The ringing of my cell phone jolted me awake. Through blurred eyes, I could see the glowing red numerals on the clock read 9:36. I’d been asleep exactly two hours. The number of the incoming call was unfamiliar.
“Trixie? It’s Candace. I just heard what happened.”
“I just got to bed two hours ago,” I growled.
“Oh, I’m really sorry, but I heard what happened. Where are you?”
“In another hotel. The Lloyd House declined to extend their hospitality any further.” I rolled onto my back.
“I’ve been trying to call Mitch.”
“Last seen, he was heading home to bed.”
“Well, he doesn’t answer his cell phone or his landline.”
“Maybe he turned them off,” I said, thinking I should’ve done likewise.
“Are you coming back to Dreamland anytime soon?”
“Later. To get my car.”
“Then get in touch with me. Now I’ll let you go back to sleep.”
I clicked off without even saying goodbye and fell asleep wondering if Candace King knew anything I needed to know.
The phone woke me again at one in the afternoon. This time it was Dr. Thomas with an update on my mother. “She’s still sleeping.”
“So was I.”
“When I admitted her, I ordered some blood work. You’re on her ‘need-to-know’ list, so I’ll tell you what I found.”
“I’m on her list?”
“Actually, you’re the only one.”
I struggled to sit up. “I have to tell you I’m surprised.”
“Mother and I aren’t…close…never have been.”
“Well, you’re her daughter and next-of-kin. Do you want the report?”
“Sure, go ahead.”
“I found a combination of substances, none of which I’d prescribed or which she could get legally.”
“Drugs? My mother’s on drugs?”
“Cocaine for one.”
“I don’t believe it!”
“I had the lab run the tests again. There’s no question.”
“Is she addicted?”
“I have no way of knowing. There were only traces, but I doubt it was simply recreational.”
“It usually isn’t.”
“But she might’ve just…I mean…”
“I’m going to confront her when she wakes up,” Dr. Thomas said. I thought he sounded tired. “She’s also on something to regulate her heart, and the two don’t mix well.”
“She has heart problems, too?”
“I think she’s in denial about it, but she gets the prescriptions refilled anyway. By the way, I heard about Guy Langworth, and at the risk of sounding heartless, I have to say ‘good riddance’.”
“I didn’t kill him!”
“I’m quite sure you didn’t. What are your plans?”
“I’m in a hotel in…outside of Dreamland. The Lloyd House tossed me out.”
“I’ll be back sometime today to get my car. Then, depending on whether or not Chief Everton arrests me for anything, I’m driving up to Mountain View to visit my father.”
“I make rounds about five-thirty.”
“I don’t want to be there when you go head-to-head with my mother.”
He chuckled. “I don’t want to be there either. I’ll talk to you this evening.”
My head throbbed. My mother. Cocaine. A lover, aka Guy Langworth, now on a slab somewhere but recently lying on the floor of my hotel room in a lake of blood. My grandfather and the notorious gangster Al Capone. It was too much to take in.
I stumbled into the bathroom and showered again, hoping to clear my head. When I got out, the message button on my cell phone was flashing. I recognized Mitch’s number. “Do you want an earful now or later?” I asked.
“Later. I’m starving. How about you?”
“I could eat.”
“I’ll pick you up in twenty minutes.”
Over a sumptuous Chinese buffet, I told him about the calls from Candace King and Dr. Thomas. At the mention of ‘cocaine’, his mouth dropped open.
“Close your mouth,” I said.
“Was your father…”
He nodded. “Years ago, but he told me he was clean. I guess he wasn’t.”
“So he gave it to my mother.”
Mitch shrugged. “Seems reasonable.”
“And took money from her.”
Mitch twirled some lo mein on his fork. “If I’m out of line, say so, but just how much money might we be talking about?”
“I’m not sure. My grandfather—or great-grandfather—left an estate worth about two million. How much got passed on to my mother from hers, I couldn’t say, but she’s never seemed to have any financial problems. Have you ever seen where she lives?”
“I drove by there once out of curiosity. Changing the subject a bit, have you called your father about all this?”
“Not yet. I think it might be easier to tell him in person.”
“So you’re going to Mountain View today.”
“I guess that depends on what Dr. Thomas has to say. It’s terrible to even think, Mitch, but the last thing I want to do is play nursemaid to my mother, and I doubt she’ll want that either.”
“No, I understand. I don’t blame you.”
“You didn’t mention if Candace ever got hold of you this morning.”
“I had my phones off on purpose. I wonder what she wants.”
“Your guess is as good as mine.”
“We’ll find out, whether we want to or not.” He pushed his empty plate aside and rose. “I’m going back for seconds.”