She’s warned him early in the game, she was only after his money.
It took a season or two before Detective Reyna realized he spent it faster than she did, and by then he was living on oxygen, cutting the carpet with the legs of his walker instead of her high heels. His wife was no dummy. She knew he wanted her to nurse him into his old age. But she wasn’t interested, she had other plans…
And that’s the way the story started, back there a few years ago, when he started writing, and driving her from place to place. You’d have thought they intended to grow old together, after she was forced to retire on disability. But that wasn’t in the plan.
* * *
“Oh, there were moments…” He blubbered into the phone, “She was quite the woman in her time, fit and fun. Then she got sick, and the paychecks were replaced with disability checks. It felt bad twisting the knife into her dreams that way, but what could I say? I was ten years older than she was, ugly, fat, and a crotchety old fart to boot!”
“And then what?” Detective Reyna asked, motioning to her partner to keep going. She’d figured out the address from the 9-1-1 call, and now patched through to dispatch, she was talking to the old coot himself. There couldn’t be a better explanation… At least, now they were getting to the truth.
“Well, I was old.” He answered.
She could almost feel him shrugging one shoulder and tossing his head to the side. He’d rolled his eyes in the same manner every time she’d interviewed him, and she knew he was a guilty old codger, just hoping to die before his trial came up. He wasn’t about to admit his guilt, but she wasn’t going to let him die before he faced the jury. She thought the people had a right to know.
“What was I supposed to do just die and leave it all to her?” His words faded into the distance as her partner took a sharp corner.
She held on to the oh-shit-handle and kept leading him.
“What was I supposed to do?” His words again faded…
“Was there some plan in place?” She asked, attempting to keep talking at something of a normal pitch as she rocked back and forth in the moving vehicle.
Her driver, though slightly balding, still had enough balls to drive like he being chased by hell’s angels. She held on without giving him the slightest clue that he was scaring the piss out of her. When he pulled to a stop two doors down from her caller, she slipped out of the seat and took a moment to grab her ground legs and balance enough to walk the two doors down with some grace. She struggled with the phone, keeping it tight to her ear.
“I read her letter. I don’t know why she wrote a dead man a letter, but she did.” He answered. His voice drifting into the distance.
She stood just outside the door and waited, hoping to get something out of him before she entered. “What did the letter said?”
“She said she was sorry,” He answered. “But she didn’t say why.” His words faded and then he added, “You don’t suppose she was going to just send him away for a while do you?”
“Send who away?” She asked.
“The man?” He answered.
She could almost hear the confusion in his voice then, she said, “Are you talking about your wife?”
“No, I’m talking about the killer. She whacked him off!” He drew in a deep breath of air, “And no, I did not go make friends with the Jane Austen lady. Life’s too short to befriend a potential serial killer.” He sighed again, as if she’d just misunderstood his complete life, “The lady killer in the book, she killed the guy. She killed another one. I can’t get her out of my head… She killed another guy in the book.”
“Are you inside?” She asked. “Can you come open the door?”
“My wife can open the door. Are you here?” He asked.
“On the porch, open up…” She disconnected the phone.
A woman in a pair of red slacks with a rose printed handkerchief blouse opened the door. A red headband pulled her graying hair away from her wrinkled face, painted a little too brightly with red lipstick and blue eye shadow. The white knit sweater that covered her shoulders hung limp down a frail, yet full figure.
“Is your husband here?” The detective asked, holding up her badge.
“Of course, he’s at the computer, writing…” She wrung her hands on the dish towel and led the detective and her partner into the study, a quiet painted room with a computer and faded curtains. “There’s someone here to see you.”
“I was expecting…” He turned away from the computer, “My publisher doesn’t usually come to visit me… Who are you?”
“I’m the detective you’ve been calling about the murder case?” She glanced back at her partner, then at the computer screen where he wrote in over-sized, giant words. “Why are you calling a detective?” She asked… reading the word on the screen told her the story, but confusion set in.
“I call my publisher… She asks me questions and I keep writing.” He answered, reaching for his phone.
“This is your publisher’s number?”
“Yeah, I got a new phone and I had to plug her number in from the old phone. She hasn’t been very helpful, except with the story, since I got this phone…” He continued.
“Where’s your old phone?” The detective asked.
“Right here…” He handed her an older flip phone that had been in the desk drawer.
She plugged it in and waited for the screen to light up. It took a few minutes. Meanwhile, she scrolled through his story, recognizing the characters he’d borrowed from real life.
“Have you found the bodies yet?” She asked.
“Only the one she revealed in Chapter Two, everything else has been a long search, but I’m almost done with the book, so she’ll have to reveal them shortly.” He answered, laughing. “How’d you know about my book?”
Detective Reyna glanced through the contacts until she found the publishers number 4668, instead of 4663. Easy mistake… She handed it to her partner while she reprogrammed his new phone.
“How long have you had your new phone sir?” She asked handing it back to him.
“Almost three months, I’m still learning how to use it…”
“Well, you should have better luck now with your publisher. You might want to call and check in. She may be surprised to hear from you after so long…” Shaking her head, Detective Reyna followed her partner back to the car. “I sure hope he finds the bodies. That wife of his is a keeper.”
Her partner laughed and slid behind the wheel.