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

BOOK: Will You Marry Me? (Sam Darling Mystery Book 4)
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"Wow," I said. "I had no idea. And I'm glad that there's a logical reason for the name."

I turned to my left and saw that George had already finished.
 

"That must have been a delicious gulp," I said, sarcasm surfacing.

"I need to go," he said to Marianne. "I don't want to keep the sheriff waiting."

"Wait just one minute," she replied. "I'll wrap up some lunch for Jeremiah. He likes my sandwiches."

I bet he likes more than just your sandwiches, I thought.

"Go ahead, honey," I said to George. "I'll wait for the food and will be there in a few minutes."

He planted a kiss in between my bites of sandwich.

"Thanks again, Marianne." I swear if he'd been wearing a hat he would have tipped it, just like the sheriff. What was it about this place that brought out that old-timey and charming behavior?

After George walked out I grabbed a mini-carrot and sat back as I chomped. "This is a beautiful home, Marianne."

She smiled and said, "Our daddy protected us financially, and so all of us girls have been able to take good care of ourselves--with or without a man in our lives."

"Were you ever married?"

Her eyes hardened for a brief moment and I saw a completely different person. She caught herself and her face reverted to its normal lovely demeanor.

"Yes, I was." And that's all she said.

I decided to stop with the questions, and finished my carrot. Downing the last of the delicious tea, I helped Marianne clean off the table and wrap a few sandwiches for the sheriff.

"Can I just leave Clancy with Fifi and Thor? They seem to be getting along so well."

"Of course. She knows how to behave. It will be a pleasure having her here while you're gone."

I apologized to Clancy for leaving her and she rewarded me by turning away, which was her "you're dead to me" behavior. Then, with a quick thank you and a brief hug, I left Marianne and her lovely home. My curiosity had been let out of its cage, however, and there was no holding it back. I knew I was going to find out about her former marriage and why her face changed so abruptly.

I hoped the coroner would be at the site when I got there, and I walked quickly toward where Clancy found the bone. As I walked past the gas station I saw a small crowd gathered around where a rope had been set up to keep onlookers at bay. I noticed the tall Jeremiah and the not-as-tall George, then my gaze quickly went to the long black hair of the plumber from Marianne's house.
 

What in the world was Wilma Broadwater doing at the grave site?

CHAPTER FOUR

"Hi, Wilma," I said, before acknowledging George and Jeremiah.
 

"Hi," she replied, then quickly got back to the task at hand. "Right now we don't know if there's more than one body here, but we'll assume there might be more. I've called a construction crew and they're sending over two guys who can dig around these bones and get them back to my lab."

"Your lab?" My nosiness was in full bloom. "Are you the coroner?"

"Yeah, and plenty of other things. We don't normally have much need for a coroner with such a small population, so I do it part time."

"Yeah, but you have a lab?"

She laughed, "If you can call it that. I use a room in the basement of the old funeral home. It's been closed for years. I bought the place and use it as my lab, office, and home."

"Cool." It was all I could think to say.

Jeremiah accepted the sandwiches I gave him, and he said, "I'll stick around here to make sure no one bothers anything, and that the guys dig gently."

"I was hoping you'd say that, sheriff," Wilma said, getting to her feet. "I have a few more jobs to do for people and can take care of some of them while you're waiting for the crew."

 
"George, will you stay with me?" Jeremiah asked.

"Sure," my beloved said.

"I'll stay too," I chimed in, without being asked.

"Me too," said Bob Bob and Chip simultaneously.

Bob Bob added, "We'll do crowd control."

I thought they must have the nosy gene too, and appreciated that it would be hard for them to get back to their mundane jobs in the gas station. The same thing happened to me once I got bit by the murder bug.
 

I looked into the small station and saw a few men in there.

"Who's working?" I asked.

"My brothers," answered Bob Bob.

"Which ones are your brothers?"

He craned his neck. "Looks like all of 'em--Jim Bob, Joe Bob, Mike Bob, and Billy Bob. My sister, Mary Bob, would be helpin' too, but she's workin' at the cafe today."

