The detective moved closer to Loyle, bringing his face within inches of Crawford's. "You have the right to remain silent, flyboy. So shut up."
Loyle was sick of looking at the inside of the interrogation room. Several hours of staring at peeling white paint hadn't done anything to improve his mood. The handcuffs that were chafing his wrists were not helping either.
"I'm only gonna say this once," Crawford growled. "You've got the wrong guy."
Detective Jake Alvarez leaned back in his seat and blew smoke at the ceiling. "Listen chum," he said. "We've got more than a dozen witnesses who will testify that they saw your aircraft attack the Lady Liberty as it was approaching the landing field."
Loyle sighed with exasperation. "Look, you idiot, I didn't attack the zeppelin! I mean, do you think I would be stupid enough to attack the damn thing while it was under the floodlights of the field?"
Alvarez leaned forward and stared Loyle in the eye. "Well, hot shot, if it wasn't you, then who the hell was it?"
Loyle shrugged his shoulders. "You're the cop. You tell me."
When he saw the angry glare in the detective's eyes, Crawford said, "Look, I have no idea. The last thing I remember is walking into the hangar and the lights going out. Someone grabbed me from behind and knocked me out. Whoever decked me is probably the same person who took my plane up, attacked the zeppelin and then landed...leaving me in the cockpit to take the rap."
"That's the biggest load of garbage I've ever heard, Crawford," Alvarez scoffed. "You reeked of bourbon when we pulled you out of that plane, and there was an empty bottle on the floor of the plane. I'd say you'd been hitting the booze pretty hard and took your plane up for a spin.
"People do all kinds of crazy stuff when they hit the sauce," Alvarez continued, "though I have no idea why you decided to take a potshot at the zep. Or why you put one of your squadron-mates in the drink."
"If I was so drunk, how the hell did I manage to fly the plane? You said yourself I couldn't walk a straight line!"
"I've seen men drive automobiles despite bein' so pickled they couldn't stand up or remember their own names."
"You have no idea, do you?" snapped Loyle. "Driving a car is a lot different to flying a plane. I doubt whether anyone could fly drunk."
"Don't bet on it," said Alvarez. "My older brother flew SPADs in France during the Great War. He told me that he was soused just about every time he went up. It was the only way he could bring himself to shoot at the Huns."
"Flying in the open skies over the fields of France is a lot different to flying around the skyscrapers of Manhattan. I seriously doubt that even your brother could fly Manhattan after a drinking binge."
Alvarez's eyes narrowed. "I'm not here to fence with you, flyboy. Seven passengers are now lying in the hospital because of you. From what I hear, one of them is barely holding on to his life. The doctors don't give him more than a thirty-percent chance of survival. On top of that, one of your own people is lying dead at the bottom of the Hudson because you shot the hell out of her when she was defending the zep."
"Look," said Crawford. "You're just not listening to me! You've got the wrong man and that's all there is to it!"
Alvarez sighed and stood up. He walked across to the door and knocked on it twice. It was opened by a uniformed cop. "This guy's not saying anything new," said Alvarez, as he walked out of the room. "Put him back in his cell."
The policeman came and took Loyle by the arm. "Come on. This way."
Loyle paced back and forth across his cell. It was really only wide enough for three paces in each direction, but the mere action of doing something was enough to relieve the boredom. Barely.
He jumped when the door at the end of the cellblock opened. He was even more surprised when his injured wingman, Eugene "Money Man" Windthorpe III limped through the door, with the aid of his walking stick.
"Money Man!" cried Loyle. "A friendly face at last!"
Eugene paused and looked at Loyle. "Stopper, what's going on?" he said quietly. He hobbled over to the bench outside the door of Loyle's cell and sat down.
Loyle sighed and slumped down onto the bunk. "I don't know," he said. "I wish I could tell you, but I honestly don't know."
Eugene stared right into Loyle's eyes. "Is it true? Did you actually attack the Lady Liberty and shoot down Siobhan Fitzgibbon?"
"Of course its not true!" snapped Loyle. "You should know me better than that!"
"Thank you. I had to hear it from you. You wouldn't believe the rumors that are flying around the barracks. Some say you're in debt to some loan shark, others say you're trying for a pilot's slot with the Black Swan."