the u-town murder case (part seven)

This story started here.

We had lunch at the hospital, then we walked back to Leo's apartment. I could tell she was thinking hard, so I kept fairly quiet.

When we knocked on the door this time, a skinny man with bushy blond hair and a wispy beard opened the door. He held out his hand right away. "Ms. Sleet," he said, motioning us in, "I'm Freddy. Leo left a few minutes ago, but said you'd be coming back to talk to me. Anything I can do to help, just name it."

Someone had cleaned up the living room considerably, though it was still pretty dirty. But there was an armchair and a sofa cleared off for us to sit on. My employer went right to the armchair and sat down, so Freddy went to the sofa. I didn't really want to sit on the sofa next to a suspect, so I perched on the arm. It was padded and fairly comfortable, but I knew the flakes of old foam rubber bursting through the worn fabric would end up on my slacks.

Jan Sleet lit her pipe and said, "Freddy, why don't you tell it to me as it happened, as clearly as you remember it? Take your time, we're in no hurry."

Freddy leaned back on the sofa, and I could see he was tense. I reminded myself that this was not necessarily evidence of anything guilty. We were the cops, or as close as U-town came, and some people got nervous around us by reflex.

"I was awake," he said slowly. "I was working on a song," he gestured at the guitar leaning in the corner. "I was playing very quietly, just trying to work out the melody and the chords. I knew Leo was asleep, so I didn't want to wake him up."

"Very considerate," she said, her pipe finally going to her satisfaction. I knew she was thinking of a few of the people we'd had rooms next to at the hotel where we lived.

Freddy shrugged. "Leo's a good guy, and I knew he was stressed about Charlotte being out. He didn't know where she was, and I think she was later than she'd said she would be. That usually got him tense, so I didn't want to bother him."

She nodded.

"Anyway, around midnight there was a knock on the door. I got up and asked who it was." He shrugged. "I figured it was probably one of my buddies, but I don't like to take chances. It was Charlotte, though, and she sounded upset. I opened the door and she rushed in. She looked kind of stressed."

"Was she crying?"

"Oh, no, nothing like that. Just upset, like she was late for an appointment or something. I figured she was just thinking about Leo being mad at her for being out late. She thanked me for opening the door and rushed into the bedroom. She closed the door behind her, and I locked the apartment door again."

Jan Sleet held up a finger. "Eight questions, please, before you continue."

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About Anthony Lee Collins

I write.
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