Maxine's New Life

(Part 1 from 3)

“Max, I’m going for a coffee want me to bring you one?” Ed Martin, aka the bondsman, asked as he walked toward the door of our small office.

“No thanks Ed,” I replied. “The coffee from my Mr. Coffee is fine with me. I’m not really a big fan of designer coffee. Too many years of bad coffee.” I replied.

“Yeah, you haven’t been out long enough to develop a taste for the finer things in life.”

Finer things in life I wasn’t sure about, but I hadn’t been out of the Air Force very long, that was true. I had done most of my twenty two years in the Air Police. During that time I had done everything from ride in a patrol car patrolling the base housing area, to guarding convoys in Afghanistan. It had been a long and eventful 22 years. Unfortunately I got frozen in rank at master sergeant. I had been told by my last commanding officer, that I would never rise above my rank at the time. According to him, I was not a team player That being the case, I pulled the plug at 22 years.

That little conversation came while I was recovering from a piece of shrapnel in my belly. Compared to most of the wounds from that stupid war, it wasn’t even worth mentioning. If it had not been for the conversation with Captain Hartman, I wouldn’t have bothered.

By the way don’t let anyone tell you that you are safe in an armored Humvee. My life was probably saved more by the shortage of explosives in Afghanistan, than by the kevlar. Fortunately the IED wasn’t as big as it might have been the year before. The Vee was a total loss, but thankfully I wasn’t.

I had planned to retire at thirty and do very little, if anything afterward. When I went out at 22years, I had to look for something to fill my time and to supplement my pension. I was fortunate. If I could stand the long lines, I had free medical coverage from the VA. I probably would go with the co-pay and use the private coverage available to me.

I found myself back in Aster because I had this old high school friend named Jennifer. She had gone on to the state university and become a lawyer. Jen and I had stayed in touch over the years. Mostly it had been Christmas cards and a wedding invitation every few years. There had been 22 Christmas cards and five wedding invitations to be exact. Two of the invitations were mine and three were hers. Her third marriage was still intact, while my second husband had been killed in Iraq. It was only a couple of weeks after the end of combat operations there. Somebody forgot to tell the rag heads to stop sending rockets into the American compounds.

Even then I was still a reasonably attractive 41 year old woman, even so I didn’t date much. All my old friends were far away and I hadn’t made many new ones. The only unattached man I knew well was Ed, and he was about seventy. Even though we shared an office Ed and I didn’t really work together.

My friend, the lawyer, convinced me to open a process server business. She hooked me up with all her lawyer friends. Jen also helped me place advertisements in the most well read lawyer rags. I had been at it about six months and business was picking up slowly. I didn’t spend much time in the office, so the desk space in Ed’s little converted filling station was more than enough for me.

Other than sleeping, I didn’t spend much time at home either. The one room garage apartment was also enough space for me. The small space was located over Jen’s two car garage. Her current husband didn’t seem to mind me living there. They certainly didn’t need my paltry rent, so it had to be the fact that I don’t close my blinds when I dress. There was only one window in the apartment and it faced the house. I can only be seen from the upstairs windows of the main house. Jen’s husband never mentioned seeing me naked, but he always had a wolfish look when we passed in the hallway. I didn’t mind that he probably saw me, Hell, I didn’t mind that Jen might have seen me as well. It has been a lot of years since I was shy about such things.

I lost my virginity when I was fifteen. I lost it to a grown man, who managed the mall’s video arcade. He was cute, and I liked to hang out there after school, and on weekends. He showed me the right amount of attention, and he said the right things. I was young and full of raging hormones, so it was a natural thing that happened. I wasn’t legal, I knew it even then, but neither of us cared.

After a few months he moved on to a new teenager, so I moved on to boys my own age. Twenty five years ago oral sex wasn’t so common, so it was mostly hugging, kissing, and hand jobs until I graduated high school.

Upon graduation I signed up for the Air Force, just to get away from home. I was probably smart enough for college, but I came from a fatherless home. My mom was divorced and working her butt off to keep me and my brother fed. There was just no money for college. Twenty years ago there were far fewer college loans available. Probably a good thing, since I didn’t start my adult life in debt, like so many kids do these days.

