Murders in Progress

Downtown Kimmel

Romance Over Pie

(Episode 14)

Agent Hailey returned with two capped, Styrofoam containers of coffee.

“Where is Agent Curtis?”  She looked around.

Leland nodded to indicate the direction Agent Curtis took.

Agent Hailey swore, stared up the street a while and then offered Leland the coffee.

“Thanks.”  He reached for the coffee.  “Agent Curtis suggested I buy you a slice of cherry pie.”  He nodded his head to indicate the café across the street out of which she had just come.

“So he pimped me out again.” Agent Hailey snorted.  She took a moment to survey her options, which included a short visual inspection of Leland.  “Sure.”

Leland glanced both ways and made to lead across the street.   Agent Hailey paused.  “All those press boys are inside you know.”

“I know,” Leland called from mid-street.  “Ruth hates having them underfoot and milling around outside.  So she promised them updates if they’d wait in the café.”  Leland nodded across the street.  “Seems to be working so far.”

Agent Hailey raised her brows and followed.

Inside Carmella ushered them to Leland’s regular booth.  It was at the far end nearby the juke box.  Whenever Leland wished to have an especially private conversation he pushed in a quarter and played “Rock Around the Clock”.

“How’s business Carmella?”

“Not bad.  The press corps, they are pretty cheap.  But there’s a lot of them.  And if you keep them waiting long enough they’re going to buy a meal.”

“I’ll see what I can do.”  Leland smiled.

“Thank you,” Carmella said.  “You might also suggest to them that a tip would help to lubricate your lips.”

Leland frowned.  “I’ll do what I can Carmella.”

Carmella nodded down the way towards the boy sitting at the counter working on what looked to be the second of two huge floats.  “That’s the one pulling in the chips.  He offers to take them to the scenes of the crimes.  He charges thirty dollars a trip, I’ve heard.  And he will only take one person at a time.  My guess is, he’s making more than you.”  Carmella nodded, as she flipped the page on her waitress pad.  “What will you have?”

Leland recognized the boy who had run the Mercedes.

“Two pieces of your cherry pie.  And maybe these coffees in some cups?”  Leland handed Carmella the Styrofoam containers.

Carmella scribbled.  “Sure,” she said, leaving.

Leland stared out the café window, in order to keep from staring at certain parts of Agent Hailey, which actually he could observe well enough in the reflection in the window.

“Agent Curtis does this all the time, you know.”

Her voice seemed to be saying “look at me”.  So Leland did.  Really nice breasts, bound really tight, beneath a buttoned up blouse.  If she’d just worn a normal open shirt it wouldn’t have been as near a turn on.  But her attempt  to repress her sexuality seemed to  torment  it and make it scream.  Any guy would want to help.  Plus she was very good looking, with plump, plush lips, a pert nose, freckles, and eyes like tropical beach water.  Leland just wanted to stay here all day.  Coming over to this cafe had never gotten him this excited.

“He pretends to drive off without me.  I get invited for pie.  We chat.  I learn all I can.   He says it’s just a matter of utilizing all of our assets.   That I should do the same thing for him – if it’s a younger woman.”

“It will be a struggle to give fair value.”  Leland smiled.

“You don’t mind being used?”

“Use away.”

Agent Hailey shrugged.  “Fine then.”

The pie came.

“It’s pretty good pie here.”

“Good,” Agent Hailey barked.

Carmella set it with a conspiratorial smile, and left.  The first reporter approached.

“Sheriff.  Vince Delaney of the Seattle Times.  Do you have an I D on the second victim, yet?”

“Yes we do.”

With that the rest of the press rose.  Leland raised a palm, and turned his attention so all could hear.

“My advice:  Order yourself a nice meal.  Tip the waitress generously.   Maybe get a drink.  And if you just wait until I’m done conferring with my colleague here, I’ll tell you more.”

The man from the Times was about to open his mouth when Leland shook his head and rotated his index finger back towards the group.  The man’s mouth closed, and he turned back to rejoin the group.

“So!  What can I get for you all?”  Carmella cried.

Agent Hailey and Leland continued their conversation.

“I don’t know when I’ve been so closely observed,” Agent Hailey said uncomfortably.

“Sorry,” Leland said.

“I don’t mean like that.”  She nodded her head.  “I mean them.”

Leland nodded.

“When it comes time, would you like to say a few words also?”

Agent Hailey shook her head.  “Uh… no?”

“A large part of advancing in the law game involves public speaking.”

“No.  I’d rather you just go ahead and advance yourself.  I’ll just concentrate upon catching a killer.”

“Alright.”

They ate their pie quietly.  Agent Hailey raised her head to speak, perhaps to apologize, but Leland shook his.  “Save it,” he said.  The last thing he needed now was an argument with a woman.

Once Leland had seen that all the reporters were starting to tuck themselves into their meals, he pushed himself back from the table and rose, saying, “It’s time for the Kimmel County Dinner Theater.”

Agent Hailey’s eyes followed him as he made his way over to the press corps and pulled out a chair which he leaned over the back of.  “I’m Leland Kelly, Sheriff of Kimmel County, for those of you who don’t know me.  And I appreciate you saving your questions for the present time.  This is Agent Hailey of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”  A lot of the men craned their necks for a better look, as their brows rose.  Several diners who were not members of the press contingent nodded quietly also, damping the clatter of their cutlery as they followed developments with gawking gazes.  “The Bureau has generously offered its help, both manpower and technical acumen, to Kimmel County in a combined effort to track the perpetrator of these egregious crimes.  Though we have not yet identified the identity of the first victim, the second victim appears to be a middle-aged woman from the Seattle area by the name of Nancy Loomis.”

A hush fell over the press crowd.  “You mean… the Muffin Lady?!” a voice cried out.

Leland nodded.  “Apparently she is also popularly known as the Muffin Lady.”

The Muffin Lady was a well known figure in the area, having been spotlighted in many promotional ads for her company.

“Was she decapitated like the first victim?”  A reporter cried out.

Leland paused, considering how much he wanted to reveal, and was beginning to shake his head, when a teenager in braids, from over her writing pad, declared:  “Something was rolling around in that body bag like a bowling ball.”

Leland looked directly at Nancy Gillis, who had poked her head out from behind the reporter from the Seattle Times.  All heads turned to Nancy Gillis.  “You were at the scene, initially?”  One of the reporters asked.

“Yes she was,” Leland answered, in an effort to take charge of the briefing once again.  “And the victim was decapitated.  Though, whether or not, this confirms linkage with the first victim is still to be determined.”

But half of the reporters were now turned to Nancy Gillis and tossing her questions.  She was quite demur with her answers, and ended it finally by saying,  “All of your questions will soon be answered if the next issue of the Kimmel High School’s Wolverine News, due out tomorrow!  I suggest you get an issue!  We’re starting with a three part series.  The first will start with an evaluation of the scene of the crime.  The second will involve a short interview, conducted directly thereafter, with the leading investigator, Kimmel County  Sheriff Leland Kelly.  And the third, which I am still working on will cover the extent and reason for possible Federal involvement in the case.  As for local color and the reaction from local residents, we have made an executive decision to let this softer news be covered by the more standard commercial news outlets.”  The press corps nodded, shocked.  “That’s it for now!  If you need me, for any further comment, I can be reached through the Wolverine Press.”  Nancy Gillis spoke quickly, and then she left.

Leland waited and then tried beginning his briefing anew:  “As I was saying…”

But everyone had their head turned and were following Nancy Gillis’ exit from the café.  And Leland felt as if he were speaking into a vacuum.

“Who was that?”  The first reporter to look back at Leland asked.

Photo by Carl Nelson

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