Try as I might, I can’t focus on the doctor’s instructions and since it’s my Great Aunt Shirl who’s come to pick me up, I know she isn’t concentrating either. So I’m very happy for the stapled sheets of papers that they put into the plastic bag imprinted with patient’s belongings.
I was going to do Panic! at the Disco’s version but it felt a lot like sacrilege.
I have started a category for Annie and Linc in case you’ve missed previous installments. Unfortunately being the highly disorganized individual that I am means they aren’t all there yet. 😦 Soon, me lovelies, soon.
What’s wrong with this picture? Well, first off, I don’t usually wake up with my face pressed against a hardwood floor. This was a first. The pain in my head that felt like a red-bellied woodpecker was pecking from the inside out—that was also new. The bitter smell of smoke that made me feel like an unwilling participant in a barbecue—also new.
He didn’t kiss me back.
I undraped myself from his body, feeling somewhat miffed, but pragmatic enough to realize that a man in an elected position probably couldn’t be seen kissing in public a woman who was wanted for murdering her husband, who had escaped from jail, and who, if gossip were to be believed, burned down the sheriff’s house.
“Hello to you too,” Linc said. His eyes twinkled. That gave me hope.
“Am I adding ‘molesting the sheriff’ charges to Annie’s file?” Mrs. Eldridge asked.
Linc shook his head. “We’ll skip that one. We have enough on her to put her away for a long time.”
“So funny,” I said. I stood there feeling awkward. “I’m sorry about your house.”
“Thanks for getting Buffy out.”
“We left a good while before the men showed up.”
Linc frowned. “Men? What did they look like?”
He led me to the very familiar interrogation room where Mrs. Eldridge brought me a much needed cup of coffee. I felt immediately better after plugging the caffeine into my system. Praise the gods of coffee beans!
I told Linc about the men. His face became a mask, especially when I mentioned that they didn’t hesitate to shoot at me, not that that was surprising since they didn’t hesitate to torch his house either. I don’t think they hesitated to perform any kind of violence.
“They didn’t seem like the kind of men who would put poison into sugar canisters though. It didn’t seem like their kind of thing.”
He nodded. I took another sip of coffee and stared at him. There was something he wasn’t sharing. I tried that old trick of staying quiet to see if he would fill in the blank space. He didn’t. I, however, couldn’t sit there letting quiet take over everything. There were times I could, but the tension right now just ate at me. I scratched my arms as if I could feel it chewing away.
“What?” I finally said.
He raised an eyebrow. He was very good at this quiet thing, but then he always was. He always won the staring contests when we were kids.
“There’s something else going on and you’re trying to figure out whether you should tell me or not, right?” I said.
“I’m not going to tell you anything so there isn’t any ‘figuring out’ to be done.”
“That doesn’t sound fair.”
“Fair doesn’t enter into it.”
“It should. Quid pro quo.”
“You saw Silence of the Lambs too many times. And you don’t have any information worth trading.”
“I told you about the men.”
He rubbed his fingers across his closed eyes. Crap. I was giving him a hard time and he had just lost pretty much everything except his dog.
“I am really, really sorry about your house,” I said again.
“How did they know you were there?” he asked.
I shrugged. “Did you tell anyone?”
“No. Did you?”
“No. The only person I might have told was the one I was thinking might have put poison in my sugar canister.”
“Clarice?” he asked. “Your mother must have been as hung up on Silence of the Lambs as you are.”
I smiled. My mother had been one of a kind. “Yep.”
“Why would you think Clarice had anything to do with this?”
I explained to him about seeing Clarice and Ry that day when I was having breakfast with Rosie.
“That may not mean anything,” he said.
“I know. Nothing makes much sense. Unless it is me and I have blackouts.”
“That’s at the top of my list,” he said and then grinned.
He got up suddenly, the feet of his chair protesting against the vinyl. “This time stay put,” he said as he placed his hat on his head.
I didn’t say anything. I’d give his suggestion some thought, probably over another cup of coffee. I needed to figure some things out and sitting twiddling my thumbs in the sheriff’s office wouldn’t help. During the past two weeks my life had gone to hell in the proverbial handbasket, whatever that was. Adultery, murder, poisoning, arson—what was left? I shouldn’t tempt fate. And yet, despite these awful things, there was coffee…and Linc.
November 15, 2016
Blurb from Goodreads: Off the charts and on the run.
International pop star Margo Hartman could use a night off. A grueling tour and overbearing entourage have sent her over the edge. It’s time for this diva to disappear. And who would think to look for the superstar in a small Dutch town in Ohio?
So remember what I was saying about not going back to the house because I’d end up in jail? I figured I’d cut out the middle man, so Buffy and I walked into the Sheriff’s office where I plopped down on the padded bench while waiting for Mrs. Brooks to finish speaking with Mrs. Eldridge.
“I heard that Annie isn’t only a fugitive, but she burned down Lincoln’s house. Can you imagine? What kind of woman kills her husband and then burns down the sheriff’s house?” Mrs. Brooks asks.
By now Mrs. Eldridge had seen me and rolled her eyes. “I don’t think she did that Lilymay.”
“That girl was always wild, I bet she’s most of the way into Kentucky by now.”
I grinned. I have superpowers now! Me and Buffy could just use our capes to fly a hundred miles.
“I doubt that. It wouldn’t surprise me if she came into the Sheriff’s office of her own free will.”
Mrs. Brooks waved her hand. “Not the likes of her. My sister taught her years ago. Even when she was seven she was mischievous. ”
Mrs. Brooks, deciding perhaps she was not going to persuade Mrs. Eldridge that I was a force of evil, turned around and spared just the barest of glances for me. “Hello,” she said. Then stopped and eyed me as if not really sure it was me.
“Nice to see you again, Mrs. Brooks. And nice to know you think so highly of me,” I said.
She sputtered and then trotted away, no doubt in a hurry to get to her house before I burned it down.
“Why are you here, Child?” Mrs. Eldridge asked.
I shrugged. “Didn’t know where else to go.” Damn, didn’t that sound pathetic?
“Is Linc at his house?”
Mrs. Eldridge shook her head. “I think he’s looking for you. Do you want me to call him?”
I nodded. Once again I felt really bad about Linc’s house. It was not directly my fault, but it was burned down because of me. Generations of memories gone. At least his folks had retired in Gulf Shore, Alabama or thereabouts and rarely returned home.
About fifteen minutes later the door opened. The tension on Linc’s face immediately disappeared when he saw me. I stood up and fought the urge to fling myself in his arms. Buffy, however, had no such compunction and ran to him, pulling her leash out of my hands.
“Damn good to see you,” he said.
“The feeling’s mutual,” I said, grinning at him stupidly. Suddenly I wanted to be an octopus and wrap all of my limbs around him and kiss the ever-loving hell out of him. That’s what I wanted, but what I did was squeeze his bicep and continue to grin. Stupidly.
“It’s none of my business but you two might want to stop making googly eyes at each other and remember you’ve got a killer to catch,” Mrs. Eldridge said.
I think it was the use of the phrase “googly eyes” that did it, but I did launch myself into Linc’s arms and kiss him then. Buffy yelped in excitement. My heart yelped in excitement. I really wished we were in a different place and in a different time because the kiss had to end way too soon… “oooo, I’m on fire…”
Ever tried to run with a dog on leash…a dog you don’t know and who, likewise, doesn’t know you? Ever tried to run with said dog away from someone who’s decided that you might look better if you resembled swiss cheese? Let me tell you first hand, it isn’t easy.
Buffy thought it was a game and in true herding dog fashion also thought that maybe she should nip at my heels to hurry me along. It didn’t help.
The only thing we had going for us was the fact that I knew these woods like the back of my hand. Sure there were the unanticipated loose weathered stones that were slightly slippery, but rocket man behind me had to deal with these things too, without the benefit of knowing the trails.
It occurred to me that the safest bet might be to run back to Linc’s house. With the volunteer fire department there, these yahoos were not likely to shoot me there. But then I’d be back in jail.
My brain felt like confetti that just kept wafting away from my fingertips. I was out of ideas and unless I could put enough distance between me and rocket man, I was out of luck.
As I puffed and ran, feeling out of control, “think, think, think, Annie” kept drumming through my brain. And then I knew.
By now the woods were deeper and darker, affording me more cover as I changed direction. I turned north and ran to the creek. Buffy was game for this. We ran through the water and the sound of the waterfall, even one this minor, drowned out our splashes.
I tried to pull her behind the flow. Of course, this would be the time she showed resistance, but finally she followed me to the gap behind the falls where time and water had created an indentation in the rock that was not quite a cave, but could hide a person and hopefully a dog from someone who didn’t know it existed.
I crouched down and held Buffy close to me. She licked my face, but fortunately didn’t make a sound. After a few minutes, I settled back on my butt and waited. I didn’t know how long rocket man would be scouring the woods. I on the other hand had all the time in the world to hide. I thought.