Between the Lines

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Chapter 28

Whenever her time and energy permitted, Keeley attended Nikki’s yoga classes. She really admired the younger woman’s teaching style, and as a new and inexperienced teacher, she felt she benefited greatly from watching Nikki instruct. But today, she decided instead to take the opportunity of sitting outside on her porch, and enjoying the late afternoon sunshine. It had been a long week, and the chance of soaking up some sun while doing absolutely nothing was irresistible. She wasn’t able to do nothing, because Max immediately jumped up on her lap and demanded to be scratched, but sitting on her porch with her cat felt wonderfully soothing to the spirit.

A late model car pulled up, and a man got out, intruding on her solitude. As he walked up to the steps, she realized it was Dennis Olson. “Well, hello again,” he said, that too intimate smile in evidence.

Keeley didn’t return his smile. “Hello. Can I help you with something?”

He seemed kind of taken aback at her coolness, and his own smile dimmed. “I’m here to pick up Traci. She’s in your yoga class, isn’t she?”

Keeley checked her watch, and was surprised at the time. Her hour of relaxation had flown by. “Yes, class should be wrapping up, and I’m sure Traci will be out in a minute. I had no idea it was so late.”

“I was sorry you didn’t get the job at the dealership,” Dennis said consolingly. “John has pretty high standards about who he hires.” Either he didn’t realize how that sounded or he was being intentionally offensive, but either way, it was obvious he hadn’t been told what had actually transpired. Keeley stifled the urge to tell him it had been her decision not to take the job. Instead, she asked him how long he had worked at the dealership, wondering if he might have worked with Joyce Williams. He was younger, but it was possible he’d had a part time job after school. The time frame didn’t match though, since he had started working at the dealership after Joyce had gone missing. She thought about asking him right out if he’d known Joyce, but even if he had, she doubted that he’d be able to tell her anything of relevance, and she didn’t feel like talking to him anymore.

Saying goodbye to Dennis, and leaving him standing on the porch, Keeley hurried inside. She liked to be available to Nikki and the class participants, both before and after class, in case anyone had questions or suggestions regarding the studio or the classes. She let Traci know that Dennis was waiting outside, and with a happy smile, the girl rushed out to meet him. She really likes him, Keeley thought in amazement, not quite sure what the younger woman saw in him. He was quite good looking, and had a decent job and a nice car, but from the way he had behaved towards Keeley, when he already had a girlfriend, made her worry that he wasn’t as committed to the relationship as Traci was, and she hoped that Traci wouldn’t end up getting hurt. She might not be the best waitress on the planet, but she was a nice girl.

When Keeley walked into the pub for the regular Thursday night get together, she found Kira and Lily already sitting at their usual table, and Claire up at the bar, deep in conversation with the owner and main bartender, Joe Waltman. Joe was a handsome man in his thirties who flirted outrageously with every woman who came into his bar. It was not unusual to see the barstools filled with single woman anywhere from the minimum legal drinking age to well into their senior years, and every one of them had a smile on her face whenever his attention was focused on her. Not only was it good for business, but Joe was the type of man who genuinely liked women, and they liked him.

Keeley ordered a glass of merlot from Traci, who was working that night. For once, Traci had appeared at the table almost as soon as Keeley arrived, so she didn’t have to choose between waiting quite a long time, or getting her own drink at the bar. A few minutes later Claire came over to the table, carrying a bowl of yam fries and a glass of beer.

“What are you looking so smug about? Did you finally convince Joe to run away with you?” Lily asked as she pilfered a fry.

Claire slapped her sister’s hand away, and then set the bowl in the middle of the table and told everyone to help themselves. “I have information,” she announced gleefully. “Joe knew Bryan Ferguson and Sue Fontaine, now Sue Ferguson, back in high school. He didn’t hang out in the same crowd as them, but in a town this size, everybody at least knows of everybody else who’s around the same age. Joe told me Bryan and Sue were pretty hot and heavy, and then all of a sudden, Bryan started going out with Joyce Williams. She didn’t usually have anything to do with the guys in her class, so everybody was surprised. She liked dating older guys, ones who were working, and had money to spend. Anyway, it turned out Sue had done something to Joyce, Joe doesn’t know what, and in retaliation, Joyce went after Bryan. She didn’t date him very long, but I imagine that must have made Sue pretty angry.”

“She’s still pretty angry, all these years later. Do you think it’s possible she could have killed Joyce? I thought so after I talked to her, but then it seemed kind of far fetched, especially when you consider she’d have had to kill Tom Freemont as well. She’s pretty small, and she would have only been what, seventeen or eighteen?” Keeley said doubtfully.

“She could have had help. Maybe even Bryan, as they obviously got back together after Joyce Williams dumped him, and he no doubt wouldn’t have been particularly happy that Joyce had just been using him to get back at Sue. It does seem a little extreme, though, and it happened quite awhile after Joyce and Bryan had already broken up. You’d have to be kind of a nutcase to wait that long to kill someone, but then, I guess you have to be mentally unbalanced to kill in any circumstances,” Lily said.

“Well, if you still want to talk to Bryan, you might be able to find out how he felt about being used by Joyce. Joe said he’s a mechanic at OK Car Repairs.”

Keeley made notes in the murder book of everything they’d learned. She definitely thought it was worth going to see Bryan. She just hoped he was a little easier to talk to than his wife. She suddenly had a thought. “If Joe went to school with Sue and Bryan, he must have gone to school with Joyce too. Did he say anything about her?’

“No, he didn’t,” Claire answered, and when Keeley started to get up to go ask him, Claire quickly said she’d talk to him about it when he wasn’t so busy. There were a few people sitting at the bar, but Joe didn’t appear to be any busier than usual. Keeley had the impression that for some reason, Claire didn’t want her to talk to Joe. That doesn’t make any sense, she thought, mentally shaking her head. I must be imagining things.

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