Murder on the Ol' Bunions (A LaTisha Barnhart Mystery) (27 page)

BOOK: Murder on the Ol' Bunions (A LaTisha Barnhart Mystery)
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“Now I know where you keep the change.”




The whole story came out in the papers over the course of time. I had a few more details than most but couldn’t share them because of my promise to the chief not to let anyone know I’d helped.

Chief filled me in on Payton’s confession. I can pass along some of the details for you.

Payton said he’d had gone to Dana’s to tune her piano. Apparently, Dana
non-stop about an old letter from her great-grandfather that verified the diary of Jackson Hughes. Because of mounting gambling debts, Payton felt compelled to find the diary with the intention of getting his hands on the gold. That’s why Dana’s piano never got fully tuned. After spouting about the letter and diary to Payton, she returned to school, giving him the perfect chance to search, and eventually find, the diary.

Through the night, Payton read the diary and began making a sketch of the map, but a call from one of the guys from the casino interrupted him, and by the time he returned, it was so late he decided to finish the sketch in the morning. But when Chief arrived on his doorstep bright and early, Payton decided even his office safe wouldn’t be a good place for the diary if the chief returned with a search warrant. In a panic to find a secure, temporary place for the diary, he visited Marion, figuring with all the old books she had in her shop, it would be a good place to hide the diary.

Payton shoved the diary under his coat and walked over to Out of Time. Marion started in on Payton about his rent being late. She finally turned her back long enough for him to slip the diary into a box of books near the counter. The box I had bought that morning.

He wanted to keep an eye on the box in case Marion shifted the books around and he lost track of it, so he intended to get over to Marion’s frequently that day. But on his first trip back, he found Marion standing by the counter, the box of books beside her,
diary in her hands.

All Payton could think about was how desperately he needed that diary and the gold. Like anyone would, he assumed Marion had read the diary. He tried to sidetrack Marion. She tucked the diary back into the box on the counter and told Payton I had bought the books. He came around the counter, plucked up the diary, and told her it was his. She got really mad, told him she’d sold it, and he couldn’t have it. She ordered him to hand over the book.
The diary the object of an all out tug-of-war.
That’s when Payton lost it, let go of the diary, and shoved her as hard as he could. He swooped down to get the diary, realized Marion wasn’t moving, and then saw the blood.

Shaken to the core, the sound of footsteps on the cement finally pushed him to action. In his shock, he must have dropped the diary and that’s how it came to be in the other box of books I purchased.
The box behind the counter on the floor.

for the bookcase and almost made it through when the doorbell alerted him of a customer. It was Dana. Shaking by now, he must not have shut the bookcase tight, which is why I felt that draft of air seconds before I discovered Marion’s body.

When chief informed Payton that Marion couldn’t read, that her having the diary in her hands meant nothing—other than she might have been able to understand the map, Payton truly broke down.

After he’d calmed down, chief asked him about Dana. Since she’d seen him at Marion’s, Payton knew he needed to appeal to her. When Dana called him the night of Marion’s death, angry over her piano still being out of tune and asking what he’d done to Marion, Payton knew she’d seen Marion’s body and come right over to buy her silence. The two of them struck a deal to share the gold. A student visited Dana while Payton was there and he overheard the boy asking for a better grade. At first Payton didn’t understand what was going on. Dana shooed the boy off, but Payton understood that Dana had her own little secret business selling grades. It was pure coincidence that he overheard, but enough to secure Dana’s silence.


One conversation that I did get in on was the one between the chief and Mark. We huddled at my house while Mark explained his interest in Marion’s shop. Hardy and I took the sofa, Mark and the chief each in armchairs.

Mark went first. “It’s as I told
earlier, I’d studied Maple Gap history and put two and two together to figure out Marion’s building probably housed the assayer’s office. I borrowed
key and poked around one night. That’s when I found the bookcase and the entrance to Payton’s shop. I decided to have some fun with him and boarded up his entrance.
Figured to shake him up a bit.”

With that, the last piece of the puzzle clicked into place in my mind. “The dining room table,” I said.

Mark nodded. “I figured Payton would get those boards off eventually. The table was extra insurance on my part that he wouldn’t be able to get back into the shop.”

“It never occurred to you that Marion’s assailant might have used that entrance?” Chief directed the question to Mark.

“Not at first. When it did, I decided to stage the break in and hope Chief would find the bookcase and room and investigate Payton a little more closely.”

“Why not just come to me instead?” Chief didn’t look happy.

“Because I didn’t know for sure where the diary was. I’d taken note of all the ones on the bookcase the day you,
, and I had gone into the store. When those were missing, I thought maybe Payton had taken them.”

“You didn’t vote about Marion’s building,” Hardy stated.

“Because I knew once my connection to Marion and
came out it wouldn’t look right.”

Chief glanced at me. “You have any other questions,

I turned to Mark. “What about

“I’m taking her away on a long vacation after she graduates.”

had blossomed under Mark’s care, and though she wouldn’t graduate with honors, the school board had decided she could graduate.

But the best news of all to come out of the whole incident was the budding romance between the chief and Regina. I expected once things settled down a bit, Chief would make his feelings known. It’d do the town good to have a wedding.

But for now, I can rest my bunions.


About Spyglass Lane

Spyglass Lane Mysteries is a collection of Christian cozy mysteries—modern-day
with colorful characters and plenty of wholesome romance.


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BOOK: Murder on the Ol' Bunions (A LaTisha Barnhart Mystery)
8.07Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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