When the knock came on his broken door, Dean was laying on the couch in the darkened front room, his left hand clutching the two slips of paper that McKenzie had left him. He wasn’t sure if he had been asleep or awake, which was how he had felt throughout the past two days as the police had crawled all over his house and grilled him with questions. When he had arrived for his next shift, the station chief took one look at him and sent him home on sick leave. That was probably best, because Dean was having trouble concentrating. He kept remembering McKenzie’s face at the moment he found her, with her wide-open eyes and the orange hair against her blue cheeks. The memory was tearing him up. “Whatever you’re selling,” Dean called to whoever was on his porch. “I’m not buying any.”
“Mr. Lazarcheck,” said his one of his visitors. “We’re with the FBI. I’m Agent Brian Nash and my partner is Agent O’Grady. May we come in? I’d like to ask you a few questions about Professor McKenzie.”
Dean rubbed his eyes and stood up. His limbs felt stiff and heavy as he went to let them in. One was a short black man with close-cropped hair, a pleasant smile, and a tired look in his eyes. The other was older, maybe in his fifties, with gray-white hair combed straight back and a hard, trim physique that made him look as if his body had been stamped from boiler-plate steel. Both wore matching black suits.
“Your door is broken,” Nash said.
Dean just nodded. Right then, he didn’t care if it ever got fixed, but he wasn’t ready to admit that to a stranger.
“And the room is dark,” Nash observed.
“Everything’s dark.” Dean meant it metaphorically, but it was also literally true of his house. Every light bulb, appliance, and electrical socket had burned out.
The older agent stood by the door while Nash pulled up a seat across from Dean.
“Mr. Lazarchek, I’m sorry for what happened to your girlfriend.”
“She was my fiancé,” Dean muttered. Somehow, calling her a girlfriend seemed to undervalue his history with McKenzie. A girlfriend might have been someone he knew for a day, but she had been so much more than that. He wanted to argue the point, but decided he didn’t have the strength. Besides, the note McKenzie had left wouldn’t prove anything to anyone other than himself. Nash cleared his throat and began again. “According to the autopsy, the cause of Professor McKenzie’s death was her pacemaker. It shorted out.”
Dean just nodded. Considering the state of his house, he had guessed that the same thing had happened to her. But medical implants like her pacemaker would never simply short out on their own. They were too carefully designed and too rigorously tested. What had happened to McKenzie had not been an accident. Someone had shorted out her heart along with his entire house and then kicked open his front door to make sure the job was complete.