

Detective Henry stood, and Andre followed suit. They shook hands and Andre left the office. They had commandeered the management office of the company in order to conduct interviews, Andre having been the third person they’d interviewed.

Another detective, Charlotte Ramsey, his partner, had joined him. They found they had better luck if they worked together when interviewing witnesses who weren’t suspects when they did so together.

What most of the didn’t know was that Detective Ramsey was slightly more determined in some cases than Henry. And people tend to get more chatty with a female around.

“I don’t foresee getting much out of these people,” Ramsey said, pinching the bridge of her nose and rubbing her eyes. “Doesnf seem like she was very close to anyone them.”

“Not close enough to say whether she was going to tell any of them if she wanted to “drop the curtain on her play” so to speak.”

“Interesting euphemism for killing oneself, Mike.”

To be continued