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WRONG BRANCH: JIGSAW
This novel will continue with the collaboration of Mary and Detective, Badge 2317 on a case that everyone else believes is suicide.
Everet Whitington sat with a small smile on his tear-streaked face, looking at
his new twenty-one inch monitor. For
years he had denied needing a larger screen but today he had changed out the
fifteen inch and was pleased with the detail he could now see with ease.
On the screen was a display of his own life in his database of over
twenty-four thousand connected individuals.
He looked over the events of his life; birth, schools, military, college,
marriage, degrees, jobs, children. He
slowly moved the cursor over to the ‘death’ button and hit ‘enter’.
With a wiry smile he typed in the day’s date.
hours later his wife, Martha, found him still looking at the screen with eyes
staring, long dried of tears.
start the bid?” she cried out.
dollars!” a voice called out from the back of the Library.
to Twenty-three Seventeen for seventy-five dollars!”
The small crowd in the Library looked at each other and Mary, with no one
quite knowing what had happened. Mary
searched over the crowd for the familiar face she had spotted earlier in the
back. She smiled and the Detective,
Badge Twenty-three Seventeen, smiled back.
stayed on the podium as she watched him walk around the side toward her.
She stepped down as he got closer and as she did, Meg passed her to step
up. Meg said, “You win.
Ten dollars now or do you want credit at the Diner?”
gave Meg a quick glance and answered, “Just add ten to your Library
stepped up on the temporary stage and held over her head a book of ten coupons
for Sunday Brunch for two and yelled out, “Soup’s on!”
Detective was close enough to hear most of the exchange and asked, “Mary, what
was that all about?”
handed the pie to him and then turning, she went toward the stairs and said,
“Let’s say you just made eighty-five dollars for the Library.”
She started up, “Come on up to my office.”
office now. How’d that happen?”
or short version?”
he said as he looked back over his shoulder and realized that all eyes were on
them as they climbed the stairs. “They’re
maybe expected something else.” She
stopped at the second door along the balcony that looked over the lower floor of
the Library and reached out to open it. She
bowed slightly and waved him in, “Enter said the spider to the fly.”
he went in, he looked out of the corner of his eye, “And what does that
an old saying. Have a seat.”
She walked over to a counter in one corner of the overly large office and
got two cups of coffee from a pump thermos.
“I brought this from home this morning.
It should still be good and hot.” She
turned to bring the cups over to the desk and noted he was still standing,
looking around her office.
one wall a large bookcase was about half filled with books, some of which he
recognized as being from Don Murphy’s collection.
The desk and side credenza formed an ‘L’ in the center of the office
and behind that another bookcase was mostly filled with file folders stuffed
with loose papers.
sit. It will be hard to have a piece
of pie unless you do.”
I was just noticing that your computer is here.
I remember that scratch along the left side and the smoke damage.”
eye. When I got the office, I
brought most of my office stuff here and now after fifteen years I have a dining
room with a dining table again!”
he sat down, he placed the pie on the desk, but noticeably refused to
acknowledge the two plates, two forks and a pie server waiting.
“Tell me about the office.”
after the mess you left us last…”
interrupt. As I was saying, after
the mess, the state sent down arbitrators and counselors.
could say that. Eighteen lawsuits,
three divorces, half the
about the old murder case?”
man Coldham is in his eighties now. The
State Attorney’s office feels that with his age and the fact that there is no
one alive that can bear witness against him, the case is probably
un-prosecutable. His family is
working on a plea bargain. Besides,
he readily talks about what he did and almost every one who hears the tale
thinks the victim deserved what he got.”
Attorney! My, you’re stepping
leaned back in her chair, “Number six on my speed dial.”
one on mine.”
bet. Now it’s my turn.”
she sat forward and leaned on her elbows, chin resting on her fists,
“Explanation! Fourteen months!
What happened? Did you fall
off the edge of the world?”
busy, your ass! Too busy to call, to
write a postcard, or send an email!” Mary
was having fun watching him squirm, but the twinkle in her eye gave her away.
having much too much fun at my expense. I
just didn’t know how I would be received after the ‘mess I left’.”
honest at least. You were scared,
He relaxed a bit and sat back in an almost slouch.
“It wouldn’t take you long to learn how to give a third degree.
Now it’s my turn. What
eighty-five dollars? I’m paying
the seventy five. If you had been
here earlier, you could have saved some money.
The first pie went for forty-seven.”
he acted miffed, “First pie! You
said you only baked one pie for the auction.”
I baked two this year in case you were late getting here and missed the first
one, which traditionally starts the auction.”
the other ten?”
bet Meg ten dollars you would show up.”
The coffee and two cups, plates and forks waiting, two pies and a bet
with Meg. How did you know I would
show up after fourteen months?”
straightened up and opened the lower right draw of the desk and pulled out five
file folders. She put them on the
desk in front of him without comment.
Detective picked up the top manila folder and read the tab, “Charles Everet
laid the folder back on top of the others. “So,
tell me. How did you know?”
both of them were leaning forward in almost a conspiratorial huddle.
famous genealogist dies after entering the date of his own death in his
genealogy program, and you don’t think every serious genealogist wasn’t
following the story? And two weeks
later it is declared a suicide.”
going to make me say it. Aren’t you?”
you’re going to eat a piece of my seventy five dollar pie, it’s the least
you can do.”
then, and that’s two pieces of pie, thank you.
Charles Everet Whitington didn’t commit suicide, he was murdered.”
©July 2002 Fred (Woody) Hendrick
Detective 2317 and Officer Masterson are targets of a poison filled hypo, and Mary is charged with murdering her lover.
A picture of Booker T. Washington in a frame, hand carved by an ex-slave, starts a chain of events that threatens to topple a philanthropic institute responsible for the tuition of scores of college students and the administration of millions of dollars in trust funds.
Let me know what you think and don't worry, I have a thick hide. Woody
since posting on September 12, 2006