Will You Marry Me? (Sam Darling Mystery Book 4) (10 page)

BOOK: Will You Marry Me? (Sam Darling Mystery Book 4)
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His eyes went back to the sheriff. "Anyway, I was walking around and I saw a chicken look over its shoulder a lot while it was ushering another chicken out the door. It was suspicious. The second chicken looked drunk or sick; at least it was staggering. I couldn't see its real face, of course. I went up to them and asked what was going on. That was my first mistake. I should have clucked, but then I wouldn't have understood the answer. That's when the first chicken pushed the second one away and grabbed me. It pushed me out the door before I could do anything. Hell, I could hardly move in that big old suit. As soon as we got outside he turned me around so I was facing him and he stabbed me. Just as quick as that."

Bob Bob stopped and took a deep breath. This was probably more talking than he'd done all year. This was the Bob I'd liked; maybe it was because he was the first one I'd met. I felt bad about his troubles, but at this point was confident he would pull through. If he could talk as much as he was talking, he was sure to be okay.

 
He continued. "He yelled something but I can't remember what it was. I just ran away until I couldn't run anymore."

"Okay," Wilma said, "we're going to my clinic now. I don't think you need to go to Hollister. Do you think you can sit in my truck for the drive? Or should I use someone's car?"

"I can sit, I think."

With that, Jeremiah and Wilma helped Bob Bob to the truck. I turned to Clancy and hugged her, "Thank you, sweet girl. You knew something was wrong and you wanted to keep me safe. I love you." She murmured something in dog talk and I felt comforted and loved.

At the same time George came in, a little belatedly. "Are you okay?" He grabbed me and gave me a bear hug and then put his hands on my cheeks as he looked into my eyes. "Are you okay?" he repeated.

I nodded, relishing an overwhelming gratitude at the love I felt from both George and Clancy. How lucky I was, medicine or not.

Jeremiah returned in a moment as Chip and I were filling George in on the details of what had happened. At least what we knew so far.

"I really want to know for sure that the body is Missy Hen," I said. "I mean, I'm sure, but I want everyone else to know it too. I'd also like to know more about her relationship with other chickens besides Jim Bob." That last sentence would have sounded silly a few days ago, but today it was part of our new normal. I looked back and forth from George to Jeremiah. "I'd really like to go underchicken, I mean undercover as a chicken. No one would notice another one in that room. Maybe I can find out something. It wouldn't be dangerous because I wouldn't do anything stupid. And it couldn't hurt."

George said, "No."

Jeremiah said, "Okay." The two men looked at each other.
 

Jeremiah put his hand out, pointing to George. "Hear me out. I agree with Sam that no one will notice her. Everyone is pretty anonymous." He turned his attention to me, "And as long as you don't do anything stupid, it will be safe."

"See, that's the thing," said George. "Don't get mad, Sam, but most of your dangerous situations wouldn't have happened if you hadn't jumped in without thinking."

"Yeah, but, this time I am thinking," I said. "And Jeremiah agrees with me. C'mon, George. It's safe, and I can really be of help."

"Why can't I do it?" he countered.

The sheriff intervened. "I need you. We have a lot of interviews to do, and you will be a huge help for me."

It took George a few moments but he finally nodded. I went to hug him but he turned before I could do so. He said, "If you get hurt again or even worse, I don't think I could stand it. I can't go through that again. Just know that. You've been threatened with guns, poisoned, choked, and had other attempts on your life. How fun do you think that is for someone who loves you?"

I touched his shoulder and faced him. "I didn't think."

"That's the problem. You don't think. You do the 'ready, fire, aim' thing and don't think about the consequences on others."

"You're right. If you don't want me to do this I won't." I meant it, but I fervently prayed that he wouldn't ask me not to.

George looked away for a moment, then back at me. "Hell, I fell in love with you, Sam, not a safer version of you." He sighed. "Just be careful, okay?"

"I promise. I won't do anything but walk around and cluck. And listen. I'm gonna listen."

"You don't need my permission, you know."

"I know. But I really wouldn't do it if you didn't want me to." I said it sincerely, but reluctantly.

"Okay. Just be careful." He finally gave me the hug that let me know it really was all right. I kissed him, even though others were there.

