Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Ted Beckett pushed aside the plate, now bacon and egg free, and began to work on the remaining blueberry muffin. "Go ahead, Father. I'm listening," he encouraged, slathering gobs of butter on each of the pieces he had broken into quarters.
"I'm somewhat embarrassed to tell you where I got this information, Sheriff." Kevin hesitated, and in between bites, the Sheriff motioned for him to continue. "I was talking to this parishioner, a kid actually, by the name of Irwin Teller. Do you know him?
"Brown hair, glasses? Collects bugs in a jar? Yeah, I've run into him. Dug little holes all over my front lawn once. Really pissed me off. One of those smart ass kids this town is full of."
"Well, a few days ago he was telling me some rather upsetting things about Tessa Peppers. Said he saw her peeping into her neighbor's window, and taking pictures with her cell phone. I know he's just a kid, Sheriff Beckett, but he seemed genuinely afraid of the woman. He also claims she killed his friend's cat."
"As a matter of fact, Father, I've heard both of those stories before. Her neighbor, Joe Scutney, filed a complaint about a month ago. Went out to talk to Tessa, but she acted as if the whole thing was some kind a plan to derail her campaign. Insisted Joe Scutney was working for her opponent, and threw us both off her property. I figured she'd be embarrassed enough to stop, after being called out like that. Guess not."
"But do you think she's capable of trying to murder Ms. McKreedy? That seems like an awfully big leap from peeping in windows?"
"Father, after being Sheriff in this town for the past eight years, nothing surprises me anymore. People imagine small towns to be quiet, safe places, but Dollyville lays that myth to rest. We got all the same wackos the larger cities have...just less of them. I think we need to find Tessa Peppers, and the sooner the better." He finished the muffin, and licking his fingers, leaned back in his chair.
"By the way, Sheriff, as long as I have you sitting here, I wanted to ask about Marco Rivera's murder. Has there been any movement on that case?"
"I have a few leads I'm running down, but nothing substantial I'm afraid. I'm supposed to talk to Mrs. Rivera's sister later this week about the fire at Su Casa. She seems to think it has something to do with her brother-in-law's murder. But the cause of the fire was inconclusive, and witnesses saw Mrs. Rivera go back into the burning building after she had already safely escaped it. Sounds more like a run of bad luck for the family, not arson or murder."
Pulling out his cell phone, Kevin located the crime scene photos showing the residue on Marco's undershirt. "I had some ideas about these marks. I'm pretty sure they were caused by masking tape glue. It seems as if he had something taped to his chest. Important papers, maybe, that he didn't want anyone to see? That could be why he was wearing such heavy sweater on that hot day."
"Funny thing, father. I came up with the same thought. But if you measure the length and width between the residue marks, it comes to a bit less than 8 x 10 inches. Printer paper is usually 81/2 by 11, and it wouldn't fit between those four marks. But a photograph would. And after what you just told me about Peppers taking pictures, it's something I should probably look in to. You got a good eye, Father."
"Thanks, Sheriff. It's not like I don't trust the job you're doing. I just want justice for Mr. Rivera. The man deserved better than to be stabbed and left to die like a wounded animal on the front lawn."
Beckett pushed the chair away from the table and eased himself up. "I guess I better get moving, and find Tessa Peppers before she causes any more trouble. Do me a favor, Father O'Kenney?"
"Sure thing Sheriff. What do you need?"
"I'd appreciate if you went upstairs and said my goodbyes to Cassie for me. If I go back up there, I'll get stuck for another hour, and I really got to get back to work."
"No problem, Sheriff. I'll tell her you were suddenly called out on town business."
"Thanks, Father. I owe you one. And whatever you do, don't mention to her about Tessa Peppers being on the loose. I don't want to worry her. She'll be safe here in the hospital, and I'll have them add a security guard to her floor."
The Sheriff didn't wait for Kevin to comment, instead, turning and hustling out the cafeteria door like a man who was suddenly set free. The thought of having to deal with Cassie McKreedy on his own was not something he relished, but after all the man had been through in the last 24 hours, he didn't feel like he could refuse.
Grabbing the trays off the table, he stacked them in the correct bin, and made his way to the bank of elevators. He pushed the button marked "up", and when the elevator opened, stepped inside as it's only passenger. The doors were moving to close, when he saw a woman approaching with a small food cart. Trying to be polite, he rushed to hit the open button, but wasn't quite fast enough. As the doors came together, he caught a second look at the blond woman gripping the handle of her cart. She looked so familiar, and he was positive he had seen her before. But where that was, he couldn't be sure.
Copyright 2012 Victoria Rocus