A Direct Line



Scene Title A Direct Line
Synopsis Veronica interviews Susan Amman's husband shortly after her death and discovers that there may be video footage of the murders in police custody.
Date September 9, 2009

Amman Family Home — Reseda, Los Angeles, CA

Back home in sunny Southern California, merely an hour or two from her own childhood home, Veronica's not here for nostalgic reasons or to enjoy the sun and surf of the beach. On business, she is dressed in a somber, serious black pinstripe skirt, matching jacket, and a silk gray blouse; she holds a black attache case in her hand. Parking the rental car, she crosses the driveway and walkway to the Ammans' house with long strides, her heels clicking on the concrete. The appointment with the newly widowed Michael Amman was made by phone from Seattle, as soon as the news of the most recent Founder's death reached the Company and as soon as Denton was able to reach Veronica.

Agent Sawyer knocks on the door, and then holds the attache with both hands, waiting to be ushered in.

Michael must have been waiting for Veronica because she isn't standing on the house's stoop for very long. The door swings open to reveal a tall, lean man with a headful of dark gray hair that's begun to go silver at the temples. Bushy black eyebrows and a matching beard trimmed short are clues to how Mr. Amman must have looked like in his youth — that is to say, dark and handsome. Eyes hovering a shade somewhere between blue and gray assess the Company agent before admitting her entry into the home which, much like the slacks and dress shirt he wears on his lithe frame, is immaculately kept.

"You must be Ms. Sawyer." He puts out his hand. "Michael."

"Thank you for agreeing to meet with me, Mr. Amman," Veronica murmurs, then amends, as he tells him her name. "Michael." She takes the proffered hand, her own small but firm in his hand. She smiles, though it's not an overly-bright, toothsome grin; more the polite smile one offers a stranger.

The smile fades as she says more somberly, "First, let me say I'm so very sorry for your loss, and I hate to impose on you at a time like this. But we want to try to find the people who are responsible, and so, as I'm sure you're too aware of, interviews like this are required." She sighs a little - that sounds so very stilted. "It's times like this I really hate my job, let me tell you. But I'm dedicated to trying to stop those people from hurting anyone else."

As Michael shuts the door behind Veronica and leads her deeper into the Amman family home, he passes a series of black-and-white photographs framed on the wall, though it isn't easy to identify the decade the pictures that were taken. The smiling faces they depict could be anyone, from Susan and Michael to their children, or even their children's children. Without the time to pause, take stock and scrutinize, she'll never know.

"I have a recital down at the university in a couple of hours," he says, gesturing to his suit as he takes a seat on a fainting couch in what appears to be an office off the main hallway. A glass of whiskey and ice sits unattended on a leather ottoman nearby, acting as a makeshift paperweight for a short stack of unmarked manila folders. "We're not usually so disorganized. You'll have to forgive the mess."

"I understand completely," Veronica murmurs as she follows him into the office, taking a seat across from him. "I appreciate your time and will get out of your hair in no time," she says, opening her attache and pulling out her own manila folders as well as a notepad for taking notes. "I suppose there's no real delicate way to begin, try as I might," she says softly, looking apologetic once more. "I see that your wife had bodyguards with her when she was shot. Was she worried that there was someone trying to harm her? What precipitated the precautions she took?"

Michael offers Veronica a small, tight smile. "Not bodyguards," he says, spreading his hands and showing the agent his palms. "Security. Suz didn't like walking back to her car alone after dark — she's been like that as long as I've known her." He pauses to pick up the glass of whiskey, ice tinkling cheerlessly against the crystal. "Not just around the courthouse, either. Shopping malls. The parking garages downtown. She was afraid of getting raped, mugged— I don't know."

Veronica nods, making a notation in her notebook. "Ah, the report I saw had it wrong then, I apologize. She was a smart woman. Too many violent crimes happen because women are alone, vulnerable. She did everything she could to be safe — I'm sorry it wasn't enough." She frowns. "Do you know of any reason anyone would have to harm her? I know she was a judge, and of course that brings risks, but more specifically… has she complained of getting any threats lately? Has anyone been around that you would consider suspicious? I know that the police probably already asked all of these questions, but sometimes something comes to mind after the initial shock wears off. If it ever wears off." She gives Michael another sad-eyed, sympathetic smile.

Michael raises the glass to his lips, swallows a mouthful of amber-coloured liquid and rubs the heel of his hand along his jaw as it burns on the way down. "We were up in Canada a few weeks ago," he tells Veronica. "Funeral. Maybe you read about it in the paper? Dr. Harold Fletcher? He and Suz went to school together. Not a lot of people there, really. Friends. Immediate family. A couple of news crews on the other side of the gates hounding the police on scene for details about his death, autopsy results. It's not every day a surgeon gets strangled to death in his own office."

It's not every day a district attorney gets gunned down on the steps of a courthouse, either.

Well, there's getting to the crux of the matter. "Yes, I heard about it. In fact, we're investigating that as well," Veronica says, straightening up a bit and stacking the file folder on her lap as if to straighten it as well. "Can you tell me if you know the name Adam Monroe, Michael?" Veronica asks, her eyes moving from the file to make eye contact with the widow.

Michael sets the glass back down on the folders in the exact same spot, which is designated by a dark ring of discoloured moisture. The expression on his face is blank — he must be drawing one, too. "I can't say that I have," he says. "Who is he? Another one of Suz's friends?"

Veronica shakes her head. "Not a friend, or not that I know of. Someone she may have worked with both she and Fletcher." She pulls out the photographs of Seth Grimalkin and Monroe. Neither is labelled. "Have you seen either of these men, especially in recent weeks?" she asks, offering them to him.

The proffered pictures are graciously accepted and glanced at, scrutinized from beneath Michael's black brows. He presses his lips into a thin, worried line. Then, "No. Which one is Monroe?"

Veronica sighs. "The one on the left. Please contact me if you see him, though I doubt he is in the vicinity any longer," she says softly. "The number I've given you, you can reach me or leave a message, day or night, if you see him." She frowns. "Do you happen to know if the courthouse has surveillance cameras that would have caught any of the shooting? I imagine the police have any tapes but you're the first person I've had a chance to talk to here in Los Angeles, as I came straight from the airport."

Michael's face grows stony and solemn, gray eyes steeled. "They told me there were cameras," he says in a comparatively thin voice, "but they wouldn't show me the footage when I asked. Maybe you'll have better luck than I did." He reaches into his jacket pocket and flicks a business card between two fingers, which he extends to Veronica along with the glossy photographs of Monroe and Grimalkin. "Lieutenant Marcus Kimsey gave me this when he asked me if I could make a positive identification. It's got his office number as well as his cell. Direct lines."

"Thank you, Michael. Again, I'm very sorry for your loss. I can't even begin to imagine what it's like." She knows what it's like to lose someone, but not a partner, a spouse, of so many years. She really does hate this part of her job. "If you can think of anything or if you see either of those individuals, please contact me immediately." She stands, and reaches out to shake his hand once more.

Michael chooses to remain seated, and for a moment it looks as though he might not take Veronica's hand a second time. When he does, it's with a gentle squeeze and a curt nod of his head. "I will."

"I can show myself out. Thank you again," Agent Sawyer says, and puts her folder back in the attache case. From here, she will drive to the police station, then conduct interviews of any witnesses, show them the pictures and see if anyone can identify Monroe or Grimalkin. Not that there's any doubt in her mind that at least one of them is guilty.

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