I found myself at forty one living on a tiny pension, in a tiny apartment, trying to get a tiny business started. It was going to be a struggle for a while, but I honestly didn’t mind. It was more fun to live without stuff. In the end you don’t own stuff, it owns you.

I drive a stupid minivan only because Jen had one she wanted to sell. It proved to be a good decision, even if it had been an accidental one. Most days I run around town in jeans and tee shirts. I dress younger than I probably should, but people don’t seem to mind. At least if they have a problem with it, they keep it to themselves.

The minivan allowed me to carry a dress and fancy shoes. Now and then I needed to dress up a little. It had only happened a couple of times, but there are places I can’t get into wearing jeans. They keep me out of the country club, even if I do have my boobs hanging out. Since I never had kids I can wear a thin bra without having them at my knees. It seemed that sometimes people just wanted me to pretend to be ladylike. Hey I can pretend with the best of them.

“At Your Service,” I said into the phone after I stopped it ringing.

“Hey Max, it’s me Milton Price,” said the metallic voice.

“Hello Mr Price,” I replied. Price was a lawyer I had gladly added to my slowly growing client list.

“Got a tricky one for you. By the way call me Milt or Milton at least.”

“Sorry Mr. Price, too many years in the military.”

“Oh okay, anyway the husband wants to be sure his wife doesn’t grab everything, so we are freezing the bank accounts. I want her served first, then I want you to call me immediately so we can freeze the assets right after.”

“You know that is going to cost extra. I have never made a notification like that before. How about ten bucks added to the bill for the call.”

“You are a hard hearted money hungry lady, but I like that about you. Sure I’m just going to pass it on to him anyway.”

“Good I’ll swing by for the paper after lunch, unless you want to pay the emergency service price?”

“How much more is that?”

“Instead of the twenty five it is double to fifty then there is the ten return notice expedite fee.” I just made up the term ‘expedited notice fee’ on the spot.. “Think fast, and be flexible airman”, I remembered that advice from my time on the line.

“So sixty bucks and you will do it now?”

“Yes, just hand me the check, and the address to serve it, when you hand me the papers.”

Except for the rush it was a typical transaction. I waited for Ed to come back, before I left for the office of Price and Sloan Attorneys at law. When I walked into the door of the office, I found myself in a room that could have been in a hundred year old building. It was actually in a building no more than five years old. Lawyers liked to look as though they had been in business for generations it seemed.

“Can I help you?” the receptionist asked.

I didn’t comment on the young woman’s grammar. Instead I replied, “I’m Maxine Stone, from At Your Service. You should have a document for me to serve.”

“Yes Ms Stone, Mr Price said you would be right over. In your case that meant right over. Some people take hours to get here.”

She was a chatty little thing. She was certainly cute enough. She was definitely young and I expected firm bodied as well. Any other time I might have chated a few moments with her, but at that moment I was in the work mode. Over the years I had learned to separate my private life from my work life. I expect that is really what bugged my bosses over the years. In the military not many people seem to manage that consistently.

She did smile sweetly as she handed me the large brown envelope. I looked inside to be sure that the check was with the folded blue wrapped papers. The envelope contained the legal paper I needed to hand to the lady named on the attached index card. I also needed to ask her to sign the fake form on my clipboard. If she refused, I simply made a note of it. I also took a quick shot with my digital camera whenever it was possible. It helped, if I ever had to go to court. The camera I used was a poor quality thing about the size of a credit card case. It could shoot inside without flash, which was a big plus, otherwise it was just a small low quality digital camera.

“Thank you,” I said as I turned to leave the office.

The fact that I found the receptionist cute might have bothered me once upon a time. Those days were long gone. I was always reading in women’s magazines that all women were probably biologically bisexual, but chose to suppress the inclination. I just choose not to do that anymore.

After a few weeks into my first enlistment I found that I could enjoy both men and women, pretty much on the same level, . men and women were segregated in the early part of my career, so any surplus sexual feelings had to be taken care of in a different way. Lots and lots of masturbation went on in those first weeks. All the women in my training flight were young and healthy, so it was pretty normal.

The girl/girl hookups began with the few women who were pure lesbians finding each other. From there it spread to those of us who had been experimenting with open masturbation. That kind of worked it’s way into girl/girl sex. Yes, I was right there trying it all. I was young and not all that moral, so it was no real problem for me to justify it. I don’t think I ever considered myself homosexual, just open minded.

