Orville and Harry walked together out of Alberto’s office but said nothing for a few blocks.
“I appreciate you not making me reveal my source for all of this, Harry,” Orville said as they stopped at his car.
“No problem. I have no idea where this came from, Orville, and with everything else riding on this now, I am not sure I even want to know. I got this feeling from you that you would prefer to keep it to yourself anyway. Like you might have refused if I had pressed you.”
“I guess…I don’t know, Harry. I am just glad it is all looking like it may right the wrong perpetrated against Sarah.”
“We’re still not out of the woods yet, Orville. Alberto has to work his magic on Finley. If that falls short, it may be another extended, prolonged battle if Redding sees this as somewhat fishy on our part. If I was in his shoes, I would.”
“But with what we have, how could this not be overturned?”
“If Finley for some reason does not give it up, then there is the very real chance Redding will try and get the new evidence barred from being presented in a rebuttal. Just like how we saw Finley and Robertson being very convenient for the prosecution, Redding might take the same stance for this new evidence at such a late hour.”
Orville nodded and felt his heart sink again.
“Well….thanks again, Harry. I guess we just wait and see what Alberto can do on his end for now.”
Harry waved good bye to Orville before heading to the next block to retrieve his car. He had hated putting that negative vibe into Orville’s brain, but in reality he had seen his share of efforts like what they were attempting now be tossed away by a judge before they ever got within an arm’s length of a courtroom. As Harry drove off he mused on the old adage that justice was supposed to be blind. Sometimes, he thought to himself, it also has to be hoodwinked.
Orville went home but he could not sit still with everything that was at stake. He tried reading….then watching TV…but he was just too keyed up and agitated. Even after his favorite walk through the woods out behind his house he could not calm down. When he got back home he considered briefly about calling Kathryn with the good news, but then he had second thought worried that the revelation might inevitably lead to questions about how this all came to pass. From her last near eye-rolling reaction to his story about La Mala Hora, Orville was sure he did not want to venture into an explanation that an entity had arisen from the ashes in his urn to point him and Harry and Alberto in the right direction. But then again, Kathryn was just as close to Sarah as any of them…she deserved to be in the loop. After much internal debate and indecision, Orville finally knew this was unfair to her and called he to see if she would like to get together for dinner at Regina’s.
“Dinner? Tonight?” Kathryn asked.
“Yeah…I have news on Sarah’s situation.”
“Oh God no….now what?”
“No, no, Kathryn,” he replied quickly, “this is good.”
“Really? What’s going on?”
“Meet me at Regina’s at seven and I can lay it all out for you.”
She agreed immediately and Orville hung up wondering if he had just stepped into another mess with her. He hoped he could sidestep what had really happened with the story that Alberto was keeping in his back pocket in case Finley did not give up and come clean. On the drive into town Orville practiced his story to Kathryn over and over in his mind and by the time he pulled up across the street from the café he felt confident he could pull it off. He locked his car and waved to Kathryn as she stood at the entrance and waited for him.
“How you doing, Kathryn?”
“I’m fine…let’s grab a table, the suspense is killing me!”
Orville grinned and held the door for her and when Orville asked the hostess for it, they got a table in the back away from big ears and prying eyes. Kathryn ordered a glass of wine and Orville a bottle of his favorite ale to get rid of the waitress quickly, telling her they would order dinner but to give them a few more minutes than usual.
“OK, Orville….” Kathryn prompted impatiently.
Orville took a long sip of his beer and then launched into the version of the story he was willing to share with her about how Sarah’s conviction might soon be overturned. She nodded as he went along, not interrupting once until he done.
“Incredible, Orville!” she exclaimed. “This all happened just today?”
Orville nodded and sipped again.
“Probably not tonight, but maybe tomorrow, Alberto will be contacting Richard Finley with what was uncovered and see if he can get him to just admit the whole thing. Maybe rollover on Robertson and James Holding as well for a deal.”
“And your friend Vicky Wells is confident that the lab results are accurate and will stand up?”
