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Thirty minutes later, the police received a call that a
young man matching the description of the one who had
wasted Pumpkin had been seen twice on Ninth Street
carrying a gun in open view and acting stranger than
most of the people on Ninth. He had tried to lure at least
one person into an abandoned lot, but the intended
victim had escaped and reported the incident.
The police found their man an hour later. His name
was Tequila Watson, black male, age twenty, with the
usual drug-related police record. No family to speak of.
No address. The last place he'd been sleeping was a
rehab unit on W Street. He'd managed to ditch the gun
somewhere, and if he'd robbed Pumpkin then he'd also
thrown away the cash or drugs or whatever the booty
was. His pockets were clean, as were his eyes. The cops
were certain Tequila was not under the influence of
anything when he was arrested. A quick and rough
interrogation took place on the street, then he was
handcuffed and shoved into the rear seat of a D.C. police
They drove him back to Lamont Street, where they
arranged an impromptu encounter with the two
witnesses. Tequila was led into the alley where he'd left
Pumpkin. "Ever been here before?" a cop asked.
Tequila said nothing, just gawked at the puddle of
fresh blood on the dirty concrete. The two witnesses
were eased into the alley, then led quietly to a spot near
"That's him," both said at the same time.
"He's wearing the same clothes, same basketball
shoes, everything but the gun."
"No doubt about it."
Tequila was shoved into the car once again and taken
to jail. He was booked for murder and locked away with
no immediate chance of bail. Whether through
experience or just fear, Tequila never said a word to the
cops as they pried and cajoled and even threatened.
Nothing incriminating, nothing helpful. No indication of
why he would murder Pumpkin. No clue as to their
history, if one existed at all. A veteran detective made a
brief note in the file that the killing appeared a bit more
random than was customary.
No phone call was requested. No mention of a lawyer
or a bail bondsman. Tequila seemed dazed but content
to sit in a crowded cell and stare at the floor.