Between the Lines

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Chapter 34

The Chamber of Commerce meetings were held on Tuesdays, and since that was usually a quiet night at the pub, Joe left Carol behind the bar and Traci waitressing. When the meetings were over, Joe would take over the bar, and one of the girls would go off shift.

Ashton’s current mayor was nearing retirement, and he didn’t appear to be very motivated to get anything accomplished during his last few months in office. Since everybody expected that John Banks would be elected to replace him, Joe took the opportunity after the meeting to buttonhole John and try to get his promise to do something about the lack of parking in the downtown core, which he felt was hurting his business. The two men were discussing the issue at the entrance to the room as Keeley was leaving the meeting. Joe smiled warmly as he moved aside to let her go past. “Hey, Keeley, how’s the murder investigation going?” John raised his eyebrows, and looked like he was going to say something, but then decided against speaking. He was probably going to make some patronizing remark, but wisely refrained when he realized I get to vote too, Keeley thought. Before she could answer Joe’s question, Traci came up the stairs to remind him that her shift was over, and Carol needed him at the bar. Joe went downstairs with Traci, and John followed them.

Not really feeling like a drink, and knowing if she stayed at the pub, she would be tempted by the delicious, high calorie food Joe served, Keeley decided to go home rather than join Claire and Lily downstairs for their usual post meeting beverage. Kira had already headed off with Wayne, and Keeley started for home. As she passed the small parking area at the side of the pub, she could understand why Joe felt it was insufficient for the number of tables in his pub.

She noticed John Banks in the parking lot beside his late model luxury car, talking to Dennis Olson. Keeley couldn’t hear what they were saying, but it was obvious from the body language that it was not a friendly discussion. Dennis was standing in a defensive pose, arms crossed, a scowl on his face, and not looking at John, who was doing the talking. It didn’t look like Dennis was going to be getting the employee of the month award anytime soon. Keeley hurried past, hoping they wouldn’t see her.

“Keeley, did you find my gold pendant in the studio?” Traci asked, looking like she was about to cry.

“No, I didn’t, but let’s take a good look around. When did you notice it was missing?” Keeley started looking in the corners, and beside the plants.

“I went to put it on this morning, and I couldn’t find it anywhere. It has to be here. It can’t be lost!” But after searching carefully, it was clear the pendant wasn’t in the studio. Traci was extremely upset, not least because she feared Dennis would be furious with her. Keeley advised her to retrace her steps over the last couple of days, and to let everyone know it was missing. She offered to put a notice up on her bulletin board asking everyone to look out for it. She felt really sorry for Traci, but she didn’t know what else she could do to help. Traci finally left, looking dejected with her shoulders hunched over and tears in her eyes. Keeley hoped she would find her pendant soon.

The mid morning yoga class that Keeley had taught was over and she was putting away her yoga mat when the outer door opened. Thinking one of the students had forgotten something, Keeley looked up smiling, only to see Sue Ferguson standing there, glowering at her.

“I told you to stay away from my husband, and I meant it!” Sue almost screamed. “I’m warning you. If you go near him again, you will be very sorry!” She turned around and stormed out the door, slamming it in the process.

Keeley stood still for a few minutes, taking deep, conscious breaths to try to slow down her racing heart. Was Sue Ferguson unhinged? She certainly appeared to be. Could it be possible she killed Joyce Williams and Tom Freemont, either alone or with Bryan’s help? It was looking more likely. Why else would she be so paranoid about Keeley talking to her husband? One thing was certain, she had issued a threat, and Keeley wasn’t about to take that lightly. She went into the kitchen to get her phone, and called Detective McDonald.

“Which was a complete waste of time!” Keeley complained to Kira. “He didn’t take me seriously at all. He thinks I’m the one that’s unhinged, and probably that I made the whole thing up for attention. As if I’d want his attention,” she added scornfully.

“He doesn’t think you’re unhinged,” Kira said soothingly, “and he did say he’s going to talk to her.”

“Yeah, about threatening me, but he just dismissed the idea that she might have killed Tom Freemont and Joyce Williams. As usual, he wants me to stay out of it.”

“You probably shouldn’t have told him you’d be happy to stay out of it as soon as you’re convinced the police aren’t railroading Daniel and his mother.”

Keeley sighed. “I know, but he just made me so mad.”

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