I looked at him again, then back to the station, back to Bob Bob.
 

"Are you guys..." I stammered.

Before I could say anything else Chip Jepson said, "Yeah, they're all born on the same day. Every single dang one of them."

"Five boys? You're quintuplets?"

"Nope," said Bob Bob. "Sextuplets. Mary Bob was born with us too."

"Some of 'em are identical," Chip said, seeming to enjoy my surprise.

"Wow. I'd like to get something to drink. Would you go with me and introduce me, Bob?"

"Yeah, but it's Bob Bob. Not Bob."

"Okay," I turned to George and the sheriff. "Want anything?"

He shook his head, but the sheriff said, "I'd like a coke or some tea. Whatever."

I walked the short distance past the pumps to the small enclosure. The "boys," as I already thought of them, seemed to fill the place.

Their eyes were on me as Bob Bob and I walked in. He quickly filled them in on what they didn't know, and then introduced me. I shook hands with each in turn, and felt shivers building. They couldn't know that my shivers, shakes, twitches, and stomach upsets were usually harbingers that something bad had happened or was about to happen. Were my vibes telling me one of them was the murderer? Or was the fall air just letting me know summer was over?

"This is Sam Darling. Out there is her boyfriend, a detective, George Lansing. Sam, this is Jim Bob, Joe Bob, Mike Bob, and Billy Bob. Smith. All of us Smith." He grinned, as he said, "Can you tell which of us is identical?"

They all looked at me and it was surreal. "You all look identical to me." All tall and rangy with that same unstructured blond hair that fell over their pale faces.
 
They looked to be in their early twenties, and I sure couldn't tell them apart.

"Well, me and Jim Bob are identical twins," Bob Bob began. He stood by his twin and I couldn't tell the difference, except for the names on the coveralls. "And Billy Bob, Mike Bob, and Joe Bob are triplets. Identical triplets. Have you ever heard of such a thing?"

"I haven't," I said. "Then what about Mary Bob? I know she can't be identical with anyone else."

"Right," Bob Bob said, obviously the spokesman for the group. "She's just extra."

After suitable exclamations of wonder at their mom's accomplishment, I got an iced tea for the sheriff and me, having become resigned to the fact I was going to gain weight here from all the addictive sweet tea.

As I started walking back to the burial site I saw two guys with a backhoe and it looked like Sheriff Jeremiah was arguing with them. I thought about the bones. Since Wilma was Native American, I wondered if there were more Indians here. Was this a sacred burial ground? Wilma surely would have said something if it were a possibility. I tuned in to what was going on.

"I said you can't use the backhoe and that's final." Jeremiah was yelling over the sound of the motor.

A more compact gentleman yelled back, "It's the only way we can help. We aren't manual labor guys. We just use the backhoe. You got the wrong guys for this job."

"What if I pay you for digging with shovels and hoes?"

"Now you're talking," the guy said. "It's our day off, so it'll cost you extra."

The sheriff didn't need to say anything else. The guy told his buddy to turn off the backhoe and put it back on the truck. Then he himself reached behind the truck seats and pulled out a shovel.

"You'll have to get us a hoe or other tools from somewhere else."

Just then, Wilma's pick-up pulled up, with Wilma Will Work painted on the side in big white letters. "Wait," she yelled. "Stop."

She seemed out of breath as she jumped out of the truck and ran to where we stood.

"I forgot," she said. "We can't use regular digging tools. They may make marks on the bones and may cover up evidence."

"So...," said Jeremiah, leading her to the conclusion.

"So we're just going to have to do it by hand, like we were doing an archeological dig. We don't know how old these bones are. They might be several months or several thousand years old. We must be careful." She wasn't asking anyone's permission; she stated what was going to happen. And I guessed she trumped the sheriff since she was the coroner.

"I'll help," I volunteered.

"Sam." I could hear the warning in George's voice. "We have a vacation to go on. This could take a week."

"Not if we all worked together. We could work all night, do it in shifts. Look at all the Bobs, we could get them to help. We'd only need three or four people at a time. As long as there is only one body we could get it done in a few days and then go on our vacation."

