“Lucille Avery?” the male voice on the phone asked.
“Yes, how may I help you?” I asked.
“Actually I can help you. I am looking at a package which I have for you. It’s from the Texas State Police. If you stop by and do the paper work I will be happy to return your .38 Saturday night special to you,” he said.
I had expected a detective with whom I had previous contact to make the delivery. Instead it was a patrolman who was assigned to the property room. My guess is that the pistol was in some kind of area safer than a detectives desk drawer while it awaited my arrival.
“Fair enough, I will get down there this morning,” I said into the smart phone.
Once he was off the line, I finished my morning routine. That routine included a shower and a quick hair brush. Just enough make up so that I didn’t look like a corpse. With those two items completed, I rode the trike to the police station where I picked up the pistol.
Since I wasn’t on the road, I rode the trike to the mall so that I could walk. I decided that forty five minutes was a minimum amount of walking for a woman my age. I could walk all day, but I doubted that more was all that much better. I had been a downtown walker at lunchtime now and then, but never a mall walker. The place and the people were new to me.
Probably because I wasn’t in any hurry, I made only two miles in forty five minutes. I was walking for flexibility not cardio. That being the case I figured the two miles was fine. Besides I decided that I would get some exercise messin’ around with a bike, even one without pedals.
I was on my way back to the office when the phone rang. I had to pull the trike over since I was expecting a call from Todd, the realtor. Sure as hell it was him.
“So are you ready to go the $150k?” he asked without even a good morning.
“Good morning Todd, no I’m afraid not. I would still like to make a deal at 100 k though.” I said.
“I just can’t do that. How about we make a compromise at 125k?” he asked.
“Not in this economy, I just can’t justify it. Tell you what I will do, I ill give you 110K in nice new hundred dollar bills. You won’t have to deal with a week of jumping through hoops only to have someone’s credit be bad. I would still want all the same checks and balances a mortgage company would ask.” I said.
“Oh hell with the economy like this Cash is worth the discount,” he said in agreement.
I spent the morning getting the money into my safety deposit box at the bank. I wanted the money ready whenever Todd got the paperwork ready. I sat down at an old laptop and prepared a check list of things I needed before I handed over the money.
I got around to seeing Jane Sutton at 2PM. It was in the visiting room at the jail. The room I met her was supposed to be free of cameras and audio recorders. My digital audio recorder would be the only one allowed.
Jane had that hollow junkie look about her. She would probably get healthy again while she was in jail. Then most likely she would rush out and get high again. Once people fell into that life style, they seldom got clean just from a few months away from the junk. It was always rattling around on the edge of their consciousness, I am told.
“Well Jane you look like shit,”I said as a greeting. I had no intention of pulling any punches with her.
“I know,” I been coming down for the whole tree days that I have been inside. I think I am at baseline now.” she said.
“Where did you hear baseline?” I asked.
“One of the Doctors at the rehab clinic used it a lot. You know, have to get you to baseline before we can do any real work. That kind of thing.” she said. She was also biting her nails between tortured sentences.
“You do know he meant you can’t work on kicking the habit unless you are totally clean?” I asked. It could easily have been a case of the doctor and the patient speaking different languages.
“Yeah I knew, I’m not a complete idiot,” she said.
“There are those who would disagree.” I had picked up a copy of the police report on the way inside. I looked down at it then said, “Felony possession of heroin and conspiracy to commit murder. So tell me about it.” I demanded.
“I turned a trick and needed to get well, so I went to Lowball’s crib,” she said.
“Lowball is the street name of the murder victim?” I asked.
First she nodded then said, “I was at the door knocking when I heard an explosion, A minute or two later the door burst open and a man with a shotgun pushed past me. He pointed the gun at me and pulled the trigger. I was terrified, but the gun was empty.”
“You told this to the police?” I asked.
“Hell no Mrs. Avery, I have to go back to live on that street. That little animal will finish the job on me if I talk.”
“If you don’t. you are going to take the weight for this killing. You don’t want to do that, do you?” I asked, “So what did you do after he ran past you?”
“I went inside and found his drug stash. I took it all and ran from the house. The cops found me high that same afternoon.” she said.
There was one big question, what turned the cops on to my client. That was the first question I had for the detectives. Instead of talking to the detectives, I settled for the police incident report.
According to the report a neighbor saw Jane leaving the house after the shot. If the story was true the neighbor heard the shot went to the window but the killer had gone. Jane was already in the house stealing the drugs. The neighbor saw her leave.
