Saturday, October 21, 2017

A Pair of Super Sleuths, an Indifferent Widow, and a Revengeful Arsonist

The following morning, the Eldridge twins were at the Sheriff's office with their attorney ready to discuss the proposed deal they had been offered. Sam was there representing the Feds. As they sat around the conference table, Sam spoke first. "What we need you to do, is continue making liquor just as you always have."

Flora spoke up,"But everyone knows that the still was found."

"We know that, so the story is that since the Sheriff has already raided you once,  he would never think you would do it again," Sam said. "We need you to lead us to the network. All we ask is for you to wear a wire. You don't need to do anything else. Just carry on as usual."

Cora asked,"Are you going to be in one of those white trucks in front the house listening to everything we say?"

Sam laughed,"The equipment we use is cellular so it is as if you are on the line with us."

"Oh, said Cora, clearly disappointed. "Will you be talking in our ear, you know like giving us instructions?"

"No, its nothing like that. This is real simple."

Flora asked,"Will we get training?"

"With the mike, of course."

"No, like with self defense. You know how to defend ourselves."

Cora added,"How to move at night so know one sees us."

Sam paused. He did not expect the ladies to be this enthused about the situation. His concern had been them not wanting to cooperate. "You won't need that, but I can assure you we will support you and will be there the entire time."

The ladies settled down and Sam and the Sheriff went through the details, the time line, and some other things they wanted tell the ladies.

They had just gotten finished when Mike stuck his head in the door. "Sir," he said to the Sheriff, "we have an issue in town you may want to see."

"Sam, I think we're through here?"

"Yes sir, I think we are."

"I'm going with Mike."

As the Sheriff and Mike walked out the door, Sam fielded more questions from the twins about their mission or in their words 'our super secret under cover job.'

As soon as the Sheriff got in the hall he asked Mike, "What's up?"

"Well sir, seems someone found the Baptist preacher dead in his car this morning at the church."

"Does it look like there's any funny business?"

"No sir, my guess is a heart attack when he got in his car to go home last night."

"Well let's go see." The Sheriff got in Mike's car and they drove down to the Baptist church. When they arrived, there was the town police car, the county coroner, an ambulance, and someone from the Mobile paper.

The Sheriff found the coroner first. Hollis Sadler had been the county coroner for 20 years or so. He was a good ol' boy who wore worn khaki's, old boat shoes, and no socks. Hollis was actually a trained MD but did not like wearing a white coat and having a schedule.  The coroner's job suited him well. It was rare for a rural county to have a MD as their coroner.

"Well Hollis, what's the deal?"

"Looks like a heart attack to me. I talked with his wife and she said he was on a Staten for cholesterol, was over weight, and never got exercise. In fact Mrs. Barker went on to say she had been on him to get a healthier lifestyle."

"Well, loved ones always know better and always could have prevented the death, if only the deceased had listened." He paused. "I imagine she was very upset. I'll talk with her later."

"Sheriff, that is another issue. She did not seem very upset at the news of her husband's demise."

"I'm sure she is in shock."

"Given all my experience with families of the dead, I can usually tell the difference between shock, denial, and indifference. Sheriff, Mrs. Barker, was coolly indifferent."

"Hum, that's interesting. Anything else out of the ordinary?"

"Nothing I can see. But if the family wants, we can do an autopsy. However, I don't see any evidence of fowl play, but I'm just the coroner. Now that the professionals have arrived, I'll leave it you."

"Not that I'm a professional, but I play one TV," the Sheriff said with a smile. "Dr. Sadler, show us the way. Come on Mike." The coroner walked over to the parking lot where the minister's car was sitting. The Sheriff walked around the car. He opened the car door and took a good look at the minister. He turned around. "I assume this has all been photographed? If so, you can move him now. "

Mike answered,"Yes sir," then he motioned to the medics,"You can move him now."

On the way back to the station, the Sheriff shared what he had learned from Dr. Sadler with Mike. "Maybe something will be different when I see the photos, but from what I saw, it looked pretty cut and dry."

"What about Dr. Sadler's comments about Mrs. Barker?"

"It doesn't make any sense to me. But, in my experience working with the good doctor, he doesn't miss much. I'll go pay my respects this afternoon."

"Oh, also, Chief Pyre called earlier and said he had gotten an arrest warrant for Mr. Owen Davis, that attorney in Atlanta that was snooping around here."

"For snooping?"

"No, for arson - burning Terse Jackson's place."

"Make sure I tell Mary Lou as soon as I get back to the station to call Atlanta to get that warrant taken care of." Then the Sheriff looked at Mike, "I've been around long enough not to ask this question - but why is an attorney in Atlanta being arrested for burning down Terse Jackson's apartment in a small town in Alabama? And just give me the short version."

Mike laughed, "Apparently, Terse came upon a skeleton in Mr. Davis's closet while doing research for his book."

"Let me guess, when Terse opened the closet door and the skeleton started dancing, Mr. Davis was upset."

"In a nutshell, pretty much. As far as Chief Pyre can learn, Terse did nothing wrong. Mr. Davis's family had been living on a richly embellished story of a war hero for generations. That myth came to an end when Terse started asking questions."

"Enough to burn his place down?

"Apparently so."

"Great, so we have a pair of 70 year old bootleggers, a deceased Baptist preacher with an indifferent wife, and now, an attorney committing arson to protect the fallacy of his family's hero."

Mike laughed, "Don't forget the buc naked General who just got dug up in the back yard?"

"How could I? God, I love this job."

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