George knew when he was licked. He shook off his defeated look and smiled in spite of himself.

"I love you," was all he said. Then he added, "But we're still going to the Grand Canyon."

"Yes we are," I agreed. "We are indeed going to the Grand Canyon."

"We've got the Grand Rock Quarry, would that do?" Bob Bob said.

"Shut up," answered Jeremiah and Chip together.

CHAPTER FIVE

"I'll take the first shift," I volunteered. "I have lots of energy from thinking we were going on vacation. Might as well use it."

George and Wilma volunteered to help me. I was glad that the two construction guys were going to help, not knowing if there was going to be any heavy lifting or not. The sheriff said he would coordinate things and would help dig during the next shift. Chip said he would stay for "crowd control," and it looked like the Bobs remained in the station. For what reason I didn't know. One person would have been enough to take care of the almost non-existent business. Maybe they just ran in a pack.

"Is there a place we can get some hand tools, like a small spade or a hand rake?" I acted like I knew what I was doing. After all, I'd seen every episode of Bones on TV.

"We got a farm store a few miles down the road. It's in another county, of course, but it's all we got. I'll send one of the Bobs down there to get some equipment." The sheriff moved off toward the gas station office/convenience store.

"I'll walk to the house and ask Marianne if she has some garden tools," I said, and started walking.

I glanced back and saw that Wilma and George seemed in rapt conversation. I thought it was probably about cop-related stuff.

It only took a moment to get to the house. I knocked but then walked in as Marianne had told us to do. It was only a moment before all three animals met me, and I had to explain to Clancy what I'd been up to.

She really wanted to come with me, but I told her that it was work that required fine hand coordination, and since she didn't have opposable thumbs, it would be impossible for her to help.

"I promise that when my digging shift is over, I'll take you down there to see what's going on." She seemed satisfied with my promise, but I thought she probably wanted to remind me that none of this would be possible without her having found the original bone.

I petted Fifi and Thor as enthusiastically as I could muster, and started looking for Marianne.
 

She must have heard my entrance because I saw her coming out of the guest bedroom, which caused my suspicious vibe to surface for a minute.

"Hi there, Sam. I just went ahead and made your bed. Hope you don't mind that I was in your room."

"Of course not," I said as she descended the stairs. She had a regal bearing about her that even housework couldn't remove. "Thanks for doing that."

"Of course. You're my guests. Normally it would have been taken care of before you got here, but you were such a pleasant surprise."

"The reason I came back is to see if you have any garden tools."

"Yes. Back in the shed. Let me show you."

We left by the back door and walked toward the rear of the property. A small wooden shed, shaped like an outhouse, held sway near where a fence line would be, if there had been a fence.
 

"I'm surprised there aren't any fences anywhere in town," I said, by way of conversation.

"Don't know what purpose they would serve. No need to keep anything or anyone out, or anything or anyone in. I let Thor and Fifi run when they want to. The only street that could be considered even remotely busy is the road that runs from the highway. Even then, it's seldom used. Not too many people come into town. Of course, now, with the convention, I'm more careful with my animals. There's a little traffic, though most folks walk from the motel to the diner since they're next door. There's nowhere else for them to go really. And that's about it. Not much traffic even with the conventioneers in town."

She opened the unlocked shed. "I haven't been in here for ages. Maybe a few years even. I hire someone to take care of my lawn and garden, and they have their own equipment." She shooed away some cobwebs and pulled a chain to turn on a dim bulb with light that barely reached to the edges of the inside corners of the shed.
 

"Here goes," she said as she took a step inside.

I waited outside because there didn't appear to be enough room for both of us.

She emerged triumphant, holding a small shears, spade, hand rake, and shovel, all dirt encrusted.

"This is perfect," I said, as I relieved her of the tools.
 

"Why do you need them?" Her curiosity wasn't as out of control as mine, because those would have been the first words out of my mouth after finding out someone needed the tools.

"Just to help dig without harming the bones," I answered.

BOOK: Will You Marry Me? (Sam Darling Mystery Book 4)
2.19Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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