“Six months ago, Stella’s husband died of some rare blood disease. Doesn’t that just figure? But Stella was determined to keep the store going. She wanted to do it for him, because she knew that’s what he would have wanted. She appreciated everybody who came into 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 who 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 shredded her aorta. She died a slow and painful death.”
Richie asked if there were security cameras. Floyd said, “ they couldn’t afford cameras but there was an eye witness.”
Richie’s ears perked up. “Are they going to speak up?”
Chris mumbled under his breath. “Not if they want to keep breathing.”
Floyd said, “this guy seems to be a pretty credible witness. He’s down at the station, giving our sketch artist a description. It’ll be posted all around town.
He swirled his coffee around 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 dying?”
“That’s your job,” Maude said. “That’d be like you asking me if I ever get tired of hearing about waffles and eggs.” That prompted 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 “yes, I noticed.”
Maude said, “you know, one of these days I might meander over there and ask him what his story is.” Richie said, “why not today?” Maude said, “I don’t know. Some people like their private lives to stay private, and he strikes me as one of those people.”
Richie laughed and said, “well, if you decide to talk to him and he doesn’t say anything, let me know and I’ll arrest him on the spot for failure to speak.” They both laughed out loud and Maude whispered to Richie, “maybe he’s a secret agent or a CIA operative, or maybe he just doesn’t have any chairs at home and comes here to sit down.”
“Maude,” Richie said, “you’re a force of nature.” Maude smiled as she refilled his coffee cup and said, “that’s not the first time I’ve heard that.”
Three days later, the boys came in and they were buzzing about Stella’s case. An anonymous tip had come in about a body matching the description of the suspect. He was found lying in front of the door of Stella’s store and was surrounded by an almost carpet of flowers that had been placed there by mourning patrons.
Floyd was called to the scene just after the coroner arrived. He stood by as the “victim” was pronounced and heard the cause of death. “He was shot at close range. The bullet pierced his liver and shredded his aorta. Put it this way. He died a slow and painful death. I’d put TOD at around 2 this morning.”
Richie arrived to help control the crowd and keep the scene uncontaminated, when somebody on the sidelines caught his eye. As he was trying to place him, he realized that he was looking at the lonesome dove. Richie looked at Floyd and said, “do you see who I see?” Floyd said, “yep. It’s Maudes’ lonesome dove. Do you want to talk to him or do you want me to?” Richie said, “it’s your case. You talk to him.”
Floyd walked over and said, “good morning, sir. Can I see some ID?” The lonesome dove asked, “is there a problem?” Floyd said, “no sir, but I’d like to see some ID.”
The dove said, “my name is Brock Harrington.” Floyd said, “okay, Brock Harrington. Can I see some ID?” When Floyd looked at the license Brock handed him, he noticed the address was just a few blocks away. He also noticed that the name on the license didn’t match, and asked Mr. Harrington why. He said, “Brock Harrington is my pen-name. I write true crime novels and I have been keeping up with you and your officers, and your cases.”
Floyd was a little confused and a little more suspicious. He said, “okay, can I ask why you are here? Do you know anything about this murder?”
Brock said, “I’m a bit of an insomniac and when writers block hits, I sometimes go out at night and just walk around, for inspiration or ideas. The peace and quiet helps clear my mind”.
Floyd said, “okay. That answers why you were here. My next question is, did you see anything?” Brock said “well, early this morning, I was walking down the street and just as I turned the corner, I heard what sounded like a muffled gunshot. I wasn’t sure so I kept walking, but then I got curious and turned around. As I walked back around the corner, I saw somebody walking away.”
Floyd said, “what time was this?” Brock said, “it must have been around two-ish.” Floyd said, “can you describe him?” Brock said “not a him. A her.” Floyd said, “her?” Brock said, “yes, a woman was walking down the street.”
“Did she get into a car or anything?” Floyd asked. “No.” Brock said. “She just kind of disappeared into the darkness.”
“And what makes you sure it was a woman?” Floyd asked. Brock said, “I saw her as she walked under the street light.”
“You didn’t think to follow her?” asked Floyd. Brock said, “no, I didn’t. If it was a gunshot I heard, I didn’t want to be next.”
Floyd scratched his head and said, “you’re not fabricating this to add some interest to one of your books are you? I know you’ve heard us talking about a blonde woman.”
Brock said, “believe me. I thought that idea was just as far-fetched as you did, until I saw her. And the description is right on the money. She really is a beautiful, willowy blonde.”
“Okay,” Floyd said. “I want you to come down to the station and give us a statement.” While driving and thinking back to looking at Brocks’ license, Floyd couldn’t contain 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 now. Did you piss off your mother or something?” Brock smiled and said, “my mother said if she ever had a boy, she was going to name him Peter, after ‘Peter Pan’, her favorite character. I guess she wanted a little boy who would, at least in her eyes, never grow up. She just didn’t envision marrying a man named Trickel, I guess.”
Floyd didn’t like Brock for the murder, but he did his duty and asked him if he minded being tested for GSR. Brock, without hesitation, cooperated 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 dove for the murder?” Floyd said, “nah. He didn’t have anything to do with it. He’s just a novelist who has been eavesdropping 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.”
“Get out of here,” said Gary.
Floyd said, “I believe it’s going to be an interesting twist to his next book, even though he sort of denied it. For all I know, he paid saggy britches Jack, and Sammy the Rat to tell us they saw her.” Gary said, “are you serious? You really think that’s a possibility?
Floyd said, “hell, I don’t know. Anything’s possible, but no. I don’t think he paid anybody. But it is interesting that he described the same woman Jack and Sammy did. And, as far as I could tell, he was as sober as a judge.”
Everyone laughed when Chris said, “well, that depends on which judge you’re talking about. We all know there’s a few of them who take a little nip now and then. You know what they say. ‘Justice is blind, and sometimes it’s blind drunk’.”
It got quiet when the lonesome dove walked in. He nodded to the guys and sat down in his regular booth. Floyd quietly said, “speak of the devil.” Then he said, “you know guys. Something’s been gnawing at me for a while now.” Richie asked what he was talking about.
“Think about it. We’ve had three anonymous tips. We’ve found three dead bodies, and those dead bodies were killed the same way as the person they killed…or supposedly killed. The times of death were all at two in the morning and let’s not forget the supposed ‘beautiful, willowy blonde’ sighting after every death. I tell you guys. It’s made me have one of those ‘ah-ha’ moments. Is it coincidence, or is there something to it that we just haven’t figure out yet?”
To be continued______________________