This is the eighteenth part of a fiction serial, in 1095 words.
After landing at Indianapolis, I rented a car for the short drive to Shelbyville, where I had booked a room at the Hampton Inn. It was late, but I called the number I had been given for mom’s lawyer, and arranged to meet him at his office the next morning, before going to the funeral home.
Mr Hendricks had taken over the office from his late father. A serious man in his thirties, he shook my hand with a firm grip, extending his condolences. After going through some paperwork, he told me that mom had inherited the house from her sister, and also had most of the money from selling up in Riverdale. I instructed him to sell the three bedroom home just outside Shelbyville, and agreed a commission percentage for his time and trouble. He seemed happy enough, and I liked his calm efficiency. “Once the documents are all signed and sealed, you should be receiving a substantial amount, Mr Farlowe”.
The Sexton funeral home was like any you might see in a small town. I wasn’t surprised to see a dignified elderly man greeting me, his face a practiced picture of solemnity. I explained that I didn’t have a lot of time, and as I was the only living relative, there seemed little point in arranging any kind of function. I chose a mid-range casket, and paid for a plot at the cemetery, with a simple headstone to follow. Mr Sexton was understanding. “It could be arranged to bury your mother close to her late sister, if you would like that”. I nodded. “That would be good. I doubt I will ever get back up here, so I would also like you to contract someone to take care of the grave”. He nodded. “You can leave all that with me, Mr Farlowe. I assure you of our best and most respectful service”. I gave him a check for the funeral costs, and signed some papers before leaving.
Mom always liked to go to to church, so I let Sexton arrange a minister for a quiet funeral service in two day’s time. It was pretty cold up there, so I bought a padded jacket in town as I hadn’t brought anything warm. Then I kicked around the hotel for a while, and drove out to the Blue River park, watching families with kids enjoying the open space.
To be honest, the funeral didn’t affect me at all. I was the only one in attendance, unless you counted the four men from Sexton’s who stayed in the chapel to make it look good. The minister said the usual stuff about mom being a good wife and mother, as well as being a devoted younger sister to my aunt. After some handshakes outside, I drove back to the Hampton and packed my stuff.
At the motel in Riverdale, Liam was going over all his notes, and making some phone calls. He was hoping that Farlowe would be back by the weekend, as it seemed that a Sunday might be appropriate for what he had in mind. Everything was coming together, but to his way of thinking, it was important for all those men to be together when he asked his questions. He wanted to see their interaction, so as to be certain of his theories. He spent an hour drawing out a careful chart, based on the time line of that Sunday when the murders happened. No matter how he traced it, it always came down to the same result. He was sure that his suspicions were correct.
When I got back from the airport, I didn’t contact Doherty straight away. I decided to drive straight the office, and see if there were any messages for me there. At the far end of Main Street, I stopped at a light. When I saw the man and woman crossing in front of my car, I knew immediately it was Duke. Even after all this time, he was unmistakable. His hair still dark and flopped over his eyes, and that awkward gait of someone who had never really got used to being tall. I pulled the car over into a spot when the light changed, and walked quickly back to where I had seen them.
“Hey, Duke. Long time no see”. I nodded to his mom. “Ma’am”. Duke didn’t seem surprised to see me. “Hi, Clay. I had to come down, got called by that State Police guy. He says I’m not to talk to you though. Told me you would likely find me and try to talk. Said I should say nothing”. His mom looked scared, but was glaring at me. She pulled at his arm. “C’mon Duke, let’s go home”. I smiled. “Just saying hello, Duke. That’s all. Good to see you again. The detective tells me you are doing okay up in Renton”. He turned and walked away without another word.
As expected, I did have a message from Doherty. It was written on a sheet of paper left on my desk. The handwriting was so neat, it looked as if it had been typed. ‘Sheriff, if you are back by the weekend, can you please meet me at that spot by the river at one in the afternoon on Sunday. I have arranged for everyone to be there. Please call the motel to confirm’. He hadn’t signed it, but had stapled his card to the paper. I knew he would have checked the airlines, to see when I got back. No point avoiding the guy. I called the cellphone number on his card, but there was no answer. I left a message.
“Detective Doherty, this is Clay Farlowe. I got your message, and I will be there on Sunday”.
The next day was Saturday, and I went into work to help out with a new deputy. Barbara Hill was from White Oaks, and had applied for a job in Riverdale because her fiance lived there. I let her drive me around, just like Vince had, on my first day. She was keen enough, but edgy and nervous. I told her not to worry, as not much happened in town, and she would be fine. We stopped at the gas station for coffee and donuts, and I gave her the money to pay for them. It was still a good spot for catching speeders, but I didn’t make her pull over anyone that morning.
It was close to two in the morning on Sunday, and I was sleeping when my phone rang.
There had been a shooting at the motel.