Will You Marry Me? (Sam Darling Mystery Book 4) (9 page)

BOOK: Will You Marry Me? (Sam Darling Mystery Book 4)
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"No," Marianne replied. "She just went out a while ago. Go spend some quality time with your dog. Will I see you for lunch?"

"I don't think so. George and I are going to meet at the diner for a late lunch. We'll be home for dinner though, if that's okay with you?"

"It sure is. I invited Jeremiah too. We're having fried chicken, and I'm making a vegetable gratin for you."

"You're amazing. And thoughtful," I said as I hooked Clancy's leash on her. As we walked out the door, I wondered if I could let her off the leash. She was a well-behaved girl, but this was a strange place for her and I didn't want to run the risk of losing her.

"I am so sorry, Clancy, that I've been neglecting you. Want me to fill you in on what's going on?"

Of course she did. So I told her about Jim Bob, the Big Cluck position, and Missy Hen, even though she'd been with us when we interviewed Jim Bob. I also told her about Luigi Gorgonzola. She had a good laugh at his name too. I let her in on the plastic feathers in the grave and how they looked like the ones on the chicken suits, and the fact that Missy's hair had a dyed red streak in it and that they found red hair in with the skeleton. At this point I was sure the body had been Missy Hen. I was also sure she'd been murdered.

It was nice to be talking to someone who believed me, without doubting any of my sureties. "I don't have any idea who did it though. I mean I get some vibes around Jim Bob, but it might just be because the situation with the chicken fetish is so weird to me. I got a few vibes around Luigi, but that might be because he's so incredibly handsome." I stopped for a moment before I added, "Don't tell George I said that. George is the handsomest man in the world to me, but I still can appreciate male beauty when I see it."

Clancy smiled.
 

By then we'd already walked behind the gas station, so I didn't see what was going on in the front of it. I assumed George was there with Wilma and Luigi's gang. And the sheriff was probably at his office checking on Missy Hen's background and whereabouts. So I just kept walking, behind the diner to the motel. Without much conscious thought or pre-planning I opened the back door and Clancy and I walked in. Even though we'd brought Clancy inside the motel before, I didn't really know if dogs were allowed, but thought that if chickens were, then dogs should be.

We walked slowly because I really didn't know what I was doing, or hoping to accomplish--my usual modus operandi. Clancy found a scent on the floor, and I just let her take the lead. I thought it was probably some other animal, and it was a good way to pass the time until I figured out what to do.

While she followed her nose, I looked around, noticing the horrible yellow colors on the walls and the wild blue, red, and yellow patterned carpeting, worn in many places, especially right down the middle where most people walked. I hadn't noticed that I was now in front of Clancy because she had abruptly stopped and pulled me backwards.

"What is it, girl?"

She stood there, staring at the floor, then looking up at me, back and forth. Trying to tell me something. There were times when our communication seemed to only flow one way, and unfortunately this was one of those times. I tugged on her leash but she refused to give. She just sat there giving me a look that seemed to be full of frustration. Then she pointedly put her nose on the carpet. As she did, I really looked at where her nose was pointing. Finally I noticed that the red in the rug pattern was different in this area. Also it was more of a rust color than the faded red of the rest of the carpeting.
 
There was no metallic smell, like I'd noticed on the rug on which my boss died. But the color looked the same.

"So this is what blood looks like a year after a murder," I said aloud.

"Murder?" clucked a passing chicken, and I immediately regretted my indiscretion.

Like Chicken Little with his fear of the sky falling, the chicken ran down the hallway yelling, "Murder! Murder!"

All I could think was that he'd probably get kicked out of the Cluck Club for talking. Before things got even crazier I pulled out my phone and called George. "Honey, I'm in the back hallway of the motel and I think Clancy has found something."

He said he'd notify Jeremiah, and they both arrived within ten minutes. With them was Luigi and Wilma, and soon a panting Jim Bob was on the scene--in street clothes.

I looked at Jeremiah. "I think you probably ought to cordon off this hallway immediately. Seems like I found the spot where Missy was murdered." At Clancy's low growl, I amended that to, "I mean Clancy found it. Good girl."
 

