Friday, June 14, 2019

We Lost Luther

Clark could only pray that everyone was going to accept the tale they just told about Luther. One of the firemen knelt down beside the body. After checking him, he looked up, "I'm afraid he is dead." 

Wade sighed,"I was afraid of that. I was just hoping he had maybe just passed out."

"No, Mr. Sweeney is dead." 

Not surprised the fireman recognized the attorney, Clark spoke up. "Do we need to get Dr. Sadler, since he is the coroner."

The fireman stood up, put his gloves back on, preparing to go help the others, "If you could take care of that, I would appreciate it."

Wade pulled his cell phone from his pocket. "While I'm at it, I'll call Cliff to come get the body." The fireman thanked him again, turned, and went back into house.

Anna Belle walked up the stairs to the front porch. She didn't have to pretend to be alarmed to see Luther's body on the floor. But she was concerned about how this was going to play out.

Continuing the charade, Clark spoke up, "Anna Belle, I'm afraid he is dead."

She looked shocked. "Has anyone called Hollis?" She paused, then added,"And, I guess we should also call Cliff."

"Wade's handling all that now," referring to Wade standing in the yard on his cell phone. 

"What can I do?" asked Anna Belle.

"Can you get a sheet or something to cover the body? At least we can do that. No telling how long it will take them to get here."

Chief Pyre walked up, "Understand we lost Luther?"

"Yes, but we're not sure how." Wade said, then added,"Hollis is on his way.

The Chief shook his head and walked away.

It wasn't long before Hollis Sadler arrived. And only five minutes or so followed by Cliff, from Clint's Home of the Dearly Departed and Deceased.

Hollis spoke to Wade and Clark. Wade, sticking with the story, told the Doctor about Clark and he finding him on the floor in the hall upstairs.

"Was he breathing?"

"Not that I could tell but I was more concerned about getting him out of the house. It was getting very smoky up there."

Hollis looked over the body, took his temperature, and turned to Wade. "Looks like he's been dead maybe an hour or so." He looked up, "When did you find him?"

"Maybe 30 minutes or so ago."

Hollis continued looking over the body. "I don't see any evidence of trauma.  My guess is it's not smoke inhalation." He smiled, "Could have been stress. It wouldn't be the first time, someone found the Club 'stressful."

Clark and Wade just stood there. Hollis continued, "Due to the circumstances, I need to do an autopsy." He turned to Cliff, "You can take him now. I'll be down tomorrow to look at him." (Gallagher was so small that the coroner used the facilities at the funeral home when performing autopsies.)

Rascal was the last to arrive. Wade filled him on what they knew.  Rascal shook his head, "I don't recall Luther having any relatives. He never married. Nice guy but kind of an odd sort." 

"Well there must be someone we need to notify." Rascal shook his head. I'll start with the law office. They'll know." With that Rascal turned to find Chief Pyre.

Once he was out of ear shot, Wade turned to Clark, "Think we dodged a close one."

"No kidding."

Even though, there was considerable smoke and water damage to the building, overall it wasn't as bad as it appeared. It would still take some time and resources to restore everything. Once Anna Belle had an accounting of all her employees and staff, she went through the ruined kitchen with Chief Pyre. "It could have been so much worse," said Chief Pyre as he stood with Anna Belle looking at the damage.

"I assume it was grease fire?" Anna Belle asked.

"That would be my first guess. But when I spoke with Bates he said the stove was off. He had finished cooking and was cleaning up. He said he smelled smoke and turned to see the stove on fire."

He looked at Anna Belle, "But, don't worry, if it was anything else, we'll figure it out." They walked back to the front yard where Wade and Clark were still standing.

Wade asked Chief Pyre about the fire. "Not quite sure, but it looks like it started in the kitchen."

Wade said something but Chief Pyre wasn't paying attention. He was looking over Anna Belle's shoulder. He noticed a small crowd gathering across the street under the street light. No surprise there. However, there was  a face in the crowd he didn't recognize. Still looking at the crowd, he asked, "Any idea who that man is?"

Anna Belle turned and followed his gaze, "Which man?"

"The one in front. I recognize everyone else."

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