Monday, April 8, 2013

Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland - Chapter 24



CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

            While I waited on my attorney to arrive, I called my father and told him the whole story. “I’m on my way,” he said immediately.
            “No, Dad, just wait. I’m okay for now. Later I may need you to come.”
            “Are you sure?”
            “I’m sure.”
            “Do you need anything? Money?”
            “I’ve got to find out where the bail money came from and see what I can do to make that good, but you know my finances are good.”
            “Well, if you do…if you need anything…”
            “I know, Dad. I’ve always been able to depend on you.”
            “You’re a tough gal, Trixie. Your mother on the other hand…that scares me a little. Even though there’s nothing between us anymore, I still care about her in the sense that I don’t want her to go through bad times.”
            “She threw both of us away a long time ago. I guess I understand her a little better knowing about how she was lied to, but she made the choice to let it define who she was.”
            “Some people just aren’t able to bounce back after a shock, Trix. You are. What about this Mitch Langworth? It sounds like you’re good for each other.”
            “I’ve been where he is and know there’s light at the end of the tunnel, but we’re not romantically involved.”
            “No, I didn’t mean that, but young widows—and widowers—are rare, and finding a good friend who understands is important.”
            “You’re right there, and yes, I’d say we’re good friends based on experience. He saved by neck by getting me a crack defense attorney and arranging my bail.”
            “Yeah,well, when this is all over, you bring him up here, and he can shop for free in my store.”
            I laughed. “I don’t even know if he’s a sportsman, but I’ll tell him. Thanks, Dad.”
            “We all love you, Trixie. You keep in touch.”
*****
            Stella went to the market later, and Letha and I talked about reopening their shop. “I’m not about to give up that building now,” I said.
            “Make sure you’re hanging on for the right reasons,” she said.
            “Right or wrong, I’m not letting anybody run me off.”
            Len Melton arrived as I was helping Stella carry in the groceries. “You have to let me pay for these,” I said.
            “We’ll settle up,” she said. “Now go in there and talk to Mr. Melton. Letha and I will make ourselves scarce.”
            Len Melton told me he’d taken out a restraining order on Parker Aiken. “I didn’t know it was that easy,” I said.
            “It depends on who you know. Now, listen, Trixie, it’s up to you to stay away from any potentially questionable situations.”
            “Such as?”
            “Don’t be too visible on the street. Mitch said to tell you he was coming over tomorrow night and take you to dinner. He’s out of town on a client’s business today, but he’ll call if he gets a chance. Also, I know your friend Rudy James owns the Twilight Bar. It’s an okay place, too. Hopefully, the grand jury will convene soon and come back with a no-bill, and you can go home.” He looked me straight in the eye. “Do it. And whether or not you decide to sell that building, don’t be stirring up the waters by making plans for it, not right now anyway.”
            “Letha and Stella are interested in opening their shop again.”
            “I know, and I’ve advised them to hold off. They’re not hurting for money. The shop here was a diversion more than a financial asset. I’m not saying it can’t happen, but for now, let it go.”
            I nodded. “I understand.”
            “Good. Now I’m going to sniff around town a little and meet with Perry Aiken this afternoon. He seems hell-bent on prosecuting you for some reason.”
            “Better me than one of his family, I guess.”
            “That’s what I’m thinking.”
            “Have you heard any more about Candace King and her daughter?”
            “No, and it seems Chief Everton would be interested in at least finding out where they are—if not why—but he’s not.”
            “My mother…”
            “I’m going to try to shake her story on the gun coming up missing after you visited. Do you even know how to use one, by the way?”
            “Oh, yes, Ned taught me. That’s my husband. Was my husband. We used to go out and shoot on weekends sometimes. I was pretty good, but I haven’t done it since he died almost four years ago.”
            “But you could still put a hole in somebody at close range.”
            “I guess I could. My lawyer in Dallas has Ned’s guns though. He keeps them with his own in a gun safe at his home.”
            “I’m going to call him today, too, just to let him know what’s going on. If you’d like for him to come down and take over…”
            “No, he’s a good friend, but he’s just in general practice. Defending someone accused of murder isn’t his thing.”
            “It’s mine, and we’re going to beat this, Trixie. Believe me.”
            “I’m trying.”
            He patted my shoulder as he rose. “You’ve been good for Mitch,”
            “He’s been good for me, too.”
            “Okay. I’ll call you whenever I have something to report.”
*****
            Stella kept me busy the rest of the day, doing my laundry and helping in the kitchen. We all slept late the next morning, and I began to anticipate dinner with Mitch as soon as I woke up.        
In the afternoon, while Letha was napping, and Stella was reading, I fought the urge to drive to the Quimby Building and lost. Parking in the back where I wouldn’t be seen, I let myself in the back door and stood at the foot of the stairs, wondering if my grandfather had left a message for me somewhere. Had Al Capone really stored his loot in Dreamland?

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