The Beauty at the End of the Block, A Brew Parkers Mystery

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Chapter 5

Friday morning, John walked into the main room wearing a green t-shirt with a logo for Lane 9 series and shorts. He took the day off to relax. “Jerry and Roger are leaving for a while.”

“A while?” I looked up from my notebook.

“Yeah. Jerry's aunt is sick. He said she is his favorite and they are going to help where they can.”

“Poor guys. How can we help? Where is she at?”

“She is at home. Jerry gave me instructions on watering the plants, inside and out, and I told him I would mow the lawn. Roger showed me how to reset the security system.”

“What security system? They don't have a sign.” Brew Parkers took pride in their security signs. It said to the world “I have stuff you want.” No, we did not have one.

“No. Jerry said he does not trust the big companies. They could hire anyone to watch those screens. Roger built it and installed it. It downloads to a computer in the kitchen.” John poured lemonade. “Jerry has a love hate relationship with electronics. Roger has to keep him current.”

The next day during lunch the doorbell rang.. Charger went nuts barking and running around by the door. Two men in dark suits were on the other side of the beveled glass. Our dining room was next to the front entrance. I cracked one of the windows to talk to the gentleman. I do not open doors for strangers. My parents taught me well.

“Good afternoon. May I help you?” I asked. Charger stuck his nose on the screen to smell the new people.

“Mrs. York? We are Detectives Cherry and Hite. We have a couple of questions for you about the Greentree incident.” The detective speaking was taller, black hair and blue eyes. The other was brown hair and eyes and short.

“May I see some ID?” They smiled and showed it. “Please come in. Charger won’t hurt you. He will get hair on you.”

“Thank you. Hi, Charger.” Detective Cherry bent down to give attention to Charger.

“We have to ask you some questions about Sahara and Kyle Greentree. How well did you know them?” Detective Hite asked and pulled out his notebook.

“Not well.” I explained how we met them when they moved here, about the group that got together, and the last meeting.

“Several people reported you had words with Mrs. Greentree at the gathering.” Hite said.

“Yes. Words were exchanged. Were they pleasant words? No. Were they civil words? Yes.” I said.

“Did you have contact with her after the meeting where you exchanged words?”

“No. Wait.” I reached for my phone and pulled up my text message from the unknown number.” I received this.”

“Did you go to the residence to retrieve the bowl?” Detective Cherry asked.

“Yes. I explained this with the officer on the day her body was found.” I shooed the boys to go play.

“Correct. We have other questions. It is important to re-establish the time line.” Detective Cherry explained.

Hite continued the questions. “What contact did you have with Mr. Greentree?

“Minimal. Hello. A nod or wave I as I walked past with my dog or children.” I couldn't think of any other time.

“Was he present at the meeting?” Detective Hite scratched Charger's ear.

“Not that I know of. Sahara did not say. Holly and I left about an hour and a half into the meeting. So, if he showed up later, I wouldn’t know.” Dave and John both showed up at the end of our respective meetings to say hello and let the boys say hello. We thought it was polite.

“Officers on the scene say that when Mr. Greentree was picked up, he spoke to you and Dr. Cherish?” Hite read off of his notepad.

I was confused for a moment. “Oh. You mean when he yelled at us? Oh. Holly and I were on her front porch watching the event unfold. He looked at us and yelled. I thought he was yelling at everyone and just happened to make eye contact on us.”

“No.” Detective Hite looked me in the eyes.

“Oh. That is why you are asking me how well I knew the Greentrees?” Now I get it.

“Yes.” Detective Cherry responded.

“I had no other contact with them.” I started to wonder if I need to call my lawyer. “Don’t think that Holly did either. Did he say anything down at the station that would lead you to think I knew them better?”

Detective Cherry smiled.

“That is what we are working on. We thought maybe you knew more than you explained in your previous statements.” Detective Hite concluded.

“No. I did not withhold information at any time.” A clear statement nothing;,they could twist.

“Thank you, Mrs. York” The detectives stood and shook my hand.