I petted her as Jeremiah swung into action. He called Chip and told him to leave the Bobs in charge of the station again, and to get over to the motel ASAP. He then turned to Wilma and said, "Get me the results of the DNA tests. Tell them it's an emergency and we need the information now."

To George he said, "Make sure no one leaves the motel. We don't know if this bloodstain has anything to do with the skeleton we found, but I'm betting it does. Stuck back here in the dark end of this hallway, it could easily have been here for a year without being noticed."

It surprised me how well George followed orders. As Chief of Detectives in Quincy he was used to giving them rather than taking. However, a good cop is a good cop--and he was a great one.

As George left the area to go to the registration desk, Jeremiah finally turned to Clancy and said, "Thanks." Even though it was succinct, I was grateful he acknowledged that Clancy had done what none of us humans had. She found the bones and the blood. I felt like a proud Mama.

I continued petting her and said to the sheriff, "What about me? What do you want me to do?"

"Just stay here," he said. "I want this area kept free of people. You can help with that."

It felt good to have an assignment, but it certainly wasn't an exciting one.

Chip soon arrived, and Jeremiah gave Chip the same assignment as he'd given me. Keep the area free of people.

 
I wondered if Chip had said yes to being a deputy or if he'd declined the offer. I knew I'd have to find out as soon as the others left. My curiosity was always high, but was even worse without my meds.

Jeremiah went off to question anyone he could and to notify the motel manager that he would need to vacate the rooms at the back entrance so no one would walk over the carpet.
 

When Chip and I were finally alone I immediately said, "So...did you take the deputy job?" I tried not to appear too eager but failed as usual.

He must have been getting used to me because he didn't hesitate to answer and certainly didn't give me an odd look like I was used to receiving. "I've been thinking about it and I talked it over with my wife. It's a big decision, but normally nothing like this goes on here, so the job wouldn't be too taxing."

"Yeah, but what did you decide?"

"I said 'yes,' but want to do it part-time so I can still run the station. Haven't told Jeremiah yet."

"Good," I said. "I think you'll do a good job. And maybe when Jeremiah retires you can be sheriff."

That's when I got the look. Guess he didn't want me to plan out his life for him. "Sorry," I muttered. "I get carried away sometime."

"Ya think?" was what he might have said.

I did feel a little embarrassed by my behavior, but was so used to it that I was able to soldier on. "Where's Luigi? Where's Jim Bob?" I asked Chip, even though he hadn't been present when the crowd was there.

He just shrugged, then went ahead and put up more tape that was expected to stop people from walking through the area. I'd always thought that the tape only served to stop law-abiding people. Sure wouldn't stop crooks. But I figured Jeremiah would have someone spend the night there to insure the integrity of the scene.

"I'm going to look for Jim Bob and Luigi," I said, not asking for permission or asking whether Chip thought it was a good idea.

He did ask, "Why?"

"I don't know. Something tells me I need to know where they are." My gut was talking to me, and I'd hoped it wasn't indigestion, but a telltale sign that something was wrong. And without waiting for his response I grabbed Clancy to take off.

It wasn't as easy as it sounded. Clancy refused to go. She stayed steadfast. I had no idea what was going on, but didn't want to waste time arguing with her. "Will you keep an eye on her for a few minutes?" I asked Chip.

"Sure," he said, as Clancy emitted a low growl.

She didn't want me to go, but I didn't know why. I knew she liked Chip okay. He wasn't an effusive dog lover like Marianne or even a more calm aficionado like the sheriff, but still he and Clancy got along fine. So what was the big deal?

I got down to her level and spoke quietly, hoping Chip wouldn't hear. "I don't know what's wrong. Tell me."

She gave me another low growl, warning me of something, but I didn't understand. Where was our psychic communication when I really needed it?

"I want to go check on two people. I'd like you to go with me. But if you want to stay here, you can. What are you going to do?"

She growled again, this time almost like a moan, and put her mouth around my wrist.

"You don't want me to go?"

She yipped her "yes."

For a change I decided to use good judgment and not be so impulsive. "I changed my mind," I said to Chip. "I'll stay with you."

Clancy relaxed immediately, and my own gut calmed down considerably, reminding me that I needed to listen to Clancy more often.

