Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

phone call 4

Pitching Ruth

(Episode 33)

“How’s it going?” Nancy said, after she’d introduced herself.

“How’s it going?  Is that the sort of cleverly crafted question which keeps a writer publishing just below the fold of the New York Times these days?”

“It’s called a ‘conversation opener’, Ruth,” Nancy replied.  “And why are you trying to break my balls like this?”

“My name is not ‘Ruth’.  It’s Ms. Haphelstot to you.   And where in the world did you get that expression, “busting my balls,” Nancy?  You’re a 15 year old girl.”

“Sorry.  But I’ve been hanging out at the Café with the other journalists, and that’s just how professional reporters talk Ruth.”

“You have no balls.”

“It’s a euphemism.  A turn of phrase.”

“I know what a euphemism is, little girl. And I’m been intimately acquainted with a lot of turns of phrases in my day, and they’re all just dicks calling themselves Richard, if you can handle my French.   And I’m surprised Carmella would put up with it over there.    And I have half a mind to call your mother, that is, your father,  Nancy.  And I’m not Ruth.”

“Sure, you are.”

“Not to a 15 year old girl, I’m not.”

“Are you going to be a prude?”

Yes!  When I’m employed in a professional  capacity.”  Ruth was adamant.

“The Sheriff calls you Ruth,” Nancy whined.

“That’s because he’s the Sheriff.”

“Well, I’m a reporter,” Nancy retorted hotly.

“You’re a gossip,” Ruth replied.  “And a little, 15 year old one to boot.”

“That’s not what the New York Times thinks,” Nancy said.

“What the hell do you want, Nancy?”  Ruth said finally.

“You may call me Ms. Gillis, please.”

Ruth sighed.

“Alright.  Ms. Gillis it is.  What would you like to know, Ms. Gillis?  And does your father know where you are?”  Ms. Haphelstot asked tartly.

“Look.  Maybe we got off on the wrong foot here Ms. Haphelstot,” Nancy said solicitously.  “Because I’m merely calling to see how the investigation is going.  We haven’t heard much about it out here, where there is so much fear and so little real knowledge!   And I bet you can imagine how conjecture will fill in all those vacant spaces!  …!!!   So, I thought I’d call and nail down a few facts.”

“What facts are those?”

“Is it true the Federal Bureau has been dragging its feet in analyzing the evidentiary material in this case?”

“Where’d you get that idea?”

“Well, despite the scuttlebutt I overhear at the café, I figured it couldn’t be because our Sheriff is at fault.  He strikes me as a pretty sharp cookie, and pretty resourceful  law enforcement officer to say the least.”  Nancy hoped she wasn’t slathering it on too thick.

“He is.”

“Well, then, what’s the hold up?”

“Oh, for Pete’s sake.  I shouldn’t be talking about this.  But I’ll be damned if I’m going to let Leland take the fall here.   The fact of the matter is, we don’t know where the evidence is.  We sent if off to the FBI, two weeks ago.  We got back an intitial dribble of information.  And now it’s like it’s fallen into a black hole.

“I’ll bet Lelan…  Sherriff Leland’s pretty upset.”

“Would you call shouting, upset?”  Ruth asked.

“Um.”  Nancy replied, writing.

“But I can’t fault Agent Hailey.  She’s done all a body can do, as far as that goes.  In fact, I think she’s very embarrassed.  Her organization has really let her down on this one.”

“Um huh.”  Nancy said, taking more notes.

“But at least we still have the bodies.”

“The bodies?”  Her pencil stopped.

“Yeah.  You know, how when people are killed, their bodies often remain.”

“Do tell,” Nancy replied sweetly.  “And where are they?”

“That,  I can’t say.”

“But you’re sure they are still there?”

“What?  Why would the bodies be missing?”

“Well.  I don’t know.  But the other evidence is, right?”

The line went silent.  And Nancy could almost feel the vibration of Ruth’s mental gears turning through the phone; first slowly, and then at hyperspeed.

“You know what?  Something’s come up.  And can I talk to you a little later about this, Nancy?”

“It’s Ms. Gillis.”

“Certainly Ms. Gillis.  Just let me handle this bit of new business, and I’ll get right back to you.  Okay?”

“Sure,” Nancy agreed, and hung up.

By the time Ruth had locked up the Sheriff’s office and headed out in the Sheriff’s car, Nancy was following closely, pedaling hard, on the far right side of the road… the playing card in the spokes humming.  People rarely looked for tails, Nancy figured, riding bikes on the opposing sidewalk.

Nancy lost her after six blocks, 3 dodged dogs, one shopper and another biker, a small boy, going the opposite direction (poorly), but by then Nancy had already figured out the only place Ruth could be heading.

Ruth had reached the butcher’s and was talking animatedly and motioning with her arms, by the time Nancy arrived.  Nancy saw them go to the meat lockers together, and stood wondering what she should do.

She left her bike against the bushes and walked over to the Sheriff’s car.  Ruth had left it unlocked.  Nancy  looked in the back hatch window, but saw nothing as there was a security shade drawn.  So she opened the clam doors and saw plenty of room for a small girl to hide.

Nancy  considered.  Today was Friday.  So there was a good chance her father wouldn’t be back until the wee hours, and then, not up until eleven or twelve that next day.  Which gave her lots of time.  She still had a bottle of water and half of the hamburger she’d purchase at the restaurant wrapped up in a napkin.

Nancy hopped inside and closed the clam shell doors softly behind herself, just as Ruth was exiting from the butchers, at a calmer pace and looking relieved.

Photo taken from Google Images

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: