Morgan entered the interrogation room, her eyes immediately drawn to the man seated in front of her. His simple appearance belied his age – a man in his fifties with a graying beard and unkempt hair. She couldn't help but notice the gloves he wore, an odd accessory that seemed out of place in the sterile environment.
"Joe Dancer," she said under her breath, glancing down at the file in her hands. According to the information within, Joe had no criminal record and recently worked at a local bar. On paper, he didn't seem like the type to commit such heinous acts. But then again, monsters often hid behind unassuming masks.
"Agent Cross," Joe greeted her, his voice gravelly from years of hard living. "Do you mind if I keep my gloves on? Occupational habit."
"Go ahead," Morgan replied, her tone cool and detached. She needed to remain impartial, to see him as just another suspect rather than the potential key to unlocking this twisted mystery.
"Thanks," Joe replied, flexing his gloved fingers. "I appreciate it."
Morgan fixed her gaze on him, studying his every movement, searching for any sign of deception. It was time to probe deeper, to peel away the layers and find the truth that lurked beneath.
"Mr. Dancer," she began, the words tasting like ash on her tongue. "You've been brought in today because your presence has been noted near the scenes of a recent murder. We need to establish your connection, if any, to this crime."
"Murder?" Joe's eyes widened, genuine shock registering on his weathered face. "I swear, Agent Cross, I don't know anything about that. I'm just a barback, washing glasses and mopping up spillage."
Morgan leaned forward, her eyes narrowing as she scrutinized his expression. Was he telling the truth, or was he merely a skilled liar? She couldn't be sure. Not yet.
"Where were you last night?" she asked, testing his alibi.
"Working at the bar," Joe answered without hesitation. "Double shifts each night. You can check with my boss if you don't believe me."
Morgan's mind raced as she considered her next move. It would be easy to dismiss him, to chalk it up to coincidence and let him walk free. But something in her gut told her there was more to this man than met the eye.
"Mr. Dancer," she said, her voice steady despite the turmoil within her. "If you're innocent, then you have nothing to fear. But I need your full cooperation if we're going to get to the bottom of this. Are you willing to help?"
"Of course, Agent Cross," Joe replied, his eyes meeting hers. "I want to see this killer brought to justice as much as you do."
"Good." Morgan allowed herself a small, grim smile. "Then let's get to work."
Morgan eyed the man sitting across from her. Joe Dancer, with his quiet indifference, seemed unfazed by the sterile interrogation room and the harsh fluorescent lighting that cast stark shadows on his face. His hands, clad in black gloves, were clasped together on the table in front of him, his posture rigid yet relaxed. Morgan had interrogated countless suspects over the years, but something about Joe's eerie calm unnerved her.
"Your presence in the neighborhood where the latest victim was found is... suspicious, to say the least," Morgan pressed, gauging his reaction. But Joe remained impassive, his icy blue eyes never leaving hers.
"Actually," he said, tilting his head ever so slightly, "it's quite simple. You see, my piano teacher lives in that area. I visit her twice a week for lessons."
Morgan raised an eyebrow. Piano lessons? It seemed like an odd hobby for someone who wore gloves all the time. Yet, she couldn't deny the possibility that it could be true. Nothing about Joe screamed 'killer' – at least, not yet. She knew better than to judge a book by its cover, though. After all, she'd been framed for murder ten years ago, and she'd spent the last decade working to clear her name and regain her position as an FBI agent.
"Interesting," she mused, crossing her arms. Morgan studied Joe's gloved hands, the black fabric stark against the cold metal table. A pianist who wore gloves constantly seemed like a contradiction, and she couldn't help but wonder what would drive someone to play through the pain of an apparent rash.
"Joe," she began, her voice steady, "you wear these gloves all the time because of a skin condition, yet you've chosen piano as your hobby. Most people would find that odd."
Joe's calm demeanor didn't waver, the corners of his lips curling into a small smile. "My mother loved the piano," he said, flexing his fingers beneath the fabric. "I learned to play in her honor, despite my condition. The pain... it's a reminder of her, I suppose."
There was something about the way he spoke that made Morgan feel uneasy. Was he genuinely sentimental or hiding something more sinister? She shook off the thought and focused on the task at hand.
"Who is this piano teacher of yours?" she asked, pen poised above her notepad.
"Betty Garner," Joe replied. "She's been teaching me for years now. You can call her if you need to verify my story. She'll tell you everything you want to know."
Morgan jotted down Betty's name, making a mental note to follow up on his claim. Joe's eyes never left hers, the challenge in his gaze unwavering. She knew she needed to tread carefully – one wrong move could send the killer into hiding for good.
"Alright, Joe, I'll do just that," she said, meeting his stare head-on. "And if your alibi checks out, then we can put this matter to rest. But if it doesn't... well, let's just say you'd better hope it does. I'll be right back."
As she stood up from the table, Morgan's mind raced with questions. Was Joe Dancer a misunderstood pianist, or was he the ruthless killer she'd been hunting for weeks? Only time – and Betty Garner's testimony – would tell.
Morgan stared at the phone in her hand, her fingers tapping a restless rhythm against its hard plastic surface. She hesitated, questioning her own instincts about Joe Dancer. But with no concrete evidence to hold him, she had little choice but to make the call.