Wednesday, November 15, 2017
We All Know He Did It
Owen Davis had settled into the county jail. His attorney had met with him several times trying to arrange bail, but Owen would have none of it. "Here have one of these scones," Owen said as he handed his attorney one of Lue Ellen Wadsworth's blueberry scones. "Isn't that one of the best things you have ever had? Oh, and here," Owen passed him a linen napkin.
The attorney looked at the napkin. "Is this linen?"
"100% Irish linen. Comes from the Fitzgerald family, from Ireland."
"So why are you eating scones with linen?"
"Oh, that's breakfast. Lunch is served on china."
"Owen, is this a jail or a 3 star hotel? This is nuts."
"Oh, it gets better. The linens on my bed are fresh and the Ladies Club keeps me furnished with the latest newspapers, magazine, and bestsellers."
"No WIFI?" he asked sarcastically.
"Nope. But I did ask," said Owen.
Getting down to business, his attorney asked,"Why did they find your business card at the scene of the fire?"
"I guess I dropped it."
The attorney took a deep breath. Up until this time, it never dawned on him that his client may be guilty. "Do you know anything about the gas cans?"
"Of course, they were empty and I didn't want to put them back in my car."
"Owen, do you realize how much trouble you are in? You are accused of arson. They may very well add a charge of attempted homicide."
Owen just reached for another scone.
His attorney was irritated. "The Sheriff says that Reginald Jackson told him that you were mad at him about some issue having to do with an ancestor of yours. Is that true?"
"Well, as your attorney, I need to hear what happened."
Owen hesitated then started. "This guy shows up at my office saying that if I didn't pay him, he would publish some malarkey about Bethune Bates Davis. He was going to impugn the reputation of my family."
"Bethune Bates Davis, as in the Confederate hero?"
"Yep. He told me some story that was totally untrue, a bold face lie."
"So, you are saying he threatened to black mail you?"
"Something like that?"
"Owen, it is or it isn't. We do not have a gray area here. If he threatened black mail, how much money was he demanding?"
"I don't remember the exact amount."
"I'll get back to that. If, and I am not saying you did, but if you burned the apartment, why?"
"Bethune Bates Davis was a Confederate hero. I am an ancestor of that fine man. What right does he have to impugn his reputation? I am writing a book about LT Davis." Owen stared at the attorney. "I am an expert on him. I spend my time speaking about him, his story, his legend."
"For money? You make speeches about LT Davis for money?"
"Of course I do." Owen said defensively. "I get 1000's of dollars for each speech. The publisher has already paid me an advance on my book."
"So you wanted to stop him writing his book?"
"I wanted to destroy it"
"How did you know the draft was in his apartment?"
"Where else would it have been?"
"On the cloud, Owen, on the damn cloud. You know that. What were you thinking? I think you are in a lot of trouble and I do not think I can save you." With that the attorney called for someone to let him out of the cell.
The attorney decided he needed to know more, if he could find someone who would talk with him. He found the fire department and Chief Pyre. The attorney introduced himself and asked if the Chief would talk with him.
The Chief laughed,"I know I shouldn't, but this is a small town and I'm afraid your client is in way too deep." With that the Chief told the attorney the story Terse had told him.
When he finished, the attorney asked, "What is the story on this author - Terse?"
"Great guy from an old Mobile family. Plenty of money, he has no need whatsoever to blackmail anyone. And, he has a bestseller now on the New Times list now. My guess is that he was doing his due diligence, checking up on what he had found on Private Davis."
The attorney asked him a couple questions about the fire and the results of his investigation. Before he left he said,"I've been to a lot of small towns down here. But I have never been to one as freindly as Gallagher. Let me guess, a trial here is going to be difficult at best?"
"I'm wouldn't say that. But our folks know the difference between right and wrong." The attorney thanked Chief Pyre and walked out. On his way out of town, he stopped by Ed's for a cup of coffee. While Mae was serving him she asked, "And where are you from?"
The attorney said, "Atlanta."
Mae replied,"There's a fellow in jail right now from Atlanta. They say he burned down Terse's place. Terse is our home town celebrity. Such a nice guy from an old rich family. Of course that fellow says he didn't do it, but we all know he did."
"Why's that?", asked the attorney casually as he sipped his coffee.
"They brought him all the way back from Atlanta to put him in jail. The Sheriff would not have done that unless he was guilty. Besides, no one local would ever do anything like that to Terse." Mae poured some more coffee into his cup. "But we're past that. Now the big thing in town is a girl who showed up here a month or so ago. Come to find out she is the daughter of a woman who abandoned her. It was a big scandal years ago. Not that I was here when it happened, but Lue Ellen Wadsworth told me all about it one day. And everybody knows Lou Ellen would never make anything up."
When Mae took a breath, the attorney pulled some money from his pocket and put it on the counter. He thanked her for the coffeee and wished her a good day. As he drove out of town he wasn't sure if he was leaving Mayberry, Mayfield, or Cabot Cove.