"Now. How do I get a chicken suit?" I asked, ready to start.

The sheriff said, "I don't know. I don't want to ask Jim Bob. Even though I know him and don't think he could have killed anyone, and it's hard to imagine he'd have stabbed his brother. But I have to keep my mind open to the fact that he could be involved."

"Here's the thing," said Chip finally speaking. "I have a chicken suit at home."

"What?" we all said simultaneously.
 

"I tried it one year before I got married. It wasn't for me. So I have the chicken suit in a closet," he continued. "I'm heavier than you, but it probably won't matter. Most of the chickens look the same, except for their heights."

"I love you," I said as I gave him a big smooch. George didn't seem to mind. Chip blushed, making his dark cheeks turn mahogany.

He regained his composure and said, "I'll go get it and bring it to Marianne's, so you can change there." He thought a brief moment. "On the other hand, it's probably not a good idea for you to put on the suit at Marianne's and then be seen leaving there with it on."

"Maybe," Jeremiah said, "just bring it here, and she can change in the public bathroom for this hallway. Since we're guarding the area, no one will see her go in and out. We can make sure no one knows it's her."

"Good thinking." I kissed George again, just for the heck of it, and sat down on the carpet to await Chip's return. I looked forward to the adventure, and just knew nothing would go wrong.

Yeah.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

While we waited for Chip to return, Wilma came back with Luigi in tow.
 

"I've got the DNA results," she said. "It's Missy Hen all right." I was glad to hear my conclusion verified for others.

"But there's more," Luigi added.

I immediately wondered why he was still around. Didn't his part of the job end with him getting Missy's bones out of the grave?

Wilma looked at him to see if he was going to tell us. When he didn't, she said, "Her DNA was also on one of the feathers we sent in. But someone else's DNA was on the other feather. Just one other person's. The bad news is that that person isn't in any database that we know of. Yet."

Jeremiah asked, "Do you know how she died?"

"Not yet," answered Wilma. "That will take a while because there were only bones there. And there's a chance we'll never know. It looks suspicious to me, but I can't be sure."

"How's Bob Bob?" I asked, wondering why no one else was interested.

"Actually, he's fine. The wound was a scratch that just bled a lot and he's out and about somewhere." She looked at the sheriff. "I told him you might want to interview him further about the incident."

Jeremiah excused them without telling them of my plan to go undercover. I wondered why, but didn't have time to ask him because Clancy whined sitting next to me. "Oh my, I forgot all about you girl. Have to go out?" She whined yes. I got up to take her out, when Jeremiah stopped me.

"I'll take her if you don't mind. And then I'll take her to Marianne's. She'd be a dead giveaway if she were around you in a chicken suit. Plus I want to talk to Marianne anyway."
 

I raised my eyebrows, thinking that I was sure he wanted to do more than talk, but I had no real proof that there was a romance going on, just a gut feeling.

Clancy hesitated, but I told her, "I'll be okay, I promise. Don't worry about me." She'd heard this before and also knew that when I said this it didn't always turn out to be true. A few times I wasn't okay for a while, but everything did turn out fine ultimately. This time I'd hoped nothing bad would happen to me. I seemed to be a magnet for bad stuff and bad people, but I had a different feeling this time. I honestly thought that when I said, "I'll be okay..." I was telling the truth.

Jeremiah looked back at me when he and Clancy got to the door. "Be careful. And, George," he said, "I'll count on you to give her some direction and to figure out a way to monitor her. We don't have any fancy equipment. Sorry about that." He and Clancy then left the motel. I forced myself to put Clancy out of my mind and to try to concentrate on the task at hand.

"Dammit, Sam," a very common phrase George used, "I hate that you're doing this. I'd do it myself if I didn't have to do so many interviews for the sheriff." He abruptly turned to walk toward the door. "Dammit, Sam," he repeated, "you're not going to do this. I am." He went to open the door to yell at Jeremiah.

I stopped him. "George."

He turned to look at me, one hand on the door handle.
 

"George. I'll be fine. I promise. This time I won't do anything stupid. I've learned my lesson." I walked to him and took both his hands in mine. "I'm so happy with my life. I'm not going to jeopardize what we have."

