I shouted back, “I heard good help is hard to find.”
“Devanter is one of my wife’s reclamation projects from the VA. She says he’s harmless.”
“He’s a great gardener—all my friends use him,” he added as if he felt obligated to explain Devanter’s presence. Didn’t surprise me at all that the guy worked in dirt.
Casselman gave me a grand tour of his home by way of apologizing for Devanter’s treatment, and with each wondrous sight I heard Bette Davis speak her most famous line as clearly as when she did it in the movie: What a dump.
The outside of the Casselmans’ house was strictly English Tudor, with stone walls and high gables and so many windows you wondered why they didn’t just build the damn thing out of glass. Yet the inside had no particular period. It was all white with vaulted ceilings and arched passageways, ceramic tiles and hardwood floors. It looked like it was thrown together by someone who knew nothing about interior design, but damn well knew what he liked. What Casselman liked was stenciled wallpaper, small bronzes by Rodin, Chinese porcelains, neoclassic chairs, gilded antique tables, numerous jade statues and figurines, and handmade Persian throw rugs that I found myself stepping over and around.
The place reminded me of an exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Art and I could well imagine how the plush surroundings might intimidate visitors unused to such opulence—provided they didn’t take time to notice the dust bunnies peering out from under the love seat and the hairline fracture that ran the length of the dining room ceiling. I make a point of searching out such imperfections. I find them comforting. Still, it was a grand house and I told Casselman so.
He seemed pleased that I was pleased.
Casselman was dressed casually. He had changed from his somber black funeral suit to little-worn blue jeans and a soft-blue knit shirt with the scales of justice embossed above the breast pocket, the kind of shirt you’d get at LawCamp, where yuppie kids can spend their summers studying torts, trial advocacy, evidence, and how to master the LSAT for a thousand bucks a week. He spoke openly with me like we were friends, like I was no threat to him at all.
“Can I get you anything? A drink?” he asked, a gracious host quite at home in a house that had its own name.
“I’ll have a beer if you’ll join me.”
“Agreed.” He guided me to the kitchen. It seemed bigger than I remembered. I purposely avoided the spot where Lila and Devanter exchanged pleasantries the evening before while Casselman took two Amstel Lights from the refrigerator, handing me one.
Casselman took a long pull from the bottle, no glass for him, and smiled. “So tell me. Who are you exactly and why are you here?” The question seemed silly after all the time we had already spent together.
“My name’s McKenzie.” I watched Casselman’s face carefully to see if he’d react to my name the way Cook had, but he gave me nothing. I could have been the meter reader. On the other hand, I suspected he knew who I was from the moment he found me in his driveway—why else would he be so gracious?
“I represent Jamie Bruder’s family,” I added. “They asked me to look into her murder.”
“I thought David Bruder did it.”
“It’s been proven.”
Casselman quickly turned away, yet I saw enough of his eyes to know that the remark had unsettled him. Like most attorneys, Casselman preferred to ask only those questions he already knew the answer to, and apparently, he thought he had known the answer to that one.
“Are you sure?” he asked.
“Quite sure. The police will probably make an announcement about it soon.”
“Do they know who did kill Jamie and Katherine?”
“My wife is quite shaken by all this. First Katherine, then Jamie. Now Napoleon and David. She feels like we’re being targeted.”
“Yes. It’s as if someone is after us.”
“Is someone after you?”
He paused for a moment while he considered his answer. “I can’t imagine why.”
I took a sip of the Amstel, made him wait for my next question. “You were David Bruder’s lawyer, weren’t you?”
“Who told you that?”
“You talked to David?”
“I was with him when he was killed.”
Casselman moved smoothly to the refrigerator, opened it, rummaged through its contents for one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten seconds and closed it again, taking nothing out. I smiled at his back. At heart, everyone is a mystery—the mind, however, is a different matter. I knew what Casselman was thinking even before he did. He was thinking that Bruder had put him on the spot.
“What did David say?” he asked.
“He said you were his lawyer.”