Although I'd said I was staying, I didn't have to like it. I itched to actually do something instead of just waiting around for someone to dare to try to walk on the forbidden carpet. Bored, I sat on the outside of the tape, facing the rest of motel. I leaned sideways against the mustard/urine-colored walls.

I must have dozed off because a chicken shouting "Murder" again startled me into alertness. Immediately I wondered if it was the same Chicken Little character who had run through the motel shouting the same word earlier.

Right away I noticed a difference. There was some red stuff leaking out of the front of the chicken suit. The murder he was yelling about was his own.

CHAPTER TWELVE

Of course he wasn't dead, and I didn't know if he would be. He collapsed before he hit the tape, which was a good thing. I didn't want one crime scene to infect the other one.

I said, "I'm taking off your chicken suit so I can see your wound." He wasn't making any more noise and may have lost consciousness, but I figured it was polite to warn him that I planned to undress him. I turned quickly to Chip, "Call 911. Is there a 911 here?"

"I'm calling Wilma and Jeremiah."

"Wilma is a coroner," I replied.

"She's also our doctor."

As I stripped the chicken of his chicken-ness, I realized that Chip's news wasn't too surprising to me. It seems Wilma did everything. The side of her truck proclaimed, "Wilma Will Work," and that seemed to be an understatement.

In the background I heard Chip talk to Wilma first, then to the sheriff, and I gathered both were on their way.

I found the cleverly concealed long Velcro strip that wasn't evident to the casual observer. I pulled the suit apart to reveal the man's nakedness underneath. It wasn't shocking, but his paleness was. The wound looked like it came from a knife or other sharp instrument, but luckily there wasn't much bleeding.

I took the chicken suit and held it against the wound, hoping that would be enough if it started bleeding again, or until someone who knew what she was doing arrived. I said some soothing, social-worky things, telling the chicken he was going to be all right, and then realized the chicken's head was still on him, protecting his identity. This was no time for anonymity, and I pulled off the chicken's head.

"Bob Bob!" I yelled.

"Are you Bob Bob?" asked Chip.

"So what if I am," said Bob Bob, very much awake and still very pale.

I continued to put pressure on the wound. "You smell like liquor."

"So what," he repeated.

"You're a chicken," I said.

"That stuff doesn't matter. I'm dying here."

"You're not dying," I said. "You were bleeding a little, but you aren't now. The wound is superficial. You're not dying. Tell me what happened."

Instead of answering, he asked, "How did you know I was Bob Bob instead of one of the others?"

Chip echoed the same question, adding, "Hell, I've known 'em since they were born and I can't tell them apart unless they're wearing their work shirts with their names on 'em."

"I just knew. Can't explain it." Then I restated my request, "Tell me what happened.

Before he could do so, Wilma and Jeremiah arrived within seconds of each other, and I was deprived of the explanation. Wilma jumped in, taking my place holding the chickeny feathers against his wound, which I was happy to relinquish. I wasn't much for blood and guts.

"You did a good job of staunching the blood flow, Sam," Wilma said.

"Thanks, but actually it stopped on its own," I said, then added, "It's Bob Bob," in case they were confused about his identity.

"What happened?" Jeremiah asked immediately afterward.

"Am I dying?" Bob Bob asked Wilma.

"Doesn't seem like it. I'd like to look you over to make sure there's no other damage. But the bleeding has stopped, and the wound looks pretty superficial. In fact it's more like a scratch than a stab. I'm going to take you to my clinic." She turned away to make a phone call.

I hoped Bob Bob would answer the sheriff quickly. So I helped him along. "Tell the sheriff what happened."

He looked at Jeremiah steadily, even though his paleness made me think he was about to pass out. Normally pale anyway, his new pallor made him appear vampire-like. Or maybe it was just the contrast between his skin and that darn chicken suit.

"I was...I was just..."

"You were just what?" I couldn't help myself.

He glanced at me before he answered. "I was just walking around. Borrowed an extra chicken suit I found in Jim Bob's room. I wanted to see what it was like to be anonymous and do what I wanted." He looked away. "It's kind of like I've been almost anonymous most of my life anyway, since no one can tell me apart from my brothers."
 

BOOK: Will You Marry Me? (Sam Darling Mystery Book 4)
3.11Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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