I’m not sure my commanding officers would have felt the same. That’s why don’t ask, don’t tell worked. We could all pretend, just like I did when I wore a dress and high heels to get into the country club lounge after six pm. I pretended to be a hi class, high maintenance lady instead of the no class, wrong side of the tracks, bisexual bitch that I really am. Hey I know what I am and it works just fine for me.

Enough of my miserable life, I thought as I climbed into the minivan for the drive to Crestview Estates. Crestview was one of those over priced, over decorated, housing developments. Of the fifty houses probably only two were occupied by real Aster residence. All the rest of the home owners drove from the larger city next door each night just to sleep in the country. Why the hell they bothered was beyond me. Crestview and the more heavily populated, cheaper but still similar developments around it were driving the cost of everything higher. I knew that only because Jen and her Husband were one of the few Aster families living in an only slightly downscale Crestview type development. In that one maybe five percent of the residents were really from Aster. The rest of them even called Tryon for their plumbers. The thought of doing anything or using any service from Aster was dreadfully pedestrian.

It was no wonder the Aster kids hated the Crestview kids. Oh the Crestview residents loved the Aster schools, even with the open animosity of the locals. They got to send their kids to school in a system with much less crime than the schools in Tryon. The got better schools without paying high taxes or private school tuition. What was not to like about that.

A very few of the businesses in Aster did business with the Crestview types. Judging from the address on the card inside my folder, divorce lawyers seemed to be among them. The drive to Crestview only took a few minutes but it was really a world away. The grass seemed greener in the yards of the million dollar houses. Crestview was the highest level of prosperity, but the lower level subdivisions got lumped in with Crestview. Ones like the development where Jen and her husband lived. I was headed for Crestview proper that morning.

The house looked like a small stone castle. There were round stone parts that looked like mini watch towers. They looked as though there should be archers standing by to fight off the locals. It was all just an illusion though, the stone walls were most likely made from fiberglass panels. I knew it was no castle because there was no moat. What is a castle without a moat?

I took my brown envelope with the folded sheath of papers, wrapped in the blue cover sheet, inside to the front door. I knocked on the wooden storm door with what had to be the most expensive door knocker made. It was heavy and could have been gold for all I knew. I banged it softly at firs, but after a few minutes of waiting in the sun, I banged hell out of it. Still no one came to the door.

I opened the outer door to put a card with my phone number and a message inside. The message was that I urgently needed to speak with the occupant. I even checked the index card and then wrote Mrs. Porter, in the blank space. It wasn’t very personal, but it had worked once. When the huge wooden storm door opened, I noted that the house door had been splintered. Someone had kicked the hell out of that big assed door.

Since I had been a cop, even if it was a military cop, I used my knuckles to push on the door. I had no interest in leaving my finger prints on it. The door opened so I shouted, “Mrs. Porter, its Maxine Stone are you home. I need to speak with you.” I was afraid that something bad had happened to Mrs Porter, but I sure as hell didn’t plan to enter that house without more reason than I had at that moment.

Instead of going inside, I backed into the yard where I dialed 911 on my cell phone.. “911 What is your emergency?” the female voice asked.

“I found a door kicked in when I tried to get in touch with the resident at 200 Crestview Circle. I think you need to send the police or sheriff out. I think someone has broken in.”

“Are there any injured people inside?” the operator asked.

“I have no idea, I don’t want to walk into a house with the door kicked in. Do you want me to go look around?”

“No stay where you are, I have the sheriff’s deputies on the way. Stay on the line please.”

“Not a problem, I’ll be in the front yard so tell them not to ride in with guns blazing.”

“We don’t do that kind of thing, and they do know yo u are the woman who called it in.”

“Good,” I replied. It actually was a load off my mind. I had no desire to deal with an injured person, or something worse. It took only a few minutes before I heard the first siren. I tried to keep an open mind while I waited. The best case scenario would be a missing plasma TV.

“What happened?” the teenage deputy asked.

“I was going to leave a card in the door, when I noticed that it was splintered. I pushed it open and called for the homeowner. When I didn’t get an answer, I decided to call 911.”

“Okay, you stay right here while I look around.”

