I nodded at him and repeated, “You’ve been working hard.”

Hernandez glanced around him. Pride shone in his face.


“I want to keep it nice,” he said. “For Mr. Mosley.”


Hernandez came toward me, his hand outstretched. I shook it. It was like shaking a frozen pork chop. Yet, while his hand was cold, his face suddenly seemed flushed. Beads of perspiration appeared on his forehead and upper lip.

“Good to see ju,” he said, his accent sounding thicker than usual.

“Good to be seen.”

Hernandez brought forth his handkerchief, unfolded it, blew his nose one nostril at a time, refolded the handkerchief, and returned it to his pocket.

“Wha’ can I do for ju?” he asked.

“Let’s talk.”

“Talk? Okay.” He pronounced the word “ho-kay.”

-- Advertisement --

He retrieved his rag from the spotless floor and moved to the counter Mr. Mosley had built against the wall of the barn. There were many tools neatly arranged on the countertop and hanging from nails in the wall—frames, frame lifters and scrapers, bee brushes, uncapping trays and knives, tap strainers, smoker bellows, hive straps, and gloves. Several drawers had been built into the counter. Hernandez set down the rag and reached for one, hesitated, and left it unopened.

“Ju want coffee?” he asked.

“I could do with a cup.”

“In the kitchen. I be wit’ ju in a moment.”

I left the bee barn and made my way back to the house. Once inside, I slipped the Beretta out from under my jacket and activated it. I sat at the kitchen table, balancing the nine on my lap. My hands were both flat on the table when Hernandez entered the room. He was carrying a small white and blue towel. The towel was stained and dirty, but it was neatly folded. Hernandez set the towel carefully on the counter next to the sink.

“Mr. Mosley always liked coffee black,” Hernandez said. “Ju like it black, too?”


Hernandez opened a cabinet and pulled out two mugs. While his back was turned I adjusted the gun in my lap.

Hernandez poured coffee into the mugs. “Did ju find Mr. Mosley’s killer?” he asked.


“Wha’ ’appen to ’im?”

“I haven’t decided yet.”

Hernandez slid the mug across the table. I made sure he saw me reach for it with both hands.

“Wha’ ju mean?” he asked.

“You know what I mean.”

“I don’t.”

“Don’t you?”

He shook his head.

“I had a suspect. I believe he’s innocent, now—innocent of Mr. Mosley’s murder, anyway.”

“How ju know?”

“This guy—if he had done it, he would have said so. He’s that kind of guy. Anyway, after he was eliminated, it was fairly easy to determine who the real killer was.”

I leaned back in the chair, letting my right hand fall casually to my lap while slowly turning the mug in circles with my left.

Hernandez moved closer to the towel.

“Three things a cop looks for when a crime is committed—motive, opportunity, and means. You revealed the motive when you spoke at Mr. Mosley’s memorial, when you said that working for Mr. Mosley helped you escape the poverty of Guatemala, that it allowed you to remain in the United States. But he was threatening to take your job away, wasn’t he? Did you think if you lost your job you would be deported?”

I watched his brown eyes. I thought he would deny everything, proclaim his innocence, but for some reason he didn’t bother.

“Opportunity—that came when you met with Mr. Mosley to discuss your employment situation. There were two mugs on the counter when Mr. Mosley was killed. He was pouring coffee for someone he knew. Someone he trusted enough to turn his back on.”

“Ju can’t prove anything,” Hernandez said. But there was no force to his words.

“That brings us to means.” I gestured at the towel with my chin. “I’m betting there’s a .22 tucked inside that towel.”

Hernandez looked at the towel, then back at me.

“Ju can’t prove anything,” he repeated, just talking now.

“The .22 proves it.”

“’Ere’s no .22.”

“Then you have nothing to worry about.”

He looked at the towel again, inched toward it. The Beretta was in my hand. I settled it on his chest, aiming through the kitchen table. I had killed a man for a crime he didn’t commit. But Danny had committed other crimes. He had raped Susan Tillman, the wife of my friend. He had tried to kill me. I had no regrets. Only I wanted no more of it, so I begged him, “Please …”

His hand hovered in midair.

“Don’t do it, Lorenzo. Please, don’t.”

He stopped.

“Give yourself up.”

He looked at me for a moment and dropped his hand to his side. He walked over to the back door. I thought he might try to make a run for it, but he just stood there staring at the hives.

Without turning he said, “Ju no cop. Ju can’t arrest me. Ju ’ave no authority.”

“I know.”

“I don’t ‘ave to say nothin’ to ju.”

-- Advertisement --