In the Wash: The Rona Shively Stories

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Chapter Eight

It turns out that Rita Gofski had also done some time. A few years after Kimball and I had gotten out, Gofski was booked on a drug charge. She had been involved with a drug dealer in Arizona. After tracking the pair for several months, a trigger-happy FBI agent picked off her boyfriend and took her into custody. She served a two-year sentence and was then released on parole. She must have met up with Luther right after that. Kimball had the dirt on the whole jail term thing, but after that, there was no trail behind Rita. They talked about all of the ways that Luther and Rita could have connected up, but nothing materialized. By the time they got done throwing ideas around it was three in the morning. I slept on the couch. At around 8 a.m., I woke up to the sound of dishes clattering in the kitchen. Kimball was emptying the remains of last night’s dinner into the trashcan and sticking the dishes in the sink for washing.

“I’d better be getting to the office,” I said, “Aren’t you late for work, yourself?”

“Nope, today’s my day off,” Kimball said, “I’m gonna curl up with a good book after I get this kitchen cleaned up.”

“Sounds good,” I said, “I wish I could do the same, but I’ve got to find this guy. Hell, I don’t remember the last time I opened a book for anything but a phone number.”

“You should take some time off,” Kimball said, “You never do.” “What the hell would I do with time off,” I laughed, “I’d just drive myself nuts.”

“Hey, I’ve got an idea, how about we take a vacation after you get this case over with?” Kimball asked, “My boss told me about this great vacation package to the Bahamas and I was thinking about going sometime soon.”

“I don’t know, I’ll have to get back to you on that,” I said, “I’m not much on island fun.”

“Well, don’t say I didn’t ask when your sorry butt is sitting behind a desk while I’m out partying by the beach,” Kimball laughed. I thanked Kimball for the dinner and the information and took off. I was happy to get out of there without any complications. Kimball tended toward the needy side and I wasn’t the kind of friend who liked to be tied down.

As I got into my car, I caught a glimpse of a dark-haired man in my rearview mirror. This looked like the same guy who had cornered me in the alley behind Hell’s Hole. He was sitting in a gray sedan a couple of cars back. I didn’t think he had seen me, but then, maybe he had seen me go into Kimball’s. I started the car and drove away from the curb. He didn’t follow me. I circled around the block and pulled into a spot three spaces behind his car. He was gone. The car was still there, but he wasn’t in it. I panicked as I pulled out my cell phone and dialed Kimball’s number. The phone rang once, twice, three times and then again before Kimball’s machine picked it up.

Kimball always answered her phone.

“Oh shit,” I said as I rooted through my handbag for the Ruger. I tucked it into my waistband and got out of the car. I ran to the stairway of Kimball’s apartment complex and hurried up the stairs.

Stopping at the landing, I caught sight of Kimball’s door swinging open. I ducked back into the landing as I heard footsteps coming towards me. The steps got closer and then seemed to stop short and turn around. I took the opportunity to go down one flight and get out of the line of sight. Moments later, the footsteps came again. A figure bounded down the steps and ran towards the street. I stepped out into the landing again and I could see that the figure had been the man in the gray sedan. I took a deep breath and ran up the steps to Kimball’s apartment. When I entered the apartment, I wasn’t prepared for what I saw. Kimball lay on the kitchen floor in front of the sink. The faucets were still running causing dishwater to spill at her feet. The front of her white tee shirt was covered in blood. Her eyes were fixed in a blank stare. Her throat had been cut and the blood was gushing from the wound. I called 9-1-1 and began searching for a towel or something that I could use to try and stop the bleeding. It was no use, Kimball was already dead.

While I waited for the police, I thought about how it might look if they found Kimball’s notebook. Some of the people in that binder were cops. Quickly, I looked around the apartment for the binder we had been working from earlier. It lay on Kimball’s dresser in the bedroom. I picked it up and ran for the door. The cops didn’t need to know that I had been there. My call had been anonymous, and I really just wanted to make sure someone knew what had happened. I stopped to look again at Kimball, wiping a tear from my eye before leaving the apartment. I slipped out the door, leaving it ajar as it had been when I arrived. I took the back stairway to avoid running into the cops. I would work with the cops if they caught up to me, but right now; I didn’t need the roadblock.

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