While Paul stewed in silence, Sharon was once again sitting in Cole’s office, behind his desk. Gordon stood off to the right, while Buford was seated across the desk.
“Mr. Dufresne,” Sharon said. “My name is Agent Sharon Walker. This is my partner, Gordon Bishop. We’re with the FBI, investigating a high profile case in the area. Perhaps you’ve heard of it as the media has dubbed the perpetrator as, ‘The Toilet Killer.’”
“Helluva thing those toilet killings,” Buford said. “No one should ever have to go while they’re going, if you ask me. You think the Toilet Killer got my Momma?”
“It looks that way,” Sharon said. “And though I’m sure it doesn’t offer you much consolation, I am sorry for your loss.”
“Thank you,” Buford said. “Momma was a real ornery spitfire, but a sweet old gal. Hell, she kept her prices low just to keep all the local perverts happy.”
Sharon made an odd face. It was a half-smile, half-grimace. She had no clue how to respond to Buford’s statement, so she moved on.
“Mr. Dufresne,” Sharon said. “Chief Walker has reported to me that when you arrived at your mother’s trailer, you shouted, and I quote, ‘I tried to warn her!’”
“I don’t remember that,” Buford said.
“What were you trying to warn your mother about?” Sharon asked.
“Again,” Buford said. “I don’t remember saying anything like that.”
“Chief Walker stated to me that when he pressed you on this, you said that you had tried to warn your mother about smoking while the pilot light of her stove was on,” Sharon said.
“That’s right,” Buford said.
“So you don’t remember saying you tried to warn her?” Sharon asked.
“Right,” Buford said.
“But you do remember saying that you tried to warn her about smoking?” Sharon asked.
Buford’s face turned red. “Oh Gee Whiz, now you’ve gone and messed with my brain, ma’am.”
“Mr. Dufresne,” Sharon said. “I suppose what I’m trying to get at here is the issue of whether or not you were trying to warn your mother about something more disturbing than a cigarette…”
“What?” Buford asked. “Like one of those computerized vape-o-majigs? Momma didn’t like those, no ma’am. She tried one once and said it felt like she was giving a blowjob to the Tin Man from Wizard of Oz.”
Sharon smiled. “Your mother sounds like she was a real character.”
“Oh yes, ma’am,” Buford said.
“Were you two close?” Sharon asked.
“Sure,” Buford said.
“Did you approve of your mother’s profession?” Sharon asked.
“You mean stripping and prostituting?” Buford asked. “Wouldn’t say I’d go around bragging about how proud I was of Momma for doing that but hell, it paid the bills and it’s not like she had any kind of an education or skills to fall back on.”
“So the idea of your mother and all those men…”
Gordon cut his partner off. He stepped forward and towered over Buford. “If losers were fucking the woman that gave birth to me for pennies on the dollar, I know it would piss me off.”
“She may have had discount rates but I wouldn’t call it, ‘pennies,’” Buford said.
“Not the point,” Gordon said. “The point is that it must have made you mad, the idea of all those dirty, disgusting men, flopping around like a bunch of diseased, out of water flounders on top of your mother.”
Buford’s upper lip trembled. He gritted his teeth. He began to sweat. He took a deep breath and then calmly answered. “No sir. That was between them and Momma. I could care less.”
Sharon shuffled through a file folder. “Mr. Dufresne, when you arrived on the scene…”
“Ma’am,” Buford said. “You wouldn’t happen to be thinking something crazy like, oh, I dunno, that an angel like little old me had something to do with my own mother’s death, would you?”
“I didn’t say that,” Sharon said.
“Y’all seem to be implyin’ it,” Buford said. “I’m in mourning, here.”
“I know,” Sharon said.
“I have lost my dear sweat Momma,” Buford said. “That woman was my rock, my best friend, my whole reason for being.”
“Your whole reason for being?” Sharon asked.
“Shit,” Gordon said. “My condolences.”
“I’m sorry,” Buford said as he stood up. “I can’t think straight what with my Momma gone. I need to go home and lie down.”
Gordon stared Buford down, silently indicating the fact that leaving wasn’t a valid option.
“Y’all can’t keep me here,” Buford said. “I know my rights!”
“Mr. Dufresne,” Sharon said. “No one has accused you of anything.”
“I have a right to a phone call,” Buford said.
“This is all very unnecessary,” Sharon said. “We’re just trying to establish some facts that will help us find your mother’s killer.”
“I want my phone call,” Buford said. “I want to call my Daddy!”