“She is. Vicky is the go-to forensic analyst here now after the state lab. No problem there.”
“And this came about just on a hunch that Harry Doyle, Alberto’s PI had?”
Orville felt he was walking into a trap suddenly as her questions were getting closer and closer to what he had hoped to skirt around.
“Yep…” Orville lied. “The issue with Finley and Robertson at the trial never sat well with Harry. He just wanted to take one more look to see if there might have been something somewhere near Joe’s building that had been overlooked.”
“And this watch was in…what….the dumpster or something?”
Orville now knew he had to pick his words carefully. He was not exactly sure what location Alberto might chose if he had to take his case to the DA and he did not want to get caught in different versions of the fabricated tale. He thought quickly and gave what he hoped would be a generic enough and vague enough explanation to fit in with the strategy Alberto had come up with.
“I did not get all the specifics from Harry, but my guess would be somewhere outside near the building, Probably not the dumpster as I would imagine it has been emptied multiple times since the murder. There are a lot of drainage ditches and tall grass fields close by…I am guessing maybe one of those.”
“And how did you get pulled into all of this?”
This was the one question Orville had been praying would not come up. But now here it was, and he had to address it with her. On the way over, Orville had been preparing himself for just this question. It would require more deception on his part, but for now anyway, he was not ready to tell Kathryn the real story of the urn.
“Harry called me up and asked if I could distract Sidney Kennedy for a few minutes while he poked around outside the building. He’s the super over at Joe’s old building. He laid out this hunch he had but did not want to create any questions or unneeded curiosity from Kennedy if he should happen to see Harry stalking around outside the building.”
“Yeah…I called up Kennedy with this story about this new friend in town that might be moving to Laconia who would need an apartment. I knew he had not rented out Joe’s old place yet and framed it very open-endedly to see if he had vacancies in the building. Once he said yes, I asked if I could come by and take some photos to sent to my friend so he could take a look before arriving.”
“That’s quite a scheme you and Harry Doyle came up with Orville. Retirement is turning you into a regular covert operative.”
She laughed and Orville sipped from his beer again to hide his uncertainty that he had been convincing enough. But when she laughed he relaxed.
“Not what I had in mind when I pulled the plug at RMD, but I guess so. I am willing to do anything that might get Sarah’s name cleared and the real murderer in custody.”
The waitress returned to take their food order and Kathryn sipped at her wine again after she left, giving Orville a look that once again gave him pause.
“What’s that look, Kathryn?”
She shrugged and grinned.
“I have know you a long time, Orville. What’s it been, ten years?”
“More or less I suppose…and?”
“Well, in all that time I would say we have gotten to know each other’s little quirks and eccentricities…fair enough?”
“Sure…what are you getting at?”
“Do not take this the wrong way, my friend, but I am getting this weird vibe that there is more to this story than you are willing to tell me.”
Orville felt a knot of anxiety rise in his chest.
“Don’t get me wrong…I think it’s great that you helped Harry dig up this new evidence to try and spring Sarah, but something tells me you had a bigger hand in this than just distracting Sidney Kennedy. Call it intuition or whatever…”
Orville paled but said nothing.
“Maybe one day when this is all over and Sarah is back with us again, you can either fill me in to dispel my suspicions.”
“Sorry to disappoint you, Kathryn, but that is the story.”
“OK…OK…it is just so out of character for you Orville. But if you say that is all there is to it then I believe you. Maybe my radar is just off tonight. Let’s talk about something else.”
Orville felt a subtle shudder ripple through him when she conceded and let it go. He did not know now if he would ever tell her the real story or not. Number one, he was pretty damn sure she would find it too incredible and wild to believe and number two, he worried that his deception now would damage their relationship moving forward if she discovered that he had lied to her to cover it up in the first place.
But fortunately for Orville, their food came just then and they dug into their meals and went on to speak of other things and at least for now, Orville thought, the urn phenomenon had been put to bed with Kathryn.