The next morning at the Waffle Shack, Chris, Richie and Gary were musing about what they were going to do next. “I guess we’ll have to go back to handing out parking tickets,” said Richie “and that will be just fine with me.”
Their cases hadn’t been technically “solved” but as far as they were concerned, they were closed.
“Hell, we may as well help Floyd with his convenience store robberies,” Gary said. “He had another one yesterday. Where is he, by the way?”
Richie said “you didn’t hear?”
“No” said Gary. “I was a little busy with Sammy the Rat and his angel.” Then he said “do you think there’s anything to the suggestion that Chris made about him talking to saggy britches Jack?” Richie said “I think there’s a distinct possibility. You know all those guys know each other.”
Then Gary said “what were you saying about Floyd?”
Richie said “somebody killed Stella.” Gary was stunned. He said “what do you mean somebody killed Stella? She got robbed just about every other week but she never got hurt.”
Richie said “yesterday, she decided that she wasn’t going to give them any more money. Floyd had told her every time, that she was doing the right thing. He said just give them the money because it’s not worth your life.”
Richie said “I’ll bet this is going to tear Floyd up.”
Floyd walked in the door at that moment, looking much like Chris had looked after the old man had gotten shot. Maude handed him a cup of coffee and asked if he was hungry. Floyd said “no thanks, Maude. I’m too tired to eat.”
Maude cautiously asked about Stella. Floyd said “she was a Cuban refugee. She and her husband literally floated over here on a boat. He took any job he could get and so did she. He worked construction, dug ditches and did janitorial work. She cleaned houses during the day and worked as a waitress at night.
They lived on and off in shelters and they scrimped and saved every penny they could, until they finally saved enough to buy that store. After they bought it, they slept on the floor in the back room until they could fix it up enough to live in.”
“Six months ago, her husband died of some rare blood disease. Doesn’t that just figure?”
“Stella really wanted to keep the store going…for him because she knew that’s what he would have wanted. She appreciated everybody who came in to buy something and when they left she would wave and say ‘have a beautiful day’.”
Richie asked what happened. Floyd said “apparently, it was the same piece of shit that hit her every time. He told her to empty the cash register but this time she said no, so he shot her. The bullet hit her liver and shredder her aorta. She died a slow and painful death.”
Richie said “were there security cameras?” Floyd said “no, they couldn’t afford cameras but there was an eye-witness.”
“Are they going to speak up?” said Richie.
Chris mumbled under his breath, “not if they want to keep breathing.”
Floyd said “you’re probably right, Chris but that doesn’t mean he’s going to get away with it. The witness gave a pretty good description and we’ve got copies of an artists’ sketch plastered all over the city.”
He swirled his coffee around in his cup and softly said “Stella was a beautiful person and she was my friend.”
Suddenly Floyd turned his attention to Maude, who was dutifully filling the sugar containers. He said “Maude, don’t you ever get tired of hearing about death…and death?”
“That’s your job,” Maude said. “That’d be you like asking me if I ever get tired of hearing about waffles…and waffles.” That incited a round of welcomed laughter.
Richie motioned for Maude to lean over. He said “I see your lonesome dove is back.” Maude smiled and said “yeah, I noticed.”
To be continued_______________________________