Serial Saturday: The Figurine, Part 15

The clicks proved to be coming from a fashionable pair of black pumps, which paused just inside the doorway. Jefferson hauled his gaze off them, up the nylons and dress, all the way up to the woman’s face. She looked a bit like Chipper Tacy, he supposed, and people often mistook them for sisters, though Jefferson thought Chipper had a harder look in her eyes. And of course Temperance was blond, and the two made sure their haircuts weren’t quite identical, even if they occasionally traded off from what he could tell.

Temperance was lowering her chrome Super .38 and she stepped closer. “Jefferson, are you all right?” She had the same patrician Boston accent as Chipper, though without the patronizing edge.

“Just jake, now that you’re here.” He began to struggle to his feet, finally managing when Temperance gave him an arm.

She turned to regard the wall. “And just what the hell is this?”

“I’ll explain later, darlin’, best I can.”

Temperance nodded briskly. “Yes. We’d better head out the back door, too.” She crossed to the sink, grabbing a pot from the stove on the way. “I winged that twitchy little bastard, and I don’t think he or that gorilla with him will be back,” she said, turning on the water with the hand that held the pistol, “but the cops will be here soon.”

She crossed the room with the pan of water and threw it at the wall. “Let’s go.” The gravy was dry enough that the water didn’t do much, and of course it had no effect on the writing that had been done with the knife, but every little bit of smearing would help the police convince themselves they were looking at random patterns.

“Can you straighten up at all?” Temperance asked as they made their way out the back door and into a narrow drive.

“Sorry, didn’t realize I was hunched,” Jefferson replied. He straightened up, sending a twinge of pain through his ribs. He holstered his revolver and twitched his coat into place as Temperance slid the .38 into her purse. She slid her arm through his as they made the street, looking up at him with an almost sappy smile. There were a few people standing on porches and the sidewalk, looking around curiously, but most of the nearby houses seemed to be empty in the late morning sun. No one paid them much attention, but to anyone watching, they’d look like a happy couple out for a stroll, although Jefferson could see the wildness in her eyes above the smile.

“You’re in a hell of a state, Jefferson,” she said. “That big galoot do this too you?”

“Ayuh. Got a tetch too close to him.”

A police car sped by and they both turned on the sidewalk to watch it pull up outside Reeve’s house.

“Don’t worry, hon, I’ll put a few holes in him if he comes at you again,” Temperance said as she watched the policemen run inside.

“Probably a good job that one of us do it,” Jefferson said. “He ain’t likely to hold back a third time, I run into him again.”

Temperance sighed as they turned and continued down the sidewalk. “How is that someone as charming as you always has so many people trying to kill him?”

“It’s a mystery to me, darlin’, a real mystery. So I take it Chipper told you I was having a few problems?”

Temperance nodded.

Jefferson shifted as he walked, trying to get to a more comfortable way of holding himself. “How’d you track me down?”

“Once I hit town, I just went to the greasiest diner I could find and asked the prettiest waitress there what you were up to.”

“By God, you oughta be a detective.”

“Mmm-hmm,” Temperance said. “You want me to drive?” she gestured up the street toward Jefferson’s Ford.

“Reckon you ought to. How’d you get here, anyway?”

“Cab. The only one in town, as far as I can tell. I came into town on the bus, since we’ll be traveling together and I know you won’t want to leave your precious Ford 8 behind.” She opened the driver’s door for herself and slid behind the wheel while Jefferson eased slowly into the passenger seat.

“To the hotel?” Temperance asked as she pulled out into the road.

“Yes. Ah, hell.”

“Don’t start griping about my driving, Jefferson, or you can do it yourself.”

“It ain’t that. Just thinkin’. If you figured out I was going to see Reeves, someone else could. That could be a problem, what with the shooting out there and the cops being called and all.”

“Hmm. Did any of you boys kill him?”

“No, he’s hit the road as far as I can tell.”

“So no body, anyway,” Temperance said, making a turn. “And hopefully those other two were spotted tearing out hell bent for leather just before the cops showed up.”

“That’ll help, maybe,” Jefferson said. “But I reckon I ought to swing down to the diner and tell everyone how I got out to Reeves’ just after a bunch of cops showed up. Throw folks off the trail a bit.”

“Lord, Jefferson, you will use any excuse to chit-chat with a pretty girl.”

“Just business, darlin’.”

“Uh huh. Well, we’d best stop off at the hotel and get you cleaned up, anyway. You can go down for lunch and charm little Betsy over a tuna melt.” She shifted gears with a somewhat savage smile. “Then we can get to work.”

Copyright © 2012 SM Williams

~ by smwilliams on July 14, 2012.