“Works for me,” I replied. I didn’t even smile at the kid with a gun. He had no idea that I was more familiar with a firearm than he would most likely ever be. Since I did like younger men now and then, I tried to play nice.

When he came out, he was a little green around the gills. “What did you find?” I asked.

He took a deep breath, held up his hand for me to shut up, then he keyed his radio. “221 to dispatch. You need to send the homicide detective, an ambulance, and 721 out here.”

“Was it a middle-age woman?” I asked.

“Yes,” he replied quietly.

“Most likely Mrs Porter,” I suggested. “I was here to serve papers on her. She and her husband seem to be going through a divorce.”

“You need to stay till the detectives arrive,” he suggested.

“Okay, do you mind if I wait in the van. This is a little upsetting.”

“Okay, Just don’t leave.” I nodded.

Just as soon as I was in the van, I called the number on the index card for Eddie Price. “Price and Sloan how my I direct your call?”

“This is Maxine Stone. I need to talk to Milton Price. It is important.” Even though I said it was important it took several minutes for Price to answer.”

“Maxine did you serve the papers?”

“No, but I’m not refunding your money. This call is worth every penny. Mrs Porter may have been murdered.” I went on to tell him the whole story almost second by second.

“Stay were you are and try to find out all you can. I’m going to get Porter in here and see what is what.”

“When you talk to him, remember somebody kicked in the door. He probably wouldn’t have done that, if he did the deed. After all he does still have a key, I assume.”

“Good point Maxine I’ll keep that in mind, when I talk to the cops. I am pretty sure we will be having a chat.”

“Me too, since I had to tell them about the divorce. I didn’t tell them about the frozen assets yet. I don’t have any privilege, so I will probably have to tell them that I have no idea what kind of papers I am serving.”

“That will help. If they ask for them, try to call me before you turn them over. I might be able to invoke privilege.”

“I can try.”

I put the phone away, then studied the scene outside the house. There were two marked sheriff’s cars, two unmarked cars and an ambulance crew standing by. It was obvious that someone inside the house was very dead. The ambulance crew had not been allowed inside so there was no hope for the victim.

Since the detectives were still inside, they were obviously trying to figure something out. I waited until the crime scene van drove up before I attempted to enter the house. When I got stopped at the door, I explained, “I need to go back to work. So are you finished with me.”

“Stay here, I’ll ask someone if you can go.” the kid cop suggested.

When he turned his back I followed him deeper into the house. I got a glimpse inside the living room door before anyone noticed me. There was a woman on the floor. The absence of any blood convinced me that she had probably been strangled. Just about anything else would leave blood. Even poisoning would most likely leave a puddle of vomit. My guess was strangulation.

“Hey, get that woman the hell out of my crime scene,” one of the detectives, who happened to be a woman, shouted at the kid cop.

“Hey, can I go back to work?”

“Leave your number with the patrolman and you can go anywhere you want, Just as long as you don’t want to leave this county.”

While we had our one sentence conversation, I took in as much of the crime scene as I could. She didn’t look like she had put up much of a fight, at least her clothes weren’t torn and I didn’t see any of her clothes laying around her, so I assumed that it was a straight up murder. Nothing screamed sexual assault, but then only a good thorough autopsy could tell for sure. Still that little bit of information was better than nothing. There was also the absence of blood, which suggested strangulation.

I drove back to the office but on the way I got calls so I served two more court papers.. I picked them up and delivered them without anything out of the ordinary taking place. I drove toward the office at the end of the day to leave the records box. I didn’t want to leave one of the few things of my dad had left behind, when he left mom in the van overnight. I kept my records in his old metal fishing tackle box. Mom said he had used it in the early years of their marriage. I felt like it and my record of deliveries would be better protected in Ed’s office.

“Max, how far off are you?” Ed asked in an elevated voice.

“I’m five minutes out and headed to the office,” I replied into the cell phone.

“Can you swing by Jake’s clinic. He has had an incident.”

“Sure Max, you gonna’ bail me out,” I said it as I put the pedal to the floor. Max wouldn’t have called me, if it was something he could handle himself. It was a short drive to Jake’s Aster Clinic. The clinic smelled of strong disinfectant I noticed as I entered the front door.

