Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Joe screamed

and dropped the picture.

"What the hell is that?!"

Inspector Smith-Jones stuttered and picked it up. "I'm sorry. That was not what I meant-- I-- that's my study for a painting. I'm an amateur painter," she said and was having trouble keeping herself from babbling.

"I should say so. Keep that thing where it can't frighten people. I think I prefer your gun-- hey! How did you know who I was? I never even gave you my id."

The inspector seemed to get her feet back under her.

"I'm a detective," she said, one eyebrow cocked. "It's my job to notice details. Like that old photo," she pointed to a picture Joe had sent his mother when he was in Vermont. His mother had pinned it to the refrigerator. "And you're wearing the same hat. And I do, after all, know who used to live here. In fact, I was the one who found her body."

"You did?" Joe asked and that one detail made it all start to seem real. This woman had seen his mother's body.

"I did. I'm sorry. She was a lovely lady."

"She was not."

"She was, she just wasn't always able to show it. But there were reasons." The inspector reached into her pocket again, this time checking the note before she gave it to him. "And it may be connected to the murder in your field."

"Murder?! Who? When?"

"Clive. Clive Burke. The dwarf."

"No!" He was aghast. "I was just talking to him."

"Maybe you should look at this, and then we should talk about what you might know."

He unfolded the paper warily, and saw