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TALES OF THE TOWN: Part 27

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Rosey Zooms In On Devon Camber

The morning dawned rainy, windy and cold. Flambé, who had a physical aversion to bad weather, hated the thought of having to walk her clients’ dogs on such a day. But it had to be done.

Her biggest gripe about the rain and wind concerned her appearance. Flambé was a girl who put much store into the way she looked. Her hair was a particular joy; she had dozens of wigs and falls, in every color of the rainbow; no matter what her mood, she could find a hair piece that suited it: curly, flirty, elegant, severe. She loved dressing up; the old flamboyance was still there. A poofy blouse…a cheerleader’s skirt to show off her legs (always one of her best features)…sequined scarves—she had to cover this all up in wet weather with dreary raincoats or hoodies that made her look, she thought, like a trash bag.

She had five dogs today, and not much time to walk them, for she had a rare appointment. A detective Brown had phoned her, asking to see her for some questions, part of an investigation he was conducting. Actually, Rosey had tracked Flambé down easily. Camber’s neighbors verified that the councilmember frequently had a late-night visitor, an attractive woman of color. It wasn’t at all difficult to locate street surveillance videos to identify her. Facial recognition artificial intelligence, owned by OPD, positively identified her as one Frank Wilkerson, which greatly piqued Rosey’s interest. Wasn’t Frank a man’s name? Wasn’t Camber’s friend a woman? But Rosey was used to anomalies, as are all police officers who have been active for any length of time.

Wilkerson’s phone number also was easy enough to obtain. He called, asked if he were speaking with Mr. Frank Wilkerson. Flambé replied that this was she, Ms. Wilkerson. Rosey, momentarily taken aback, adapted. Would, uh, Ms. Wilkerson prefer to visit him in his office at police headquarters? Because he would be glad to come to her, at a location of her choosing. Flambé thought it might be interesting to visit the big station she’d seen so often, on Seventh off Broadway. She said so; the detective even offered to buy her coffee.

What each found in the other surprised them both. Flambé discovered a police detective who might have stepped right out of a movie, a bulky, large man in a rumpled brown suit, with a blue dress shirt that had seen better days and cheap, scuffed laced shoes. With his little mustache, he looked like Stanley Hudson, from “The Office.” Rosey for his part—well, he hadn’t known what to expect after the Frank/Flambé misunderstanding. As an experienced officer he’d long learned to keep his personal reactions well-controlled; he’d seen it all on the streets; nothing threw him. Now, here was a tall “woman” who, after taking off her raincoat, proceeded to brush out her hair and examine her face in a little compact mirror she pulled from her purse. They sized each other up quickly. Flambé did not dislike or fear the burly detective; Rosey was curious, receptive and respectful of this man-woman; this would not be a difficult conversation, he decided.

But when Flambé realized he was asking about her relationship with Devon, she clammed up. At first, she denied even knowing him. Big mistake. “Ms. Wilkerson, this isn’t a good way to earn my trust,” Rosey said. When he showed her surveillance photos of her and the Councilmember, Flambé uttered a simple “Oops.” “You have to understand,” she told him, “that my relationship with Councilmember Camber is very private. He’s asked me to keep it confidential, and I have done so, out of respect for him.”

“I understand,” Rosey replied. “You have my word that anything you tell me will be completely private and between us.”

And so Flambé revealed the story—not, she contemplated, that there was that much to reveal. They were simply two adults seeing each other in a private, consensual relationship, that was all. They were doing nothing wrong, breaking no law. Devon wasn’t married or anything; he wasn’t cheating on anyone. And he wouldn’t be the first public figure to wish to keep his private life out of the public’s view.

The detective seemed uninterested in the details of their relationship. He asked nothing about whether it was sexual. Instead, he wanted to know about other aspects of the councilmember’s life. Did he have friends, besides her? Hobbies? Was he a member of a gym? Any extremist views? Had she ever heard him express anger towards homeless people? Where did he hang out when he wasn’t working? “He’s always working,” Flambé smiled. “That’s part of the problem.” But about his life beyond her, Flambé was afraid she knew very little.

Rosey’s long experience in law enforcement had trained him to be a snoop. It was his conclusion, after decades of cop work, that while most people were not criminals (beyond speeding in their cars, or littering, or other minor infractions), at the same time most had secret lives that were, at the very least, embarrassing. They cheated on their spouses. They violated the canons of their churches. These were not indictable offenses. Rosey realized it was a bad habit that as he went about his life he would notice certain individuals and wonder if they had robbed or murdered. It was the cop’s plague: it was a bad way of thinking, but inevitable. He had no reason at all to suspect Councilmember Camber of anything; he had no reason to suspect anyone. At the same time, he suspected everyone, and that included Devon Camber.

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