“Hi I’m Maxine Stone, Jake’s father asked me to stop bye.” The receptionist at the Aster Clinic was not young or chatty. She didn’t even speak to me. She announced my presence into the intercom, then motioned me to the single door leading into the clinic proper.

A woman in green surgical scrubs opened the door for me. She didn’t look friendly, but she did look terrified. I noted the contrast between her and the receptionist. The receptionist had been icy, but this woman was clearly afraid. She didn’t speak. She just led me back into the bowels of clinic.

I found Jake’s son sitting at his desk staring at a bottle of Jack Daniels Black Label “So what’s up Jake.”

“I should have called the cops instead of calling dad first.”

“Why is that Jake, because he sent a woman?” I said it intentionally. I wanted him on the defense.

“Nothing like that, It just seems to be who I should call.”

“Tell me what happened, then we can decide what to do. Cops might be the best thing or maybe not.”

“Okay, some thugs burst into the clinic. They held us at gunpoint demanding money and drugs. I told them we don’t keep drugs here, so they demanded that I write them a scrip. They said that they would be back every week for a new one. They also said that the clinic had a new landlord and the rent to stay in business was a thousand a week.”

“Did they tell you when they would be back?”

“Friday,” he replied.

“Well you can call the cops and they will do what they can to find the guys. My guess is that they are from Tryon. When they go across jurisdictions. it is harder to get anything done. Or I can hang out here Friday and give them a surprise. Of course your dad can find out who it was, and I can scare pure hell out of them. It’s really up to you.”

“I think I’ll call the cops. No offense Ms Stone.”

“None taken Doc,” I said that as I stood to leave.

“Could I pay you to come hang out of Friday, just in case.”

“Call the local police tell them what happened, and see if they want to do that. If not get in touch with me.”

“Fair enough,” he replied. “Do I owe you for stopping by?”

“No, I’m going to take it off my rent.” I smiled as I walked from his office.

“So?” Ed asked as I carried my dad’s tackle box to the safe room. The safe room was a concrete block room with double walls and a very secure steel door. Ed used it to store his files and I used it to store my dad’s tackle box and my small weapons collection.

“I’m sure he told you someone decided to sell him an insurance policy. One that only covers protection from the guys who sold it.”

“Yeah, but it was also armed robbery, since they stole the prescription at gunpoint.”

“That’s how I see it. He decided to call the cops.”

“They won’t do shit.” Ed said scornfully.

“I don’t know how good your cops are. I haven’t dealt with them.”

“Best he can hope for is that they park an empty squad car in the parking lot. To seem not to fucking be, that’s their motto.” He said it angrily.

“I told him I would standby on Friday, if the cops wouldn’t.”

“Good, if he has any sense he will let you.

“You might want to tell him that. All he saw was a small woman with even smaller boobs. That image doesn’t inspire much confidence with most men.”

“Yeah well none of them know you, or they wouldn’t feel that way.”

“So if the cops won’t give him real protection, tell him he can trust me.”

“You know he don’t make a lot of money at that clinic?” The clinic was for mostly medicade and medicare patients. Private pay, or Private insurance patients tended to prefer appointments and waiting rooms with a better aroma. “If it comes down to it, we can work something out. You do know what I mean.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean. Let’s hope it don’t come down to it.” I replied.

After the conversation with Ed, I took a chance that Price might still be in the office. “Mr. Price,” I said into the phone. “I thought I would fill you in on what little I know.” I went on to tell him everything I knew and even what I guessed. I also told him to get the police reports if he wanted to know for sure. I explained that I was just guessing.

“So what do you think?” he asked when I finished.

“I am sort of working for your client and I think he did it. That should tell you something.”

“Yeah it does, but he has an alibi.”

“Me and the police would expect no less. I hope his bank accounts have one as well. It looks a lot like murder for hire. If he didn’t do it, someone who knew her did, or had it done. I would bet my ass on that. Not that my ass is of much value.”

I took myself to dinner that night since it was Friday. It was the height of my week. I had always splurged when alone on a Friday night. I had stopped by the piano bar in the restaurant where I had dinner, so I was late getting home. If the guy I was drinking with hadn’t had a wife at home, I might not have come home at all. I sorta drew the line there. Okay I had slipped over it a few times, but I always promised myself not to do it again. I even managed to keep my promise that night.