“Good bye.” That was not fun.

I called Holly later. They had been to see her before me. Her phone was dead so she couldn’t send out a warning text.

“I thought Margret said he died before they got him to the hospital. Why do they think he was talking about us?” I asked Holly. We sat on our back deck. We did not want to talk to the others.

“We spoke to them so little.” Holly watched the fire in the pit crackle and spit. She was still put off by the meeting with the detectives.

It rained for the next three day...some leftover tropical storm rain from the south. Our street was flooded! The debris from the summer clogged the drains and the retention ponds over -flowed. None of the basements flooded. Charger moped every time he had to go outside. His thick double coat did not keep him dry. The boys and I cleaned out the basement and bedrooms. We took a big load to a local non profit for families in need. The house felt forty pounds lighter. I took the garbage out and saw a strange car in Holly’s driveway. A black sedan, maybe an unmarked police car. I saw Officer Tyler Walsh, our neighbor, walking off of Holly’s front porch. We all knew Officer Walsh. He went to the school to talk about safety and bullies. Tyler walked down the street towards his house. The visit must have been unofficial because he was in his college t-shirt and jeans. Interesting.. Holly would call me later.

It was still soggy out so we were in for the day and night. Our latest video game obsession is on the big TV. My computer was on my lap. I wanted to get five more pages done before the end of the day. I almost did not hear the knocking on the door. Charger alerted us. J.J. opened the door and in came Holly and her boys. Shoes removed and dogs following, the group went to the play room for more video games. I started the coffeemaker.

“Well...”I started, after I delivered snacks and drinks to the guys.

“I wanted to call you so bad but I had to follow procedures. What if they checked our phone records and saw I contacted you first?” She grabbed the place mats and served the fruit salad she brought over. “I took Mel for his walk this morning about 9am, when the rain stopped. We were walking past Jerry's. Mel sniffed and would not leave the burning bush alone, the one on the left side of the property. The one he put the blue slate tiles around. I yanked him off of it after a minute and kept walking. On our way back, I said hi to Jordan and the girls. Molly and Kelly were excited to show me their rain coats and matching umbrellas.”

“Cute.”

“Yes, very cute. I said good bye and turned to leave. In that two minutes, Mel had dug a up the stones! The rain loosened the mulch and he pushed it in to the grass. Mel did not have to dig deep to find what he wanted.” Holly took a sip of coffee.

“Jerry won't be mad. He loves Mel.” I ate some pineapple.

“I know that, but you will never guess what he found.”

“Mitch’s baseball glove you can’t find?” I asked.

“No. But that darn thing is still missing.” Holly shook her head. “It was a piece of gold material with gold sequins on it and a piece of plastic covered in gold sequins about four inches long and spike shaped.” Holly raised her eyebrow, folded arms, and smiled.

“OK.” I got up to refill our coffee and the veggie tray. “Dogs find the strangest things.”

Holly looked at me waiting for my brain to kick into gear. I stopped with a handful of baby carrots half way to the tray. Then, the synapses clicked. “Oh crap! Sahara!”

“Now you’ve got it.” Holly laughed. “It looked like Mel dug up a piece of Sahara or Margret’s wrap and heel from their shoe. The police said they were going to contact Margret about the items. I was in her mammoth closet helping her pick out a dress for the Winchester Gala two days ago. I saw the pieces in question and they were intact. The items have to be from Sahara. Since the people have questioned us because of finding the body I thought it would look bad if I contacted you before the police. Just like in all of our favorite crime novels. So I called Tyler and asked him what to do. He called Detective Cherry and he came over with Detective Hite. Tyler came down as a courtesy to me. I had a plastic grocery bag with me for Mel’s walk and I used that to pick up the evidence.” Holly took a sip of coffee.

“Wow! Go Mel! Smart puppy. And good thinking, Holly. I wonder if the police really do that? Check texts and phone calls like in the books.” I set the tray down and sat down. “Jerry put those down in April. The bad guy placed those under those because...”

