Serial Saturday: The Figurine, Part 12

Jefferson lurched awake, grabbing for his guns, feeling a jolt of pain in his back. Then the reason he was lying on the floor sunk in. He stood, stretching to ease the kink in his back, and shambled into the bathroom. He took a bath, keeping his pistols within reach, then dressed and headed down to the diner.

The atmosphere in the restaurant made the hairs on the back of Jefferson’s neck stand up. There was a buzz in the room that made it clear something had happened. He found a seat in a booth, sat down and set about finding out what it had been.

“Betsy,” he said as the waitress approached with a coffee pot, “have I told you how nice it is that you’re the first person I talk to most days?”

“Yes you have, Mr. Quinn,” Betsy replied as she poured the coffee. “Have I told you that I live in a boarding house and I can’t buy lightning rods?” She stepped back with a smile and primped at her hair.

“So you can tell I ain’t just turning on the charm to make a sale, darlin’,” Jefferson said. “Still, you’ll have to give me the name of your landlady. I’ll make her a good deal just to make sure you’re kept safe from fire and lightning.”

“That’s very kind of you, Mr. Quinn. What’ll you have today?”

“The usual,” Jefferson replied, “and what’s the use of selling lightning rods if you can’t protect a few friends?” He leaned closer. “Now, what’s going on in town today? Feels downright hoppy in here.”

Betsy glanced back and forth, then leaned forward herself. “I’m surprised you haven’t heard yet; you always seem to be up on everything that’s going on.” She glanced around again, savoring the moment, while Jefferson waited and tried not to show any impatience. “Terrible thing,” she said, just above a whisper. “They found a car in the ditch out on Jones Road. It had a few bullet holes in it, but that isn’t all.” She paused again.

“Don’t leave me hanging, darlin’.”

“There was no one in the car, but it was full of blood. Like a slaughterhouse, Bobby Taylor said.”

“By God,” Jefferson said. “Whose car was it?”

Betsy shook her head. “They don’t know. At least Bobby doesn’t. A Plymouth, he said, but no one recognized it. They’re calling the State Police.”

Jefferson decided to set aside for the moment the question of who the hell Bobby Taylor was. “So they don’t think it was an accident, then?”

Betsy shook her head. “There were bullet holes in the car, like I said.”

“I’ll be damned. Like a dang old highway robbery, huh?”

“Yeah, except it was out in the middle of nowhere. I don’t know why you’d set up to rob someone there.”

Jefferson took a sip off coffee. “Bad business. But it was probably some type of criminal element meeting out in the boonies, had a falling out. Reckon whoever survived cleaned up after themselves a bit.”

“Probably so,” Betsy said. “I’ll get you those eggs.”

Jefferson sat, turning over possible scenarios in his mind and sipping his coffee without tasting it until Betsy returned.

She set down his plate of eggs and toast, then freshened up his coffee with the pot in her other hand.

“Say, darlin’, you know a fella named Reeves?” Jefferson asked.

“Jake Reeves?”

“Well, I ain’t sure. This one was out looking for those two boys in the swamp, had some kind of accident there I guess.”

Betsy’s brow wrinkled. “Well, Jake Reeves was out there, but I didn’t hear anything about an accident.”

Jefferson shrugged and looked up with a smile. “What I heard was it was a little thing, probably not even worth gossiping over. Anyway, I hear he might be interested in lightning rods.”

“Jake Reeves? Lightning rods? Someone’s having a joke on you, Mr. Quinn. He works in the shipyard up in Hingham, but no one up there has had any work in a while. Kind of a prickly guy, and I doubt he’d be interested in lightning rods even if he had the money for them.”

“Well, it don’t hurt to give it a shot,” Jefferson said.

“It might, if Jake thinks you’re making sport of him,” Betsy said. “You be careful, Mr. Quinn.”




Jefferson pulled up a short ways down the street from Reeves’ house. The heat still hadn’t broken, but there were ominous gray clouds off the the west that said things might be getting wet soon, if not cool. Reeves lived in a tiny house on the outside of town. He was a bachelor by the look of the scraggly, weed-choked lawn, the peeling paint and the lack of so much as a set of curtains in the windows for a homey touch.

Jefferson adjusted his jacket over his pistols and made his way to the front door. There was a sort of a set of wooden steps leading up to it, but one side had sunk into the ground a bit, and Jefferson had to shift his weight to remain upright as he knocked.

There was no answer, and he stood for a time, shifting his weight back and forth, listening to the steps creak and trying to stay vertical. Finally, he glanced around again and fished the lockpicks from his jacket.

Chipper Tacy could have gone through the cheap lock in about fifteen seconds blind, but after about a minute of struggling, Jefferson finally had to hunker down and get a look at what he was doing. Finally, it gave, and he straightened up to look around again. The street was still empty, and he opened the door and slipped inside.

Copyright © 2012 SM Williams

~ by smwilliams on June 23, 2012.