Mystery at the Fair

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Chapter Two

Standing inside the yellow crime scene tape next to an ambulance, Jean watched what looked like complete chaos as an EMT bandaged her thumb.

“That should do it.” He smoothed the tape. “You should get a tetanus shot, too. The Emergency Care place over on the corner of the highway and Longview Street can take care of you. If you go to the hospital emergency room it’ll cost more.”

“Thanks.” Jean examined her thumb. “I’ll do that.” She nodded toward the crowd of milling police, the coroner and EMTs. “Crime scenes always look like this?”

He shrugged. “Don’t know. There hasn’t been a murder in town since I started working eleven years ago.”

They were interrupted by a uniformed officer. “Who said it was a murder?” He was about six foot, wearing a tan uniform over a well-muscled body. This guy didn’t sit around drinking coffee and eating donuts. He was clean shaven with a chiseled face, all planes and cheekbones. The dark blue eyes under bushy brows looked as though they didn’t miss much. Fancy insignia marched along the shirt’s shoulder epaulets. He had cowboy boots on his feet. They seemed incongruous to her.

“It looked like a murder to me.” Jean nodded her thanks to the EMT who gave her a wink and left. The officer’s tone annoyed her. She held out her right hand. “I’m Jean Hays.”

He shook her hand after a brief look of suspicion. “I’m Chief of Police Nick White. You found the body?”

“Scared the crap out of me. Fell out of the double door cabinet. Stuff was piled in front of it that held the doors closed. If it was a suicide, how’d stuff get piled in front of the door?” She jerked her chin at the small crowd gathering outside the tape. “The press is here.”

Chief White turned to see a photographer taking pictures with a long lens. “That’s Scott Duley, works for the town newspaper. The editor will be calling me soon for the story.” He turned back to her. “Did you recognize the body?”

“No.” Jean was hot and wanted a drink of water. A whole bottle of icy cold water sounded really good, what with the sun beating down on her head. “Not really. I mean, I think it was female, long hair and a pink jacket, but it was too dark in there and I was busy getting out. I’ve only lived here a few months, anyway. Most people are still strangers.”

His left eyebrow cocked up. “A newcomer? You’re on the Fair Board. How’d that happen?”

Jean shrugged. His tone indicated he didn’t think much of new residents. “Not hard. They needed volunteers and I’m a good organizer.”

Nick eyed her. “You have the keys to the Conex?” He studied her reaction.

She shook her head. “Sorry, Chief, I don’t. Arris Van Horn holds the keys.”

“So the box was just open?” He adjusted his equipment belt, then the cowboy hat.

It was Jean’s turn to raise an eyebrow. “Sure. We’re setting up the fair. Volunteers are in and out of this thing all day.” She furrowed her brow. “You think Arris did this? A poor place to hide a body, since he’s in charge of the container.”

The Chief sniffed. “It’s a small town and I’ve lived here all my life, as has Arris. As to whether Arris did it, I don’t know, maybe.” He looked around and waved an officer over. “Take Ms. Hays’s statement and let her get back to her business.”

“What about my bins?”

“Sorry, we’ll have to take them to the lab. They’re part of the evidence.” He didn’t even look at her, just turned and walked to the gurney where the body lay covered.

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