Chapter 23…

You know that funny awkward feeling thing when a whole roomful of people are all surprised at once, and no one knows what just happened?

Yeah, that.

He really tried to act as if seeing me was the surprise, and he sort of overplayed that.  So did I. Fair enough.

This was the guy who used to do PD stakeouts with Jenn in her old days, and showed up to take her out to lunch now and then.

I half expected him to show up on this anyway, but not quite this fast. What, only one plainclothes guy on the payroll in North Smithfield?And usually, plainclothes guys don’t even respond to 911’s. The uniforms take those. That means he heard it coming in, and suddenly decided to do someone else’s job.

So, that’s weird.

But that was nothing compared to Janice. She looked like she just swallowed a tennis ball.

You know that funny awkward feeling when two people are forced to acknowledge each other, but would obviously rather die a horrible death?

Yeah, that.

Not necessarily weird, just complicated. Exactly what this little scenario needed.

So how did he know that she knew that Jenn knew, and when exactly did they all know that, and maybe they never knew it, and found something out just now. And  whatever the hell that is, what’s that got to do with anything anyway?

Oh, yeah, right again. That’s my  job.

Except now maybe it’s his job too. But my job was definitely focused on Jenn, so I decided to let them field one another uncomfortably, and godspeed.  If there was anything pertinent there, it might just surface in the next few minutes. Might be helpful.

The questions were taking her back a few steps. Further than they ought to, I thought. And he was being oddly aggressive in his style, too. Almost trying to overwhelm her. To keep her from answering anything at all? Why?

I decided right there that I absolutely did not like this guy. This was a very inappropriate way to gather facts at a 911 call. He seemed to have come in the door with a few presumptions. Very unprofessional. Very personal. Why?

As if being called “Bobby” when you’re in your mid-forties wasn’t bad enough. I found myself hoping that she might throw up on his shoes, too.  Maybe dislodge the tennis ball and watch it bounce off his forehead.

It was fun to visualize, at least.

The poor thing. She really was having a miserable go of it.

So…seeing as how professionalism had already gone out the window, I decided to pitch in. I interrupted him.

” Bobby, excuse me, but what the hell, man? She called me. She’s worried about her sister. She’s  looking for Jenn. And maybe her daughter, too. And… a guy just ran down the stairs and out the front door a few minutes ago. Probably six foot, 200 lbs., grey hoodie on. See him down the street on the way in, maybe? He would have been the one trying to run at sixty miles an hour. As opposed to the other guys in grey hoodies just doing twenty.”

” Thanks, rent-a-cop, we’ re all set.”

What I wouldn’t give for a tennis ball. A lethal weapon, when inserted into a sinus cavity.

We stared at each other for a few seconds, determining what the ultimate cost of this might be. Or at least I was. Bobby was probably trying to recall if he’d had Frosted Flakes or Cocoa Puffs for breakfast.

” Frosted Flakes, Bob. Definitely. They’re greeattt.”

” What did you just say?”


” Fucking weirdo. Just stay out of the way.”

And just as I was about to dig in just a little deeper, a voice from the top of the stairs.

” Hey Bobby, you’re going to want to see this.”

He looked at the both of us. ” You just stay right here a minute. Don’t move.” And took the stairs two at a time.

Janice and I glanced quickly at one another, and immediately started up the stairs behind him. So much for the integrity of a potential crime scene. But not to worry.

Fucking Bobby was all set with that.