At home I lay in bed and wondered how sex would have been with the barroom cowboy. I wondered, if he might be the one to force me to go straight. Probably not, but he might have been the one to get me off tonight, I thought. Since that was not to be, I reached into the night stand for my vibrator. I had been tweaking and rotating my nipples while I replayed the evening in my mind. I had reached a point were more was needed, so I applied the vibrator to my clit.

I almost instantly felt the warm slippery feeling as my body lubricated itself. I was preparing myself for the invasion of a cock. Long or short thick or thin my body didn’t care at that moment. It didn’t even care if the cock was plastic. or whether it was on a belt worn by a woman. My body just screamed for something to fill the emptiness.

I wouldn’t have denied myself even if I had the willpower to do so. I quickly slipped the vibrator inside and moved it in and out of my slippery, swollen opening. My body was on the edge of an orgasm, when the knock on my door sounded. I came hard to the demanding sound. I couldn’t stop even when I heard Jen’s husband speak.

“Are you alright Max?”

It took some time before I could answer him. “I’m fine Bob. Sorry if I was too noisy.” I have been told many times that I sounded like an animal rutting.

“Do you have someone in there?”

“No,” I said that pulling on a ratty old robe and moving to the door.

“Why not,” he said with a laugh.

I opened the door. “I found out he was married. Like I told you before, I don’t fuck married men.”

“Or married woman I hope?” he added.

“Not them either,” I replied.

“Well if you are okay, I’ll let you get some sleep.”

Sundays are always a drag for me. That one was no different. I stayed in bed or in front of my small color TV all day. I ate delivery pizza for lunch and left overs for dinner,

Monday I had only one service. The man who got served was a used car dealer. He had ducked service when the sheriff tried earlier. I guess he thought he was going to sell me a car. His wife’s attorney had given me one of his cards, so when I showed it to the salesman, who had pounced on me like a hungry lion, he reluctantly called his boss.

“I got your name from a friend,” I suggested.

“Really, which friend do we have in common?” he asked.

“Your soon to be ex-wife,” I replied as I handed him the court order advising him that she was freezing the family and business assets until there was a hearing. I called his ex wife’s attorney from my car to verify the service. I made an extra ten bucks doing that. It seems once I mentioned the immediate notification everybody wanted it.

I spent the rest of the day watching old TV shows on my laptop at Ed’s office. My little desk space was in the old storeroom just outside of the secure room which held Ed’s records and my valuables.

“Max, my son just spoke with the detectives. It is their opinion that the thugs won’t come back. They did offer to send a car by every hour or so. They said they couldn’t spare an officer to sit around there all day.”

“Yeah, they hear a lot of big talk from little thugs,” I admitted.

“Would you go to the clinic Friday and keep an eye on him.?”

“Sure, if we can work out something on my rent.”

And that’s how I came to be sitting in the rear hallway of the clinic armed to the teeth when they came. First of all they opened the locked door meant for staff only. It had a combination lock and they came right in. Someone had provided them with that combination.

They weren’t expecting me, but I had been more or less expecting them. I got the .30 caliber semiautomatic carbine up before they could get the handguns trained on me. I didn’t bother warning them, I simply shot the one in front twice in the chest. He pretty much body blocked the second one as he tried to raise his pistol. I shot him in the face from about 12 feet. The thirty cal. slug made a god awful mess of his face. As he was going down the third one closed the door behind himself as he ran. I had to step over the two dead men as I pushed through the door using the fire bar to bypass the lock.

I caught thug three as he was trying to open the car door. I hit him with a set of tazer wires from about five feet. He did the St. Vida’s dance for a couple of seconds, then went down in a heap.

Only then did I use my cell phone to call 911. “Yes,” I replied to the operator. “There has been a shooting at the Aster Medical Clinic on Spruce Street.”

“Anyone injured.”

“Three men have been injured.”

“Wait right there,” the operator demanded.

“Got nowhere else to go, so I’ll be here.”

About five minutes till the cops get here, I thought. I turned my attention to the tazered man on the concrete of the parking lot. I kicked him in the ribs. “Wake up sleeping beauty. You are the lucky one. Your friends won’t be waking up at all. You with me?”

