the u-town murder case (part eleven)

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She came out again a moment later and asked "So, what do you think so far?"

I shrugged. "I do hate to say it, but this all seems fairly straightforward."

She often looked arch and mysterious when I said this, but this time she just nodded.

"It does," she said. "But I do want to cover every possible angle. Pat does a lot, for everybody, and she doesn't get much in return. I like doing something for her, and doing it as throughly as she would do it for any of us."

She started to walk slowly, in the opposite direction from the hotel and the hospital and anywhere else I could think of that we might want to go. "And there are a couple of circumstances which are not completely explained by the facts we know now," she continued. Then she smiled and looked modest. "Besides I have another reason for thinking that Leo may be innocent."

"I know," I said. "You do have a certain reputation by this point. So, if Leo is guilty, why would he try to get you on his trail?" She was about to interrupt, still smiling, but I continued. "The answer is that he didn't. He complained to Pat that everybody was thinking he was guilty of murder. And maybe the main thing he's afraid of is that her brother, the gang member, will come around to take revenge. It was Pat's idea to come to you, she never said Leo asked her to do that."

She nodded. "All very true. And in fact he may not have been aware that she is so close to us. She certainly doesn't seem like somebody who would brag about it." She shrugged, taking out her cigarette case.

"But I'm wondering where Charlotte was," she continued, "before she came home so late. I don't think I'll be satisfied until I know that. And what was the message the runner had for Leo?" I lit her cigarette. "I suspect she might have been with her brother. Her agitation when she came home could mean that not only was she out later than Leo liked her to be, but she was with her brother, who Leo didn't approve of. So, let's go see her brother, and maybe we can sound him out on the revenge question, too."

"And I guess we know where he lives."

She smiled and said, "Of course we do," as if it had been an incredible feat of scientific deduction to go back to the apartment and ask Freddy one additional question.

Then she gave me a look I knew very well, and I thought for a moment. Then I shrugged. "Vic did say that the wound probably wouldn't have bled very much. He didn't say definitely."

She nodded. "But he seemed pretty sure. And, if he was right, whose blood was that all over her shirt?"

Of course, I tried to get her to go back and bring some sort of security with us, and of course she wasn't going to. She followed the rule about not leaving Utown without security; that was obviously necessary, and the others would have thrown a fit if she hadn't gone along with it. But inside Utown, the only "security" she ever used was Vicki. And we couldn't involve Vicki in this since Pat hadn't included her in our original conversation.

So, we set out into the heart of gang country, with only our wits, such as they were, to protect us.

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About Anthony Lee Collins

I write.
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