James Lee Burke


A Morning for Flamingos

The fourth book in the Robicheaux series, 1990

To Martin and Jennie Bush


CHAPTER 1

We parked the car in front of the parish jail and listened to the rain beat on the roof. The sky was black, the windows fogged with humidity, and white veins of lightning pulsated in the bank of thunderheads out on the Gulf.

"Tante Lemon's going to be waiting for you," Lester Benoit, the driver, said. He was, like me, a plainclothes detective with the sheriff's department. He wore sideburns and a mustache, and had his hair curled and styled in Lafayette. Each year he arranged to take his vacation during the winter in Miami Beach so that he would have a year-round tan, and each year he bought whatever clothes people were wearing there. Even though he had spent his whole life in New Iberia, except for time in the service, he always looked as if he had just stepped off a plane from somewhere else.

"You don't want to see her, do you?" he said, and grinned.

"Nope."

"We can go in the side door and bring them down the back elevator. She won't even know we've been there."

"It's all right," I said.

"It's not me that's got the problem. If you don't feel good about it, you should have asked off the assignment. What's the big deal, anyway?"

"It's not a big deal."

"Then blow her off. She's an old nigger."

"She says Tee Beau didn't do it. She says he was at her house, helping her shell crawfish, the night that guy got killed."

"Come on, Dave. You think she's not going to lie to save her grandson?"

"Maybe."

"You damn straight, maybe." Then he looked off in the direction of the park on Bayou Teche. "It's too bad the fireworks got rained on. My ex was taking the kids to it. Happens every year. I got to get out of this place." His face looked wan in the glow of the streetlight through the rain-streaked window. His window was cracked at the top to let out his cigarette smoke.



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