He moaned. “Now tell your friends back home that you met the devil, and she’s a woman. Also tell them the clinic and the rest of this town buys their protection from me. One more stranger comes to town, and I will hunt you all down and kill you. I will also kill your wives, your kids, your mommy,your daddy, and your fucking dog. You do believe me don’t you?” I asked it with my foot on his throat. He nodded just as the cops drove into the parking lot.

They did their cop thing, which included questioning me, along with everyone else in the clinic. Since there was already a report on file, concerning the men laying pools of there own blood on the hallway floor, I was pretty sure it would be written up as a justified shooting. They hauled thug three off to jail before I was turned over to the homicide detectives. The detectives did their dance before they cut me loose. I was a little nervous about what might happen next, but I didn’t dare show it. As the final insult the cops took my rifle and tazer into evidence. I still had the DA to deal with. Then I had to tell Jake that someone in the clinic had given the thugs the combination to the rear door.

Since the receptionist was the only one not shaken after the thugs first visit, my money was on her. If she had been nicer to me, I might not have been so sure, but I just had a feeling she was the traitor. It wasn’t my problem, so after I told Ed’s son that he had a trader, I moved on. It was up to him to ferret her out.

As for the DA, he could rubber stamp the justified shooting, or call for a grand jury investigation. Either way I could do nothing to influence him, so I decided to just wait it out.

I was too shook up after the shoot out to take myself to dinner that night. I managed to pick up some Chinese takeout on the way home. I am not a gourmet by any means. Simple fried rice with sweet and sour pork was my idea of Chinese food.

Jen’s husband Bob came knocking on my door around 8 PM. “Jen and I heard on the news about the shootout. Are you okay? I’m sorry that was stupid of course you aren’t okay.”

“Bob, I’m okay.” I said trying to smile.

“Well, we are having drinks. Jen demanded that I come get you.”

“I’m fine, but I can always use a drink.”

We actually had a lot of drinks. I don’t remember which of them suggest strip poker, but we were all pretty drunk at the time. I agreed without hesitation. I still have a pretty good body for an old broad. Belly dancer tummy and all.

The night ended with one hell of a good night kiss from Bob then one from Jen. I left because we were all drunk. It is a lousy idea to let sex come between friends. Especially the kind of sex Bob obviously had in mind.

I hid in my room all day Saturday and again Sunday. Most of the time I refused to answer my phone. I knew who all might be calling and I didn’t want to speak to any of them. Then after 6 PM on Sunday I finally answered a call. I explained how I felt to Jen. Then she told me how she felt, then how Bob felt. None of us felt quite the same, so in the end we decided to do nothing for a while and just see what happened.

Even though I knew that small town cops moved slowly, I was still surprised that it took until the next Monday before I heard that they had called Milton Price’s client in for questioning in his wifes death. According to Milt it had been a pretty aggressive interview. He asked that I stop by his office before lunch on Monday.

“So how about you getting an independent verification of Al’s alibi?” Price asked as soon as I stepped into his phony antique office.

“You might want someone else Mr. Price. I am still being questioned about that shoot out at the clinic. People are going to recognize me. My face is all over the news.”

“Yeah I know. That’s why I want you. The cops and a jury will believe you, when you tell them my client was at the gym, when his wife died. Not to mention people will answer when you ask questions.”

“If he was, and I don’t know that he was, they might believe me. Especially if I get a walk from the cops, and that news makes as big a splash in the media. It would be news, ‘The woman who killed two gang bangers is exonerated’. However, I still won’t know that he didn’t just pay some junkie to do it.”

“I’ll tell you what Stone, we will pay you to do an independent investigation. Your only restriction will be that you don’t volunteer anything. You just tell the truth, when asked. You can’t lie to the cops or to me. If I ask you, or the cops ask you, just tell them whatever you learn.

“I want to be paid in advance. $250 a day and none of that prorated shit. If I work one minute, I get paid for the full day.”

“Fair enough.” Price wrote me a check for five hundred dollars. “Now go talk to the people at the gym and tell me what else you need.”

“I want all his financial records up to date as of today. I mean banks, brokerage, anything from which money can be withdrawn. Warn your client, I can find all of his accounts, so don’t bother trying to hide them. If he has a secret, it is better to fire me, than lie to me.”

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