Lonesome dove rode down to the station with Floyd. Floyd couldn’t control his laughter when he said “Peter Trickel, huh?” It wasn’t the first time somebody had made fun of Brocks’ real name. Floyd said “I guess I can understand the pen-name, then.”
Floyd didn’t like Brock for the murder but did his duty and asked him if he minded being tested for GSR. Brock gladly submitted and just as Floyd suspected, it was negative. Floyd took his statement and told him the usual, “if you can think of anything else, give us a call.”
The next day when they all met at the Waffle Shack, Gary said “so, you’re not liking the lonesome dove for the murder?” Floyd said “nah. He didn’t have anything to do with it. He’s just a novelist who has eavesdropped on our conversations to get ideas for his next book, but get this. He says he saw our mysterious blonde woman walking down the street.”
“Do you believe him?” Gary asked. “I believe it’s going to be an interesting twist to his next book,” Floyd said. “For all I know, he paid saggy britches Jack and Sammy the Rat to tell us they saw her.”
“Or, to throw suspicion away from himself,” said Chris. Floyd said “I’m pretty good at reading people and I think if he’s guilty of anything, he’s guilty of feeding information to those guys to make his story more interesting but I’m not sure.”
“Speak of the devil,” Richie said as the lonesome dove walked in and nodded to the boys.
Then Floyd said “you know, guys. Something’s been gnawing at me.”
“Like what?” Richie said.
“Think about it. We’ve had three anonymous tips. We’ve found three dead bodies and those dead bodies were killed in the same way as the person they had killed. The times of death were all at two o’clock in the morning…and let’s not forget the supposed ‘beautiful, willowy blonde’ sighting after every death.”
“It made me have an ‘ah-ha’ moment. This has every earmark of Seattle.”
Chris said “what about Seattle?” Floyd said “a couple of years ago, something similar happened. Killers were being killed and if I recall, they were all snuffed out at two o’clock in the morning. There was the mention of some ‘beautiful blonde’ although it was never really confirmed. Actually, it was thought that she was made up by the press to make it sound more romantic or something.”
The Seattle Times dubbed her the “Hand of Justice.”
“So, is this a copycat, do you think?” said Gary. Floyd said “I don’t know. I know they never caught whoever it was. The killing just stopped one day. The task force suspected that maybe he or she tried to exact revenge on the wrong person and the tables were turned, or they simply left town before they got caught.”
Gary said “there’s something a little poetic about ‘the hand of justice’ though, isn’t there? It doesn’t make it right but it sure makes it even.”
Richie said “let’s let this go for a while. Tomorrow, I’m going to barbecue a pig and I want all of you to come by.”
Maude, you working tomorrow?” Maude was a little surprised but said “nope, I’m not.” Richie said “then that includes you. You’ve become a kind of fixture in our lives, listening to our stories, making sure our coffee cups are full, and laughing at our corny jokes.”
Maude was thinking “why would they want an old, overweight waitress to come hang out with them?’ She hadn’t even been invited to Garys’ babys’ shower, although she had gotten him a gift.
She smiled as she wondered if she was now considered to be “one of the boys.” Even Chris chimed in and told her she should come. “We like you, Maude,” he said. “You are a real character.”
She had noticed that he seemed to be making a concerted effort to be nicer to her, much like the old Chris she had liked so much before. He even offered to come get her. “I’ll pick you up in my cruiser,” he said “and we’ll light her up on the way.”
She thanked all of her boys and told them that she would certainly give it some thought, although she knew she wouldn’t be giving it any thought, because she wouldn’t be going.
That night, Maude slowly walked up the stairs to her tiny, dingy apartment, unlocked the door and went in. She checked the ticket in her purse and then took out the napkin the lonesome dove had doodled on. She read the hidden word and said to herself “yes.”
She put her glasses on the table, kicked off her shoes and reached behind her back for the loop attached to the zipper of her custom-made fat suit. Next, off came the wrinkled, rubber mask that took more than two hours to glue on and less than five seconds to peel off.
As she walked into the bathroom, she placed the grey curly wig on its stand. She pulled back the curtain, turned on the water and a beautiful, willowy blonde stepped into the shower.