“The detectives said nothing other than I should not have picked up the evidence. I thought about it after I called Tyler. I didn't want Mel to chew it.” Holly took another sip of coffee. “I can't believe I was so stupid.”

“We are not professionals. We just read a lot.” I smiled trying to get Holly to laugh.

The next day Holly called and asked us to come over for brunch. I was surprised because her and the boys were suppose to go to the local water park with friends. I brought over my cinnamon coffeecake.

“Hi. What’s up? I thought you guys were leaving?” I asked as the guys headed straight into the play area to build forts.

“Thanks for the coffee cake.” She poured the coffee and juice. She had a frittata, hash browns, and fruit salad. Yummy! “Well, I have news. Beth called yesterday. She heard from Whitney who heard from Margret that I spoke with the police. So, I told her about what Mel found. And she told me what she saw the night of the party.” Holly took a sip of coffee. “ Beth left at the end of the party with the other girls. Sahara walked or stumbled outside to say good-bye to everyone. She and Margret were hanging on each other giggling, they were so drunk. Margret was lucky she did not hurt herself on her scooter going the five houses to her house. Beth was upstairs in her bedroom. She loves the warm weather so her windows were open. She heard talking and thought Adam was home and talking on his phone on the back deck. She went down to check but his car was not in the driveway. She thought she was just tired when she heard the voices again but they were louder. Out her window she saw two shadows moving on the side of Jerry's. She tried to see more but the sugar maple was blocking.”

“Mom. We’re going in the basement.” Mitch said and the group left the main floor.

“OK. More coffee.”Holly refilled her cup and mine.

“So, what else?” I prompted.

“Beth said a person ran across the side yard of the ranch, between Jerry's house and mine. The shadow seemed to trip and she heard a crunch like the boys crashing through the bushes. Someone swore loudly.” Holly continued.

“A man or a woman?” I asked

“She couldn’t tell at first. Beth heard both a deep voice and a higher voice. She could not understand them. But, the shadows and voices moved to the Greentree yard.” Holly shook her head. “Beth did not see where the people went. The leaves of the maple moved in the wind and she lost sight of them.” Holly tugged at the sleeve of her lavender t-shirt.”She joked the deep voice sounded like me or you.”

“Did she tell the police?”

“Yeah. Last night, after she heard about what Mel found.” Holly stood up to let Mel outside to do his doggy business. “Her family left at 6am for her brother’s place for the Fourth. She hadn’t thought of it until now.”

“What did the police say?” I was shocked.

“They thanked her for the information and left. She didn’t think to ask anything else.” Holly ate a strawberry.

Dave walked in from the garage, said hi and he was ready to leave. The boys and I headed home.

Michael waked in the kitchen with the mail. “Mom, Miss Holly and Mr. Dave's car is in their driveway. I saw it! Can Mitch and Tag come over?” He grabbed a trail bar and started eating it.

“Oh, um, let me talk to Holly, OK?” I grabbed my phone and sent a text. “Welcome home. You are home early. Smiley face.”

A few minutes later my phone chirped. Sad face was the response with “I'll call you.”

Six o'clock, Holly called over she was ordering take away and asked us to come over. “No problem.” I sent back.

Holly had her buffet laid out with all of kinds of foods for us. The boys load their plates and headed for the family room. The adults remained in the kitchen.

Holly did not eat. “We got a call from the police. They wanted us to come back because they had a few more questions. The police found poison in the coffee cups sitting on the counter at the Greentree's. They didn't say what it was but that my degrees and work make me a person of interest. Along with the argument at the last Brew Parkers meeting...”

“What argument? You said good bye and left!” I interrupted.

“Just listen.” Holly continued. “The argument at the Brew Parkers and what Beth overheard or saw the same night. The evidence I found with Mel did not help. Those four things put together made it necessary for the Garden View detectives to call us home. Holly's voice faltered. “The boys sat there waiting while they questioned me. That is not right.”

I got up and hugged my best friend who was now a person of interest for the murder of the Greentrees.


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