When the cops found her in possession of the drugs they charged her with conspiracy, since they had no idea who the shooter was. He might well have been a friend. Technically if she was withholding information it was a kind of conspiracy.
“Okay Jane, is there anyone who will post your bond?” I asked.
“Michael might, but he has very little money,” she said.
“I’ll check with him then see what I can do. You are in a jam for the dope, but I think if you agree to finger the shooter, the rest will go away.” I saw her look of concern. ” You might need to leave town for a while, but it’s better than doing twenty years inside.” I informed her. “If they make the conspiracy stick, it is as much as twenty.”
“I can’t go to jail for twenty years,” Jane said.
“Then you better wrap your head around identifying the killer, if they bring him in.” I said.
“Alright,” Jane agreed. “I will think hard about it and try to make the best decision for me.”
“Good,” In the meantime I need you to sign these forms. They are so that I can represent you going forward.” I didn’t bother to tell her that it was how I would be paid, since she was a destitute junkie.
Since I was in the neighborhood, I researched James and Todd’s building. The deed was a clean as they both had represented it to be. There were no liens, not back taxes due, and no judgments against the property. Whatever I paid for it would be more or less the total price of the buy.
It was after five when Todd called me. “Alright Lucille, I have decided to take the 110K. You want to meet tomorrow at my attorney’s office to do the paperwork?”
“We can, but you might want to check to see if he can have it ready that quickly?” I asked.
“He went to work on it this afternoon. It will be ready by noon, so what time do you want to meet?” Todd asked.
“Let’s just make it 1PM and get it over with,” I suggested.
“Good, I can work it into my lunch and still be back on my job site in time to raise hell before end of day.” I had no doubt at all that he meant exactly what he was saying.
The night passed quickly for me since the kids came over to visit. Charlie was itching to get going, since he had a date. At 18 he was making up for lost time. Charlie had been a chubby kid till he got to college. In college snacks weren’t as easy to find laying around so he lost 30 pounds that first year. When he returned home, he went to the mall and was Mr. Popularity.
Charlie left at seven after only an hours visit, but Cindy stayed the night. She slept on the sofa which converted to a bed. She swore that it was comfortable, but I didn’t believe it for a minute.
Since she had the car, she drove me around. We walked at the mall, then went to breakfast. After the bacon and eggs I took her to see the office.
“Mom, you never worked in a small law office, can you handle it? I mean making all the decisions yourself.” Cindy asked.
“There are lots of people who love to give advice, I should be fine,” I said quietly. Inside I wondered the same thing. “Besides it isn’t hard to make a living as a lawyer. If worse comes to worse, I will just go into real estate law or personal injury. Lots of stuff out there for lawyers to do.”
“I guess,” Cindy said in agreement. She dropped me at the trike after breakfast. She kissed me on the cheek and off she went. She was headed for home I supposed.
“Todd, don’t give up on me, I’m on the way to the meeting now,” I said to his voice mail. It was already 1PM and I had a fifteen minute drive to make the connection.
We had the papers signed by two fifteen and I was on my trike and headed for my new office to make a list of things. Todd said, “ Anything left in the building belongs to you, our business is complete.”
“That is fair enough, thanks Todd. I can’t say it has been a pleasure, but it has been harmless.” I said.
Once back at the office I went inside to look around. We had always agreed that he would leave it furnished. If not then I would have just rented in a modern building and bought furniture. James had good taste, that was for sure. The furniture was all heavy leather stuff.
The reception room furniture was classic leather and in good shape. The only furniture that showed it’s age were some of the dest chairs. There were four disks and chairs only two of them were in really bad shape. Obviously James and the receptionist/secretary were the only regular employees.
I used the smart phone to call Seth. “Hey Seth, it’s Lucy. I need some information. Do you know anyone from your world who recovers chairs. I have a couple of classic ones that need a new covers. Call me please.”
Since he didn’t call right away, I forgot about it until he did. I used the smart phone to call the power and gas companies. I had those guys come out just as soon as possible. I did not have to meet with either of them to have the utilities turned on. Even the land line could be connected from the outside.
The first hold up came with the water. The city required access to the bathrooms just in case something leaked. There was a minor drought in progress, so I arranged to be in the whole next day. I had to be for the hookups. They wanted to do it with me present.
When I checked my messages on the smart phone there was one from Jane. She had agreed to identify the shooter. It was too late to call the detective that night, at least that was my opinion. I decided I would give him a call the next day. I had plenty to do that day as well.