"I still don't know...." He hesitated and I jumped in again.

"You're the cop, I know. But all I'm going to do is cluck and listen. Cluck and listen."

I don't think he could help but smile at that. George knew me too well. But I hoped he also knew I was telling the truth. Sure, something could happen, but it wouldn't be done by me. I was going to follow the rules, and not my vibes. Even if I was absolutely positive that one of the chickens was the killer, I wasn't going to let my nosy nose follow the person. I was just going to cluck and listen, and then report to George and Jeremiah.

I never heard what he would have said because at that point Chip walked in, followed by a breathless Barclay. It still bugged me that the BIA agent was hanging around, even though he was sure the grave wasn't Native American in origin and that in fact the grave held the remains of Missy Hen, who was Caucasian. I wanted to ask him about his intentions, but was distracted by the big, feathery costume Chip thrust at me.

After thanking him, I pulled George aside and had him walk with me toward the bathroom. "I won't be able to talk to you once I have this thing on. So tell me exactly what you want me to do," I said to him.

"Just what we talked about. I want you to mingle and observe. Of course you'll have to cluck once in a while so they don't get suspicious. But please, please, please, don't do anything stupid, like talking. If you talk, people will know who you are. Just fit in. Got it?"

I nodded and we hugged each other. George ended with a light kiss, which still thrilled me. As I started to close the bathroom door, he said, "I'll be in and out of the room. That won't be suspicious because they know I'm working with the sheriff on the case. I probably won't know which chicken is you, but you'll see me and I hope that makes you feel safe."

I closed the door and walked inside, knowing that I might be putting myself in danger.

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

I pulled the chicken suit over my ample hips, where it was a really tight fit. The outfit hung off my shoulders where Chip was broader than I was. However, in the derriere department, I won hands down. It was no problem walking with a waddle because the suit was so tight around my hips and thighs that I feared the circulation would be cut off in the lower part of my body.

Opening the bathroom door, I peeked outside. Chip was guarding the hallway, and glanced at me, then looked away. Good job, I thought. George was nowhere in sight.

I waddled in the opposite direction from Chip and after turning left at the end of the hallway I came to the conference room. After calming myself by doing some controlled breathing, I felt better equipped to enter the den of possible murderers.

One final deep breath and I opened the door. Some chicken heads turned to look at me, but I didn't get a lot of attention. And of course I looked like everyone else in the room, except for my height. Plus people came and went all the time. Most chickens had motel rooms, and of course the bathrooms for the conference were located outside the room in the hallways. I didn't want to act differently than anyone else, so I just walked right up to a group and listened. And indeed, it was just as advertised, no one was using words, just clucks. I thought that maybe I would be able to start interpreting their clucks if I listened for a time. So that's what I did.

"Cluck. Cluck. Cluckity-cluck!"

"Cluck-cluck?"

After being amused for about a minute, I started getting bored. What did these people see in dressing like chickens and clucking?
 

Then I remembered. There was sexual fetishism involved. A chicken waddled by slowly and several of my group turned to watch. I swore they were salivating. Then I wondered if chickens salivated. Of course, getting off topic was one of my strengths.

Back to the topic. Sexual fetishism. I didn't know much about that, and hadn't treated anyone with that diagnosis in my practice. However, I found it fascinating. I knew that "different strokes for different folks" was a common thought when it came to turn-ons. However, this seemed like a wildly different form of sexual attraction to me. George was my speed--with or without feathers.

I decided to leave my group, without clucking once. I waddled to a smaller group of three chickens, but immediately felt that I was an unwanted intrusion. Vibes, maybe, but the fact that no one clucked a welcome made me feel they were probably planning a chicken three-way and I was out of luck. Thank God.

So I strolled to another small group, remembering at the last minute to exaggerate my waddle so that I'd be noticed. All three of this group looked at me and clucked. The clucks had a welcoming tone and I tried to mimic their inflection. Apparently I was successful, because they included me in their "conversation." Again, I was soon bored, and didn't know how to figure out anything.

BOOK: Will You Marry Me? (Sam Darling Mystery Book 4)
11.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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