“Is he here?”
“Just a few questions….”
“He ain’t here. Don’t think he was home last night. Why? What’s he done?”
“We don’t think he’s done anything. We’re asking routine questions in an investigation. I can’t share any details, it’s ongoing….”
“It about that girl that got herself killed?”
Vanessa didn’t say anything, waiting.
“Cause he knew that little slut. She lived her a while, sleeping with my boy. Acted like she was too good for us. Bitch! All smart and snarky. Played golf!” Her tone indicated what she thought of that game. “Left her shit here. Troy wouldn’t let me throw it out. Said she’d be back. She ain’t been back in three years.”
“Do you still have it?”
“May I send someone over for it?”
“Sure. Anything to get it out of here. You think Troy killed that girl?”
“We just want to ask him questions.”
“You might try work,” the old woman suggested. “You really gonna get this shit outta my house?”
“I’ll send people over to get it right away.”
“Make the call,” the old woman demanded, lighting a cigarette. “It’s easy to say, but I want proof. When you done that, I’ll tell you.” She huffed smoke in Vanessa’s direction. Scowling, she gripped the Camel in a nicotine stained claw.
Vanessa pulled out her phone and called the station. Moments later, two units pulled up. The officers looked annoyed, but dutifully pulled out cases with evidence bags and other forensic tools.
“Fine. He works up at Conti Automotive in Port Orange. Off Dunlawton in one of them complexes. You need to look up an address, cause I don’t know it.”
“I can find it. Thank you for your help, Mrs.?”
“Berman. Gertrude Berman.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Berman.”
“You get that shit outta my house. I’ll show you.” She gestured to the police officers.
Wrinkling their noses, they followed the woman into a morass of dog funk, cigarette smoke, and other pungent odors.
“I don’t love you anymore,” Sergeant Waters said as he followed his colleague inside.
“Yeah, you do. But watch where you step. I don’t think those dogs go out.”
“You’re not coming?”
“I’m pregnant, Jas. What do you think?”
He gave her a sympathetic smile. “See you later.”
“Thank you both.”
Taking a last, deep breath of fresh air, he followed the woman inside.
Back at the car, Vanessa slid into the air conditioned freshness. “God, that place reeked! That fine figure of a woman, is Troy’s grandmother. He lives here. Apparently, so did Wendy, for a while.”
“That’s too bad. Why did the other cops come?”
“Wendy left some things here. They’ll be collecting them as evidence. When we’re done, if there’s anything you’d like….”
“Thanks. I don’t know, maybe.”
Vanessa’s radio crackled. “Go for Weinstein.”
“Boss,” it was Jasper. “Your buddy in the car, he wouldn’t be Aiden, would he?”
“There’s a note here for him. Still sealed. I’m gonna bring it out. I don’t feel like I should be the one to open it.”
Aiden stifled a sob, biting the inside of his cheek.
“Okay. Thanks.” She turned off the car and they got out. Aiden waited for Jasper, who handed him a pair of nitrile gloves, then slit the envelope, handing it over.
With trembling hands, the young man opened the paper inside. It was pretty, floral stationary. He recognized Wendy’s hand writing. A picture fell out. He caught it, looking into the face of an infant. For a second, he wondered how she’d gotten a baby picture of him, then the shock hit him in the gut. He staggered back a step, losing his balance. Jasper caught him.
“Whoa, dude. You look like you took a nut shot.”
Aiden handed him the letter and picture. “I can’t.” He shook his head, closing his eyes, as he tried to catch his breath.
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
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